International marketing

Localized Marketing: Definition and How to Build an Effective Strategy (Complete 2023 Guide)

Localized Marketing: Definition and How to Build an Effective Strategy (Complete 2023 Guide)
Elizabeth Pokorny
Written by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Elizabeth Pokorny
Written by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Elizabeth Pokorny
Reviewed by
Updated on
May 21, 2024

We may live in a globalized and connected world. But when it comes to marketing your business, putting your local audience first is a must!

A primary goal of marketing is to raise brand awareness of your products, and communicate their benefits so that people will want to buy them. And to do this effectively, you’ll need to speak your customers’ language and show how your products will address their specific needs and pain points.

Enter localized marketing, which strives to create website content and marketing campaigns tailored to the local context, no matter which geographical region you’re rolling them out in. Businesses that do localized marketing right can benefit from greater ease of entry into new markets, more customer goodwill, and higher global sales. So let’s explore in detail what localized marketing is, its benefits, and how you can implement a localized marketing strategy that helps you conquer new markets.

What is Localized Marketing?

Localization is the process of adapting a brand, product, or service for a specific local context. Even though this brand, product, or service may have originated from a foreign source, localization aims to customize them so they seem as if they had been specially created for the local market.

Marketing localization can thus call for:

  • Translating your content marketing collateral into the native languages of the local market.
  • Changing the style and layout of various marketing assets to match the target audience’s purchasing preferences.
  • Modifying the visuals, design, and color of your marketing collateral to appeal to the target market’s preferences or local customs.
  • Marketing your products via communication channels popular in that market.
  • Setting up your product pages to show prices in the local currency and/or use the appropriate units of measure (e.g. the Imperial or metric system).
  • Displaying dates, addresses, and phone numbers in the locally accepted format.
  • Ensuring that your global marketing campaigns comply with local regulations.

Why Localize Your Marketing Efforts?

With personalization being the name of the game now, customers prefer to buy from brands that they can relate to in terms of values, aspirations, and of course, language. Executing localized marketing campaigns thus improves the customer experience and helps you build rapport with your audience.

This loyal base of local customers, who hold your brand in high regard, may then need less persuasion to place orders with you. As a result, you enjoy increased conversion rates and cost savings on ad spend.

We can also see the importance of localized marketing from the negative consequences of not doing so – to which even global brands aren’t immune. Take international bank HSBC, for example: in the late 2000s, the bank adopted “Assume Nothing” as its tagline. Unfortunately, the phrase was translated to “Do Nothing” in certain local markets. Not the most inspiring message when HSBC was trying to get more people to use its services instead of leaving their cash idle in their bank accounts.

Apple also slipped up in its localization efforts when releasing the Apple II Europlus computer product for the European market in 1978. While the business had changed the computer’s power supply to meet the European market’s needs, it forgot to modify the keyboard.

As a result, the Europlus came shipped with the standard American keyboard, which lacked characters commonly used in Europe such as accents and umlauts. It’s therefore no surprise that the Europlus was a flop, with production ceasing a mere five years later.

How to Implement a Localized Marketing Strategy for Your Business

1. Hire Local Experts and Do Your Research

Whether you’re venturing abroad or otherwise, marketing to any new audience can go wrong if you don’t do your homework beforehand. That’s because even the slightest mistake in branding your product, or in creating your marketing messages, can end up offending your target audience. You don’t want to turn them off your product even before they’ve had the chance to hold it in their hands!

Therefore, aim to have a good grasp of:

  • Your target audience’s demographics,
  • The languages they speak (including slang or dialects),
  • Their local culture,
  • Their likes and dislikes,
  • Their aspirations and challenges faced, and so on.

If budget permits, hire a local team of experts to assist with research. After all, who else can give you accurate input on local culture than a person who’s experienced life there firsthand?

Also, don’t dismiss geographical dissimilarities when crafting your marketing personas. For example, you can’t treat the entire United States as one unit – there are significant differences in accents and jargon among the various states that you’ll need to work into your marketing. Similarly, if you’re marketing your product in India, be aware that over 120 languages are spoken in the country alone! How will you tailor your digital marketing campaigns accordingly?

2. Adapt Your Marketing Collateral for the Local Market

It’s a common misconception that localization simply means translating text from one language to another. You’ll also need to adapt all aspects of your marketing – including your colors and communication channels – for a great user experience.

For a website, don’t overlook the localization of elements such as:

  • Website graphics: This is especially if the original graphics may not be well-received by the local audience.
  • Product pricing: Display prices in the foreign market’s local currency so visitors don’t have to do currency conversions themselves.
  • Units of measure: Such as for clothing sizes, or weight measurements.
  • Call to action buttons: Ensure that the buttons still look presentable (not too long or short, for example) after you’ve translated their text.
  • Website footer information: Including the fine print.
  • Terms of use, privacy policy, and cookies policy: Work with a lawyer familiar with local laws to rework or redraft such legal texts as necessary.

