What Is Localization and Why Does It Matter?
When you localize your content, you are adapting your content and messaging to a specific locale or market. The first step for this is often translating your content, but in order to communicate your brand in a way that resonates with your local audience, you need to go a bit further.
For instance, an email header image targeting New York-based customers may show the New York skyline, but the email header image for the same, translated email targeting your audience in Munich will have swapped that image out for the Munich skyline.
When you localize your content, you are adapting every aspect of your content so that it speaks to your audience in a way that feels local to them.
Connecting With Your Global Audience
Today’s technologies are enabling brands to provide more personalized experiences to their customers than ever before. Consumers today expect a 360° experience that spans all channels and goes from digital to brick and mortar seamlessly. A well-curated personalized experience can result in a consumer that is a brand advocate for life.
According to Common Sense Advisory, 79% of the global audience accessing digital content does not speak English, and 75% of buyers agree that when deciding between two similar products, they are more likely to choose the product in a language they understand.
This means that any brand that is targeting global markets must include translating and localizing their content in their omni-channel strategy in order to entice buyers.
Choosing the Right Content to Translate
We all agree that content is important. But similarly to personalization, when it comes to localization, not all content is created equal. When approaching your localization strategy, it’s important to understand something called minimum viable content.
This is the least amount of content needed to provide a seamless experience to your end user. This will help you control costs and enable you to test new markets easily. Minimum viable content will be different for every brand.
If you’re a B2C company and selling direct to consumer, your minimum viable content might include your checkout button, or workflow, as well as your top 10 or 50 products.
It could also include the confirmation email with shipping details or personalized content related to a purchase or a shopping cart abandonment workflow. That’s your minimum viable content — the content you want to translate first to see if your brand will resonate with buyers in the new market location you are targeting.
Maintaining Brand Trust and Loyalty With Clear and Consistent Messaging
Once you have your minimum viable content identified, you can decide what type of translation resources you want to use. There are different methods of translation, and costs can vary widely.
Machine translation is the cheapest way to translate your content, but also produces the lowest translation quality. Machine translation is a good approach for content that is not critical to maintaining your brand voice.
Human translation involving an editor and reviewer results in the highest quality of translation. This is the type of translation you want to apply to your most important content (your minimum viable content).
A human translator can make informed decisions based on linguistic nuances machine translation cannot yet interpret. A human translator can ensure the steps you’ve taken to personalize your source language content come through in your translated content.
Human translation is also required for what we call transcreation, which is often used for high-impact, creative content. When you transcreate content, you are actually changing the meaning of content so that it resonates in local markets while staying true to your brand voice.
An example of applying transcreation to creative content would be to substitute a brand slogan or an idiomatic expression that might not make sense in another language with a completely different expression or wording. This ensures the meaning carries through in the target locale and captures the spirit of the source language.
Using Technology to Support Omni-Channel Content and Cross-Team Functionality
A personalized, omni-channel marketing strategy requires deploying content across multiple different platforms, such as websites, landing pages, emails, payment portals, social channels, mobile apps, video and more.
Slow time to market, manual processes, and difficulty in measuring impact are all main concerns of global companies who need to translate across platforms.
Because of this, most brands with an omni-channel strategy are looking for a comprehensive Translation Management System (TMS), such as Smartling.
Supporting Your Content and Your Team With the Right Technology
The most important thing to look for in a TMS is its ability to centralize in one place all of your content no matter where it lives. A good translation solution should be able to ingest content easily from wherever it is housed, and deliver the localized versions back to end users instantly.
Also important are the tools the TMS provides to your team members. Features such as automated workflows provide visibility and control to every project stakeholder and contributor.
A visual context tool is critical to provide to your translators. With visual context, a translator can see where the translated content is appearing, know what it is referring to, and how it will appear on the page, enabling them to get their translation right the first time.
Features such as translation memory and glossaries will help your team save time and money, and help you maintain your brand voice. Translation memory is a database of previous translations, so you don’t have to translate the same content again. A glossary stores the right way to translate key phrases so that your brand voice stays consistent.
Because your content is centralized in a TMS, it doesn’t matter where the content comes from, or where it is being published to in order for your translation memory or glossary to be effective.
Centralized data, metrics, and reporting are also becoming increasingly important. Again, because your content is housed in one place, so is all of the data associated with your content and translations. A TMS that surfaces this information will help you make key decisions to save time and money, as well as help you decide what content and markets to prioritize next.
Plan for the Future Today
Today’s omni-channel methods are not necessarily going to be tomorrow’s. When choosing your TMS technology, it’s important to ask how agile and future-proof that technology is. Are they constantly working to improve the platform to add new features and functionality, or do updates only get released every couple of years?
Another consideration is their willingness to integrate and work with a robust partner ecosystem in order to provide you with support for any specialized technology that they have not built directly into their product.
To that end, any future-oriented technology that you choose for your martech stack should be aware of the importance of a best-in-class partner ecosystem.
Localize Your Omni-Channel Strategy to Grow Your Market
When you localize your content, you grow sales and lead generation in your target markets as well as increase buyer or customer satisfaction and consistency for brand messaging across global languages. Speaking your customers’ language will deliver the most impactful level of personalization in your omni-channel strategy.
If you’d like to learn more, you can contact us today for a demo or for more information.
Melia Jones is the Channel Marketing Manager for Smartling, the translation management platform that provides powerful tools to translate your products and content. Melia started her professional career in marketing in 2009. She first started working in the tech industry specifically in New York in 2011 and has been at Smartling since 2017. She has experience and background in both B2C and B2B marketing and is currently focused on partnership marketing for Smartling.