Global content localization best practices: Tips for expanding into international markets

By Acclaro
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Global content localization best practices

Netflix, Coca-Cola, Nike…some global brands seem to just succeed automatically abroad because of who they are. But that’s not luck or the halo effect; it’s smart content localization at work—and it can work for your brand, too. But getting it right can be a tightrope walk for businesses trying to connect with audiences far and wide. It’s a tricky mix: keeping your brand’s voice and message consistent while adapting to different cultures, all without breaking the bank.

In this guide, we’ll share our roadmap of content localization best practices to help get your business off to a running start as you expand into international markets.

But first, what is “content”?

Content is any kind of information that buyers engage with. It can be informational, entertaining, educational, inspiring, or persuasive. Brands use content to drive awareness, generate loyalty, solve problems, and increase sales. Content can take many forms:

  • Written: blog posts, articles, ebooks, white papers, case studies, newsletters, website copy, user manuals, FAQs, reviews
  • Visual: images, photos, illustrations, videos, infographics, memes
  • Audio: podcasts, webinars
  • Interactive: quizzes, polls, games, chats

What is global content localization?

Content localization is more than just translation. It’s a process of adapting your content to connect culturally and emotionally with audiences worldwide. Instead of just swapping words from one language to another, it includes tweaking images, colors, and cultural references so that your humor lands well in London and your slogans sing in Shanghai.

Why is content localization strategy crucial?

Whether your goal is to conquer new markets or to maximize your success in existing markets, a winning content localization strategy gives you the following advantages: 

To get the best possible returns from your content localization strategy, we recommend implementing the following best practices:

Start with a winning global content strategy

Developing a strong global content strategy is all about a deep understanding of your audience and smart planning. Start by getting to know your target markets inside out through research and customer conversations. What are their preferences, beliefs, buying habits, and values? Where do they go for their information? It’s crucial to grasp what resonates with your audience. 

Then, lay out a clear strategy for how your content will be created, adapted for your various markets, and rolled out across different platforms. Think about the best channels to connect with your audience. Are they active on social media, or do they read blogs? And don’t forget, while adapting to local preferences, your content should always stay true to your brand’s core message and push your business objectives forward.

Create content with localization in mind

Crafting content for a global audience means optimizing for localization right from the beginning of the content creation process. We call this internationalization. While localization involves adapting content to suit local markets, internationalization involves crafting source content that is as universal and easy to adapt as possible.

Start with simple, fluff-free copy; it will be easier to translate. Idioms and figures of speech can be troublesome because they may not make sense in the target language when translated word-for-word. Humor can also fall flat since what people find funny can vary from culture to culture.

Instead, embrace simplicity in wording, imagery, and design to maximize global appeal from the start. And remember, give your content some wiggle room, both figuratively and literally. That doesn’t just mean letting translators tweak it a bit so it hits just right in each market. It means leaving enough space in your designs for the text to expand and contract as it’s translated from one language to another.

For images, try to keep text out of the images themselves. This will minimize the amount of labor that has to be duplicated during the localization process.

Rely on proven processes to maximize efficiency

Efficiency in global content creation hinges on tried-and-true processes.

  • Develop a style guide and glossary to provide your localization team with a roadmap for a consistent brand voice in every language. A style guide details your tone of voice and messaging preferences, and a glossary is a database of preapproved translations for various words and phrases so they get translated the same way every time. 
  • A rigorous proofreading and linguistic quality assurance (QA) process is also a must for linguistic accuracy and cultural fit. For software and websites, don’t forget to conduct functional testing for UI elements and interactive features.
  • Maintaining legal compliance across regions is crucial too. Different countries have different regulations, and that may mean you need to change your approach when it comes to items like product labeling and certain marketing claims. 
  • Use software integrations to improve efficiency. Finding localization tools that work with the tools you already use to manage your content pipeline saves time and hassle. These integrations can automate mundane tasks, streamline your workflow, and make sure that updates or changes are seamlessly implemented across all platforms and languages. It’s about smartly managing your content pipeline, reducing manual effort, and keeping everything running like a well-oiled machine. 

Choose a trusted localization agency to partner with

Successful localization requires both cultural and subject matter expertise. That means you’ll get the best results when you work with a team that’s knowledgeable in both the target language and culture and your specific industry, whether that’s ecommerce, software, financial services, media & entertainment, or nonprofits.

Your ideal localization agency should also have a proven track record of success in the market where you’re aiming to make an impact. It should also have a strong network of in-market linguists who understand the nuances of the local language and culture and have relevant subject matter expertise. This winning combination will give you content that’s spot-on, culturally sensitive, and linguistically accurate.

Measure the success of your content localization initiatives

How will you know if your multilingual content initiatives are hitting the mark? Start by setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) early on, and make sure they’re closely aligned with your business objectives.

Depending on those objectives, the metrics you track could include:

  • Click-through rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Number of sign-ups 
  • Engagement rate
  • Market share
  • Revenue growth 

These indicators will provide tangible evidence of how your localized content is performing, allowing you to make data-driven decisions and adjust your strategy for even greater effectiveness.

Unleash your brand’s global potential

Content localization isn’t just about translating; it’s about connecting, engaging, and making an impact in every corner of the globe. From crafting content that sings in every language to measuring success with sharp KPIs, it’s all about smart, strategic moves. And with Acclaro by your side, you’ve got the expertise to make your global dreams a reality.

With content localization, we can turn your brand into a global powerhouse. Contact our global content experts to get started.

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