Top 12 things to consider when localizing your digital marketing

By Acclaro
More info

To grow your business in any crowded market with many choices for consumers, you must invest the time and budget to adapt your company’s marketing strategy to the local language and culture. That’s what makes localization, specifically localized digital marketing, a must for brands that want global success.

Research by Common Sense Advisory shows that 65% of consumers prefer content in their language, and 40% will not buy in other languages. That’s a significant amount of people left in the lurch and potential revenue left untapped.

These numbers tell a clear story: marketing localization must be at the heart of any go-to-market strategy. Yet, that effort is about a lot more than words. We’ll walk you through it.

The benefits of localized digital marketing campaigns

It’s important to truly understand the benefits you’ll be getting so you can justify your investment. Localized marketing campaigns and culturally relevant content build genuine and deep connections with your local audiences, triggering multiple positive outcomes:

  • Improved findability online: localized content marketing efforts and local SEO practices will improve your search engine rankings.
  • Increased engagement (shares, likes, comments): with localized content, people feel understood and valued, which makes them want to connect with your brand.
  • Increased brand awareness: content that is adapted for a specific market will gain attention over other brands.
  • Improved conversion rates: people take the actions intended by the marketing content, driving consistent revenue growth.
  • Stronger brand loyalty and customer retention: stronger connections support brand loyalty, leading to repeat business and long-term relationships.
  • Competitive differentiation: localized marketing helps you stand out among other international brands that don’t fully localize their marketing content

Now that we’ve established why marketing localization matters to your business, let’s look at the key factors to consider when developing your localized marketing strategy. Here are our 12 top considerations:

1. Speak your local customers’ language or dialect

The first and most crucial step in a localization project is choosing languages and regions to target. The best strategy here is to “follow the money”: prioritize markets where you anticipate growth or already see increasing interest in your products and services. When considering each market, determine which languages are essential. For example, in India, you’ll prioritize Hindi, Bengali, or Tamil based on regional demand and market potential.

If you target multiple countries with the same language, you may want to localize your marketing collateral for each local language or dialect and embed local language specifics and cultural norms into your efforts. Although it’s possible to use an “international” or generic version of languages like Spanish, which is understandable by those who speak any Spanish dialect, it’s specific to none of them. Localizing your digital marketing for each local language ensures that your content will have flavor and feel authentic because it matches your audience’s unique perspective and linguistic preferences. Target audiences will feel that the content speaks specifically to them, and you’ll build stronger connections with them.

For example, a “torta” is a sandwich in Mexico, but it refers to a cake in Spain. Numerous phrases and slang terms common in one Spanish-speaking country might be confusing or even inappropriate in another.

2. Conduct thorough market research for every target audience

Successful localization planning is audience-centered. (Just like marketing and advertising for your home market!) Online research, surveys, focus groups, and interviews are the best tools for gaining insights into what buyers in every target market expect from a company like yours. Complete your research with a peek into local competitors and industry reports to identify the latest trends and opportunities specific to each regional market.

Go beyond the surface to understand the reasons behind pain points and buying decisions. Elements like local economic conditions, culture, local laws, and regulations also influence your localized marketing strategy.

3. Find the most effective channels for each target market

Find out where your audience spends their time and how they engage with content to invest in strategic and efficient marketing efforts. In Spain, YouTube reaches 87.1% of internet users, making it a crucial platform for video content. Like in the US, Instagram and TikTok are increasingly popular among younger Spanish, while Facebook remains highly recognized and widely used. In contrast, WeChat plays a multifaceted role in China as a social network, messaging app, and payment platform.

Beyond social media, offline opportunities can further build trust and consolidate your presence in these markets. A notable example is Netflix’s marketing for the series “Money Heist” (“La Casa de Papel”). In Spain, the marketing campaign included online trailers, teasers, quizzes, memes, and interactive posts. Simultaneously, Netflix used billboards, fan events, and interactive experiences like escape rooms themed around the series. On the other side of the world, in the Philippines, Netflix went for giant outdoor projections on national landmarks. Moreover, its online campaign used an AR Instagram filter that could turn any peso bill (local currency) into an ad for the final season of the series.

4. Map out a market-specific content strategy

Once you’ve done your research, you can identify clear objectives for each market and match them with effective tactical activities. Do not assume that your content strategy will be the same for all your target markets.  For example, the timing for publication, content formats, and distribution will differ per market.

First, develop a calendar for localized marketing campaigns and content considering local timing and seasonality.  For instance, a New Year’s campaign can include global promotions and messages celebrating the new year with discounts and special deals across all markets. Locally, you need to tweak your message for Chinese New Year celebrations. Similarly, your content will differ in Australia, where you emphasize summer themes and back-to-school promotions that consider the Southern Hemisphere’s seasonal differences.

Next, opt for content formats that best resonate with your audience (videos, infographics, blog posts, short-form messages) and can be distributed using the proper marketing channels for that market (social media platforms, email, instant messaging apps, local websites).

5. Create local style guides

Instead of just translating your home market style guide, be sure to create style guidelines for the specific target market. Your tone and style, level of formality across different content types, usage of imagery, and formatting conventions should match local preferences and cultural norms. Your style guide should also include terms that must (or must not) be used.

6. Establish quality standards for the various types of content

Not all content requires the same level of detail and quality. High-stakes assets like industry reports and whitepapers demand meticulous attention to quality since inaccuracies could harm your credibility.

