4 Steps for an Effective Content Localization Strategy

content localization strategy

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Did you know that only 25% of people worldwide can speak and read English? This means there are a lot of untapped markets around the world.

Localization is the practice of adapting your brand’s content (like websites or apps) for a foreign audience. Localization starts with language translation, but it doesn’t end there.

When you’re ready to grow your brand in foreign markets, content localization strategy is the key.


What is Content Localization Strategy?

Effective content localization tailors your marketing strategy to the unique cultural nuances and preferences of a different country. Localization makes your content feel authentic to a target audience in an international market. For example, you wouldn’t want to market “sweaters” in England since they’re called “jumpers” in the UK.

Even the biggest brands can falter when they fail to properly localize their content. Perhaps you’ve heard of KFC’s famous “Finger-licking-good” slogan, which was translated into Chinese as “Biting your fingers off.” The context of the ad slogan was lost in translation.

Benefits of a Content Localization Strategy

With a localization strategy, you can appeal to your international audience and avoid costly marketing mistakes.

Here are some top benefits of content localization:

  • Increasing traffic, conversions, and revenue.
    Adding different languages to your website can dramatically increase your traffic and your brand’s reach. According to studies, most foreign shoppers only purchase products from a brand whose content they can understand. A solid content localization strategy gives you a competitive advantage.
  • Boosting consumer trust.
    Customers naturally have more trust in eCommerce and online businesses that have taken the trouble to translate their websites into their native languages. They’ll engage more when content is localized to their culture. People appreciate brands that understand the value of personalized marketing. Build trust by translating your website into your customers’ languages.
  • Improving search engine optimization (SEO).
    Foreign consumers won’t be able to find your content if your SEO keywords aren’t compatible with their language. For example, Spanish speakers probably won’t search Google for a “smartwatch.” Instead, they’d search for a “reloj inteligente.” Localized content has SEO-optimized keywords that help new international visitors discover your brand and products.

4 Steps to Build a Content Localization Strategy

Localization can be a big investment, so it’s important to focus on content strategy before you begin translating.

Let’s explore 4 components of a successful content localization strategy.

1. Establish Your Target Markets and Languages

The first step of building your localization strategy is deciding which locales to target, and what languages to include.

So, what’s the best way to get started? Here’s what we recommend:

    • View your analytics:
      Website analytics can uncover untapped markets that might need multilingual websites. Many online platforms like Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have built-in analytics. Use this data to sort and filter your audience by location.

      For example, you can use Google Analytics to find out details about your international audience:

      Image: A screenshot of a google analytics dashboard showing filtering by country.

As you view your data, here are some important questions to ask:

      • Where is your traffic coming from?
      • Are your visitors from other countries?
      • Are they spending time exploring your site or exiting quickly?
      • How many of them are buying from you?
      • Are they able to make purchases?
    • Do market research:
      Next, perform some research to find out if your product or site is a good fit for a local market. The best market for your content will depend on what you’re offering to consumers. Here are some interesting examples of consumer preferences from top eCommerce markets around the globe:
      • Most German consumers are eager to try localized mobile apps.
      • Clothing and apparel is the most popular market segment in India.
      • Chinese consumers spend more on electronics than any other country.
      • Brazilians like to buy a lot of subscription products and services.
    • Start small and scale your efforts:
      Generally, you should expand your content into a few new locales at a time and scale from there. As you develop your approach, use style guides and glossaries to take plenty of notes on cultural nuances, jargon, and market-specific differences. Cultural sensitivities, preferences, and consumer trends will vary a lot depending on the target market.

2. Choose What You Want to Localize

After you decide who to target, it’s time to figure out what content you want to localize for your new audience. You can localize anything, from websites to apps and social media posts.

It’s typically best to start with your most popular content and scale from there. After all, localizing existing content is much more affordable than creating new international content from scratch.

When translating a website, for example, you should think about localizing all relevant content in the customer experience:

    • Branding and marketing content
      • Landing pages
      • About Us pages
      • Product pages and descriptions
      • Videos and subtitles
      • Emails and newsletters
    • Help documentation
      • FAQs, instructions, and user manuals
    • Legal content
      • Privacy Policies
      • Terms of Service
      • Legal compliance pages
    • Contact pages
      • Business addresses
      • Social links
      • Contact links
    • Other website content
      • Pricing pages
      • Shipping information
      • Checkout flows
      • Time and date formats
      • Currencies

3. Find the Right Translation Partners and Tools

Next, you should decide which translation and localization tools you want to invest in. Although it’s tempting to use free machine translation tools for big projects, you might get what you pay for. AI tools like Google Translate are prone to errors, context mistakes, and formatting issues.

