AUTHOR: Marius Smit
DATE: May 4, 2023
Unlocking Global Markets: A Guide to Localization Strategy
A lot of companies try to go global in an effort to grow, but what they fail to realise is the importance of localization and having a localization strategy in place to effectively expand into new markets. Localization done right will assist with global growth and will result in long term success.
What is localization?
Are you looking to expand your business to new markets?
With the rise of the internet, geographical barriers are quickly disappearing, making it easier to reach customers all around the world. However, with this opportunity comes the challenge of creating a unique and relevant experience for each market.
This is where localization comes in.
Localization is the process of adapting a product or service in a new region to fit the cultural and linguistic preferences of that specific target market that goes beyond simple translation and includes modifying various aspects such as content, images, date and time formats, currency, promotional campaigns, customer support to match local expectations and more.
Customers today expect a personalized experience, regardless of where they are in the world.
By implementing a comprehensive localization strategy, businesses can create a seamless and tailored experience for their customers, leading to greater success in new markets.
Going Global? Here’s why Localization should be a top priority
Localization has become increasingly important for businesses looking to expand their reach to new markets. With the rise of the internet and globalization of markets, customers are no longer limited to their local options for products and services.
This means that businesses can access a wider audience than ever before, but it also means that they need to tailor their offerings to meet the specific needs and preferences of each market.
One of the primary reasons why localization matters for global business is that it helps to build trust and credibility with local customers. When a product or service is adapted to fit the cultural and linguistic preferences of a specific market, it shows that the business is invested in that market and understands the needs of its customers.
This can go a long way in building brand loyalty and establishing a positive reputation in the local community.
Localization also helps to improve the customer experience. By adapting products and services to local preferences, businesses can create a more seamless and intuitive experience for customers. This includes everything from user interface elements to payment methods and customer support.
When customers can navigate a product or service more easily and receive support in their own language, they are more likely to have a positive experience and become repeat customers.
In addition to improving the customer experience, localization can also lead to increased revenue and market share.
4 Advantages of localization for global business
1. Increased revenue. Simply offering your product or service in a new market is not enough to guarantee success. To truly capitalize on the opportunity, it’s essential to effectively localize your offerings to meet the specific needs and preferences of each market.
2. Improved customer experience: One of the biggest advantages of localization is that it leads to an improved customer experience. When products and services are tailored to meet local preferences, customers are more likely to have a positive experience and become repeat customers. This can ultimately lead to increased revenue and market share.
3. Increased brand loyalty: Localization helps to build trust and credibility with local customers. When businesses show that they understand the needs and preferences of a specific market, it can go a long way in building brand loyalty and establishing a positive reputation in the local community.
4. Competitive advantage: By implementing a comprehensive localization strategy, businesses can gain a competitive advantage in new markets. When products and services are adapted to meet local preferences, it can help to differentiate a business from its competitors and establish a unique value proposition in the local market. This can ultimately lead to increased market share and profitability.
By optimizing your localization process with the help of localization tools, you can get the most out of your translation and localization resources. This includes leveraging technologies such as machine translation, which can help to streamline the localization process and improve efficiency.
The result? A sizable localization ROI (return on investment) that will impress all stakeholders in your company. With an effective localization strategy in place, you can increase sales and revenue in new markets, build brand loyalty, and gain a competitive advantage over your competitors.
How does localization work?
The localization process typically starts with a thorough analysis of the target market. This includes researching local customs, language, and cultural norms to identify any areas that may require modification.
Once these requirements have been identified, the localization team can begin the process of adapting the product or service to fit local preferences.
Localization involves modifying a range of aspects, including:
1. Language: The most obvious aspect of localization is language. This involves translating all text and content into the local language(s). This includes everything from product descriptions to user interfaces, marketing materials, and customer support.
2. Technical requirements: Localization also involves adapting the product or service to meet local technical requirements. This includes adjusting date and time formats, currency, measurement units, and other technical specifications.
3. Cultural norms: Localization also involves adapting the product or service to fit local cultural norms. This includes modifying graphics and images to be culturally appropriate, as well as modifying content to fit local customs and expectations.
4. Legal requirements: Localization also involves ensuring that the product or service complies with local legal requirements. This includes everything from data privacy laws to product safety regulations.
Overall, localization is a complex process that requires careful consideration of local requirements and preferences. By adapting products and services to fit local markets, businesses can create a more seamless and personalized experience for customers, leading to greater success in new markets.
What is a localization strategy?
A strategy for localization entails developing a comprehensive plan to assist a business in customizing its product to suit the culture and language of diverse target markets over an extended period.
