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Why You Need to Localise Now

March 25, 2016 • Global Business, Marketing & Consumers, STRATEGY & MANAGEMENT

By Christina Comben

If you do business on a global scale, with multilingual and multicultural clients, you should be localising your marketing message to your target audience.

 

Why You Need to Localise Now

If your company does business on a global scale and you compete in international markets, you’ve probably heard a lot about localisation [1]. While you almost certainly already adapt your products or services to meet the requirements of local markets, local legislation, tastes and habits; have you asked yourself how you can localise your website, software, or mobile app to increase your brand’s appeal to clients in different cultures across a varied demographic?

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Capture More Clients

Regardless of what industry you’re in, from education to entertainment, if you compete globally, then you’ll need different language versions of your website. And while that’s a good start, it’s only the beginning. So many companies, large and small, dedicate huge portions of their budgets to sales and marketing. Creating an optimal user experience, getting an impressive SERP, adding catchy CTAs, and ensuring impressive site speed… And then they ask their German friend or French speaking employee to translate their website for a sweepingly generalised “French” or “German” market.

[su_pullquote]A weakly translated version of your brand’s marketing message will make your international clients feel like second-class citizens.[/su_pullquote]

Translation of your website, app, film, or videogame shouldn’t be an afterthought. A weakly translated version of your brand’s marketing message will make your international clients feel like second-class citizens. And no one likes to be second best. Enter new markets without speaking to your prospects in their local language and you may as well be speaking Double Dutch. French in Nigeria or Canada isn’t the same as French in France. You need to make sure you’re using local keywords, local vocabulary and taking into account local cultural nuances and beliefs.

 

Be More Than Just Available

Capturing clients globally is about more than being globally available. Announcing your presence in a new market is only the first step (after carefully researching and profiling your audience[2] of course); making sure that your app, advertising campaign, software and website are globally ready is quite a different story. Essentially, beyond cultural differences and languages, people are still people wherever you go. We share the same hopes, fears, dreams and emotions… but we have markedly different ways of expressing them.

What does that mean? It means that if you have a successful product, service, and brand approval in the UK, then you have every possibility of achieving equal success in other parts of Europe, America, Africa, and Asia. But ignore local customs and cultures at your peril. Failure to localise is like planning for failure. You need to create an equally engaging, target-driven localised message that actually resonates with your foreign customers on a local level; not one that they simply (or hardly) understand. If you can make your customers believe you’ve done your research, your conversion rates will soar.

 

Don’t Make Costly Errors

There’s plenty of room for error in translation. And not just in translation; if I told you that my colleague was as crook as a Rockwood, would you know what I was saying? It’s knackering contemplating all the regional language variations[3], slang, nuances, beliefs and idioms. So how do you make sure your company’s marketing message, website, newsletter or corporate image hasn’t become the local joke in Germany, or worse, an unthinkable insult in Iran?

 

Get Your Message Right

Cultural taboos exist in all societies. Find out what they are where you do business. Be sensible and work with the budget that you have. If you can visit the places your prospective consumers live, then great. If you can hire local experts, perfect. If you don’t have the means to do either of these, then have your team research your buyer personas[4] as thoroughly as possible. Some universally accepted symbols, for example (such as the “thumbs up” sign), might not be as universal as you think; in some parts of the Middle East, sticking your thumb up is one of the most vulgar insults you can make.

 

Avoid International Lawsuits

If you deal in products, especially pharmaceuticals, then you’ll already know the local legislation and requirements for ensuring compliance. But make sure you research the same when it comes to advertising and promotion. Localisation? You got it. While comparative advertising is commonplace in the US and becoming gradually more acceptable in the UK; in certain parts of Europe, not only is it seen as distasteful and misleading, but it’s actually illegal[5]. Tread carefully here and research thoroughly before you become associated with underhand practices or landed with a million-euro lawsuit.

 

Build Respect

The thing about respect is, you have to earn it. Building up alliances, link building, getting articles written about your company and recommendations from respected sources takes time. But there’s nothing like an endorsement from a reputable source to give your product or service clout. Find out who the movers and shakers are in these local markets, approach popular blogs and sites that complement – but not compete with – your product or service. While you’re building respect and social approval for your brand, you’ll be increasing traffic to your website. Two birds with one stone.

 

Optimise Your Online Marketing Spend

Search is local, so you need to use local keywords and know your local search terms. If I’m looking for a coffee shop in Manchester, for example, the finest that Miami has to offer is hardly relevant to me. Remember that Canadians wear “toques” and Australians and Brits go on “holiday” not “vacation”. Customers in these regions therefore, will have different ways of searching for the same things.

[su_pullquote]The thing about respect is, you have to earn it. Building up alliances, link building, getting articles written about your company and recommendations from respected sources takes time.[/su_pullquote]

Also, while Google may be your go-to search engine, some local markets prefer local search engines. Find out what they are and make sure you use them. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and while we’re at it, App Store Optimisation (ASO) are vital to your digital marketing strategy. You need to make sure that your marketing team or SEO agency are equipped to optimise your site or app globally, and that they have the localisation knowledge to correctly target the right audience.

Localisation (when carried out correctly) not only ensures that the right message is delivered to the right people, but also optimises your content for search engine or app store results by careful selection of exact, targeted local keywords that will improve your ranking, conversion and download rates. Increase your international presence, build a loyal global client base and ramp up revenue… isn’t it time for you to get local?

 

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About the Author

Christina Comben is a freelance copywriter specialising in B2B website content, marketing materials, article writing, and blogging. Multilingual and qualified to MBA level, Christina has produced investor guides and economic reports in developing countries for Spanish newspaper ABC and currently works as Head of Content at Day Translations. Contact @christinacomben | Email: info@christinacomben.com

 

Reference

[1] Translation and Localization: What’s the Difference between the Two?

[2] Why Knowing Your Audience Is The Key To Success

[3] British Accents

[4] What is a Buyer Persona?

[5] Misleading Advertising

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