Similarly, highly branded global marketing collateral requires high-quality translation and cultural adaptation. These messages must resonate with diverse international audiences and effectively communicate your core values, so you’ll need local specialists to chime in and handle cultural nuances.

The quality standards can be more flexible for less critical content, such as routine updates, reviews, and other user-generated content. Such considerations are closely linked to the following recommendation and will significantly impact the choice of translation methods for a marketing localization project.

7. Decide on a translation method—human, AI, or hybrid

Choosing the best method depends on your content’s complexity and the required turnaround time. Complex or sensitive content requires professional translators proficient in language nuances and cultural contexts. On the other hand, translating with AI is fast and cost-effective but less accurate, so it’s more suitable for large volumes of straightforward text.

Ideally, a hybrid approach that balances speed, costs, and the latest localization trends can offer the best of both worlds. AI handles the initial translation, and human experts refine the output for accuracy and cultural relevance.

8. Use transcreation to overcome cultural differences

Transcreation is the art of re-creating copy in the target language while staying true to the original text’s intent. It’s often thought of as a creative adaptation of the original content. This way, each campaign is unique to the local market while preserving the overall theme and intended message.

Transcreation is most effective when performed by local experts (bicultural linguists) who understand the target audience and are proficient in both the source and target languages. Their comprehensive knowledge of cultural differences enables them to craft linguistically accurate, culturally relevant, engaging content.

9. Pinpoint your marketing localization priorities

You probably can’t localize all your marketing content into all languages due to budget constraints.  Start with the marketing assets that will likely be the first point of contact with local users. Localizing this core content helps you maintain a consistent brand identity and creates a solid first impression. Use your resources to localize top campaigns, core website pages, landing pages, and hero pieces (like a popular ebook or a mission/vision video) because they’ll most influence your audience.

After you’ve successfully localized these essential elements, you can gradually expand your localized marketing efforts to blog posts, secondary web pages, and social media content.

10. Increase your reach with multilingual SEO

Search habits can vary significantly with language and region, so a direct translation of keywords from English will rarely capture the search intent. For example, Germans might search for “Handy” instead of the German word-to-word translation of the term “mobile phone.”

Further, depending on the countries you localize for, you may need to optimize for search engines like Baidu in China or Naver in South Korea. Each search engine has its own ranking factors and demands tailored search engine optimization strategies.

Create a dedicated glossary of terms within your translation management system to manage keywords effectively across multiple languages. Include the chosen keywords and how they change across countries to ensure consistency and accuracy in keyword usage throughout the localization project.

11. Maintain your brand across markets

The ultimate goal is to create an experience that feels both globally consistent and locally relevant. Maintaining a consistent brand involves preserving key elements such as your logo, color scheme, core values, and overall messaging tone. This consistency builds a unified image that customers can identify with.

Yet, while your core message must remain the same, how you communicate it should be tailored to respect cultural differences. This could involve using region-specific idioms, addressing local pain points, or highlighting aspects of your product or service that are particularly relevant to that market.

12. Hire specialized localization services

Transcreation and localizing marketing content require professional transcreators—experts with language and writing skills for crafting culturally relevant content that preserves brand essence. This process requires a nuanced understanding of cultural subtleties, idioms, and contextual references only specialized experts can provide. Local experts can guide you on what might be culturally sensitive or inappropriate and how to position yourself in the market.

Specialized localization services offer a range of expertise beyond translation. These services include localization engineering, which is necessary for your software, websites, and applications to function seamlessly in different regions. They also understand cultural adaptation, multimedia localization, and multilingual SEO, among other areas.

Effective marketing localization strategy example: Microsoft

An excellent example of a successful global marketing strategy is Microsoft, which excels in balancing global recognition with adapting marketing campaigns to local audiences. The brand preserves its identity and positioning as a global tech leader, but it tailors its products and marketing strategies to meet unique needs and preferences. Microsoft’s Office software is available in dozens of localized versions (we count 92 here), including features and templates relevant to specific regions.

In terms of marketing, Microsoft adapts its campaigns to reflect cultural nuances and local preferences. For example, the launch of Windows 10 in China emphasized collaboration with local companies like Tencent and Lenovo, while in India, the focus was on educational initiatives and digital literacy.

In various regions, Microsoft local teams offer support in multiple languages and engage with local communities through events, partnerships, and educational programs.

Are you ready to implement a localized marketing strategy?

Localization and global marketing strategies enhance user engagement, build trust, and fuel brand loyalty. They’re your brand’s way of demonstrating empathy, respect for your target audience and their culture, and a willingness to meet their expectations.

With so many benefits, your localized strategies will soon become your top competitive edge. You enter new markets with the right foot forward: Your content appeals directly to local consumers, encourages conversions, and improves customer experience.

Let’s recap how you make it happen:

  • Specific content marketing strategies for foreign markets
  • Collaboration with localized marketing and transcreation experts
  • Content relevance for global audiences
  • Compliance with local regulations and cultural norms
  • Multilingual SEO and regional keywords
  • Country-specific marketing channels
  • Consistent voice and messaging

At Acclaro, we can help with all the above and more. Our strategic translation and localization agency can help you thrive across multiple languages and cultures. With over 20 years of helping brands engage local audiences and build customer loyalty, we provide customized solutions for marketing localization to help you meet your business goals.

Ready to build new global opportunities with a localized marketing strategy? Start today!

Power your strategic growth

Go beyond tactical localization with tailored, strategic solutions that resonate locally and drive growth globally.

Get started