How to improve your localization strategy in 2021

What makes a brand stand out when entering new markets? Localization. For a successful market entry, you need to ‘think global but act local’ when it comes to achieving long-lasting success.

Finding the right balance between standardizing and localizing your global marketing strategy is something that many companies struggle with. It’s tempting to use just one strategy across the board to capture as broad an audience as possible – but this will likely lead to failure. Why? Because it lacks personalization.

Localization equals personalization. And personalization is at the top of the list when it comes to meeting the needs of your customers. It’s not only the key to customer retention and loyalty, but it will also help you expand your customer base.

Speaking to your new audience in a way that resonates with them is undoubtedly going to harness a better connection. But, be careful, localization is not the same as translation. Language is just one part of your localization strategy.

What is a localization strategy?

A localization strategy is a company’s overall plan and approach to adapting its content, offerings, and messaging in new countries. This means addressing the differences in language, culture, customer behavior, and social norms.

Working on your localization strategy makes your content and marketing messages more appealing to new audiences. The goal is to give the same look and feel to your brand of one created specifically for your new target market, irrespective of their native language, local culture, or religion.

A localization strategy should incorporate the following:

  • Target markets and languages spoken
  • Understand the culture and societal attitudes of the country
  • Purchasing habits and behaviors
  • International SEO

Why do you need a localization strategy?

A well-placed localization strategy will enhance customer experience and allow you to communicate your message to global audiences while maintaining your brand identity.

Getting this right enables a company to truly resonate with its new target markets and meet its customer needs effectively. In turn, a successful localization strategy will mean your potential customers will feel connected and familiar with your brand.

A solid localization strategy will serve ultimately increase your revenue. But where should you start?

Planning your localization strategy

So now let’s take go into more detail on our 4 must-have tips when planning and creating your localization strategy.

To start, every business should consider the following when planning their localization strategy: 

  1. Learn from your local audience
  2. Maximizing translation and localization
  3. Understanding the competition
  4. Cater content to each foreign market

1. Learn from your local audience

You cannot produce an effective localization strategy without understanding the market you’re about to enter. 

Marketing to new audiences can be dangerous if you don’t think ahead. You must get to know the countries you’ll be doing business in as it can potentially damage your brand reputation and even offend your new target audience if you get your messaging wrong. 

Cultural nuances and imagery are just a couple of the elements that you’ll need to get right.

What’s the first step? Consumer-focused research.  

Once you’ve decided on the markets you want to enter, you’ll need to determine how strong the market opportunity actually is. The best way to do this is by working with a local partner or have someone physically in that market to really understand the needs and values of your new customers. 

Working with local experts is essential because this is how you’ll get accurate, localized experience and feedback. 

Local partners can help you determine must-knows such as

  • Whether there’s a demand for your product
  • Which brands are your main competition
  • How people purchase within that country
  • The key cultural differences to pay close attention to

There are a number of simple things that might not mean anything in your home country but can have a big impact on a new one. For example, you have to consider the details down to your brand colors, since certain colors or even color combinations may offend people.

Getting a handle on who your local audience is and what they expect is the most important part of your strategy because it’s what will provide the structure for everything you do after. Take in-country feedback very seriously.

2. Maximizing translation and localization

Language will always play a big part in your localization strategy as it’s how you’ll effectively communicate with your new markets. Translating your content, marketing messages, and even considering different social media accounts will allow you to speak to your audience.

Whether you’re using website translation solutions like Weglot where you’ll benefit from a first layer of machine translation (with post-editing features) or going down a more traditional translation route – including a ‘human’ element to your content will develop trust in your new markets.

When we say ‘human’ we mean using a native speaker to look over your translations to adapt the content to include nuances and idioms familiar to your new audience. Simply translating from English to a new target language won’t always incorporate cultural nuance.

A few grammatical errors are never great, but even worse, if you ignore localization within translation is that you can very easily offend.

At Weglot, we’ve always been big advocates of mixing machine and human translation to fine-tune your translation and optimize it for localization. 

Machine translation quickly provides a first layer of translation. This saves time for the translator (and money for you) because they can head in to make any required changes, to perfect it.

However, what about translating imagery? It’s not just words that need be translated to give a better sense of localization. You wouldn’t show a snowy winter scene to depict the Christmas period in sunny, warm Australia, would you? It’s these types of detail-oriented and thoughtful localization efforts that win you favor in your local markets and help you fit in with your audience.

Once you’ve sorted out the content localization side of things, don’t forget about multilingual SEO. There’s no point in having all this translated content if you’re not going to be found in your new target market. 

3. Understanding the competition

You might be tempted to look at an oversaturated local market and think there’s no room for you. That’s not necessarily true, though, so don’t allow this to put you off. A competitive target market can equal a strong market. 

However, a competitive market does mean that you’ll have to find creative and eye-catching ways to stand out. Consider enhancing your offering with features your competitors don’t have –– fill in that gap that customers want but brands aren’t catering to yet.

We don’t necessarily mean product-wise, either –– you don’t have to create a new line of products just to win favor with your audience. Quicker, easier and more cost-effective wins include creating value-added services, like better customer support or more reliable processes (faster shipping, for example). These are easy changes to implement,and they’ll build that all-important trust element once again.

The customer experience is key to having someone buy from your global brand instead of shopping from a competitor. When a local competitor has become complacent in a certain area of their business, you can swoop in and win over potential customers by fulfilling that need or expectation.

One more tip for creating a competitive advantage: emphasize your brand values and adapt them to your new market. Audiences that connect with your views and values are more likely to stay engaged and approach your company with interest. 

Essentially, authenticity sells –– and this is clear in all global markets.

To recap, it’s important that your business finds its own brand authenticity and style of customer engagement to stand out from the crowd.

4. Cater content to each foreign market

When looking at the content marketing side of things, different markets will need different approaches. This can even come down to small things like the tone and language of your brand messaging, which might need to be dramatically adjusted for new markets.

It sounds like a lot of work (and it is), but in the long run, it will pay off. 

Use what you’ve discovered from your consumer research to determine whether there are any cultural differences, taboos or events that you need to take into consideration or add to your localization process. 

Successful marketing campaigns use the correct channels to target the right audience.

For example, around 70% of marketers worldwide produce social media content to engage with customers and promote their brand. It’s one of the most-used inbound marketing strategies. 

But, having just one social media account for your global brand won’t be enough. You’ll need to consider having a specific one for each country to actively get involved in the local community. 

Just look at China, for example – it doesn’t have the same social media channels as Western Europe. Weibo is the social media of choice here, not Facebook, so working with a local partner who understands the platform will be hugely beneficial.

Being successful on social media requires more than just creating an online presence. Setting up a profile and casually updating it with promotional content isn’t enough. You need to actively engage with customers and share information that’s relevant to their needs and interests. 

Summary

The most important step you can take is testing your localization strategy to determine what you’re doing (and what you need to do) in each foreign market.

You’ve done the research and you understand your new target audience. Now it’s time to get out there and put it into practice. 

Remember that building trust with new audiences takes time. Don’t expect your localization strategy to be an overnight success. Here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Focus on understanding your new market with consumer-focused research. Teaming up with a local partner is key.
  • Prioritize website content localization with additional human translations.
  • Stand out from your competition by offering value-added services.
  • Produce authentic local content that’s targeted to your global audience, and use the correct social media channels and offline spaces.
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