A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Successful Localization Strategy
The first steps to creating and running a successful business are identifying a great product or service and marketing it at a local level. The next step in business growth is seeking international custom. To do this, your product and supporting texts need to engage new markets and this involves successful localization of content. According to Internet World Stats, fewer than 27% of Internet users speak English. If your website is only in English, your potential market loss is huge! Customers engage far more with localized content that is both in their mother tongue and relevant to them. This engagement translates into more interest, browsing, and conversions. When successful, content localization puts language, phrasing, images, etc. into a local context allowing your product and website to stand out from the competition wherever your target audience is located. Start addressing this now by following BLEND‘s step-by-step guide to creating localized content.
1. Identify your market
Successful localization of content ensures that it is relevant to your target audience, creating trust, engagement, and ultimately business success. Get it wrong and you disengage or, worse, offend your potential market. This process goes beyond simply translating your message word for word into another language—the whole audience experience needs to be localized. As well as the language used, cultural nuances, norms, customs, and legalities must be identified and addressed. Cultural nuances include etiquette. For example, in Japan, it’s an expected norm that the gender-neutral suffix “sama” is added to names while Latin-Americans and Spaniards often have multiple middle and married names, and online forms need space to accommodate these. Other market factors to address include the age and gender of your audience. The words and images you use to address them may need to be subtly altered to create maximum engagement. Is your target market a society that is comfortable with slang, jokes, and emojis? And have you addressed issues such as how currencies, dates, and times need to be formatted for maximum comprehension? It’s far easier and more cost-effective to research and address these issues at the start of your localization strategy.
2. Identify the appropriate language for your target audience
There are over 6,000 languages spoken around the globe, but luckily less than 30 of these are commonly spoken—including English, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Russian, and Hindi. By focusing on the most common languages, you can target the majority of internet users. To identify the languages your audience is speaking, make use of social media analytics tools such as Twitter analytics. This highlights the languages spoken by your followers as well as their country of residence. Depending on your target countries, however, you might not need to translate all your content. For example, in most northern European countries, young users are proficient in English and comfortable browsing the Web in it. In contrast, to access the Korean market, you need full Korean content localization.
3. Pick an appropriate translation service provider
While this step-by-step guide is a good place to start your localization strategy, we can’t stress enough how important it is to collaborate with localization experts. At BLEND, we have a talented team of native-speaking translators who not only understand language but are also specialists in the cultural nuances of different audiences. We ensure specific terms such as dates, times, and currencies are translated correctly and that text, images, and graphics are culturally appropriate. At every step of the process, we work with you and your deadlines to draft, prepare, edit and proofread your content. We help you localize your website and product right from the design stage, preparing it for different devices and screens. By adapting designs for different locales early in the process, problematic bugs and issues are isolated and dealt with before they become costly mistakes. Professional localization can appear expensive at first glance, but by budgeting for it from the outset, your website should soon be generating a healthy stream of revenue.
4. Build a localization kit for your brand
As your business expands, more products will be added to your range or websites updated. Future-proofing your localization strategy right from the start makes this further development easier and more budget-conscious. To do this, you need to create a localization kit and style guide. Some of the things to include in these are:
- A glossary of technical words, phrases, and acronyms commonly used (as well as words to avoid)
- Your company’s tone of voice and personality
- Grammar conventions (such as whether contractions, exclamation marks, and ellipsis are permitted or comma, hyphen, and quotation mark usage)
- Your website structure
- The visual appearance of the text
- Best practices for desktop and mobile coding
This step in the process is easy to overlook but when multiple people are working on a project, there is a danger that the final outcome can look a little haphazard.
5. Ensure all content is translated before publication
Once your localization kit is complete, make sure everyone including translators and your marketing and press teams has the information. With this at hand, they can translate and localize all of your content, ensuring their work reflects your brand. When planning this localization campaign, recreate the journey your customer takes from first discovering your site through browsing it and making a purchase or using your service. This journey needs to be seamless with everything they encounter properly translated and localized whether it’s a landing page, tutorial, manual, game instructions, customer service interaction, frequently asked questions, or payment page. Don’t overlook your advertisements either. While ads are always more dynamic and “in your face” than the whole website, they still need to be tonally consistent. Get your advertising wrong, and prospective customers won’t get as far as your website.
6. Test everything
There are two key points in the testing process. The first is before your app or website is even launched. A pre-launch test gives you a chance to check, correct, and retest, ironing out any bugs and glitches. If you’re launching a new game, it’s always a good idea to use experienced game enthusiasts as testers. This ensures the game is fun to play, proceeds in a logical manner, and is both fully localized and legally compliant for its launch country. After launch, continue to review and test regularly especially when features are upgraded or new ones added. With your localization kit in place, this testing should be easy to do yet profitable in the long term. No localization strategy can be totally fail-proof and no text or image can please everyone all of the time. But by asking for constructive reviews and criticisms from testers and users, you can locate and solve important issues before any expensive damage is caused.
The aim of a localization strategy is the creation of a product where no customer feels excluded or unable to fully access it owing to language issues or cultural norms. Our aim at BLEND is to help you develop the most comprehensive strategy possible for your content localization. Our team works with you during the design process, bringing together our knowledge of local culture, context, and customer behavior. This knowledge is combined with extensive translation skills. Our global BLENDers localize in 120 languages while your own personal account manager ensures deadlines, quality control, formatting specifications, and any specialized requests are fully met. Whether you are entering a new market or expanding on a global scale, BLEND is here to support you.