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.[ms-protect-content id=”9932″]
Giving Your SEO a Boost
Here’s a newsflash for you. Internet searches are becoming increasingly local. You may have heard that before, but what does it really mean? That you need to adapt your SEO for different local regions, or you’ll simply drop off the radar. Localising search is a great thing. It improves the user experience and serves customers with relevant information about local businesses near them. So, if your website is heavily UK-based and you want to break an American market, you’ll need to think like a local to boost your SERP ranking.
You can do this through local listings, displaying your local office or store information and a local phone number to start with. If you don’t have any such local presence, you can still play the localised SEO game. This is where the power of research comes in handy. Find out what the keywords and search terms are in the market you want to appear in. Make sure that your content includes the right keyword density for your new users. Consumers in the UK go on holiday, for example, whereas people in America (if they’re lucky) take a vacation. French, Spanish, and all other languages vary from region to region. So, make sure that you’re writing in the way that local people would type if they were searching for your product.
When it comes to off-page SEO, develop alliances with local associations and businesses. Get some links pointing to your company from local businesses, appear on local channels, and make sure that your social media posts are scheduled to meet the right time zones and holidays. Tweaking your global marketing on a regional level isn’t only going to give your SEO a boost and make sure that you get seen in search engines. It’s going to increase conversion by hitting the right note with your local customers. They don’t get a translated website, or partially translated website; they get a perfect, fluid, optimal user experience that makes them want to do business.
Broadening Your Brand Appeal Globally
Taking your brand to wider audiences will strengthen your brand recognition and appeal across the globe. Without doubt, this will increase your foothold in local markets and your sales as well. You’ve worked hard to build a brand name synonymous with respect and trust. Making mistakes with your global marketing can damage your brand equity. You don’t want to become a laughing stock in Shanghai or offend the local community in Iran.
US Airline, Braniff International, did exactly that when they took their marketing to Mexico. Instead of highlighting the luxury details offered by the brand, the slogan “Fly in Leather” was translated to “Fly Naked” in Spanish. Even Coca Cola messed up royally when they first dipped their toes into the Chinese market.5 Their brand name was translated into “Bite the Wax Tadpole!”. Localising your global marketing accurately is essential if you want to avoid such costly blunders. You’ll also need to figure out the best way of appealing to local tastes, without diluting your brand image.
Sometimes, that may mean changing the colours of your logo. On other occasions, you might need to change your company name, or icon. Ensuring that you please local tastes while keeping the essence of your brand is essential. Going textless in the style of Nike,6 can sometimes be the best approach. The Nike swoosh is recognisable anywhere and has no need of localisation.
Enhancing User Experience (UX) Around the Globe
Localised content provides an enhanced user experience. When customers can understand your website, and relate to your marketing materials, they’re much more likely to buy. Remember the Common Sense Advisory statistics? 87% more likely to buy, in fact! Every digital marketer’s goal is to provide an optimal user experience that encourages site visitors to hang around, to click further in and become paying customers.
User experience is weakened when you have a slow website with broken forms, bad translations, currency displayed incorrectly, or wording that feels robotic. Enhancing user experience in your website, social media and global marketing will increase conversion around the globe.
You want your global marketing efforts to be a success. And the best way to achieve this is through accurate and targeted localisation. You’ll win your new customers over by crafting a message that resonates with them and makes them want to convert. Your promotions and offers will reach the right people at the right time. Your SEO will get a phenomenal boost, and your brand will be recognisable around the world. Localisation is an investment. But with so many benefits to unlock, it’s one that can only pay off in the long run.[/ms-protect-content]
About the Author
Christina Comben is a Copywriter and Journalist specialising in B2B website content, article writing, localisation, and blogging. Multilingual and qualified to MBA level, Christina has produced investor guides in developing countries for Spanish newspaper, ABC, and currently works as Content Manager at Day Translations. Follow Christina on Twitter @christinacomben.
4. http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/default.aspx?Contenttype =ArticleDetAD&tabID=63&Aid=21505&moduleId=390