Wherever possible, tap on tools to simplify and speed up the localization process. For example, our Weglot website localization platform is especially suited for translating large volumes of text quickly and accurately (more on this below!). Note: you can start your free trial of Weglot right now, and you’ll have a multilingual website in a matter of minutes.

3. Optimize Your Website and Communication Channels for Local Users and Search Engines

For search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, be sure to cater to search intent when localizing your website content. The meanings of keywords can vary between markets, and you’ll want your localized content to rank for the right keywords and fulfill the searcher’s needs.

And because marketing is more than making search engines happy, use the right communication channels for spreading marketing messages to humans as well! For instance, forget about marketing via Facebook in China – that platform has been blocked in the country since 2009. Instead, WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin, among others, are where Chinese social media users are at.

Also, set up separate social media accounts for each target market. Doing so will help you launch targeted social media marketing campaigns for users in specific countries. As an example, sporting giant Adidas has at least five different Instagram accounts for the global, London, Singaporean, Indonesian, and South Korean markets respectively!

4. Humanize Your Brand

People prefer buying from brands that speak to them like a friend, rather than faceless corporations. Hence, take steps to humanize your brand and products so that your target audience can identify with and relate to you. Once you’ve established trust with your customers, you’ll find it much easier to persuade them to open their wallets.

Here are some ways of humanizing a brand:

  • Incorporate local languages and slang into your product packaging: Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign does this well. Whichever region Coca-Cola rolls this campaign out in, the brand releases bottles featuring names and terms of address common to the people there. For example, you can share a Coke with “Didi” in India, or with “María” in Spain.
  • Hire local celebrities or influencers as brand ambassadors: A marketing campaign featuring a foreign celeb unknown to your target audience will just fly over their heads, so collaborate with local stars whom they know and love!
  • Adjust your international marketing assets for cultural differences and nuances: If you’re entering the Australian market, for instance, then you may want to greet your audience with “G’day” in your ads.
  • Feature local holidays and festivals in your holiday campaigns: While Christmas is a major annual event in much of the Western world, it isn’t officially celebrated in countries such as Thailand. Therefore, if you launch a Christmas holiday campaign in Thailand, it’s unlikely to get much traction. The Thai water festival of Songkran is big in the Land of Smiles though, so you can build a marketing campaign around it instead!

5. Track the Performance of Your Localized Marketing Campaigns

Localization is a never-ending process. Measure the impact of your localized marketing campaigns, and constantly experiment with new ways of connecting with your audience. There’s also no better way of getting feedback on your campaigns than hearing from your local consumers themselves. Some effective methods of collecting customer feedback include:

  • Holding focus groups to explore how potential customers feel about your latest advertising campaign.
  • Setting up a post-purchase email sequence that requests customers to fill out an online feedback form.
  • Posting online polls on social media.

Also, don’t stop just at localized marketing. Brainstorm other means of adapting your brand to delight local users even further. Have you offered customer support in their native languages? What about designing a product specially for that market? The possibilities are endless.

Potential Pitfalls to Navigate When Undertaking a Localized Marketing Strategy

When implementing your localized marketing strategy, be aware of these challenges!

  • Localization can be time-consuming and expensive: This is especially if you have a lot of material to localize and you’re manually translating significant portions of it.
  • Localization can be tricky: If you don’t know what you’re doing, you may end up making mistakes (see the localization horror stories above).
  • Maintaining quality and accuracy can be difficult: Working with professional translation providers and transcreators can help with this, though their services may not come cheap.
  • There are nuances to consider when localizing your brand: As a result, you may need to significantly redo your marketing campaigns to better appeal to a global audience.
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How Can Weglot Help With Your Localized Marketing Efforts?

Fortunately, Weglot makes localization much less arduous for businesses that want to localize their website. Weglot is a no-code localization tool that effortlessly integrates with all leading website platforms, from WordPress to Shopify and more. It uses a proprietary mix of machine learning translations to instantly translate text to practically any language you can think of.

You can manage and refine your translations centrally within a cloud-based dashboard, and also add your marketing team and professional translators to your project for ease of collaboration. Other localization must-haves, such as the automatic implementation of hreflang tags and a glossary for translation consistency, are also bundled into Weglot’s comprehensive platform.

As you localize your marketing, Weglot will prove itself to be a worthwhile investment, helping you save time and money without compromising on translation quality.

Get Started With Localized Marketing With Weglot

Localizing your marketing campaigns can go a long way in helping you win the hearts and minds of your local audiences – and there’s no better time to start than now. Use the above guide to implement localized marketing for your business, then regularly refine your efforts to maintain their effectiveness. Don’t forget that marketing trends are constantly evolving, and you’ll need to keep up!

Weglot is perfect for not just localizing your website in a one-and-done project, but also for tweaking your translations as the culture and preferences of your local markets change over time. Its central dashboard gives you a bird’s eye view of all your translations and helps you conveniently edit them in one place. Once approved, your changes will also be pushed to your website for visitors to view right away.

With Weglot’s powerful website localization functionality, you’ll be able to create a first strong impression when entering a new market, and then continue to get incredible results for your localized marketing campaigns. Sign up to start using Weglot for free here.

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