Are you branching out to new audiences with your business? Whether you are courting customers in your own country who speak other languages or trying your hand at cross-border selling, I can’t emphasise the importance of content localization enough.
I’m often surprised at how many customers ask for translation without considering the value of localization services to their business. But then, I do localize content on a daily basis, so it’s perhaps closer to the top of my agenda. For those who are unfamiliar with what content localization is and why it’s essential, this article should explain all you need to know. Read on to discover just how much more effective your multilingual content can be…
Content localization is the adaptation of content to suit local audiences. It is the process of moulding and shaping your content to account for the particular nuances and expectations of the target audience. The resulting content will read as though it was originally created for the audience in question, rather than feeling like a translation that was originally intended for different readers.
Localizing content is an undertaking that requires careful thought, attention to detail and deep knowledge of the culture/audience that the content is being shaped to suit. That content can be anything from blog posts to your website copy to social media posts.
Content localization usually involves translation but doesn’t always. If you’ve written content for readers in the UK, for example, then plan to localize it for those in the US, it won’t need translation, just a careful conversion from British English to US English.
Localization takes into account many other factors – not just language. That’s why it’s important to create a comprehensive localization strategy before beginning to adapt your content to new audiences. Do so means that you can be clear on your goals and how you are going to achieve them.
Before I get started on how to localize your content, let’s take a look at why you should do so.
Content localization can deliver a wide range of benefits. Connecting with audiences in a considered way, that feels natural to them, can drive up user engagement. That, in turn, can improve brand loyalty. And from increased loyalty comes higher conversions. What business wouldn’t want that?
Consider your own business. Do you want more customers to engage with your brand and remain loyal to it? Would you like those customers purchase a higher number of products from you and to buy them more frequently? Then it’s time to localize your content.
If you’ve written your content in English, that’s a great start when it comes to engaging internet users. Visual Capitalist reports that 60.4% of the top ten million websites are in English.
However, that also means that if you’re not translating and localizing your content, you’re missing out connecting with those who prefer to use the internet in other languages.
Languages wax and wane when it comes to their popularity and their speaker numbers. It’s a topic that I explored in depth recently, as you can discover by clicking the link below. This is true in terms of the internet, as well, and in recent years the proportion of websites in English has been waning, as other languages have increased their market share.
The second most used language on the internet now is Russian, which accounts for 8.5% of the top ten million websites. That’s followed by Spanish (4.0%), Turkish (3.7%), Persian (3.0%) and French (2.6%). As such, if you’re courting internet users who speak other languages, translating and localizing your content to suit audiences who speak these tongues could pay dividends.
Read more: The Fastest Growing Languages in the World
If you need another incentive to localize your content, consider this. CSA Research has found that 60% of online shoppers rarely or never buy from English-only websites. The survey in question consulted with 3,000 online shoppers from ten nations. It also found that 75% of shoppers report wanting products to be available in their native language.
Quite simply, if you’re not localizing your content to suit different audiences, you’re missing out on a vast amount of potential revenue.
Another powerful reason to localize your content is to try and combat the impact of the pandemic. Simply Business reports that 61% of small business owners in the UK have had serious financial concerns at some stage during the pandemic. It’s a situation that is mirrored in countries around the world.
Many businesses have had to pivot their operational model in order to survive and boost brand engagement. For some, that has meant seeking to engage customers in other languages for the first time, in order to diversify and ways to survive (and hopefully thrive) in the ‘new normal’.
I mentioned briefly above that ‘content’ can include a range of different items. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Presumably you use marketing collateral to engage new customers. If so, you’ll need to localize your marketing materials carefully in order to build your brand in other languages. Use a localization expert with an extensive background in marketing to your target audience for the best results. And remember to localize visual elements of your marketing collateral as well as written elements.
Your website is obviously a key marketing tool as well. For full details on how to localize it, click the link below.
Read more: Website Localization – The Complete Guide
If you’re doing business in a new region, the chances are you’ll need to tick some legal boxes there, as a very minimum. A legal localization specialist can help you here. Just be sure to opt for someone who is native to the region you’re targeting, so that they are familiar with legislation in that area.
