Leveraging content localization to grow your global footprint

Translation on its own can’t help your business connect with audiences in foreign markets. Effective communication and engagement requires a deeper cultural understanding of your target audience, including the slang terms they use, differences in conversational speech, and even color schemes, symbols, and other visual and text-based elements that carry different connotations in different parts of the world.

In some cases, the role of content localization may be slight: When localizing American English content for a UK audience, most localization changes relate to the spelling of certain words (color vs. colour, for example) or differences in terms or idioms used in these respective regions (elevator vs. lift, or “knock on wood” vs. “touch wood”). 

Even when translating content into an entirely different language, these subtle differences can stand out to native readers who can quickly recognize content that hasn’t been localized for their consumption. For businesses trying to break into these foreign markets, non-localized content can strike a false note that hints at inauthenticity—or, at the very least, poor attention to detail.

Making the case for content localization

The cringeworthy consumer reaction triggered by poor or absent content localization is a potential liability your business should take seriously. When localization has been blatantly ignored, it could harm your company’s success in entering new markets and expanding its global footprint.

Research has shown localization delivers a material benefit to the success of your customer engagement, and even your ability to grow your customer base and increase revenues. One survey of multinational companies found that localization improved lead generation rates by 51 percent, while sales rose by 71 percent.

Among business leaders involved in that survey, nearly 75 percent said that content localization is a revenue driver for their business. Between its positive impact on advertising and marketing engagement, as well as improvements to overall customer satisfaction and your brand’s reputation in new local markets, localization should be a core component of your market expansion strategies.

How does localization fit with translation and transcreation?

If you’re unfamiliar with the different functions a language service provider may perform, you might not know how content localization compares to translation and transcreation.

Translation represents the ground floor or language services, and the one the average public is most familiar with. When you translate content, you are converting it from a source language into a new language. But after this translation is complete, there are still inconsistencies, errors, or contradictions that need to be addressed.

That’s where localization comes in. Localization takes content already in its target language and adapts it to serve a specific location. Just as English needs to be localized for a British or U.S. audience, Spanish needs to be localized for its audience depending on whether that target location is in Spain, Mexico, or another Spanish-speaking country or region.

Although transcreation is its own process, it does have some relation to the translation and localization in terms of creating accurate, relevant content for an international audience. While translation and localization are used to adapt existing content, transcreation is a generative process that starts from scratch to create entirely new content. While its end goal is the same as the translation and localization processes, its starting point is much different.

How to develop a content localization strategy

If your business is ready to start using content localization to improve its outreach into foreign markets, the process of getting started is easy. The first steps should be a strategy session with key decision-makers to help you organize your needs, your goals, and your next steps:

  • Identify your needs. Specifically, identify the languages that you want to prioritize with localization. In most cases, you want to start with your most important languages, however your organization defines this—whether in terms of the size of your audience, or the revenue potential of that audience.
  • Determine what types of content you need to localize. You may already have translated, audience-facing content that you want to localize as soon as possible. Alternatively, you may have a stockpile of content in a source language that you’re eager to translate and localize. These content localization needs may also determine your project timeline, which will affect how you approach this project, and what types of language service providers are able to meet these demands.
  • Interview language service providers to find the right partner. If you don’t have in-house language specialists who can deliver quality localization in your target language, you need an LSP who can deliver these projects with consistency and accuracy. Prioritize an LSP that uses style guides, glossaries and quality assurance workflows to support reliable localization, while delivering efficient, on-time performance.

Best practices for successful content localization

Your organization can avoid common bumps and bruises in the localization process by embracing the following tips and tricks:

  • Don’t overlook design elements. Localization isn’t a strictly text-based project. Colors, logos and other design elements should also be localized. Seek out an LSP that can localize entire web pages and design files, rather than just the text of a page.
  • Pay attention to SEO performance and SEO strategy in the target language. In most cases, localization will improve your SEO in the target language because you’re creating content that accurately uses terms as locals would search for them. Even so, pay attention to how search performance changes—for better or worse—as localized content is deployed.
  • Don’t use automated localization tools as a low-cost shortcut. While automation can be very helpful in facilitating consistent, fast localization, these automation tools are best used by an LSP who can bring an expert human eye to the process—and ensure automation isn’t adding unnecessary errors or inconsistencies into your content.
Speak as the locals speak

When you’re expanding your business into new foreign markets, content localization has a direct impact on your ability to drive revenue through your engagement strategy. Marketing and advertising campaigns are most successful when they foster a strong connection between brands and their target audience. Make sure your content is properly localized so it resonates with consumers and facilitates seamless global expansion for your brand.

Invest in language services that make localization a core component of your communications strategy. Contact Protranslating today to learn more about our content localization services.

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