We live in a highly technical world where people can do almost anything online. Technology allows organizations to work and operate with other companies and their clients all across the globe. While this opportunity allows companies to engage with different audiences, grow their revenue, and increase brand awareness, it also places high importance on choosing a source language, localization, and the importance of accurate and fast process.
As a business owner or any sort of maker that creates content, knowing localization and translation trends is a must-have. English is the most popular choice for most. But businesses that have only one language in terms of localization risk losing a global audience. But what do language localization and translation mean? And what language to choose to go global in 2023?
Localization & Translation | Definition and Importance
Localization is the process of adapting a product, service, or content for an audience in a specific region or market. Let's take as an example that you've created a game app, and you are located in the United Kingdom. How can you make the game suitable and available for people in Germany, Spain, or other countries where people do not speak English like residents? You use translation - meaning translating the game's text into the one language or more.
Or let’s imagine that you are a video game developer and you may want to undertake the video game localization before launching it in different countries. This can be achieved through:
- Translating the text in the game to insert region-specific idioms or cultural references
- Updating art assets and elements and covering symbolic meanings.
Language localization means not only translating the text to the preferred language. It also involves the adaptation of a product's language for a specific market. The examples of video games we mentioned above involve localization in both examples. That is because games will require voiceovers and game text, respectively, while voiceovers and text both need the use of language. Companies can hire voiceover specialists or use AI-based tools like Rask AI for speed and cost-effectiveness.
The localization process is a trend in modern marketing. But it is now becoming a must-have instead of an option for more businesses since it allows global companies to open revenue streams from all across the world with usually minimum effort. People will always communicate with businesses they can understand and feel related to.
Language Localization | How Localization Differs from Translation
Localization and translation terms are usually confused. But it is only one aspect of localization. Let's explore an example for better understanding:
Imagine you have a website where the text is in American English, and you decided to localize the website for the Spain market. With Spanish being the most spoken language in Spain, the only translation of your website's text will turn English content into Spanish equivalent. This also involves bringing adjustments in terms of grammar and spelling.
Even though your text on the website is now translated into Spanish, the essence of context would still be targeted toward an American audience. While digitalization reduced language and cultural barriers a little bit, your Spanish audience might not feel relevant to the continent because of the lack of cultural references on your website.
Localization is used to guarantee the website perfectly fits all chosen audiences, covering their needs and preferences. This may mean the following:
- Consider adding local terms and abbreviations depending on your brand voice;
- Add culture-specific references, nuances, and expressions – if your website speaks about famous people, replace American with Spanish celebrities;
- Format your dates based on local preferences;
5 Most Popular Dialects for Language Localization
Based on recent language intelligence research performed by the Center Ethnologue, there are more than 7,150 languages spoken in the world today. The number is high, but companies don't need to localize their websites, products, and services for each and every one.
These are multiple languages that have been established as countries' official ones, and those that have enough native speakers to make language localization efforts worthwhile are much smaller. As the research says, over half of the world's population speaks only 23 different languages, such as Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia, and Japanese.
According to Statista report, there are three most popular dialects in 2023:
- English is the most popular language for localization, which represents nearly 59 percent of websites as of January 2023.
- Russian takes second place with 5.3 percent of web content.
- Spanish is the third on the list, with 4.3 percent.
Other popular dialects are:
English as the Native Language for Localization
The reason for English being the leading localized language is its user base. The United States and India are countries with the largest user base after China, and they are also the biggest English-speaking regions in the world. Based on the Statista report, the internet user base of these countries combined was more than a billion users by the end of January 2023. As a result, most of the online information is present in English if not localized or translated.
Cultural References of Global Internet Users by Different Regions
The number of internet users worldwide was 5.16 billion by the end of January 2023, where Asia was the biggest region accounting for more than half of global internet users (2.9 billion). Europe is the second region which is followed by North America.
What makes these three languages most popular as target language localization and translation? There are several possible factors, such as:
- The use and popularity of the language: English, for example, is spoken by more than 400 million worldwide. English is also considered to be the top business language all across the world and an official language in 67 countries.
- The buying capacity of the audience: Regardless of the language's popularity, businesses want to know whether the speakers of the same language have enough buying capacity so they can overpay the efforts and money invested into localization. That is why it is one of the key factors global companies consider when choosing the dialect for localization.
