All Roads Lead To Localization
Are you thinking about leading your business to the next level by diving into the global marketplace? You’ve probably thought about the road that lies ahead of you — translating your content into the local markets’ languages, for example — but in the digital era we live in, your marketing efforts need to do more than just speak the local language.
To connect emotionally with your target audience and form long-lasting, valuable relationships that serve both you and them, your marketing strategy needs to go the extra mile – it has to strike a chord with your potential customers, engaging and resonating with them. It has to feel native.
That’s where localization marketing comes in: with an effective marketing localization strategy, you can transform your marketing campaigns from generic to culturally-relevant! The goal is to reshape your brand — with its unique voice and tone — to reflect the specific cultural nuances, traditions, and customs of your target audience.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the intricacies of localization marketing, exploring why it's vital, what elements need localizing, how to adapt your marketing collateral and websites, and the challenges you might face. Ready to make your brand feel like home around the globe?
Not clued up on localization yet? No problem: here’s a 5-minute crash course in Localization Marketing!
Defining localization marketing?
Marketing localization is the process of adapting how your business communicates with a target audience in a specific area to suit the unique language, culture, and customs of their new area, region or country. It forms an integral part of your global marketing strategy. And before you think, “We already translate our content into different languages!” and close this tab — localization involves a lot more than just translation. You need to take into consideration things like:
- Website Content
- Marketing and Sales Emails
- Social Media Posts
- Blog Posts
- Product Descriptions
- Advertising Copy
- Customer Support Content
- Legal and Privacy Policies
- Multimedia Content
These are some (but not all!) of the content types that you need to relook at from the cultural, societal, and legal perspective of your target audience to ensure that your marketing messages resonate.
The importance of marketing localization in the global market
A little history lesson (for our Gen Z readers): ‘Local’ used to mean products that were produced in the area that the user lived in — local customers who shopped at a nearby grocer, butcher, or furniture maker, for example. Back in the day, it was more convenient for us to shop local, but that wasn’t the only reason: there was an emotional quality, the feeling of being a valued customer. These local businessmen and women knew the names of their customers.
Fast forward to 2023: the internet, fiber optic cables connecting continents and e-commerce giants like Amazon — to name a few — have brought the world to our fingertips. Almost everyone in our tech-savvy society, from teens to gray-haired grannies, can access products and services from all over the world with a tap, swipe or click.
Despite this, people still desire the same sense of connection they felt from their Friendly Neighborhood Businessman. They want to feel seen. Marketing campaigns that aren’t crafted with a local audience in mind can’t hope to land in the same way that local content does: they feel out of place, or inaccessible, and that can cause an instant disconnection with these would-be customers. On the other hand, if you can craft localized marketing campaigns that show you understand your target audience’s cultures, customs, and traditions (as well as their language), it’ll help you develop an emotional connection with them and keep them coming back for more.
Like it or not, even the best global marketing strategy will fail if some thought, research and effort is put into the marketing localization process. It may seem daunting, but trust us: aligning your marketing efforts with the cultural expectations and consumption habits of local markets will maximize the growth for your business! Now, let's take a closer look at the concept of a localized marketing strategy.
Expanding Your Business: Your Localized Marketing Strategy
It’s a non-negotiable: Any business that wants to move into a foreign market needs to have a localized marketing strategy. A comprehensive marketing localization strategy will look at all ways that your business interacts with your target market and ensure that each touchpoint feels like it was created specifically for them.
What Are The Risks Of Not Localizing Your Content?
Now, you might be thinking, "Is all this necessary?” Would it be cheaper to apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach? Definitely… until you take into account the risks. Consider a simple example: color symbolism — what a color represents — can be completely different from one culture to the next. Many Western cultures associate white with purity and innocence — but in Eastern cultures, it's often linked with death and mourning. Now, let’s say you were launching a global marketing campaign for your business that uses a predominantly white color scheme. Without the proper research and marketing localization, you may accidentally offend or at least put off potential customers in a new market, making it that much harder to convince them to do business with you.
