Content localization is the process of adapting your brand's messaging to a particular target market within a geographical region. The aim of content localization is to ensure that your content fits the target market's language, nuance, and culture.
A content localization strategy includes all the aspects that make your content more relevant and understandable to a particular target market. These aspects can include translating the content, fitting visuals to a locality's culture, and using the proper dialect.
If you plan to expand into international markets or other regions, you need a content localization strategy. Today's article helps you make sense of content localization and the steps to follow in creating a content localization strategy.
Elements of Content Localization
Content localization is more than just translating your brand's copy. You also need to ensure that the context, connotations, spelling, and tone fit the target market you're expanding into.
Here are four elements to consider when creating your content localization strategy.
When we talk about content localization, language is the first element to consider. Your content needs to be translated to the most spoken language in your targeted market.
You also need to think about any distinct spelling, anecdotes, and connotations that need a translation.
For example, the US calls them chips, but people in the UK refer to them as crisps. On the other hand, the US says fries, while in the UK they say chips. If you were to interchange the names and refer to crisps as chips in the UK, most Britons would assume you're referring to fries. And that would either cause confusion or misinterpretation of your content.
Conversely, localizing content is more than a direct translation. In fact, direct translation usually changes the meaning of content in another language. For example, when KFC opened its doors in China in the 1980s, they made a direct translation leading to the loss of their slogan's true meaning.
'Finger-lickin' good' was directly translated to 'Biting your fingers off'. Suffice to say, KFC's slogan did not have the intended effect on the Chinese market. However, KFC quickly corrected the mistake, and now they are a top fast-food chain in the country.
The bottom line? Translating content should not be a case of direct translation. You need to consider the dialect and the different meanings of words in other languages.
Another aspect to consider when localizing content is culture. Colors, symbols, and expressions all have different meanings for different cultures. For example, red in western cultures symbolizes love and positivity. But in some Middle Eastern cultures, red is often tied to evil and caution.
In content localization, you want to ensure that your translated content doesn't get under the skin of locals. If your content is culturally inappropriate, you risk losing the trust of your customers.
Failing to think about cultural terms in your target market can result in inappropriate messaging. This happened to Coors, a famous American Beer brand, in Spain's 'Turn it Loose' campaign. When translated, 'Turn it loose' resulted in an Espanol expression meaning 'suffer from diarrhea'. And that's not a phrase to inspire the purchase of a Coors beer.
It's crucial to remember that culture isn't just an “international issue," as brand messaging should also vary within a country. In the US, for example, there are regional cultural differences. Urban areas like Los Angeles and New York City have different cultures and habits than rural areas like Montana or Wyoming. So if you're targeting a specific region within a country make sure to research the cultural norms of that area before localizing your content.
Consider bringing in a local expert when localizing content to ensure that your branding is culturally appropriate, whether in terms of colors, phrases, or expressions.
Formatting and Design
Like cultural phrases and language expressions, visuals are also interpreted differently in different geographical areas. Hence, when localizing content, ensure that your visuals fit the cultural context of the target area.
Consider the imagery you're using, as well as the layout and design of your content. Are they appropriate for the target market? If not, you could be inadvertently offending potential customers.
In addition, you have to think about how translation affects formatting. Case in point: Translating content from English to French will result in 15-20% more content. The content increase is sure to affect the layout of your visual designs. So, you might need to make some edits to the design.
Law and regulations
The final aspect to remember in content localization is laws and regulations. The rules and regulations in your South American market will have a few key differences to those in European markets. Content localization takes this into context and makes the necessary adaptations.
Why Do You Need a Content Localization Strategy?
As you can see, content localization is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. A content localization strategy will help ensure that your content is accurate, culturally appropriate, and compliant with local regulations.
Not only will localization help you to accurately communicate your message, but it will also build trust with your new audience. Localizing your content shows that you're invested in understanding and catering to the needs of your target market. With 75% of consumers stating that they would continue to buy from a brand they trust, even if presented with a new, trendy alternative, it's clear that building trust is essential for long-term success.
Higher Customer Engagement
When the brand messaging appeals and is relevant to the local audience, it is more likely that customers will engage with the content.
