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Localization 101: What Is Localization?

Localization is your brand's key to unlocking an entirely new revenue center. Here's everything you need to know.

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With my favorite hobby, building my own custom keyboards, I’m limited to shopping internationally, specifically on Chinese websites. But, I don’t actually speak a lick of Mandarin.

Despite shopping from an entirely different country, that speaks an entirely different language, to find exactly what I was looking for thanks to a localized version of the company's website.

Product descriptions were written in English, and even the most “featured” and “most common” items from my region are populated on the homepage. That's the power of the digital age we live in.

With such an interconnected world, full of rich content and amazing user experiences, it has become easier than ever for brands to reach a new audience, and grab the attention of new potential clients or buyers.

Many brands have never given translation as much as a second thought, but the reality is that localization is your key to unlocking an entirely new revenue center.

But, you may be wondering, what exactly is localization, and how does it differ from translation? Don't worry, we'll break it down.

What Is Localization?

Localization is the process of adapting a piece of content's full meaning for a new region, including translation, associated imagery and cultural elements that influence how your content will be perceived.

While translation is simply about converting written words from one language into another, localization takes into account the culture of a region and the related nuance in language as it relates to that culture.

Fully localized content resonates with users because it incorporates relevant cultural nuance to feel familiar, as opposed to simply replacing English words with translated text.

Localization can get so nuanced as to apply the unique dialects of a specific region within a country.

This concept extends even further beyond written text, into related imagery, overall tone, and message the content is trying to convey.

Localization in the Real World

For a local example, some regions in the United States call our favorite fizzy drinks "soda," while other regions use the term "pop." Just take a look at this fascinating map that breaks down the term usage by location.

Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 10.49.33 AM

If you were from New York, for example, hearing your favorite soda advertised as "pop" would just sound weird. It would feel as if the brand didn't even understand who they were trying to reach.

And that's why localization is so important -- brands can offer a personal connection to these users.

As it turns out, most people primarily want to engage with brands that offer content for their location, specific to their region and culture.

Content Localization is What Consumers Demand

Simply put, brands should strive to offer their content in new languages to capture the potential revenue from emerging markets around the world.

The reasoning is two-fold: there is a huge potential for growth overseas, with regions like APAC, Latin America and even the Middle East introducing new users at a record pace.

But also, users simply won't buy from businesses if the experience isn't offered in their language.

Back in 2014, CSA Research conducted a survey of 3,000 online shoppers across 10 countries to assess the online language preferences of users and the impact this plays on their purchasing decisions.

Titled, "Can't Buy, Won't Read: 2014," this study has remained the gold standard for recognizing the importance of localized content and experiences.

And, as it turns out, the survey concluded that 75% of these 3,000 users across 10 non-Anglophone countries prefer to buy products in their native language. Furthermore, the research concluded that "60% rarely or never buy from English-only websites."

Localization Empowers Your Brand To Unlock New Revenue Streams

Localization is your brand's key to unlocking these new markets. By offering your brand experience in a language that feels familiar, users will be much more likely to engage with your content and ultimately make a purchase.

Several Smartling customers offer great insight into this paradigm:

  • IMVU, an online 3D Avatar Social App with virtual worlds for users to join for a community experience. After localizing their application for global usage, IMVU saw a 45% increase in iOS app registrations and a 43% increase in Android app registrations.
  • Lucidchart, an online diagram software and visual collaboration solution saw a 200% year-over-year growth in their Latin American user base, jumping from zero to 125k localized users in just four months after localizing their platform for the Latin America market.
  • Dashlane, a cross-platform premium password manager and digital wallet application, had a 4x increase in active users in just one year after translating their content and localizing for users around the world.

Translating and localizing your entire brand experience, website, application or even just digital content, can seem like a monumental task.

But, honestly, with the right mindset, strategy, and tools in place, brands can turn translation from a cost center into a revenue center. And that's exactly where Smartling fits in.

Localization and Translation Software

What was once a complicated process of juggling emails and spreadsheets, managing translators around the world, or working with a translation vendor that offers little transparency into the process, has now been transformed into an agile, flexible and collaborative experience.

Smartling's cloud-based Translation Management System makes it easy for brands to offer content on a global scape at a rapid pace while providing complete transparency into the entire process.

Powered by automation, brands can push content to the market faster, and work directly with their translators to offer content in a voice that feels familiar to your end-users.

Speak with one of our experts today to learn more about how Smartling can help your brand go global.

About Matt

Matt Grech is the Content Marketing Manager at Smartling, responsible for growing Smartling awareness and brand content. As a digital content writer, Matt applies his journalistic lens to content, helping users deepen their understanding of the brand, services and technology provided by Smartling. Matt has previously contributed to an industry leading Unified Communications resource, as well as local newspapers where he developed his unique ability to investigate, interview, and transform complex problems into simple solutions.

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