Mapping out a localization strategy (1) - How LSPs can help


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So you’ve decided to take your products into a new market – great! But simply handing over your website content to a translator and hoping for the best is not likely to help your business boom.

When moving into a new market, you need to lay solid groundwork, avoid unpleasant surprises and stay in control. How do you do all that? With a localization strategy. It’s your master plan that defines the new markets you want to move into and the overarching goal you want your content to achieve in each of these markets.

Unlike translation, localization accounts for subtle (and not-so-subtle) cultural differences so that the adapted content feels local to your new audiences and meets their expectations. It makes sense to assess each of your target countries in these terms in advance and get input from locals. That’s the best way to eliminate errors – and in marketing, an error is anything that turns a customer off. Errors in this context can range from strange-sounding wording (i.e. a too-literal translation), a product name that conjures up something iffy or holidays that the target country doesn’t celebrate.

Localization is what eliminates these glitches. It’s the process that makes your website feel local and lets you build trust from the moment new customers hit your landing page.

So how do you go about fleshing out the details of your localization strategy? Here are the main steps.

1. Decide where you want to go.

What markets are a good fit for your product or service? Can your products find a space there where they are competitive? Will your product fall into the same price category there as it does at home? Or will it fall higher or lower on the scale of basic-to-premium – and what does that mean for your marketing message? What about your brand – how well known is it in your target market? Do you need to build brand awareness while launching new products in this market?

2. Understand your target market.

Start getting to know your prospective new customers at a very early stage. Take a deep dive into their culture and bring experts on board who can gauge how your brand is likely to be received. This includes the name of your company and your products, the logo, your colors and more. Sound like a tall order? It may not be as hard as you think: if you already work with a language service provider, they are likely to have plenty of contacts who live and work in your target market. So one option is to ask them to recruit a mini-focus group to give you feedback. This group will certainly be able to prevent you from launching anything that the locals will find offensive or otherwise objectionable.

An important part of understanding your target demographics in a new market is finding out where they shop and get information. What are the most popular social media channels? Where will your content marketing actually find an audience? Can you use translations of your home-grown content, or are you better off investing in native content?

3. Design a great customer experience in each market.

A well-designed customer experience in one market may not deliver as good an experience for customers in other markets. So it’s important to have local people look at the UX in each market and localize each element. That means chatbots that address people with the right titles and levels of formality. And order forms that customers can fill in properly, including long or multiple names and the expected address information.

Planning for enough flexibility to accommodate these kinds of differences early on will save you money and headaches down the road.

If you choose a language service provider that works in all the markets you are targeting, they can help you with valuable input for all of these stages. They are trained to spot elements of the customer journey that need localizing. As locals in the target market, they will be able to deliver native insights that can – and should – inform your localization strategy.


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