Any marketing campaign is geared to capturing the minds and hearts of its target market. In a globalised marketing platform, Christina Comben highlights how localisation, as an investment, is one that will definitely pay off in the long run.
If you want to increase sales, broaden your brand awareness and give SEO a boost, localisation is key.1 But, while most marketing managers are aware of the need to speak their customers’ language; how far are they willing to go to get it just right? The success of global marketing is about much more than merely translating your website into three of four different languages. While translation ensures that your message makes sense, localisation speaks to the heart. And speaking to the heart is the goal of any marketing campaign.
What Localisation Involves
Let’s say your website and marketing materials are based around a certain promotion in your home country. Winter woollies, Mother’s Day gifts, or national celebrations. Simply translating these promotions and sending them out to a different market will miss the mark completely. Why? Because they don’t celebrate Mother’s Day on the same day around the world. A Spanish consumer won’t be interested in hearing about offers and deals related to a celebration they don’t share. Perhaps you have customers in different climates and even hemispheres. Keep in mind that while it’s winter in Europe, your Australian clients are busy baking on the beach.
Then there’s the nitty gritty details that are often overlooked. Are you displaying prices correctly in the local currency? Have you researched consumer purchasing preferences? Not all countries have access to (or are as willing to pay with) credit cards. So, you may need to offer different payment solutions. Dates, times, weights, measures, icons, even local vocabulary and colloquialisms need to be taken into account. Otherwise your global marketing campaign will never feel like it’s targeted to the individual customer. It will always feel as if it was meant for another audience first and your new target second. And no one likes to feel second best.
Treating your foreign customers like second class citizens is a dangerous road to follow. Especially when you have abundant competition from other international firms and local companies on the ground. If your marketing promotions and website fail to inspire and appeal, your competition is just a couple of clicks away.
Not all countries use the same search engines or social media, either. So, if you’re planning your campaigns for Google and Facebook in China, you’ll need to change the rules for Baidu and WeChat.2 Use of images in global marketing is crucial. Images can be extremely culturally sensitive and will need to be carefully studied per target market. What works well in Germany as a perfectly acceptable picture of a family having fun on the beach could be offensive in the Middle East. When you invest in quality website localisation and localisation of your marketing materials, you’re investing in greater sales and increased brand awareness.3
Capturing the Hearts and Minds of Your Target Audience
Companies that do a lot of business in the European Union, or further afield, will know all about the challenges that different markets bring. You have to comply with different legislation, culture, purchasing preferences, and competition laws. You’ll need a team of local experts on the ground advising you of how to avoid a hefty fine, and how to craft a campaign that resonates with your customers, with a message that captures the hearts and minds of your target.
The language barrier in global marketing is still very real. English may be the Esperanto of the business world, but that doesn’t mean that all consumers speak it. In fact, according to the Common Sense Advisory,4 87% of consumers who don’t speak and can’t read English won’t buy from an English website. So, if you’re making the error of targeting your marketing campaigns in English, or only partially translating your website, you’re losing out on a lot of sales. The sweeping majority, in fact.
What if you’re already presenting a Spanish version of your website to customers in Spain and sending emails in Spanish? Are you still failing to capture their business? Thanks to the power of smartphones and rising access to internet connections – 3.7 billion at last count – global tastes are merging. But, what works well in one country won’t always be so successful in another. You’ll need to do more than just translate your words; you’ll need to localise your marketing message.