What makes a brand stand out when entering new markets? Localization. For a successful market entry, you need to ‘think global but act local’ when it comes to achieving long-lasting success.
Finding the right balance between standardizing and localizing your global marketing strategy is something that many companies struggle with. It’s tempting to use just one strategy across the board to capture as broad an audience as possible – but this will likely lead to failure. Why? Because it lacks personalization.
Localization equals personalization. And personalization is at the top of the list when it comes to meeting the needs of your customers. It’s not only the key to customer retention and loyalty, but it will also help you expand your customer base.
Speaking to your new audience in a way that resonates with them is undoubtedly going to harness a better connection. But, be careful, localization is not the same as translation. Language is just one part of your localization strategy.
What is a Localization Strategy?
A localization strategy is a company’s overall plan and approach to adapting its content, offerings, and messaging in new countries. This means addressing the differences in language, culture, customer behavior, and social norms.
Working on your localization strategy makes your content and marketing messages more appealing to new audiences. The goal is to give the same look and feel to your brand of one created specifically for your new target market, irrespective of their native language, local culture, or religion.
A localization strategy should incorporate the following:
Target markets and languages spoken
Understand the culture and societal attitudes of the country
Purchasing habits and behaviors
A well-placed localization strategy will enhance customer experience and allow you to communicate your message to global audiences while maintaining your brand identity.
Getting this right enables a company to truly resonate with its new target markets and meet its customer needs effectively. In turn, a successful localization strategy will mean your potential customers will feel connected and familiar with your brand.
A solid localization strategy will ultimately increase your revenue. But where should you start?
Top 10 Tips to Build a Successful Localization Strategy
So now let’s go into more detail on our 10 must-have tips when planning and creating your localization strategy.
Every business should consider the following when planning their localization strategy:
Learn about the local audience through market research
Hire local experts to understand the market opportunity
Maximize translation and localization
Translate your media
Optimize your website for multilingual SEO
Understand the competition
Consider subtle nuances and leverage feedback
Adapt your brand identity and keep it authentic
Cater content to each foreign market
Localization doesn’t end here – keep going!
1. Learn About the Local Audience Through Market Research
Marketing to new audiences and international markets can be dangerous if you don’t think ahead. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the countries you want to do business in. If you get your messaging wrong, you can potentially damage your brand reputation and even offend your new target audience—forcing you to shutter your business there before even getting off the ground.
Cultural nuances and imagery are just a couple of the elements that you’ll need to get right throughout the different languages in your target markets.
What’s the first step? Consumer-focused research is crucial to identify the markets that are best suited for product expansion. This will help you get a fundamental understanding of your audience that acts as a base for your localization efforts. If you’re not sure where to start, consider working with an international SEO agency—they’ll know exactly what you should do.
2. Hire Local Experts to Understand the Market Opportunity
Once you’ve decided on the markets you want to enter, you’ll need to determine how strong the market opportunity actually is. The best way to do this is by working with a local partner or having someone physically in that market to truly understand the needs and values of your new customers.
Working with local experts is essential because this is how you’ll get accurate, localized experience and feedback.
Local partners can help you determine must-knows such as:
Whether there’s a demand for your product
Which brands are your main competition
How people purchases within that country
The key cultural differences to pay close attention to
3. Maximize Translation and Localization
Language will always play a big part in your localization strategy, as it’s how you’ll effectively communicate with your new markets. Translating your content and marketing messages, and even considering different social media accounts, will allow you to speak to your audience.
Whether you’re using website translation solutions like Weglot where you’ll benefit from a first layer of machine translation (with post-editing features) or go down a more traditional translation route, it’s clear that including a ‘human’ element to your content will develop trust in your new markets.
When we say ‘human,’ we mean using a native speaker to review your translations and adapt the content to include nuances and idioms that your new audience is familiar with. Simply translating from English to a new target language won’t always incorporate cultural context.
A few grammatical errors are never great, but they become even worse if you ignore localization within translation. If you’re not careful, you can very easily offend your audience and tank your reputation.
At Weglot, we’ve always been big advocates of mixing machine and human translation to get high-quality translation and optimize it for localization.
Machine translation quickly provides a first layer of translation. This saves time for the translator (and money for you) because they can head in to make any required changes, to perfect it.
4. Translate Your Media
Translating your website content includes translating and adapting imagery too. After all, it’s not just words that need to be translated to give a better sense of localization. You wouldn’t show a snowy winter scene to depict the Christmas period in sunny, warm Australia, would you? It’s these types of detail-oriented and thoughtful localization efforts that win you favor in your local markets and help you fit in with your audience.
Make sure to translate all your media like images and videos, and also localize your website design, layout, colors etc.
5. Optimize Your Website for Multilingual SEO
Once you’ve sorted out the content localization side of things, don’t forget about multilingual SEO. There’s no point in having all this translated content if you’re not going to be found by your new target market!