Relevance can be in terms of culture, topics, trends, or even images. If the content being created taps into what is happening in the local market and provides valuable insights, it is more likely to be consumed and even shared.
On the other hand, engagement falls if customers come across content that doesn’t resonate.
Content localization puts you at the forefront of competition. First, content localization affords you customer engagement. And second, it helps you build trust with customers. With customer trust and engagement comes customer loyalty and eventually a larger market share.
Lowers the Risk of Ruining Your Reputation
As long as you have a well-thought-out content localization strategy, the chances of ruining your reputation due to wrong messaging is lower. Content localization helps you translate content contextually in a way that respects the target audience's culture. When you localize content, you cut out the risk of inappropriate expressions or visuals that cause anger and resentment towards your brand.
Strategies for Content Localization
Content localization can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you have lots of content to work with. However, a content localization strategy can help you simplify the work. This strategy acts as a guide on which content to localize and how to do it.
Below are the key steps to follow when creating a content localization strategy.
1. Identify your Target Region
First, understand everything you can about the region you're targeting.
- What language do they speak?
- What are the major cultural themes cutting across their locality?
- Are they an individualistic or collective community (this helps you understand the tone to use in your content)
- What are the needs, expectations, wants, and pain points of the target audience in that region?
Answering the questions above will help you tailor content that's both localized and personalized to your audience.
2. Create an Inventory of all Key Content
Next, you need to have an updated list or information on all the content you want to localize. There are 4 content types that need to be localized. Here's a breakdown of each:
This content encompasses all the copy related to advertising, promotions, and marketing. Typically, such content will include blog posts, case studies, white papers, landing pages, and ad copy.
You should fully localize marketing content to fit the expectations of your target customers. Use local references, anecdotes, local imagery, or culturally appropriate visuals to personalize marketing content.
This content talks about your brand. It includes your home page, about us page, core values, history, etc. For the most part, this content needs to be uniform across regions to project brand uniformity. Brand content does not require as much localization, but you will need to translate it correctly to your new target market.
To ensure that it's uniform and relevant to all locations, use neutral images, and keep your core values consistent. Avoid using regional connotations and references when creating brand content to make it applicable to all locations.
Technical content consists of manuals such as product documentation and user guides. This content needs to be translated to the target market's language to simplify the use of products.
You can also opt to use globally-recognized images (semiotics) to show step-by-step processes. In addition, have a multilingual glossary for your technical documentation.
Other essential sections to localize
Also, don't forget other nifty details like date formats, local phone numbers, and form entry instructions.
3. Enlist a Local Expert's Help and Start Content Localization
During content localization, have a local expert to work with. For instance, you can have a copywriter to ensure marketing content communicates value when translated and a legal expert to provide legal insights. A language native expert would also ensure phrases and anecdotes are in line with the region's culture.
4. Optimize for SEO
Like your primary marketing content, localized content needs to be optimized too. Make sure to use local keywords and figure out the search intent of your target audience.
When optimizing localized content, first determine the most popular search engine in the region. For instance, Baidu is the most popular search engine in China, with a market share of 76%. Google has a market share of only 3%. This data means that you'll need to tailor your content to the most popular search engine.
Once content localization is complete, you need to review the content. The review process is vital in ensuring content remains relevant and correct. Reviewing the localized content also ensures that all key content types are accounted for. Finally, monitor your SEO performance to reveal areas of improvement.
Need Help With Content Localization?
The power of content localization is in the details. Since visuals, content copy, and design differ from market to market, it can be challenging to keep your brand assets consistent. However, you can rein in all the differences in visuals, content copy, and designs to ensure brand uniformity and consistency.
Through Marvia's local marketing automation platform, your organization can create localized but brand-consistent content. The brand portal helps your organization keep various elements like the brand typography, colors, and personality consistent even in local marketing collateral.
You can also access brand templates to help local partners or marketers create their own, localized content that is consistent with your brand. Finally, the brand portal comes with reporting features to help you uncover the gaps in brand consistency and make improvements.
Get in touch for a free demo showing you how Marvia's brand portal helps with content localization.