Plan Your KPI Reporting Prior to Language Localization

If you’re a marketer, you use translation and other elements of language localization for the same basic reason that most marketers do: to reach your customers in a way that resonates. Customers are always more likely to notice a message that reaches out to them first and foremost by being in their own language. However, before you begin the translation process, you need to think about the metrics you’ll use that extend far beyond just the language of the customer.

The use of key performance indicators (KPI) and KPI reporting is an important part of determining whether messages are having their desired effect. All marketers, especially in the SaaS and software sectors, need to acquire new customers while retaining their current ones—that is, minimizing churn or customer attrition. The tricky part is measuring these elements effectively. This becomes even more difficult when you multiply the number of markets you serve. Here are some quick tips to help you plan your KPI reporting before you begin the localization process.

First, Make Sure You Optimize for the Right Search Engines

As Chirag Dattani observes at iMedia Connection, one of the first challenges in market localization that comes before language localization is choosing the search engine for which you will optimize. For example, Google remains dominant in much of the world, but Baidu is the dominant search engine in China. Because each search engine has its own set of tools and analytics resources, KPI reporting must be adapted to the search engine being used and, as much as possible, work across different search engines.

Tools for the Task

KPIs such as click-through rate (CTR), time on site, and brand awareness (as expressed, for example, by Facebook “likes”) are often used to measure engagement. Some of these, such as CTR and time on site, lend themselves particularly well to direct measurement no matter what country the user is based in, or what language they speak. However, as Todd Wasserman reports at Mashable, these measures may not fully reflect underlying user engagement. A reader may notice an advertisement and be affected by it, but not click on it. On the flip side, readers may click a “like” button out of politeness without engaging with the message.

These behavioral responses are driven by culture. For example, in one culture, clicking a “like” button may be a mere polite nod, while in another, it may be appropriate to only show a specific, definite interest in the message. These differences will affect which KPIs are used.

Marcelle E. DuPraw and Marya Axner discuss some of these cultural drivers in a paper for PBS. However, an enormous amount of research must still be done to determine how people around the world interact with the web. For instance, the ways business customers in India, Brazil, and the United States respond to and engage with messages may not be the same.

Start with the Customer

One good place to start when determining KPIs for localized marketing is by thinking about how they might view your company, and the solution you provide, differently. Do they have different reasons for wanting to buy what you’re marketing and selling? How business concepts are expressed in a language offers insights into how speakers of that language look at business processes and challenges. The more you understand about your customers—both current and prospective—the greater the likelihood you can build lasting, and measurable, business relationships with them.

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About Rick Robinson

Rick is a "near-native" Californian with a background in computer linguistics. He writes about technology and the technology industry, as well as a personal blog about space travel and related subjects. His first novel, CATHERINE OF LYONESSE, was recently published by Random House UK.