- Global digitalization: The COVID-19 pandemic has made it possible for people to do almost everything online, and businesses started to use this opportunity to their advantage. Now people prefer to shop online. Based on the PwC report, online shopping and mobile shopping have increased in popularity in the Middle East. This makes it possible for companies looking to enter the Middle Eastern market while not having a physical presence there.
Examples of Language Localization
Language localization is a comprehensive term, which greatly overcomes written translation. In order to join the localization industry with the higher ROI, businesses will need to localize the use of every element from their website and marketing materials. There are a lot of things companies and creators should consider when investing into a localization service or building an in-house team.
However, most important ones are:
Spelling - it is one of the key factors when it comes to a localization service. It becomes even more crucial when translating for British or American English dialects. For instance, the former uses ‘ise’ while the American English uses ‘ize’.
Cultural references - Using a localization service usually means the tool or a team already knows (or at least familiar with) nuances and phrases that are vital for cultural adaptation of content. For example, when elaborating on the cultural adaptation question, the phrase “put the cart before the horse” is a common English quote. In contrast, they use the term Bulls instead of a horse in France.
Visuals and colors - While most people confuse translation and localization, the later is much more than just text. While localizing existing content, you will also need to ensure your text is visually laid out correctly for your target audience (for example there are right to left languages, so adapting graphics will be required based on the right-to-left text positioning). Keeping brand colors and properly organizing the visual side of the business helps to effectively communicate with the chosen target audience.
Grammar - Accurate and quality translation and localization is also essential. Here you should know that different cultures have different requirements for their content in terms of cultural references. So, depending on your chosen target markets, one small mistake in translations can become a big difference between your project being successfully localized or failed. Make sure the native speaker performs proofreading.
Tone - The last but also crucial factor when adapting your business to a new customer base from all around the world is the tone of the content. Breaking into new markets means being able to customize the tone of voice of your brand. That is because different cultures have different needs. A simple example is that American residents tend to be more open-minded and easy-going, so make sure your note of voice resonates with their preferences. People in the European Union are, in contrast, more demanding in how they want to communicate with brands, so here you will need another approach.
10 Practice-Proven Tips to Improve Localization Process
1. Local Translators are Experts in Localization
No one knows the culture and the language better than the residents. Hire local translators to localize your website or product. This could be a freelancer knowing their own language, the entire team, or services from the required country.
No one knows the culture and the language better than the residents. Hire local translators to localize your website or product. This could be a freelancer, the entire team, or services from the required country.
This is one of the utmost easiest yet most costly ways to ensure the localized content is accurate and culture-relevant. And that can be a game changer for your business since the entire idea of the localization is to be local.
It is also highly recommended to do research before starting the process. You can start localizing by getting in-country feedback from your test group so you can learn in what direction you move. This way, you will also understand the dynamics of the local m, preferences, competitors, channels, promotion strategies, and so on. Often, the content and marketing tactics you use in one country simply won't work in another.
2. Work On Brand Appearance & Awareness
Do you have a brand book? Do your brand managers work on promoting the vision of the company and attracting relevant customers? Do you know what your target audience thinks of your company when they see logos or brand colors? Do you consider key cultural differences when trying to grow brand awareness in different countries?
Let's imagine you clearly defined the brand appearance - its style, brand voice, and color palette and you can easily communicate what your brand personality is. This allows you to grow customer loyalty and increase awareness among target audiences - all these elements of the brand will be the first thing your customers will think of when deciding between you and your competitors.
But you should always remember that different markets require different things. In some countries, even the name of the brand can have an unintended meaning that you never knew or thought of before. That is why localizing always involves a big part of researching the regions and markets you seek to enter.
3. Localization is More than Translation
As we mentioned above, translation is just a small part of language localization that can be done through tools like Rask AI that has a language switcher feature, allowing companies to translate one English text (or from any other) to over 130 languages based on machine translation algorithms. If you want to achieve results, you should adapt your product, business, or website to the culture of each target market you have chosen.
As we mentioned above, translation is just a small part of language localization that can be done through tools like Rask AI based on machine translation algorithms. If you want to achieve results, you should adapt your product, business, or website to the culture of each target market you have chosen.