Instead, hire a professional translator who has expertise in your target culture and language. Most global brands find skilled translators through LSPs (language service providers). These companies have a roster of certified translators and local experts for hundreds of languages. Professional translators are often native speakers with a deep understanding of cultural differences.

Even if you hire the best translators, managing your translations and keeping them up-to-date is almost impossible without the right tools. You’ll need to invest in software that can help support your content localization process. Many top brands rely on translation management systems (TMSs) to streamline their localization efforts.

A good TMS will simplify your localization process to make translations, content updates, and publication a breeze. Look for a TMS that integrates with the platforms you already use—like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, or Salesforce. The most advanced translation tools on the market today use automated content detection and delivery for a file-free approach to managing translations.

4. Measure Your Success

After you localize your content, it’s time to see how well it’s doing. Measuring the ROI of your efforts can help convince stakeholders to continue investing in localization. 

Many brands use data tools like Google Analytics to get a high-level overview of their translation metrics. Data often shows that localization can set your brand up for continued growth and success. Many Fortune 500 companies found that their investments in translation helped increase their revenue.

Here are a few questions that can help you measure the success of your localization project:

    • Measuring Engagement Impact
      • What’s the site traffic for different pages or languages?
      • How are your SEO keywords ranking for international pages and languages?
      • What are the click-through rates for different regions?
      • Has brand engagement increased in new regions?
    • Measuring Financial Impact
      • Are translations bringing in new customers?
      • Has revenue increased after localization?
      • Have conversions increased after localization?
      • Have international checkouts increased?
    • Measuring Cost Savings
      • Does offering help documentation in new languages reduce customer support inquiries?
      • Does your TMS add efficiency and cut costs in the translation process?
      • Does your TMS tool have a good ROI?

Top Content Strategy Tips for Localization

Here are more some tips to assist you during the localization planning process.

  • Humanize Your Localization Efforts

Effective localization means developing consumer trust as you enter a new market. You might think that a few grammatical or idiomatic errors are no big deal, but you may risk offending your potential customers or losing their trust. They can tell whether you care about them or not by how your website is designed, translated, and localized.

Cultural norms, nuances, and expectations matter. For example, how you interact with international customers matters:

    • Japan: A Japanese audience takes grammar and spelling issues seriously.
    • Mexico: Do your forms have enough space for double first and last names that are common in Mexico?

Similarly, you should pay attention to how you expect your customers to pay for their purchases. Credit/debit cards and bank transfers can work in different ways in other countries. For example:

    • Credit cards aren’t widely used in Germany.
    • Facebook and Instagram checkouts won’t work in China, where the platforms are firewalled.
  • Anticipate Localization Needs Before Design and Development

Ideally, planning for localization should begin before the initial design phase. Successful localization aims to make your audience feel that your business is coming from their local market. This starts with empathetic design. Your website should be designed with other languages in mind. For example:

    • Translating from English into German can result in a 20-35% text expansion.
    • English to Swedish can result in a 20-35% text contraction.
    • Asian languages such as Japanese and Korean expand vertically when translated from English.
    • Some languages like Hebrew and Arabic are written right-to-left.
  • Document Your Brand

Your content localization strategy should align with your brand. The best way to ensure this is by documenting your brand and marketing strategy. If you don’t already have a style guide, you should create one. It should include the following information:

    • Your tone of voice – is it formal, friendly, or somewhere in between?
    • The personality of your company – what would it be like if it were a person?
    • Common terms, phrases, and acronyms about your company and/or industry and their meanings.
    • Specific conventions and grammar to avoid, like contractions or exclamation points.
    • A list of competitors you like or dislike, and why.
  • Involve Your Whole Team

Planning for localization should include training on aspects of your new markets, along with how to use the localization tools you choose.

Your entire team needs to be part of your localization planning, including:

    • Designers, so they can design appropriately and choose relevant colors, images, and graphic design for the target market.
    • Developers, so they have an understanding of the code implications for different languages, payment methods, currencies, and time and date formats.
    • Marketers, so they can design campaigns that work in a variety of markets.
    • Product managers, so they can stay on top of deadlines.
    • Business leaders, so they can understand how localization can fit into their overall perspectives.

Easy Translation Management with Localize

As you plan your localization content strategy, choosing the right TMS is crucial.

Localize is a best-in-class translation management system that takes global brands to new heights. We specialize in building quick and easy localization workflows for your websites, software, mobile apps, emails and more. Hundreds of top companies all over the world like Microsoft and Cisco trust Localize to manage their translations.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you build your content localization strategy!

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