The goal of a localization strategy is to make any needed modifications in tone, imagery, subject matter, and format to successfully connect with the local customer, its how a company adapts its message to a particular language or culture.
With a localization strategy, your business will determine and define both the markets to enter, as well as the overall goal for content in that market. A localization strategy involves careful planning, budgeting, and execution, as well as the use of localization tools and technologies to streamline the process and maximize ROI.
A Quick Guide to Creating a Successful Localization Strategy
1. Identify your audience through market research.
The first step is to conduct consumer-focused research to identify the markets that are best suited for product expansion. This will help you gain a fundamental understanding of your target audience, which serves as the foundation for your localization efforts.
Without this understanding, marketing to new audiences and international markets can be difficult. Failure to get your messaging right 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.
Once you have identified your target markets, the next step is to learn everything there is to know about your audience. Cultural nuances, imagery, and language are just a few of the elements that must be addressed throughout the different languages in your target markets.
2. Identify local experts and appropriate language.
To create an effective localization strategy, it is crucial to tap into local experts who have a deep understanding of the culture and preferences of your target markets. This can come in the form of local staff, agencies, or in-country partners.
By working with local experts, you can ensure that your products and services are adapted to meet the specific needs and expectations of each market. This will help to create a more accurate, localized experience for users, ultimately leading to greater success in new markets.
It’s important to take in-country feedback seriously and do your research upfront to fully understand the local market dynamics, preferences, competitors, channels, and promotional strategies. Keep in mind that what works in one country may not work in another.
To determine the strength of the market opportunity in each target market, working with a local partner or having someone physically in that market can be incredibly valuable. With their expertise and insights, you can gain a deeper understanding of the needs and values of your new customers.
Remember, working with local experts is essential to creating a successful localization strategy. By prioritizing the needs and preferences of your target markets, you can create a unique and tailored experience that sets your business apart from competitors.
3. Translation and Localization: Choose the Right Service Provider
As part of the localization strategy, it’s important to include a “human” element to your content to develop trust in your new markets. This means 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 will not always incorporate cultural context.
At Guildhawk, we integrate next generation digital translation technology verified by Expert-in-the-loop (EITL).
Machine translation quickly provides a first layer of translation, which saves time for the translator and money for you. Our EITL feature gives you an extra level of advanced proofreading to your translations, you are supported with a managed verification service by our team of Elite Linguists.
Certified and tested, these native speakers with industry credentials guarantee results are amazing.
However, it’s crucial to collaborate with localization experts to ensure specific terms such as dates, times, and currencies are translated correctly and that text, images, and graphics are culturally appropriate.
By adapting designs for different locales early in the process, problematic bugs and issues are isolated and dealt with before they become costly mistakes. Do not let grammatical errors or cultural insensitivities offend your audience and tank your reputation.
Invest in a comprehensive localization strategy to build trust and credibility with your new markets.
4. Emphasising Brand Values for Competitive Advantage
As businesses expand to new markets, localisation becomes a crucial aspect of their success. Beyond just translating content, it involves adapting to the cultural nuances and preferences of your target audience. This includes emphasising your brand values and aligning them with your new market.
The new research tells us that 82% of shoppers want a consumer brand’s values to align with their own. Thus, emphasising your brand values can help you connect with your target audience, build trust, and gain a competitive advantage.
It is important to ensure that your brand values remain authentic and aligned with the core values of your business. Avoid simply changing your values to fit the new market, as this can come across as inauthentic and damage your brand reputation.
5. Website optimisation for multilingual SEO
Your website is often the point of sale in the customer journey, so it is crucial to ensure that it’s accessible to users in your target market. While language is an important aspect of website localization, it’s not the only consideration.
Extensive research and consultation with your team of translators can help you to identify other aspects of your website that need to be adapted to meet local preferences.
In addition to content localization, it’s also important to focus on multilingual SEO. There’s no point in investing in translated content if your target market cannot find your website. To optimize your website for search engines, consider using an effective backlinking strategy, optimizing for localized search terms, and using dedicated URLs and relevant hreflang attributes.
When localizing your website for different markets, it is important to consider other factors as well. This includes adapting to the primary payment methods used in that country, using the local currency, and incorporating common date and time formats and so on.
Translation and localization are not the same.
Translation and localization are related but distinct concepts. Translation refers to the process of converting written or spoken content from one language to another, while localization involves adapting a product or service to meet the linguistic, cultural, and other requirements of a specific target market.
Translation is primarily concerned with accurately conveying the meaning of the source language into the target language, without altering the original content’s message, tone, or context. Translation is typically used for documents, websites, or other written or spoken content.