Travis Kalanick, Uber founder, said: "Each city is unique in its transportation pain points, its density, its transportation alternatives, regulation, even its transportation culture."
While knowing the local market is essential for apps like Uber, it also applies to almost any product. The process can start with similar questions to when you start building your product:
- What are the customers' pain points?
- What they like and don't like in similar products (research competitors)
- What value will your product bring with correct language localization?
- What is the local subculture that your business falls within?
4. Audit Your Customer Journey
Getting the most out of your language localization means you should also explore the existing customer journey. Explore what elements you now have and can carry over to the new market. It is also recommended to explore whether the steps you have in place are transferable and design a new customer journey using steps that have already worked before (if they resonate with the new market).
Check the spending habits of the new target audience. Determining this will allow you to learn what types of promotions, CTAs, and coupons you may use to increase conversion rates and grow revenue. Do not expect the customer journey to work from the very start, and be ready to rebuild it, learning from the mistakes.
5. Create a Unique Localization Strategy
The market is growing, and you will probably face lots of competition when choosing markets with multiple languages we mentioned above. While it makes it twice harder for new brands to enter new regions, high competition also means a healthy market that you can benefit from.
There are many ways you can stand out from the crowd in terms of language localization. For example, you can create a more personalized experience and offer promo codes or discounts for the global audience. It could be free shipping. If you offer this, you can create a social media that is used most by your new audience, etc. Options are truly endless; all that it takes is proper market research.
In order to create a localization strategy, you will likely need to use either tools like Rask AI or language localization services. While Rask won't be able to generate a strategy, it will work as an assistant for written translation, audio translation and dubbing. Language localization services are the way to go for anyone looking for an increased speed and efficiency of the brand and content localization.
6. Cater Your Services to Each Location
Some companies make the mistake of assuming that they can keep the same price for all locations. While in reality, moving into a new market also means considering the average income and buying capabilities of the target audience. Make sure you perform comprehensive research on competitors and buying preferences so you can provide as authentic experience as possible, so users won't even notice translations.
For example, some things to consider here are:
A payment method relevant for the chosen location - some use debit card, some PayPal and other countries prefer to spend only cash.
Legal requirements - another crucial factor that specifies how your products can be sold within a chosen locale.
Time formats - make sure that your website operates within the local working hours, you offer customer support that can assist clients in their time zone and, of course, check what time formats are used in your new markets.
7. Become a Part of the Community
If you plan to enter a new region and a market, it is crucial to make sure you actually have a voice there. Keeping trends and becoming a part of the community is the way to go in that case. You can also consider creating a community around your product later for better brand awareness among new clients.
8. Optimize for Mobile
Even though translating all the elements of the website or the product is definitely the main focus in the localization process, we highly recommend putting equal effort into rolling content out to mobile platforms, such as smartphone apps. Mobile phones are now more popular than desktops, so getting a mobile audience is a huge opportunity for any business.
9. Consider Social Media
Social media is also a great way to attract more users. It is vital to learn what social media platforms are popular in the country you choose since they greatly differ from place to place. Running social media can also help you maximize your localization efforts and become a part of the community much faster. One of the easiest ways to organize stable and effective social media marketing is by using a content management system that can help you schedule and publish content on any chosen platform.
10. Dive Into the Technical Part of the Localization
Although translation and localization are often confused, localization is much more than translating content. You should learn several technical elements such as language codes, font size, website layout, as well as design. Yes, customers will definitely go for localized content when searching your website, but how the website looks and performs also plays a great role in your success by the end of the day.
Another technical part of the localization that can bring quality leads and help you rank higher in Search Engines. Reaching global markets becomes easier when you target the SEO optimization specifically for a chosen locale, like Spain or other languages. Creating marketing campaigns and investing in organic traffic through quality and optimized content, SEO-optimized videos shared on social media platforms can help you overcome other businesses in your domain and reach international markets with the highest ROI (since SEO is a cost-effective solution).
The localization and translation industry is growing. Localization is now a vital part of any marketing strategy and business expansion that includes adapting graphics, time formats, text translations and many more elements. Translation, being a small part of the localization, also can bring more viewers and more clients to your brand. But the localization process with tips and the most popular dialects we mentioned above can help modern companies stand out from the crowd and go global easily and stress-free.