Customers prefer brands that truly understand them. That means speaking their language and knowing their culture. If your company does business globally, then localization is crucial for your success.
Localization is the holistic approach to adapting your offerings and communications for different markets. Translation is one part of the process, but it goes far beyond that. Localization touches every aspect of the customer experience.
Before you begin, you need a localization plan
The majority of marketers recognize the power of localization to deliver big benefits for their business. In a 2023 survey, 84% of respondents said that localization had either a moderately or highly positive effect on their revenues. Companies that invest in translation are 2.04 times more likely to record an increase in profits and 1.27 times more likely to boost earnings per share.
Depending on its scope, your localization initiative may be complex and may require a significant investment. It takes careful localization planning to meet your goals and make the most of your budget.
The big picture: 10 important questions to ask before localization planning begins
To prepare for your planning process, you need to consider key aspects of your localization and what you hope to accomplish with it. Answering these ten questions is a good way to get started.
What is the purpose of localization?
Different kinds of localization work require different approaches and resources. Defining the purpose of your localization will help you plan the languages, tools, and budget you’ll need to complete it.
What are your target markets and who are your target audiences?
It’s vital to establish whom you’re trying to reach. You’ll need to know your audience’s language and their country or region. Spanish for Spain will be translated differently than Spanish for Latin America, for instance.
What is your deadline?
When thinking about timing, consider any specific needs you may have for the localized content. Maybe your website localization should be completed before a new product launches. Once you’ve decided on a deadline, you can create a timeline, establish key milestones, and manage the work to keep it on schedule.
What is your total budget?
Different translation methods come with different price tags. Machine translation typically requires less investment than work done by human translators. A full-service translation and localization agency can help you determine the best approach to meet your goals while also staying within your budget.
What are your desired outcomes?
Being clear about what you hope to get out of localization can help ensure that you achieve it. If you want to attract new audiences to your ecommerce site, for example, your localization process will need to take into account differences in currencies and payment methods in order to be successful.
What resources do you need to complete localization?
There are different translation methods and tools available. Consider if machine translation will suffice for your content or if you’ll need human translation or even transcreation. Take stock of the resources your company already has available. Do you have translators on staff or partner with a localization services provider (LSP)? Has your company invested in a translation management system (TMS)? You should also decide what quality standards you’ll need for your translations, how much time you have, and what your budget is.
What are the potential risks and challenges?
Localization can be a complex undertaking, so it’s important to anticipate potential challenges and plan for them in advance. There are many steps in the process and numerous team members involved. How will you manage internal communication and structure your workflows to keep your localization initiative on track?
How will you measure success?
Tracking the performance of your localized content is crucial. It allows you to understand what is and isn’t working, so you can optimize your efforts. Choose KPIs that align to the overall goals of your localization effort. These can be metrics that focus on the localization process itself, such as time, cost, and quality, or on the end result, such as impact on your business or performance of your website or apps.
Will your localization initiative be ongoing?
To effectively plan your timeline and resources, it’s important to consider whether your localization initiative can be completed in a single phase or if ongoing work is needed.
How often will you need to make product or content updates?
You’ll also want to look ahead to the future of your localization effort. What will drive the need for updates? Are you expecting new products to launch? How often will content need to be updated for changing market conditions?
5 key steps for planning your localization work
Now that you’ve thought through some fundamental questions about your localization, you’re ready to start planning. These five steps can help you make sure all the bases are covered.
1. Define the vision for your localization efforts
Localization has the power to expand your company’s audiences, drive revenues, and boost profits—as long as you approach it strategically.
Start by considering your organization’s near- and long-term international business goals. How does your initiative align with these goals? How can your ongoing localization efforts help your company make progress toward its larger objectives?
2. Establish the scope of your localization
Once your goals have been defined, it’s time to think through the details of the work. You’ll need to determine:
Which products or content to localize
What needs to be prioritized
What can be localized later
What the likely timeline is
When your deadlines are
3. Do your research
The more you know about your target markets and audiences, the more successful your localization will be. You’ll need insights into customer preferences and purchasing decisions, as well as the ways cultural practices, customs, and norms may differ from your domestic market. Also consider the overall business environment and competitive landscape. Being thorough in your research will give you the information you need to make the best possible decisions.
4. Plan your process
Now that you have a clear picture of your goals and scope, along with detailed information on your markets and audiences, you’re ready to plan out your process. Consider the entire workstream from start to finish. Define key milestones and create detailed timelines. Make sure all of this information is communicated to your entire team.
5. Partner with an experienced localization services provider (LSP)
Once you have a plan in place, turn to the experts to help you implement it. A full-service LSP will work with you throughout every step of your localization. The right agency will bring a wide range of tools and resources to the table—including specialized software, experienced translators, dedicated localization managers, and cultural experts—to help ensure your initiative meets its goals.
Move forward with confidence
Done right, localization can help win over new customers in markets around the world. Take the next step with an experienced LSP and start down the path to success.
At Acclaro, we’ve partnered with some of the world’s top global brands to plan and carry out a wide variety of localization programs. Contact us today to learn how we can work together to meet—and even exceed—your localization goals.