Your user interface (UI) content is that which relates to how users experience your website. You know that content that you test, tweak and retest for a good user experience? That’s the UI content that you’ll likely need to localize. As such, you’ll need someone from a technical background to help with the localization process.
For technical content such as user guides and product demos, you’ll need a localization specialist with vast experience in the field. Documents such as user guides often contain important safety information, so don’t take any chances when it comes to finding someone with relevant expertise to help you translate and localize them.
Do you remember those terrible translations that impacted the player experience on certain video games back in the 1980s? Games such as Zero Wing and Ikari Warriors are perfect examples of poor localization, with on-screen messages ranging from the clumsy to the downright bizarre.
These days, there’s simply no excuse for poor localization. Whether it’s in-game dialogue, menu options or any other text that appears on the screen, the localization has to be spot on in order for a game to reach its full potential. I’ve included plenty of info on this in a localization guide written specifically for video games; you can access it via the link below.
Read more: Game Localization: The Complete Guide
Finally, there’s that generic content that so many businesses produce as part of their engagement strategy. Items such as blog posts and news articles often need just a light touch when it comes to localization, though most usually do need more than translation alone.
Now that we’ve looked at why you might want to localize your content and the types of content you can mould to suit other audiences, let’s take a look at the practical details of the process.
The languages you choose for your content localization should form part of your strategic growth plan. They could be chosen in order to expand your footprint overseas or perhaps to court more customers domestically. Either way, there are a number of steps to follow:
As with any business venture, market research is key. You’ll need to look closely at the regions where your products/services are likely to be in demand and consult with local people to understand in depth how they might be received. The results of your market research will feed into your localization strategy.
Your market research and business modelling/forecasting should give you an estimate of the likely demand for your goods. This information can help drive your localization strategy, as well as your operational decisions.
Where will you be distributing your content? Email? Social media? Guest posts? Advertising? Knowing this will impact your approach to localization, so think it through before you begin your localization work, rather than after you’ve started.
I’ve mentioned having a localization strategy a few times now. This is a key document when it comes to engaging customers who speak other languages and/or reside in other regions. It will define what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there, with measurable goals in place that you can use to monitor your progress along the way.
Creating a localization strategy can be a hugely cathartic process in terms of ordering your thinking and understanding what you are truly trying to achieve with your content localization. If you don’t yet have a localized content strategy, now is the time to rectify that. Click the link below for an in-depth guide to building your strategy.
With your localization strategy in place, it’s time to get to work on the localization itself.
The first step is content extraction. This involves creating a detailed content inventory and glossary and extracting all of the content that is to be localized to a format that your localization specialist can work with.
Your localization professional will take care of the translation and shaping of your content to suit the new audience, but that doesn’t mean you’re not part of the process. They will have questions about various elements of your content, so make sure you’re available and quick to respond in order for the process to flow smoothly.
Quality assurance means testing the localized content to ensure that it’s correct linguistically and in terms of the user experience. Never rush this part of the process as the quality of your content can directly impact engagement levels.
Once you’re confident that your content is localized to perfection, it’s time to put it to good use. Deploy through your chosen marketing channels, then sit back and enjoy watching its impact.
With your market research complete, localization strategy in place and content localized, it’s time to look at the bigger picture. Be sure to monitor where you distribute your content and the impact that it has. Remember to include redistribution in your plans as well. After all, if you’ve paid to localize your content, as well as to produce it in the first place, it makes sense to get as much value as you can from it.
The business world doesn’t stand still. As such, your company – and your content – will need to keep up. To do so, you can AB test every possible scenario, adjust your content and then test again. This adaptation will help you to fine tune your approach for each and every audience.
I’ve looked above at:
• What content localization is
• Why it’s important
• The different types of content you can localize
• How to localize your content
Are you ready to get started? Follow the steps outlined in this article to ensure you take a comprehensive approach to your content localization. And feel free to leave a comment below to share your experiences and successes.