If you’re shooting for global expansion, you have to localize your business.
This is the secret formula to how companies like Coca-Cola have managed to become a household name in over 200 countries. Nintendo, Netflix, and even Kentucky Fried Chicken. These guys know how to plan and execute a fail-proof localization strategy.
It is true that some notions carry mass appeal and crossover to people of different nationalities and cultures. However, to give your brand roots in a new market, you have to find your bearing within the local culture.
While people are fascinated by the foreign, home is always where the heart is. And as an international business, you want your brand to gain acceptance in the hearts of your ideal customer—no matter where they come from.
To illustrate just how big localization is, here are 4 stats about the language translation industry:
- The global language services industry is forecasted to grow by $5 billion, reaching $56 billion in 2021. It is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3% from 2021 to 2026.
- Language translation services, a key component of localization, employ 56,920 interpreters and translators in the U.S.
- While English is spoken by around 75 billion people worldwide, it’s the first language of fewer than 400 million people.
- Although 52% of all websites are in English, it only reaches 25% of all internet users. Localization can help you reach more prospects and stay ahead of your competitors.
What is Localization?
When you localize a business or product, you adapt it to the needs of a new language market or customer demographic.
Localization involves not only translating content to the language of your target audience — but modifying user experience, emotions, messaging, and even tech (like payment methods and website) — to align and empathize with a new customer base.
“Brand consistency is vital when creating recognition. However without localisation businesses are more likely to be damaged by the appearance that they lack interest, knowledge or respect for the geographical location.”—Chloe Addis, Head of Marketing at Headley Media
There are different aspects of localization and it takes a team of diverse professionals to implement a successful localization strategy.
We will cover 2 vital aspects of localization in this post:
- Marketing localization
- Software (app, website, and video game) localization
A localized marketing strategy is one that is crafted to appeal to the likes and dislikes of foreign customers.
Here are a few interesting stats to chew on:
- 86% of localized advertising campaigns yield higher click-through and conversion rates compared with their English counterparts.
- Almost half of the marketers say geo-targeting yields the highest ROI for their ad spend.
- Geo-targeted content can engage an audience 6 times more effectively, compared with posts shared globally.
- 64% of buyers value localized content.
- Local Facebook pages get as much as 50% higher engagement.
These statistics tell us that, localized marketing is vital to the success of any global brand.
I spoke to Gary Warner, Marketing Manager at Joloda Hydraroll, the global partner for loading and unloading systems. Joloda Hydraroll operates in over 30 countries across the world, so Gary would know a thing or two about adapting marketing to different countries.
“With distributors in over 30 countries, localization is an essential consideration for our marketing. Localized marketing should adapt your brand to appeal to each market while still maintaining your overall identity.
We aim to provide a global standard for our services which is then adapted as necessary to meet local requirements, and this is reflected in our marketing and promotion. We focus on promoting ourselves as one global organization accessible to many different markets.
For example, we only have one main website, but it is available in six different languages. This allows us to adapt our content as required to suit different audiences while still maintaining our overall brand. So we prioritize the global brand and balance that with keeping an individualized approach to each locale.”—Gary Warner, Marketing Manager at Joloda Hydraroll
Marketing localization goes beyond translating messages. It’s really about adapting an entire marketing strategy to fit a different culture. Marketing can be social media marketing, content marketing, event marketing, digital ads, and even traditional billboards and banners.
There are different opportunities you can take advantage of. Your pick will depend on your long-term international expansion strategy, company stage, scale, and budget.
- An app that fails to localize for a local audience can lose up to 13% of users.
- 90% of online shoppers choose to use their native language if it’s available.
- 41% of prominent brands have at least one local country page.
- 55% of global consumers would only purchase from websites that provide product information in their own language.
- 7 out of the 10 top iOS markets and 9 out of 10 top Google Play markets are non-native English locales.
- 72% of shoppers are more likely to buy from sites written in their native language.
Product localization is the process of altering a product to suit the language and cultural needs of customers in a new market. Localizing a product involves translating text, and modifying packaging.
For video games and other SaaS brands, the software is the “product” and the concept of localization holds still.
Software localization looks like making changes to the User Experience and Interface and translating text. You might also need to consider operating systems.
For example, iOS is the leading OS in the United States (Global Stats) and according to Statista, Google’s Android is the most common mobile operating system in Africa, accounting for over 83.6% of the market share.
Data like this is very essential when you want to localize a software product. Leaning on our OS analogy, it becomes a no-brainer to create an iOS version of a video game you want to move to the US. Similarly, if you want to attract customers living in Africa, an Android version of your app is a must.
Translations are a huge part of product localization
“By investing in quality translations (not just Google Translate!) and personalizing content to the region, a business shows that they are serious about connecting with customers and helping them solve their problems.
Our business has content library websites in over 60 countries and localization is integral to their success. We host content from global technology companies and always encourage them to provide their content in the local language.
Also, having local URLs and product information in specific languages builds immediate trust with the visitor – something that would be hard to build if everything was in English.”—Chloe Addis, Head of Marketing at Headley Media
Localization is a very important tool if you want to play the international game. It’s not all that complicated either. All you have to do is be respectful and empathetic to the culture you want to sell to. When business decisions are made from a place of empathy, you will find it a lot easier to gain acceptance.