June 15, 2020 Chiara

3 Reasons Why Online Content Localisation is Important

Here’s a little story that shows the importance of a localization strategy: When Rolls-Royce launched their 1965 Silver Shadow, a model which would go on to become the company’s most successful, a different name had initially been proposed: the Silver Mist. Fortunately, someone on the production team pointed out that “mist” was also the German word for “manure,” making the name less than ideal for raking in international sales. Tales like this—along with plenty of cringe-worthy urban legends—are often cited as proof of the need to localize. 

In today’s digital world, the centerpiece of this process of cultural and linguistic adaptation is having an online content localization strategy. The main imperatives, however, are the same. Firstly, you need to communicate (accurately) with your target audience in their native language. Secondly, you need to go beyond mere translation and ensure that your communications account for national and regional nuances. Awareness of cultural differences, symbols, history, and trends is equally integral to the success of your campaigns. 

Especially in the case of global digital marketing, it won’t come as a shock that a one-size-fits-all approach is bound to fail. Nevertheless, armed with the generic excuse that “we live in a globalized world,” it can be tempting to assume that international audiences will simply accept English-language campaigns that are not tailored to their specific cultures. 

Now that brands are reaching out to international audiences more than ever, it’s important to question that assumption. English is the language of just over 25% of internet users. Here are three reasons you should think more about reaching the other 75% percent.

1. Respect Customer Preferences: Users like Content in their Own Language!

Let’s start with the most obvious component of a localization strategy: language

Customers who would otherwise be interested in your product might not be comfortable making purchases in languages other than their own. 

In fact, a 2014 CSA survey of consumers in 10 non-anglophone countries revealed that an overwhelming 75% prefer to buy in their native language, with 60% rarely or never purchasing from English websites.Businesses across the globe are starting to listen too. In 2018, localisation was the third leading way for businesses to market their goods and services.

Even if you don’t offer your whole range of content in multiple languages as part of your localization strategy, there’s no excuse to skimp on basic features that will make your products more accessible to users worldwide. Not to mention that catering to speakers of these languages is an easy way to signal that you value their business.

2. Improve Your Visibility

You know all that work you do to make your business visible in your main markets? Well, the same rules apply for regions you’d like to expand to. Applying the best SEO practices of targeting keywords for each local you operate in is something that has to be done right once and then maintained, and should be a key component to any brand’s localization strategy. Operating in your target languages and researching differences in user behavior per country is just an extension of your existing marketing process. 

SEO in particular is dependent on language. If you want users conducting searches in their native language to find you, your website must be optimized in that language. This means translating your content, URLs, metadata and keywords. You may also need to conduct new keyword research to identify what people are searching for and how they type it into Google, in different languages and regions. The same is true for the content itself. New material should be produced in response to a given region’s interests. 

Furthermore, the channels you use to release content will also change. Not all countries prefer the same social media platforms, or even use the same platforms (e.g. Weibo or WeChat in China). If your goal is to reach new clients worldwide (and what else would it be?), you need to be where they are spending all their online, taking full advantage of international digital marketing.

3. Avoid Cultural Blunders and Confusion

As seen from Rolls-Royce’s near miss, localizing content can mean the difference between a successful campaign and an embarrassment. But enlisting the help of a native speaker with a local perspective is not just about avoiding translation gaffes. It’s also essential if you want to use images and messages that your target audience will understand. 

One famous instance of imagery that got lost in translation was a Pampers commercial released in Japan in the 1970s. The ad opens with an animated stork bringing diapers to a family. The creators failed to recognize, however, that the myth of storks delivering babies is more common in Europe and America than in Japan. Cue the skeptical looks of parents watching a stork deliver infant hygiene products. 

Of course, using images that are irrelevant to the culture in question is not the worst that can happen. Symbols that appear neutral to an outsider can cause real harm if they evoke traumatic historical events or misrepresent the audience you are trying to reach. Making sure that you include people from that audience as consultants in your expansion and marketing process is thus essential. Copying over your localization strategy from one region to another won’t be enough, nor will naively assuming that you know enough to create a campaign from a single perspective. 

And there you have it: three reasons why localisation should not be overlooked. Despite ending on a cautionary note, online content localisation is not just about avoiding disaster. Customers worldwide will be able to access your products more easily, connect with your brand on a deeper level, and recommend you to friends if you operate in their language and are attentive to their needs. It’s a win-win situation. 

If you’re interested in discussing your business goals, feel free to set up a consultation with a member of our team. Mamma Marketing is a multinational and multilingual digital agency. We’re here to help your business make the most of its online presence and reach more customers worldwide.

Get in touch today.
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