August 25, 2022localization

A structured guide to localization strategies

Localization strategies

Global growth used to be reserved only for big companies. They could afford to invest money and time and survive repetitive budget breaking.

Breaking the budget was often caused by wrong assumptions. The most popular and costly belief was that what worked for one target market would work for every following one.

The reality was that taglines would often become offensive, weird, and misleading.

A good example is when Swedish company Electrolux wanted to expand to the USA. For that occasion, they translated their tagline to "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."

Long story short, they had to pull off and come back a few years later — with a different brand name and a more proper tagline.

Oh, and they were selling vacuum cleaners, in case you didn't get it, as 99% of the consumer market in the USA.

Conquering a foreign market is a high-risk investment but not impossible to do without failing. So let's dive into localization strategies that will save you from that.

What are localization strategies?

Localization strategies include:

❶ business expansion,

❷ product internationalization,

❸ interface translation, and

❹ general content and marketing materials

adapted to the consumer market.

Shortly, a localization strategy is a holistic approach to international business expansion. It's also a multidisciplinary approach that involves work across different departments.

The basis of the localization approach is to consider the cultural differences of the target market. This mindful management of business expansions to new markets can help you gain big portions of a global audience.

website localization

If you think this is an exaggeration and that English can solve everything - think again. Even though a global market sounds heavenly, the reality is that 60% of internet users rarely or never buy from English-only websites.

The same study shows that more than 70% of them prefer to purchase a product or service when they can find all information in their native language.

What goes into planning a business's localization strategy?

Most of the articles out there talk only about software translation, but localization starts far more before that.

The details may vary depending on your industry and niche, but for a proper localization process, you'll need to gather people from the following departments:

☞ business development,

☞ legal,

☞ finance,

☞ product,

☞ security,

☞ marketing, and

☞ some translators.

A quality localization manager would be of enormous help too.

Localization strategy

It's important to plan the roadmap for localization for every department. Also, to figure out which parts of the project can go simultaneously for a faster pace, etc.

To help yourself out and plan better, try to answer on following questions as well:

  • How long will the localization last? Consider all steps and hours per department.
  • What are the predictable costs? Inhouse hours, outsourcing, legal costs, etc... Everything you can predict from the road map.
  • How big a budget do you need? Make three options - minimum, maximum and ideal. It'll be much easier for you to understand how much you can stretch.
  • Is this investment a good move for you right now? Business expansion is always a good idea, but is it the right time for your business to go that way? Do you have enough money and people so the extension to a new target market won't affect your core business?
  • What are potential KPIs and ROIs for the localization and for every department? Yes, the ultimate goal is releasing a product and getting a high conversion rate. But how'd you know you're getting there during the localization process? Are you moving at the right speed or walking the right path? Is the current localization strategy working? Set the smaller goals, and the smaller wins will make an awesome compound effect at the end of the road.

Localization process

For localization strategies per department, follow these steps and answer some more questions:

1. Operational localization strategies

Before you even start adapting your product and marketing effort, do market research.

Cultural differences can be incorporated into every segment of life - how the local audience consumes, how's business done, how taxes are regulated...

Be sure to:

☞ Investigate the industry you are part of: how's performing, how big it is, what influences its level of development in that country, and most importantly — is there room for another player?

☞ Find out the buying power of the local audience. Would they be able to afford your product or services? How they usually purchase, and how long their decision process is. Can you afford to adapt your pricing and offers?

☞ Figure out do you need a legal entity to be able to place your product or service in a certain market. Not to mention tax regulation and export/import rules if you're having a hardware product. Tax and legal regulation are also a very important topics (and part of the budget) if you need to hire locals.

☞ Doing app localization? Double-check how the Apple store and Google play are operating in your target country. Untangle if there are any limits, changes, or maybe completely different operating systems and app stores you need to get familiar with.

Try not to pass through these steps superficially. Something can backfire during the process or even afterward.

2. Product localization strategies

Product localization ( l10n ) is what we're all here for. This is a process of software translation and adaptation to the new local market.

Product localization Localized content is the one that resonates with consumers because it is tailor-made for them.

Internationalization

Before you even start with localization, going through the internationalization process is recommended.

This strategy will help you later on with localization. How? Internationalizing your products implicates product development that's adaptable.

It's a technical part of localization, even though it sounds like something opposite. The focus here is to separate the source code from localizable elements.

The source code should be the one that defines how the software operates. This should be the main code, and it should be the same for every localized software version.

The localizable elements should be buttons, login and payment options, dates, UI copy, and sometimes design.

All popular frameworks, like Flutter, Django, Angular, React, NextJS, support internationalization by default.

Whatever language you're using, make use of Unicode encoding to simplify the process. With Unicode, your software can properly show characters from different languages.

Localization

You won't believe it, but here we are. Localization!

Here's where your developers need to be synced with translators and editors.

This is the main task for localization managers. A good localization specialist should ensure that:

- translators and editors understand the context of everything they're translating.

- developers get a translation that'll fit into the predicted UI.

Translation management systems can help out here. They're enabling developers to upload and download localization files without a lot of code impact.

At the same time, translators and editors are able to experience how their translation looks with in-context editing.

Another important thing to consider when localizing is how you choose translators. It would be best if you're able to find the ones that are native in the source and the targeted language.

If not possible, choose at least those who have experience living in the targeted language culture.

Standard language norms and everyday slang are not the same. And the level of consciousness of these layers influences the quality of the translation.

If you're struggling to find appropriate translators - check if your TMS has the option to order a translation from translation services.

3. Marketing localization strategies

Different country - different language. That's a highlight of every localized marketing strategy.

All localization efforts will go to waste if you try to market your product to a target market with different cultural norms the same way you did with your local audience. You need a localized marketing strategy as well.

Content localization

What does localized mean in marketing?

It means you're adapting every marketing campaign to a different market. Your content strategy in all marketing materials is focused on a local audience, and it's in their native language.

Why a localization marketing strategy works well?

Because consumers can connect with the local slang, stories, and locally famous persons way faster than with something they see for the first time.

Last but not least, 56.2% of consumers said the ability to get information in their own language is more important than price. And what's marketing if not spreading some information?

For this part of the process, you'll either need to hire some very talented and marketing-trained translators or hire local marketers to help you out with marketing penetration.

The second one is more likely to be found, though.

Keep in mind that a good content localization strategy is not just a linguistic localization - your website, social media, and running ads are alive and constantly changing.

Plan, adapt, execute

Adapt localization strategies according to your needs and possibilities. Execute systematically. Use tools and software that can ease up the process. And let's conquer the new markets together!

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