In order to compete in today’s international, multicultural business landscape, companies need a strategy to constantly expand their geographical reach and customer engagement. That process begins with a localization strategy – a plan for how to communicate effectively across multiple cultures and languages.
The importance of localization
A target audience that feels a company is speaking directly to them will respond in kind. Too often, however, marketing teams fail to integrate a localization strategy until after other key elements of a marketing plan are already in place. Given that social sharing influences 81% of internet shoppers, local company reputation is key. The stakes are too high to make localization an afterthought. Rather, it must be part of the strategic planning from the very beginning.
Bringing a language services provider (LSP) into the process early will ensure that the quality of communication is not compromised when a message is delivered to people in disparate areas and through different languages.
How an LSP helps plan strategy
First, bringing an LSP into the process before any advertising space has been purchased or brochures and websites have been designed is essential in order to ensure quality control over the message and style of delivery.
Second, LSPs can choose effective local keywords and social hashtags by examining how the target population searches for the product or service the company is selling. They also provide the necessary background for social media, which must be localized in order to gain traction. Since social sharing takes place on a peer-to-peer level, speaking the local language means more than using the correct target language words. It means utilizing nomenclature, localized slang and ultimately addressing issues of concern to the local population in an appropriate manner.
Third, when planning to localize website content, LSPs are vital for providing information on a variety of desktop publishing and website issues such as producing text of ideal length and tone. Design elements like colors and images should be considered at the start of the design process, not after the work has been completed. Too often, companies alienate customers from different cultures by failing to present their product in a way that meets cultural expectations.
The primacy of localization in internet marketing
As web-based advertising continues to grow in sophistication, the need for effective ad targeting becomes crucial for success. Targeting the local population with uniquely relevant content is the best way to increase your reach through social media.
Companies should also look to incorporate multilingual SEO when translating websites. That includes adding the local business name, address and phone number as well as local working hours, if appropriate. But it should not stop there.
Headings (H1) and sub-headings (H2) on websites should reflect a local flavor. Even the web address (URL) can be made to appeal to different populations, even if it points back to the original website.
On landing pages, it is important to include and prominently display sharing buttons with links to local social media accounts. The website and social platforms must be supported by local search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to those platforms and help people find the company when they are seeking the type of services it provides.
Multilingual marketing in the global village
As the internet continues to shrink the world into a single, connected network, marketers must be prepared to deliver materials and messages across borders, cultures, and languages. Companies that fail to do so are at a huge disadvantage against corporations capable of producing materials that will be consumed and spread organically by local populations.
Trying to add local elements (as an afterthought) to a product that is already designed and sold for a different market will be ineffective at best, and potentially harmful to your global brand. Effective localization starts at the very beginning of the marketing strategy. That means bringing the LSP into the inner circle of planning.