By Salvador Ordorica, CEO of The Spanish Group LLC, a first-class international translation service that translates over 90 languages.
There are more reasons now than ever to expand your business into new markets. General economic volatility has made clear the importance of diversifying your revenue streams, and growing internet access across the globe has made it easier than ever to reach new customers.
Though it is easy to reach customers, it is not always easy to sell to them. Regardless of whether you are trying to reach out to new demographics in your home region or introduce your product to customers thousands of miles away, in either case, you will need to have a localization strategy ready to introduce your product to the new market properly.
However, when it comes to localization, brands tend to get overly focused or bogged down in translation and will rarely go beyond this point in any meaningful way in their strategies.
In this article, I want to take a look at some of the most important and most often overlooked aspects of localization.
What Is Business Localization?
Business localization is the process of preparing your business for interaction with a new target market, typically in a new region or location — you are making your product or content more accessible to a specific area or market.
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Data has shown that customers worldwide tend to react more favorably toward products marketed in their home language. According to a survey by CSA Research looking at customers in nearly thirty countries, 76% of online shoppers prefer purchasing products with information in their own language, and 40% of customers will not buy from websites in other languages.
However, proper localization goes beyond simply putting your content into a new language. Sound localization is about optimizing your brand and messaging for a market; this requires understanding the culture, attitudes and habits of those you are trying to sell to. It is about adapting how you talk to customers, how you present your products to customers and how you interact with customers to align with what the customer is looking for.
There are a thousand minor aspects to proper business localization, but the core goal is to get the customer to interact with your brand optimally. In many cases, optimal localization is achieved by getting customers to interact with you like any other business from their hometown. In some cases, however, it may be better to have your brand be perceived as foreign, high-end or exotic. Finding the best strategy will require a great deal of research into your target market.
Often Overlooked Steps Needed For A Successful Content Localization Strategy
There is a tendency for businesses to hyper-focus on the fact that things are in a new language and tend to ignore other critical aspects of the culture they are entering. While language is essential, as the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) states, “Localization is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market. Translation is only one of several elements of the localization process.” Successful and profitable business and content localization require a comprehensive strategy.
To help you prepare for such future endeavors, we will briefly cover some of the critical steps needed in a localization strategy that are often overlooked:
Carefully Selecting And Researching Your Target Market
This may seem obvious, but many companies will rush into a new market based on the surface level numbers before examining how well their product or brand actually fits that region. Localization can be extremely difficult if your brand and the messaging you are putting forward are incongruent.
Localization can also take significant time and effort, and if there are packaging and other physical materials or locations involved, it can also be quite costly. You need to be extremely diligent when selecting prospective markets, and then extremely thorough when examining this market. You don’t want to waste your time and money on an endeavor that was entirely avoidable.
Remember that different regions within a country can have very different economies and cultures, even if they speak the same language. You cannot make assumptions about who you are selling to. Consult experts, conduct focus groups in the area and rely on those who understand the market in question when it comes to laying the foundations of your strategy.
Planning Ahead For Technical Issues
Recreating a page, app or document for a new language and country can be full of unforeseen issues. There are various currency, punctuation, digital tool integration and language formatting issues that can require significant formatting changes. Even simply switching over to a similar language can cause text to spill over margins and require site, app or document changes. These changes are rife with technical breaks that can slow progress. There is little that can be done ahead of time other than being aware that they are likely to occur and budgeting the time in order to manage them.
You should already be planning on recalibrating your imagery for your new market, but waiting until all of the formatting is fixed and the new language is updated may be prudent.
Considering The Adoption Of New Media
If you are targeting younger customers in a new market, you should consider making a mobile app part of your localization process (in fact, localized apps can increase conversions immensely); if you are targeting very young customers, then branching out onto platforms like Twitch or TikTok with your marketing may be wise. Your localization strategy should go beyond simply making your content legible for a new audience; instead, it should be about how you plan to actually sell your product to this new audience.
Localization will be a vital tool for long-term growth and survival in the coming years as more economies overseas digitize and expand. The ability to successfully enter and thrive in a new market can ensure that your company always has a fast and direct path toward future growth and additional revenue streams.