Content localisation: a guide to conquering new markets

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87% of people (CSA Research, 2014) claim that they won’t buy from a website if they don’t understand its content. That’s one of the reasons why, as an international brand, you have to adapt your marketing strategy to your local markets. Keep on reading to find out why your business needs localisation to conquer new markets.

What is localisation?

You may have never heard about localisation, although you’re familiar with the concept of translation.

That’s because the two often get confused.

Localisation goes beyond the already not-so-simple transformation of words from one language to another. Translation is only one part of the localisation process.

Localisation includes the adaptation of a bunch of other elements to the target market.

References, links, images, examples, cultural elements, currencies, legal aspects, design and layout, sometimes even product names. The list goes on.

Consider the few examples below:

Websites available in a language that reads from left to right (LTR), and in another language that reads from right to left (RTL) have extensive localisation requirements that go way beyond translation.

The whole design of the website (and of other communication channels) has to be completely different. Based on the language direction, the layout of the page will be moved around and adjusted.


Le Buteur Français

Website “Le Buteur”, in French version


Le Buteur Arabe
Arabic version


Another blatant example is Coca-Cola.

Although the French (France) website and its Canadian French alter-ego are written in the same language, they look nothing alike.

Coca Cola France


The cocacola.fr website puts a lot of emphasis on its history in France and uses the faces of the French national football team as a way to connect with the audience.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Canadian website of the brand sheds light on the efforts made by the U.S company to transition to more environment-friendly packaging.

Coca Cola Canada

Why does my business need localisation?

Whether you are a multinational company or an online business aiming at expanding its customer base, reaching out to foreign markets implies adjusting to a different language, culture, habits, norms, etc.

Clients from different parts of the world think and buy differently and have different expectations, which is why localisation is important.

That means you cannot address a European customer the same way as you would address a Chinese customer.

Interesting fact, among people with high proficiency in English, 60.6% prefer to browse the Internet in their native language (CSA Research, 2014).

Now, let’s see what your business can gain from localisation:

  • Increased social media engagement thanks to language-specific pages for your different target audiences
  • Increased website traffic thanks to language switch option
  • Improved customer experience as your clients will be able to discover and buy your products/services in their native language, boosting conversions
  • The ability to run targeted marketing campaigns & ads for your different markets
  • Slogans, images, references that are relevant to the target audience

Now that it’s clear why you should use localisation as part of your marketing strategy, let’s see how to make it happen!

Work with language specialists

Once you’ve conducted your market analysis and set your goals for new markets, it’s time to start with the active part.

You have several options.

Your friend Google Translate is not one of them.

As impressive as machine translation engines can sometimes be, their algorithms are imperfect and cannot deal with cultural elements or context the same way that humans do.

What’s non-negotiable is that you have to hire a native speaker of the target language and market you’re aiming for. Only a native can capture all the cultural specificities and master the language perfectly to adapt your content.

Depending your needs, you might go for the following:

  • hire an in-house language specialist – ideal if you are planning on localising content continuously and with short deadlines. Having someone in-house also guarantees that they understand your brand, your products and your customers.
  • hire a freelancer – this is a good option if the content to be localised does not come on a regular basis. Aim at hiring a freelancer who specialises in your field. There are a lot of resources that connect clients and freelance linguists. Proz is a prominent one.
  • work with an agency – ideal if you work with big volumes that cannot be managed by a single person. Agencies work with pools of freelance translators and will outsource your content to the relevant linguists.

Most professional language specialists work with tools that allow them to do more than pure translation, such as image localisation. Marketing professionals also specialize in the transcreation of slogans or punch lines, to not only translate the message, but also transform it in a way that will be relevant to the target reader.

What content should be localised?

Ideally, everything.

Website

Things should start with your website.

This is where your clients meet your products and where conversions happen.

Localising your web pages will allow you to communicate directly to your clients and build your brand image.

In case you need any more convincing: 75% of consumers prefer to buy products in their mother tongue (CSA Research, 2014).

Social Media

Social media is now an essential part of any brand’s marketing strategy. Having a social presence is key to build your branding image. It will allow you to connect with your customers and develop engagement.

Localising your social content will help with increasing your fan base, boosting your website traffic, have better, creating improved and unique interactions with your followers, and running targeted ads.

Be aware that the top social media platforms in your country won’t necessarily be the same as in others.

For example, due to the ban of Facebook in China, we recommend switching to a local alternative like Weibo, which counts 550 million active users as of Q1 of 2020 (Statista, 2020).

Email

With over 280 million emails being sent every day (Statista, 2018), email campaigns and newsletters are still in.

If you have a global audience, localising your email campaigns will definitely help you achieve a higher click-through rate.

Depending on the target language, consider adjusting your message, especially the subject line. For instance, English text is generally shorter than most of the other European languages. The expansion rate of English into German can go up to +35%, which explains why an email subject line can end up being completely different.

Photo by Nicola Nuttall on Unsplash


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