Content localization is something that isn’t often mentioned in marketing and search engine optimization circles. This concept is more valuable for large brands that work on international markets and have a wide audience. So, if you’re a small mom-and-pop shop that relies on the local market, the content localization process will have little to no value for your business.
Still, we always recommend our readers learn about concepts such as this. In the end, if you ever decide to take your business to the next level, you’ll need localized content to gap cultural differences and share company messages. The method is especially vital for digital marketing agencies that want to onboard large international clients.
In this article, we’ll talk about this strategy, why it’s important for your brand, and how to execute it. Read on!
What is content localization?
Content localization is a process of adapting articles, social media posts, and other forms of relevant content for international audiences. For example, while Americans use the word “apartment,” Brits use “flat.” Of course, British readers will understand the meaning of “apartment,” but they’ll get annoyed that the web post isn’t localized for their market.
Many people think that localization is the same as the translation process. While partially true, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Basically, translation is a large part of localizing content, a process that also includes modifying your texts to better fit a local audience.
We’ve just used the example of how it looks to localize content for the UK as opposed to the US. Aside from translation and using regional expressions, the process can also refer to your use of links, measurements, brand and product references, and so on. Using feet as a measure might be ok in the US, but it’s a bit no-no in Europe.
Benefits of a good content localization strategy
Obviously, a successful content localization strategy will help you connect with a target audience. It helps you share company messages with foreign users, thus increasing engagement and conversion. In fact, 52% of users claim that accessing information in their native language is more important than the product or service price.
Here are 6 main reasons to modify your marketing materials for a target market:
- Localized content makes it much easier to penetrate target markets. Having a solid content localization strategy will significantly increase the number of on-site inquiries and conversions while improving overall brand sentiment.
- Localizing existing content can significantly improve its performance in search engines. Implementing other languages significantly increases accessibility for international users, leading to lower bounce rates and time spent on the page.
- Among others, localizing legal content can go a long way in improving the impression of a company. It makes it safer for new customers to sign contracts, buy products, and partner with international brands, as they understand their rights and responsibilities.
- Aside from linguistic understanding, localization efforts also improve factual understanding of the content. If you create examples using American products and brands, British readers might have trouble keeping up. Similarly, referring to an American celebrity might not ring with foreign users. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is using foreign measurements and currencies, something that can be a major turn-off.
- Another good reason to localize your content is to avoid potential issues in a new market. Specifically, certain terms might have a bad ring to them in other places, making it harder to sell a product or a service. This is especially true for brand names, which might mean something in one language, and the complete opposite in another.
- Adapting your content to the target audience’s native language can help penetrate new markets before other brands. Given that some businesses take time to implement content localization, you’ll have a competitive advantage until they do so.
- Content localization allows you to repurpose all the articles, studies, and other materials you’ve used for home country campaigns. This way, you can boost international marketing efforts without having to spend extra money.
Despite all the benefits, executing this type of project can be really hard and time-consuming. In fact, it’s usually much better to pay for localization services than to do things in-house. This is why you should contact MiroMind today!
7 Content localization steps
Here are 7 vital steps of any content localization project:
1. Perform market research
As mentioned, there’s much more to this approach than simply translating content into a local language. Companies need a good understanding of foreign markets and, most importantly, consumer preferences and cultural nuances.
When assessing a specific market, you should first establish if your product is a good fit. For example, selling pork meat in Islamic countries is an awful proposal that will get you nowhere, regardless of how much money you spend on marketing.
On top of that, you should also determine if the potential customers can actually afford what you’re selling. Aside from that, you should also learn more about the average age, nationality, sex, religion, and political preferences.
Besides analyzing consumers, market research is vital for assessing the competition. Even if you’re a dominant international business, you might still struggle in a certain country due to local brand customer loyalty. So, even if you have a better product, you might struggle to get a piece of that juicy pie.
2. Set priorities
Before starting a campaign, you should decide which marketing content you want to prioritize. Focusing on expert articles with difficult vocabulary might require enormous content localization efforts. If this content also has low conversion rates, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Whatever the case, you should start with landing pages. If you don’t localize product pages and your Homepage, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing with your blog posts. Ideally, you should use the domestic content strategy to set your priorities straight.
Make sure to check your performance with SEO software to see what’s performing the best. You might also prioritize content that has a strategic value, for example, marketing materials that would convert well for local audiences.
3. Use the right software
Once you’re done with all that, we suggest you implement localization tools to provide an even better experience to users. Translation tools can give you some easy wins, automating arduous tasks and saving a bunch of money along the way. Once the translation software has done its job, you can pass the articles to editors for further processing.
Aside from turning all the pages into the same language, a localization tool can also help you eliminate errors. Specifically, these platforms can eliminate common errors that occur in such situations. You can use them to remove duplicate content but also perform other tasks.
4. Fine-tune wording
Using Google Translate and similar platforms is definitely a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, there’s much more you have to do besides that. Specifically, the marketing team should do their best to use local lingo to make the texts more applicable.
