Content Localization Services

Start localizing your content for each target market with Smartling's integrated translation management solution.

What is content localization?

To put it simply, content localization means putting your content in a language your audience will understand. This process entails more than just linguistic translation, however. Social conventions and cultural traditions must be accounted for as well. If you are communicating across several locales, it’s always best to adapt your content to suit the unique traits of each.

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Benefits of content localization

Localizing your content will demand both time and attention from a variety of colleagues, the resources invested are a small price to pay for the rewards that are often returned.

More Targeted Messaging
Even the most cleverly crafted brand messages won’t be effective in every region. There may be nothing wrong with the underlying theme, but cultural differences can be a surprisingly powerful force. Localizing content with support from native experts helps elevate your communications above competitors and build more authentic connections. With more consumers expecting and appreciating personalized messages from the businesses they interact with, even subtle localization details can dramatically improve audience response.

4 Key Tips for Ambitious Brands Ready to Take Global Content Seriously

Higher Sales
Marketing messages are always most persuasive when expressed in the language, terms, and context the audience prefers. This is true when working with different languages, or even different dialects. For example, Spanish-language marketing content developed for audiences in Puerto Rico may not be quite as resonant with Colombian or Argentinian customers. Meanwhile, a completely different approach might be required to connect with customers in the Basque region of Spain. Even though all three regions speak Spanish, they have different local histories, different linguistic particularities, and different cultural conventions.

Regardless of geography, consumers around the world are generally more comfortable buying a product or a service from a company that makes the effort to recognize these differences and tries to meet consumers on their terms. In one Common Sense Advisory study of more than 3,000 consumers whose native language was something other than English, 75% said they were more likely to buy a product with information listed in their primary language. The same research revealed that 30% of those surveyed never buy products from English-language websites.

Another study from Appia looked at markets in Spain, France, and Germany and compared the results from an English campaign in those countries with similar campaigns run in Spanish, French, and German, respectively. The English version of the campaign had an average click-through rate of 2.35% compared to 3.34% for the localized version. Meanwhile, the English campaign’s conversion rate of 7.47% was significantly lower than the 9.08% conversion rate the localized version drew.

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Reduced Risk
Selling a product or service is a difficult prospect already, without throwing in language barriers or cross-cultural misunderstandings. Local idioms, slang, symbols, and more can change the message you are presenting to the market and lead to an embarrassing situation before you ever realize what was wrong. In some cultures, certain numbers are considered unlucky, while certain colors in some areas are offensive. Trusted localization experts will be familiar with these sensitive issues and can help prevent you from making a mistake that could cause irreparable brand damage.

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Types of content localization

It’s not always apparent just how much content companies publish until it comes time to catalog and localize all their assets. From marketing materials and website content to apps and software, content localization strategies must be unified to succeed.

Website localization
Your website is often the first point of contact for potential customers. In fact, an influx of international traffic is often the indicator that inspires companies to localize content in the first place. The important thing to remember, though, is that website localization does not need to be an all-or-none proposition.

The smartest strategies often entail prioritizing content that is most crucial to the customer journey and adapting that content first. For example, a company may localize its product pages and checkout pages immediately while addressing customer support content a bit later. That way, companies can start realizing returns in a matter of weeks instead of waiting months or years to launch a completely localized website.

Website Localization and Website Benefits

App localization
The world has gone mobile, and most mobile traffic is now going through apps. In fact, 90% of all mobile device activity now goes through apps instead of browsers, meaning it will take more than just localizing your website to remain relevant in the mobile age. According to one study, localizing the text in applications for the iOS operating system resulted in a 128% increase in downloads per country.

With worldwide app revenues almost doubling in 2016 from the previous year ($51 billion to $101 billion), it’s important to make your apps accessible to as wide an audience as possible, on both iOS and Android. This includes translation as well as matching local numeric, date, and time formats, including currency calculations. Make certain that symbols, icons, and colors are all appropriate to the target region. Keep in mind that different regions also use different keyboards, which need to implemented.


Software localization
Software rarely comes out of the box ready to be used in any region. When developers release a software product in a new country, they need to adapt several elements to make it more usable for local users. This is not restricted to purely text translation; even among English-speaking countries, there are often localized versions for United States, United Kingdom, and Australian markets.

Depending on the culture, companies may need to swap out images, icons, logos, and other elements to be in line with the market. If a word or number is taboo in the target region, the content will need to be updated. Companies may replace images of people used in the program with pictures of people who more closely fit the local demographic. They will also update values to reflect local currencies and formats such as date, time, and other units of measure.

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Marketing content localization
Not all marketing content resides on websites or within apps. And with the speed and volume at which it is developed and delivered, many companies consider foregoing localizing a good chunk of it. Many companies release blog posts every week, or even more often, email campaigns have tight deadlines to meet, social media pages need to be updated regularly, and marketers want to be able to publish new ebooks, videos, and graphics immediately, rather than wait for every regional variant to be prepared.

Translation management tools that can automatically collect marketing content from wherever it lives and quickly put it in the hands of translators is helping ambitious companies address such issues. That way, every regional audience can be addressed with similar levels of marketing speed and sophistication.

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Localization tips

As you move forward in providing localized content to your various international audiences, here are a few factors to keep in mind:

Use Technology to Your Advantage
One of the biggest obstacles companies face as they localize content is the inevitable delays introduced by outdated manual processes. In a manual workflow, teams will struggle to even extract content from the source system and share it with the linguistic professionals and native experts who will transform it. They’ll wait months for developers to make the necessary engineering fixes, and collaboration will be complicated by a sea of emails and spreadsheets.

Modern translation management software can automate away many of these procedural headaches, enabling more valuable work to begin immediately. So before plotting any new content localization initiative, consider how the absence or inclusion of technologies may impact your experience.

Recruit local assistance
In today’s digital world it has become increasingly important to localize content to fit different audiences. This becomes even more important when you consider the fact that search engines like Google are more often providing local results and changing their rankings based on an individual’s location. Because search engines put so much weight on improving user experience (UX), companies more than ever need to ensure they are providing the best UX to consumers across the world. That means providing quality content that is adapted to the individual rather than the masses.

Ensure your content is localized for the correct audience by connecting with someone who grew up in the culture you are targeting. Locals will have a more clear perspective of your target market. They will also be familiar with local idioms and dialects, making your content sound more natural to a native ear and will be able to avoid embarrassing cultural faux pas.

Take special note of number formatting
As we mentioned above, numbers are formatted differently in various countries. Some countries, such as the US, separate decimal places with a period, while other countries, such as Germany and France, denote the division with a comma. Similarly, in the United States, a date is written using the following format: MM/DD/YY or MM/DD/YYYY. In several European countries, however, the format is as follows: DD/MM/YY or DD/MM/YYYY. In order to avoid confusion, companies should update these formats as a part of their localization process.

Use appropriate units of measurement
The United States uses Standard measurements, while most of the rest of the world now uses Metric units. In order to appeal to a broader audience, companies should convert units of measurement into the local format. A few examples:

Temperature: Fahrenheit vs. Celsius/Centigrade
Weight: Ounces, pounds, and tons vs. milligrams, kilograms, and metric tons
Volume: Fluid ounces, cups, pints, quarts, and gallons vs. milliliters and liters
Currency: When possible, companies should present money values as an expression of the local currency

How can Smartling help?

By really paying attention to your global markets, you can significantly improve your company’s success as you do business across the world. Contact us to learn more about content localization and what Smartling can do for you and your business.