The importance of content localization cannot be understated. Former German Chancellor Willy Brandt famously said, “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen (you speak German).” And that statement still holds true today. In fact, more than 52 percent of internet users say that accessing information in their native language is more important than price.
However, translation is only the beginning—and relying on Google Translate isn’t enough. To truly connect with customers, you need a content localization strategy that allows you to tailor your brand to the local market.
What is content localization?
Content localization is the process of transforming content so it can be understood just as well in a target language for a new geographical location. It involves adapting text-based content, but can also include layout and design, images, and other aspects of the user experience.
Although localization is sometimes confused with translation, translation is the part of the process that renders the text into the target language. Localization goes beyond translation and alters the content to match the linguistic and cultural nuances of the target locale.
Why you need a content localization strategy
Localization of content and advertising can be costly. To maximize your return on investment (ROI), you need a content localization strategy to guide you through the process. While you may be tempted to rely on an ad hoc initiative, that can result in expensive mistakes and jeopardize future localization initiatives.
Here are three of the benefits of thoughtfully localizing your online marketing content.
Get more traffic and conversions
English speakers represent only 25.9 percent of all internet users. Localizing your website content for other languages will significantly expand your global reach. The additional traffic can help you connect with more customers, drive more sales, and increase revenue in new markets.
Gain consumer trust
Customers are more likely to buy from brands that translate content into their native language. Localized content reinforces the feeling that your product or service is for them, and helps you build brand authority.
Reap the benefits of SEO worldwide
Not everyone uses the same search terms in every language. You can rank for local search terms in your target markets by localizing and optimizing content for international SEO. Target markets outside the US typically see less competition, which gives you a competitive advantage.
Determine your localization strategy goals
As with any strategy, you should always start by setting goals. This will not only help you outline the next steps to take, but will help you get buy-in from stakeholders. We recommend using company and/or industry data to set realistic expectations.
Here are a few tips to get started on setting goals for your content localization strategy:
Set clearly defined goals for your content localization strategy. A few examples:
Improve market penetration by 10 percent
Obtain $xxx in revenue in the first 12 months
Increase localized content engagement by x%
Choose the best KPIs to track the success of your content localization strategy. For example:
Customer acquisition costs
Total localization costs relative to revenue
Number of leads generated
Once you’ve outlined what you want to achieve, determine which technology solutions, such as TMS platforms, will help you reach your localization goals. This will also help you develop a scalable localization growth strategy for additional markets.
Content localization: how to refine your strategy
Now that you know more about the benefits of content localization, let’s take a look at six tactics that will help you refine your strategy and determine how to localize your content.
Determine your highest priority target markets and languages
The first step of any content localization strategy is deciding which countries to target first. Start in markets where the demand for your product or service is the highest. This will increase your chances of success, and help you demonstrate the importance of localization for future market expansion.
So, how do you determine which markets should be your highest priority for content localization? Here are a few tips to help you decide:
View your web analytics to see which countries generate the most traffic. If you receive a large percentage of traffic from a specific locale, that may indicate a high demand.
Investigate country-specific search engines to gain more insight into potential customers’ online queries. Although Google is popular worldwide, you may not get the complete picture in a country like Russia, where Yandex is the most popular search engine.
Conduct market research to determine the best way to localize your content. For example, if you want to launch in Germany, a country where apps are popular, localizing your app should be a top priority. By understanding how people prefer to interact with brands, you’ll be better prepared to develop a successful content marketing localization program.
Evaluate your tech stack
Before you can start localizing content, you need to make sure your tech stack is localization-ready. This means your website, app, and/or software has the architecture to render content in any language and operate in different markets.
Developers typically do this during the development stage using a process known as internationalization. It’s possible to internationalize a website, app, or software program after its completion, but doing so can be more difficult.
Choose a trusted localization agency to partner with
In-house planning matters, but hiring the right localization agency is key for your success. That’s because the organization you choose will bring your vision to life. As you evaluate potential partners, consider the following:
Do they specialize in your industry and target market?
Do they have in-country linguists who can localize your content?
Do they have samples of similar work in your target languages?
What do past and existing customers say about them?
Keep in mind that localization is a collaborative process that requires working closely with a localization team. Even if an agency checks all the right boxes, you should still carefully vet them to ensure they’re the right fit.
Identify which content is the highest priority for localization
Not all content is created equal. Some content is an essential part of the user experience, while other content is “nice to have.” Start by identifying which types of content require localization, such as your website, along with top performing content that gets the most engagement. This is your highest priority content, and you’ll want to localize it first.
High priority content typically includes:
Brand and marketing content such as your company website, email and social media campaigns, and videos.
Product documentation for users such as Help sections, FAQs, user manuals, and product tutorials.
Legal content such as Terms of Service (ToS) and privacy policies.
eCommerce-specific content, when applicable, such as product descriptions, price sheets, and shipping information.
Leverage international SEO insights for marketing content localization
As you adapt content, be sure to incorporate relevant search terms and queries in the target language and locale. This will help your website, blog, videos, and other marketing content rank in search engines.
Keep in mind that some markets favor regional search engines over Google, which means you may need to optimize for those algorithms as well.
Measure the success of your content localization initiatives
Content localization is a long-term investment, which is why you need to track the success of your initiatives. You may want measure:
User engagement, such as website traffic, search engine rankings, and click-through-rates (CTRs)
Financial impact, such as new sales, revenue, and conversions
Return on investment (ROI)
These metrics will offer insights into how you can improve your content localization strategy, and can help you demonstrate the value of localization in financial terms.
As you can see, a well-developed content localization strategy will help you succeed in new markets. But you don’t have to do it alone. Acclaro offers the localization and global marketing services you need to take your brand anywhere.
Get started today to learn more about how we can customize a localization program for your unique brand.