It’s an everything online world. It’s a universal truth that multilingual digital marketing is the best way to reach buyers, open up new markets, and drive revenue. The need for marketing localization has never been greater. But often, marketing teams aren’t focused on the product, and localization folks aren’t focused on digital online content. What advice can we share with both teams so they can get on the same page? Here’s our experience.
1. Centralize your localization strategy
Volume pricing, program-wide visibility, accountability, and quality control are just a few of the benefits of a centralized model. You can also instill a unified process and toolset and create and share one set of assets (TMs, glossaries, and style guides) that drive consistency, reuse, and standardization.
Identify a single person (or small team) to oversee the delivery of all your localization efforts. A Localization Project Manager is enough to get you started, as long as they have a mind for the future, and for strategy. If forming a team, job titles would also include Localization Program Manager or Localization Director. However, these are fairly senior titles, and may be best for a larger organization with a more mature localization program.
2. Choose the right approach for the right content
All too often we see digital marketers treating all content as if it were the same—localizing all of it using the same process and the same quality targets. For example, does user generated content (UGC) need the same attention to detail as marketing material? Then, consider transcreation versus translation.
Transcreation is a re-imagining of creative and highly branded content. Straightforward translation is more appropriate for user materials like online help, manuals, product catalogs, and FAQs. And lastly, some content might need to be created in-country, such as holiday promotional materials, so the message will be extremely local.
3. Consider buyer journeys when prioritizing content
Where are your buyers in the purchasing process? Buyer journey phases include awareness (browsing and shopping), consideration (research), and decision (purchase). Different content maps to different phases: for example, blogs are most commonly associated with the awareness stage. Case studies map to the decision stage. You have to prioritize the localization of each phase’s content based on its activity and the propensity to purchase.
Why? So you can manage and mitigate the risk of people dropping out of the buying journey because the experience is not in their language. Localize high-value content first; do the rest later (or decide to leave some content in English if the market seems to tolerate it).
4. Prioritize your markets
Ambitious businesses often want to enter all markets at once. Instead, determine a market strategy. You have to apportion your limited localization budget to where it’s going to get the greatest return. Focus on those markets that will bring you the most revenue. Also, identify the level of localization complexity in each language. Perhaps choose the ‘low-hanging fruit’—the markets that promise the most revenue or the less expensive languages—such as tackling FIGS for European markets before the bi-directionals for the Middle East.
5. Think how your customers search
Make it easy for your customers to find you. This means being savvy about multilingual search engine optimization (SEO): find out what terms your target consumers are using to talk about your product and industry. Translate them—or even better, find the local equivalent terms. Then, seed your content with keywords to optimize it for search. There are many more activities involved in optimizing SEO, but localizing keywords is a great place to start.
6. Localize your social strategy
The world has gone social. People get information about your product, read reviews from their peers, and discuss the products and your brand online. Communities form quickly and create a lot of buzz through their conversations.
Jump into the social scene. Find out what social media platforms are most popular in each locale. Localize high priority social content—your Facebook posts? Blogs? User reviews? Consider sentiment analysis so you can respond to and control any negative comments. And leverage positive chatter with links and blog posts related to what they are talking about.
7. Measure continuously
Too many marketing departments just spray and pray—putting content out there and hoping for the best. But you can learn what’s working and what isn’t by measuring engagement rates (unique views, click-throughs, bounce rates, conversions). Your first measurements are benchmarks, then you can track improvement or decline from there. You can also see what content types succeed for you—then spend more time on those. Collect the equivalent metrics in all markets so you can compare apples to apples. Armed with this knowledge, make continuous adjustments and watch your program improve.
8. Pick the right partners
Having the right localization partners for your efforts is vital. Choose Language Services Providers (LSPs) over individual freelancers or contractors. Find ones that can cover most of your content types and languages. Also, the fewer partners you have to work with, the better. It’s much easier to manage a smaller group: there are fewer contracts, less communication channels, and easier sharing of assets and processes.
Online digital content is your best marketing tool. Websites. Blogs. User-generated content. Videos. By creating a localization strategy, you spend your money and time wisely and improve your chance of success in your chosen markets. Good luck!