By The Numbers: Localized Marketing Strategy For Growth
Customers are up to 75% more likely to purchase a product when the marketing campaign is in their native language, according to both The Harvard Business Review and CSA Research. With a localized marketing strategy, your brand isn't just some foreign entity trying to sell a product; it becomes a familiar voice that speaks the customer's language and understands their culture. This familiarity can significantly enhance your brand's credibility in the local market, leading to increased customer loyalty and, ultimately, a larger market share.
Shape Your Localization Strategy By Asking These Eight Questions
Here are a few aspects you’ll need to consider as part of your website localization strategy:
- Which new target markets do you expect your business to be most successful in?
- Can your product or service be easily transferred to another culture or market, or will it need significant adaptation?
- Do you need to change your pricing model for the new regions?
- What new languages, cultures, and demographics would be the best match for your product?
- How long would you like it to take to expand into new local markets?
- What’s your budget for the marketing localization strategy?
- Do you currently have in-house capacity to support the marketing localization process?
- How will your marketing communications and channels need to be localized?
Do Your Research Into Your New Target Market
Once you’ve chosen the local markets you’d like to expand into, you need to do some customer research to figure out what they want in those specific regions. You won’t be able to build a product that fits everyone in Europe — the French, Portuguese, Bulgarians, and Spanish all have very different cultures, as well as languages. You want to reach these potential new customers, but in a way that’s affordable for you. That’s why you need to consider all the relevant marketing and financial indicators before you start rolling out your marketing localization strategy.
Conduct specific market research into the buyer personas of each region by asking these questions:
- What’s the target market’s growth rate?
- How many competitors can you identify?
- Can the target audience afford your products or services?
- What are their buying preferences?
- How much will your overheads be? Things like logistics, and customer support.
- How much will the marketing localization process cost compared with size of the potential of the market?
What channels should a localized marketing strategy cover?
This all sounds like a lot, we know. There’s no denying that putting a localization strategy
together takes a fair amount of time and energy. Focus your marketing efforts by starting with these important channels:
We’re assuming that new customers receive some kind of welcome email when they first start buying from you (if they don’t, they should!). Before you start localizing your emails, subscribe to the email marketing of a few local businesses or services in the same industry as yours, even if they’re not direct competitors, and see how they welcome their new customers. What language and tone do they use? How do they communicate special offers and discounts? How often do they send emails, and at what times? All this info can help you to get a better understanding of how your target audience responds to email marketing. Top Tip: make sure you consider the calendar of local holidays, festivals, or other occasions that you should — or shouldn’t — mention in your email campaigns.
Most-Read Blog Posts
Your blog probably has a few really popular articles that receive a lot of your traffic, and it’s tempting to assume that these will perform as well with your new target audience. That might be true, but before you get too excited, we recommend researching whether the customer problem or issue that the article covers is relevant to your new target market. You may find that other topics make more sense to translate first, or that the examples, links and references you use in the article need to be replaced with more locally-relevant options. Don’t forget to tweak your writing style, too. While there are great AI translation tools out there that will save you a lot of time and money, it still makes sense to have a real live human being who knows the market check over the final content and ensure that it makes sense for local customers. Top tip: Pay attention to how successful local competitors communicate with their audiences — there are all kinds of subtleties that seem small from the outside, but can have a profound impact on how your messages are received!
Website Home Page
For many of your potential users, your website home page will be the first time they really get to dive into your brand and what it stands for. Localizing the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) will drive up your customer satisfaction and conversion rates, so it’s a no-brainer when localizing your web content. Consider things like the length of your text strings in the new languages, whether that impacts the design, and whether the images on your website are culturally appropriate for your target audience. If you can afford it, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated team just for your website localization — there are a lot of different stakeholders involved, and it can get very complicated, so it helps to have a team focused on just this aspect of the marketing localization process.
Make sure you’ve done your keyword research so you know which terms your new target market uses to search for businesses like yours. Don’t just translate them from your language — the new keywords might be more different from your business’s original market than you think!
