Marketing plays a crucial role in every international expansion strategy. It not only introduces a brand, product, or service to new audiences, but it must also persuade them to take action. It’s this persuasive component that makes marketing localization unique.
Unlike software or eLearning, marketing localization takes cultural adaptation one step further by recreating a brand’s voice and tone. For example, a brand that uses snarky humor in English may sound disrespectful in Japanese. To avoid this, a marketing translator may culturally adapt the copy to maintain the humorous tone in a way that isn’t offensive.
Now that you know why brands opt for marketing localization, you’re likely wondering when you should consider using this method of adaptation. Here are a few scenarios:
- You’re entering a new market
- You’re launching a new product or service in an existing market
- You’re launching a new brand or marketing campaign
- You want to connect with audiences on an emotional and/or cultural level
Simply put, you’ll want to localize content as long as you’re marketing a product or service in that particular market. However, the degree to which you need to adapt content will depend on its intent. This can range from marketing translation alone (adapting the text) to completely localizing marketing assets (i.e., altering designs, re-recording videos, etc.).
The benefits of localizing marketing content
Marketing localization requires an upfront investment, but don’t let this deter you. When done right, it more than pays for itself by offering numerous benefits such as:
- Decreasing barriers to entry. Many markets require brands to alter product names, designs, or images before they can launch. For example, some Islamic countries have strict dress codes for advertising campaigns.
- Gaining a competitive advantage. You’ll differentiate your brand from competitors who either don’t localize content or use an approach other than marketing localization that results in localized content that doesn’t convert.
- Building brand loyalty. When you connect with audiences on an emotional and cultural level, you’ll enjoy a more loyal customer base. That’s because you’ve shown you care about their needs and preferences.
With all this in mind, you should consider localizing the following marketing assets:
- Company website
- Landing pages
- eBooks, white papers, and other downloadable assets
- Email campaigns
- Search marketing – organic and paid
- Ad copy including slogans and taglines
- Social media campaigns
- Event assets
- Video and multimedia content
- Corporate communications like press releases
This ensures potential buyers can access your most important marketing content in their preferred language, which will help you build brand trust and loyalty.
How to find prospective language service providers (LSPs)
Now that you know a little more about marketing localization, let’s take a look at how to find an expert language service provider. Below are four ways to find—and evaluate—potential partners.
Search on Google or other search engines
As you review company websites, look for information about marketing translation and localization. Do they have a dedicated web page for these services? Do they have any blog posts, case studies, and/or testimonials that highlight these types of projects? All of this can offer insight into how they approach client work.
Ask connections or industry peers for recommendations
Recommendations are one of the easiest ways to find out if a localization partner would be a good fit. If you know any marketing professionals who recently launched global marketing campaigns, talk to them about their experience. Ask questions such as:
- How well does the organization know your industry?
- Did they deliver on-time, quality translation work?
- How easy was it to work with them?
- Would you work with them again?
Check translation industry company rankings at sites like Nimdzi and Slator
Industry publications release yearly rankings of the top 100 LSPs. These lists are based on the size and revenue of an organization and include information such as location and business verticals. They’re a great way to find a translation agency that offers marketing localization services.
Search comparison websites
Comparison websites such as G2 provide reviews, pricing, and information about business verticals and market segments. These sites can give you a general idea of what services cost and whether an organization works with businesses of your size.
Questions to ask prospective language service providers
After you do some initial research, it’s time to start reaching out. Below is a list of questions that will help you determine whether an LSP is a good fit.
How experienced is your company with translation and localization services for marketing content?
The translation agency should have a deep understanding of all aspects of marketing localization. You want a partner that can scale and continue to meet your needs as your localization program grows.
Are linguists experienced in my industry domain?
In addition to marketing expertise, you need a localization partner that has a roster of linguists who understand your industry and trains them on your brand. This helps ensure that they use the correct terminology, industry jargon, and tone for your audience.
How do you source linguists? What type of qualifications and experience do they have?
Linguists must be native speakers of the target language and live in the target country. That’s because marketing translations require an in-depth understanding of the current linguistic and cultural norms.
In addition to language and location, ask the LSP how they evaluate a linguist’s work and how many years of experience they require.
Going beyond text, how do you deliver marketing localization for integrated campaigns that include social, email, video, search, etcetera?
Learning more about how a potential localization partner manages large scale programs will help you determine whether they can meet most or all of your marketing needs now and in the future.
When localizing marketing content, how do you maintain brand consistency and language quality?
Marketing localization experts can help you develop a style guide and glossary that enables linguists to recreate your brand voice in the target language(s). To maintain consistency across all translations, linguists should use a tool called a translation memory to capture and automatically translate branding terms and preferred definitions.
The QA process should also include steps to ensure all content meets your brand standards—including specific language and terminology. The QA team will use the style guide, glossary, and translation memory as references when they check for translation errors.
What are your typical turnaround times? Feel free to provide an estimate for each target language and type of marketing content.
This will help you determine whether the localization partner can meet the deadline for a planned international launch. Keep in mind that projects can take weeks to months, so you’ll want to reach out to candidates well in advance.
Do you provide post translation services for collateral (DTP)?
In the translation space, desktop publishing (DTP) involves adjusting the layout of translated documents to accommodate text expansion or contraction. Think of this as putting the finishing touches on your customer-facing multilingual content.
Do you integrate with marketing tools, such as marketing automation platforms (MAP)?
This is key if you plan on localizing content on an ongoing basis. Many LSPs use tools that integrate with your marketing tech stack and can automate much of the localization process to increase efficiency.
Is your approach different for marketing content vs. other types of content?
The LSP’s answer will offer some insight into their marketing localization process, and help you determine whether it aligns with your vision.
Can you provide samples of marketing content that you localized?
Ask for industry relevant samples and share them with someone on your team who speaks the target language. This will help you evaluate the quality of their work.
How do you price your services?
The international standard for pricing translations is per word. However, localization might involve other work like adapting images, localization engineering, and project management, which will all impact the price.
At a minimum, localization providers need to know the target language(s), type and volume of content, and turn-around time to create an estimate. You should also share any additional information that could be relevant, and ask how they would come up with that estimate. This will help you compare prices, as not all agencies use the same pricing model.
How to generate a shortlist and make a final selection
We recommend requesting three to five references from each vendor that meets your criteria, specifically for marketing localization. If possible, schedule a call or online meeting with selected references. This will ensure that the chosen vendor has competency in marketing-specific content.
Acclaro: A marketing localization partner you count on
As you can see, selecting a language service provider with marketing localization experience takes time and careful research. You want a partner that not only provides guidance, but can scale with your brand as it grows.
At Acclaro, we develop strategic, scalable localization programs that are tailored to your marketing needs. Our customizable, automated processes allow you to efficiently localize content across channels—while meeting deadlines for goals and growth. From cultural adaptation to translation and editing, we have you covered.
Want to learn more about how Acclaro can bring your brand vision to life? Contact us today.