We always suggest using local expressions to give some flair to your articles. Utilizing this method will not only resonate with the readers, but it will eliminate the robotic style that’s often noticeable after using translators. As mentioned, you should also use measurements, currencies, and examples that speak to these consumers.
5. Focus on local SEO
Although some brands ignore optimization and simply focus on their social media accounts, you should still try to get some organic traffic for your website. Local SEO, in particular, is especially great for building a long-term brand presence in a new, international market.
First off, you should modify target keywords according to how locals use them. This is especially important for products and services, as the phrasing could vary significantly from country to country. For example, Americans might use “Kleenex” for facial tissues, while most of the world will simply use “facial tissues.”
One of the best examples of local product localization comes in the form of currency changes. If you have a pricing page in dollars, you should definitely create a new version in Euros or another local currency.
6. Change visuals
Graphic content is among the most overlooked elements of localization. Like any other thing on your site, images, background colors, and other visuals can go a long way in converting foreign users. So much so that some companies spend enormous amounts of money on modifying their themes and landing pages.
Another reason to localize visual elements is that your current solutions might be offensive in other cultures. Keep in mind that every photo could potentially cause controversy, and we suggest that you test them before posting. A good method is doing a content assessment with a specialized team.
This type of optimization is especially important for brands that use graphic content to present vital information on their sites. This is especially noticeable on the Homepage but also on the Contact and About Us pages. However, graphic localization will also work for article images and infographics.
7. Improve shopping experience
Changing the layout of your product pages is vital for conversions. Keep in mind that people are always skeptical when a new brand hits their market. They’re usually not prepared to open their wallets for fear of scams or other transactional issues.
One of the best localization tricks for eCommerce stores is using a country’s reliable payment providers. While PayPal and American Express are fantastic options in the US and Europe, they might not work at all in Russia and Brazil. Furthermore, even if they’re available, there’s a chance that most consumers don’t use them.
You also need to make improvements to your cart. When a person starts adding items, all the prices need to be shown in the local currency. Additionally, it’s also good to use local shipping companies as a way of building trust.
Content formats to localize and best practices
Basically, you can localize every piece of information and every element on your site. This is especially true if there are major differences between two markets, and you have to make a major shift in your marketing approach.
Whatever the case, each content format has its purpose on the website, so the modifications might look completely different. For example, you might put more emphasis on graphic solutions when redoing your Homepage while only changing the text within the articles.
The MiroMind team always suggests that you analyze the purpose behind the content before localizing it. For starters, you should create several categories and tag each piece of content. Then, proceed by placing these posts in appropriate groups and performing the same type of modifications to each one.
Not only will this simplify the process, but it will also bring consistency to similar types of content. Anyway, here’s the most common classification of website marketing material:
- Brand content
- Marketing content
- Contact information
- System content
- Legal content
- Technical content
- Social media content
Now, let’s do a short explanation for each one of them!
Brand content represents the basis of any website. This category includes pages such as Homepage, Mission, Vision, About Us, Why Us, and similar sections that usually appear in the Website Navigation bar.
Generally speaking, some of these pages don’t require that much modification. Brands don’t like changing too much of their Mission and Vision messaging, so they often go with plain translation. Furthermore, if they use a certain marketing strategy on their Homepage, there’s a good chance they’ll use the same strategy for other markets.
Marketing content refers to all these pages and posts that help organizations promote their business. The best examples of marketing content are blog posts and product pages, but this can also refer to other materials, such as downloadables.
Marketing materials are usually most susceptible to changes. Depending on local preferences, companies might focus on different products and, thus, significantly change their main landing pages. Furthermore, they might also have to implement other changes pertaining to payment options, shipping, and currencies.
Although the contact information page doesn’t take much time to localize, you usually need a complete overhaul. Besides changing the textual information, you’ll also need to attach a different Google Map. Contact page localization can increase in complexity if you have numerous stores in the country.
System content, or back-end content, refers to all the technical data and numbers that are specific to a country. This includes phone extensions and numbers, measurement units, timezones, and so much more.
You might even argue that this is the most important category to localize after brand content. In the end, not having the right phone or email extensions can be extremely confusing and make it hard for local consumers to trust your brand.
In many cases, your current content might not work in another country due to different legal frames and phrasing. So, while you might try to localize it, there’s a good chance you’ll have to create new pages from scratch.
This category refers to User Guides, Manuals, product documentation, FAQs, and similar pages. Once again, this is a specific category that might require expert support.
The main issue with improper technical content localization is that it can get you in legal trouble. For example, giving out improper product documentation and description can cause people to return your products. In the case of extreme misuse, it might even lead to massive lawsuits.
Social media content
Social media content is often time-sensitive. Your post might relate to policy changes, company events, or something of that kind. You might also post about things that are relevant at that specific moment. Because of that, companies usually don’t invest that much money in SMM localization.
Still, there are a few cases when you might consider doing so. The best example of social media content localization is videos. For example, you might add subtitles on the bottom featuring the local language, which would help foreigners consume these posts.