Top-Performing Marketing Campaigns
Adapt your advertising messages to resonate with your target audience. Don’t just translate your copy word-for-word — make sure you use the correct slang, idioms, and sentence structure for your target market’s language to avoid accidentally offending any of your local customers. You should also review the concepts of your marketing campaign to ensure that they align with your target market's culture and values. Employ the expertise of native transcreators who can judge whether your ad hits the right tone. From a design perspective, you’ll want to adapt design elements of your localized marketing campaigns — the visuals, layouts, colors, and fonts — align with your target audience's preferences.
AI-powered Video Translation and Dubbing with Rask AI
These days, no marketing campaign is complete without professional-quality vide content. Video continues to be the most popular content format on almost every platform, but reshooting video content or re recording voice overs to localize them to a new market would be a time-consuming and expensive process, and you may want to test your current video content with your target audience to ensure that it performs as well there as it does in your current market. With Rask AI, you can only translate and dub multiple voices in your video content into over 60 languages, and even ensure that the dubbed voice sounds just like the original speaker with Rask’s cutting-edge VoiceClone feature.
Building The Best Localization Team
Your localized marketing strategy is only as strong as the team you build to implement it. The right team members will help you bridge the cultural and linguistic gaps between your target market and your current one. Depending on your budget, you may prioritize certain roles over others, but you’ll need people on your side who understand your target audience’s needs and how to provide for them.
Here are some key groups that you’ll likely benefit from having on your team:
- Localization project managers to assign tasks and align the team to your localized marketing strategy.
- Designers adjust the visual elements of your business to suit your target market.
- Native translators and copywriters to translate or ‘transcreate’ copy into language that your target audience will engage with.
- Developers to support the technical aspects of your localization marketing efforts.
- QA engineers to check that there are no errors or bugs in the technical components of your localization strategy.
- Customer support team to deal with your local customers’ questions and complaints in their own language.
Tools That Will Streamline Your Marketing Localization Process
An effective localization strategy takes a lot of time and effort to implement, and that’s not taking into account the effort of running and maintaining the process to achieve the results you’re hoping for in your new market. Luckily, there are a number of tools that you can use that will automate and streamline the marketing localization process. Let’s run through a few of them:
Translation management systems (TMS)
Probably the most powerful tool in your localization toolbox: A translation management system is a centralized database of all your translated copy, which the teams working on different localized marketing campaigns can access for their target market. You can connect your translation management system with your business’s other content management system (CMS) or your customer relationship management (CRM) system to automate the tasks in your marketing localization strategy. Spend some time choosing a translation management system that will support your localization marketing efforts as efficiently as possible, to save you time, money, and help you prevent unnecessary manual effort, translation errors, and hard-to-track silos forming.
In general, your translation management system should offer features such as:
- An application programming interface (API) and support for integration.
- Easy collaboration, communication and review features.
- In-situ translation.
- Libraries, templates, and glossaries, and editing history.
- Automatic error and quality tracking.
- Support for different file formats.
Neuromarketing: The Science of Emotional Marketing
All marketers know that consumers are often more driven by their emotions than by their rational thinking when making purchasing decisions. When so many businesses offer similar products or services, the marketer that is able to form a stronger emotional connection is more likely to walk away with a long-term customer relationship. So it only makes sense that marketers would turn to the study of the brain — where emotions originate — to solve some of their problems.
Neuromarketing applies neuroscientific data and techniques to these marketing problems, and scientifically measures their effectiveness by registering brain activity, behavior, and more. Neuromarketers use the electroencephalogram (EEG), functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) or magnetoencephalography (MEG) to analyze a customer’s brain’s electrical activity while engaging with or thinking about different products, concepts or messages. They also track eye movements, facial expressions, heart rates and more to determine emotional responses, all for valuable and honest customer data.
For the localization process, these results can help identify differing consumer emotions in a new target market compared to the original market. By understanding the emotional connotation of different words, phrases and even colors within a target audience, you can make the right adaptations to your content to arouse the most powerful emotional response amongst local consumers. Luckily, there’s a lot of neuromarketing research out there that you or your localization partner can access without needing to hire an FMRI machine yourself!
Tips For Building Emotional Connections With Customers
- Play the Emotion Spectrum: Remember, emotions aren't black and white. Leverage the spectrum of emotions in your content, from mild happiness to ecstasy, mild irritation to fury.