Here's a quick look into content localization:
Make search engines like Google happy by using an effective backlinking strategy, optimizing for localized search terms, and using dedicated URLs and relevant hreflang attributes will optimize your website.
6. Understand the Competition
You might be tempted to look at an oversaturated local market and think there’s no room for you. That’s not necessarily true, though, so don’t allow this to put you off. A competitive target market can equal a strong market.
However, a competitive market does mean that you’ll have to find creative and eye-catching ways to stand out. Consider enhancing your offering with features your competitors don’t have –– fill in that gap that customers want, but brands aren’t catering to yet.
We don’t necessarily mean product-wise, either –– you don’t have to create a new line of products just to charm your audience. Quicker, easier, and more cost-effective wins include creating value-added services, like better customer support or more reliable processes (faster shipping, for example). These are easy changes to implement, and they’ll build that all-important trust element once again.
The customer experience is key to having someone buy from your global brand instead of shopping from a competitor. When a local competitor has become complacent in a certain area of their business, you can swoop in and win over potential customers by fulfilling that need or expectation.
If you think that’s tough, look at the local competitor’s weak points, which could be their level of customer service. This is an area that could help you impress your new target market; after all: 89% of customers have said that they would switch brands after an unpleasant experience.
7. Consider Subtle Nuances and Leverage Feedback
There are a number of simple things that might not mean anything in your home country, but can have a big impact on a new one. For example, you have to consider the details down to your brand colors, as certain colors or even color combinations may offend people. Consider showcasing your products in local currencies and units of measure, and using localized formats for dates, names, phone numbers etc.
Getting a handle on who your local audience is and what they expect is the most important part of your strategy because it’s what will provide the structure for everything you do after. Take in-country feedback very seriously.
8. Adapt Your Brand Identity and Keep It Authentic
One more tip for gaining competitive advantage: emphasize your brand values and adapt them to your new market. Audiences that connect with your views and values are more likely to stay engaged and approach your company with interest. Recent research from Google showed that 82% of shoppers prefer a company’s values to align with their own, and if it’s not a match, they’ll willingly take their money elsewhere.
Essentially, authenticity sells –– and this is clear in all global markets.
To recap, it’s important that your business finds its own brand authenticity and style of customer engagement to stand out from the crowd.
9. Cater Content to Each Foreign Market
There’s no hard and fast rule for content marketing, especially when you’re entering new markets. Each one will require a tailor-made approach to make sure you’re right on target. This can even come down to small things like the tone and language of your brand messaging, which might need to be dramatically adjusted for new markets.
It sounds like a lot of work—and it is—but in the long run, it will pay off.
Use what you’ve discovered from your consumer research to determine whether there are any cultural differences, taboos or events that you need to take into consideration or add to your localization process.
Successful marketing campaigns use the correct channels to target the right audience.
For example, almost 60% of the world’s population are active social media users, and 43.3% use social media to learn more about brands. We’re talking about billions of people you could potentially reach with the right marketing strategy that accounts for the most popular platforms your target demographic uses.
But, having just one social media account for your global brand won’t be enough. Consider creating a specific one for each country to actively get involved in the local community. A separate account per geographic area will help you organize your campaigns, messaging, and prevent confusion. Different markets have different needs, after all.
Just look at China, for example – it doesn’t have the same social media channels as Western Europe. Weibo is the social media of choice here, not Facebook, so working with a local partner who understands the platform will be hugely beneficial.
Being successful on social media requires more than just creating an online presence. Setting up a profile and casually updating it with promotional content isn’t enough. You need to actively engage with customers, look at what they’re talking about, and share information that’s relevant to their needs and interests.
10. Localization Doesn’t End Here – Keep Going!
A common mistake companies make with localization is looking at it as a one-time task. Localization is a continuous process – you need to be updating your already localized content, and learning more about your audience and their preferences as you go. Take steps to create a better and more personalized user experience – make your website faster, revisit old content, translate your metadata, add a language switcher etc. The importance of personalization cannot be underestimated: although only 47% of companies adjust their communications according to real-time customer behavior, 1 in 2 customers are likely to become repeat buyers after having a personalized experience with a brand.
Take Nintendo for example – they localize their games as they’re being built. This means that while the game is being developed, Nintendo’s localization team is already simultaneously translating game content and media, and executing a localization strategy for international markets! This helps them maintain consistency in their tone and design across native and global markets.
The most important step you can take is testing your localization strategy to determine what you’re doing (and what you need to do) in each foreign market.
You’ve done the research and you understand your new target audience. Now it’s time to get out there and put it into practice.
Remember that building trust with new audiences takes time. Don’t expect your localization strategy and revamped marketing efforts to be an overnight success. Here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind:
Focus on understanding your new market with consumer-focused research. Teaming up with a local partner is key.
Prioritize website content localization in the respective local languages with additional human translations.
Stand out from your competition by offering value-added services.
Produce authentic local content that’s targeted to your global audience, and use the correct social media channels and offline spaces.
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