Localization, on the other hand, goes beyond translation to include adapting the content to fit the target market’s cultural and linguistic nuances. This can involve modifying images, graphics, symbols, colours, and other visual elements to align with local customs, norms, and values. Localization is generally used for products or services, such as software, websites, video games, or marketing materials.
Building a Localization Strategy: 6 Key Elements to Consider
If you want to expand your business globally, a solid localization strategy is essential. Keep in mind the components that make up an effective localization strategy may vary from company to company.
Here are some key elements that successful localization strategies have in common:
1. Aligning localization with your business strategy
Your localisation efforts should align with your company’s overall business goals. To achieve this, you need a clear understanding of your business growth strategy and how localisation can support it.
2. Defining clear objectives and KPIs
Your localization strategy should clearly outline what you hope to achieve and how you will measure success. This includes identifying goals, determining how to measure them, and tracking progress using KPIs.
3. Identifying your target audience
Understanding your target audience and their needs is critical to developing a comprehensive localization strategy. This includes acknowledging cultural nuances that may impact how your audience perceives and interacts with your content.
4. Outlining the workflow
Your localization strategy should provide a detailed roadmap for each stage of the localisation process. This includes ordering translations, creating a style guide, reviewing translated content, and publishing.
5. Setting timelines
Setting timelines for each stage of the localisation process ensures timely content publication and ensures everyone on the localisation team understands their responsibilities and deadlines.
6. Localization is an ongoing process.
When it comes to localisation, many companies make the mistake of considering it as a one-time task. However, localisation is a continuous process that requires consistent attention and updates to ensure that your content remains relevant and engaging to your target audience.
Mastering Localization: Guildhawk examples of successful localization strategy
Wood had just secured an oilfield services agreement to deliver an enhanced control system to a client in Kazakhstan. This engineering project was set to cover three languages – English, Kazakh, and Russian – and would involve managing an extensive number of technical drawings, detailed documentation, and schedules.
Guildhawk engaged bilingual engineers fluent in Russian and Kazakh, possessing extensive knowledge in AutoCAD and the oilfield industry, to manage a vast array of project-critical materials.
Our team worked directly on technical drawings in CAD to minimize the risk of errors resulting from data importing or exporting. To manage the high volume of outputs, we employed dynamic project management strategies.
In the end, the project, which was completed on schedule:
- included approximately 610 documents.
- 1,000 CAD drawings.
- wiring schedules.
- functional design specifications and
- label schedules in bilingual formats.
We maintained the same team of linguists throughout the project’s duration to ensure consistency and cost-effectiveness for Wood’s client.
Helping Stage Entertainment localise famous musicals for new global audiences
Guildhawk was approached by Stage Entertainment to provide assistance with translation and localization. The initial project involved the musical production of Grease for French audiences.
The main objective was to ensure that both the spoken lines and lyrics of the songs were relatable to French audiences, while still preserving the true essence and meaning of the original English version.
Guildhawk played a crucial role in Stage Entertainment’s localization process, particularly when it came to musical scripts and songs. As these were subject to copyright, Guildhawk ensured that the original creators and rights holders were updated and approved of the translated versions.
Once scripts and songs had gone through initial translation and adaptation, rough run-throughs and fixes for rhythm, rhyme, etc., Guildhawk took responsibility for back translating the localised versions into English as literally as possible, so that these literal versions could be passed to creators. Having this version in their own native language allowed writers and creators to check no major deviations had been made from the original and to have input on any items they wished.
Speed and accuracy were key in this process, as delays could potentially affect the opening night. Guildhawk had a team of expert creative linguists who had experience in the sector and the backtranslation process, ready to turn around the work within tight timelines for success.
After the resounding success of the Grease localisation, Stage Entertainment has continued to work with Guildhawk on a regular basis. Some of the projects we have worked on together include French-language productions of Cats, Chicago, Ghost, and The Producers, all staged at the famous Théâtre Mogador in Paris.
In summary, this guide has provided a comprehensive overview of localization as a growth driver and outlined key strategies for developing a successful localization plan.
By following the steps outlined in this guide and keeping in mind the importance of tailoring content to local markets, businesses can position themselves for success in a global marketplace.
Contact Guildhawk to find out how we can deliver a cost-effective solution to meet your needs.
It is important to remember that localization is an ongoing process, and companies should be prepared to adapt their strategies based on feedback and data from foreign markets.
With patience and persistence, businesses can establish a strong presence in new markets and build a loyal customer base around the world.