- Use Science to Your Advantage: Employ neuromarketing techniques like fMRI, FACS, Eye-Tracking, GSR, and EMG to understand the role of emotion in consumer behavior.
- Understand Cultural Emotional Responses: Recognize that different cultures can have different emotional responses. Adapt your emotional marketing strategy accordingly.
- Be Authentic: Ensure your emotional marketing appeals are genuine. Sincerity resonates with audiences, and they can tell when a brand is not authentic.
- Plan Your Emotion Strategy: As with any marketing strategy, plan your emotional marketing. Define the emotional response you want to evoke and how you plan to do it.
- Quality Over Sentimentality: Prioritize producing high-quality content over overly sappy or sentimental material. The goal is to create content that resonates, not just tugs at heartstrings.
- Combine SEO with Emotion: Pair a robust SEO strategy with your emotional marketing to ensure your content reaches the right audience.
Inspiration From Some Of The World’s Most Successful Localization Marketing Examples
When it comes to localization marketing, Toyota is a perfect example of getting it right. When launching their luxury car brand, Lexus, in the US, they didn't just translate their Japanese marketing materials into English. They crafted a new marketing campaign, understanding the unique tastes of the American target audience. They emphasized luxury and superior service, values that resonated with the American consumer, and the Lexus brand became a huge success in the US.
We've touched on McDonald's earlier, but their approach to localized marketing deserves a deeper look. Beyond their localized menus, they also tailor their marketing campaigns to each country's culture. In India, where beef consumption is low due to religious beliefs, McDonald's doesn't offer any beef products. Instead, they offer a variety of vegetarian options and focus their marketing efforts around these unique offerings, making McDonald's feel like a local fast food joint rather than a global chain.
In the world of retail, H&M stands out with their marketing localization process. Their global website is available in different languages, but they also adjust their product lines and marketing campaigns to fit local tastes. For example, in response to modest fashion trends in the Middle East, H&M launched a modest fashion line and chose a regional icon, the female UAE jockey, to front the campaign. This showed a deep understanding and respect for the local culture and increased the brand's appeal in the region.
An Exercise In Localization: Expanding Into Germany
Imagine your tech business had decided to expand into Germany. For the sake of the example, let’s use our very own Rask AI — but more on us later! Here’s what an effective localization marketing strategy might take into account for the German market.
Data privacy and security
Germany places strong emphasis on data privacy and security — even more so than the rest of Europe. As such, Rask’s marketing campaigns in Germany should heavily focus on our data protection features and privacy-centric approach. We could even go a step further by collaborating with a local data protection organization to enhance our credibility.
Next, we’d make sure that our website and product interfaces were meticulously translated into German — especially important for us, since automated and easy video translation is one of our core products! We’d ensure that all our German customers could navigate and interact with our online content seamlessly. But the localization process shouldn’t end at translation. We’d also make sure to adjust our customer support channels to assist German-speaking customers, both via agents who speak the language and localized user manuals.
Localized marketing campaigns
We’d also want to identify an interesting and relevant “in” to reach local markets. Take Germany's influential manufacturing industry, for example: many of us will recognize this industry due to the international impression of brands like Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. But the research shows that they’re just as important in Germany as they are globally. Rask AI could highlight use-cases relevant to this sector in our marketing campaigns, showcasing how our AI solutions could streamline operations, increase efficiency, and drive innovation within the manufacturing field, all topics that would resonate deeply with the German target audience.
By addressing the unique concerns and needs of German customers, Rask AI would be able to successfully foster a strong brand connection in the country, increasing product adoption among German people, and accelerating our growth in the German market.
We hope that you’ve come to understand the huge impact that an effective localization strategy can have on your global marketing strategy, and that you feel more equipped to expand into new markets in a safe and sustainable way. Remember, localization is more than just translation, and consumers will always prefer products and businesses that they feel are local. But, with in-depth research into what makes your target audience tick, the right team, tools, and the assistance of local experts, you’ll be able to overcome localization challenges and engage emotionally with local customers in any country around the world.