International brands require a more nuanced approach to language across markets.
It’s tempting to brush off localization as a simple translation job. Take English. Make it French... and you’re done. The truth is that international brands require a more nuanced approach to language across markets.
In this article, Contentful and Locaria come together to talk about some of the common mistakes that teams make with localization, and how to avoid them.
You can’t simply translate your keywords from the source language.
While this would be a simple solution, your SEO would suffer. What ranks highly in one locale won’t necessarily rank highly in the other. To ensure your website works for your international audience, you need to conduct independent keyword research for each of your target languages. Using a team of analysts who understand digital marketing and linguistics can be your best solution here. Once you have your keywords, you might have to do some rewriting, but you can rest assured your websites will have the best chance at a high ranking.
Localization is not a one-off project. As customer needs and preferences change, brands must respond quickly. Content needs to be refreshed and market-relevant. For international brands, this means having a content strategy for each of your localized sites. This makes Contentful and Locaria a great partnership. The Contentful authoring hub makes things easy for your team of translators because they can jump in and create content without going through developers. Content is reusable and can be sent to any channel; editors can rejoice as there is no cutting and pasting between different CMSs.
When it comes to your brand, consistency is key. This is especially true when trying to gain market share overseas. If an ad agency localizes your advertising content, and a translation agency localizes your website, it is likely that there will be inconsistencies in not only terminology, but also style. Not only does a lack of consistency damage your search engine quality scores, impacting your efficiency, it also can lead to customers dropping out of the conversion funnel.
By considering the local preferences of the country in which you’re selling, you’re ensuring your website and content really resonates with the customers you seek to serve.
Get to know the local culture and consider local preferences such as payment methods, shipping options and customer support. For example, in Europe, social media plays a big role in post-purchase communications. Customers are likely to jump on Facebook chat to ask for help. For the Middle East and East Asia, interaction with social media happens before the purchase. Customers love to share their potential purchases with their networks to achieve a consensus. If you aren’t familiar with these different customer journeys, you could be missing out on a sale.
Take an agile approach to testing out new markets.
You already have traffic from overseas, so look at your existing international business for any obvious wins. Rather than localizing everything up-front, increasing costs and business risk, start with some localized pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns built on target market keywords that link to your English language site. When you can see demand, this builds the case for localizing a landing page, key information on shipping and returns and more. This will help build your business case for deeper localization of both your site and other marketing channels.
Make sure you consider all markets. Some markets have received a lot of attention in recent years, such as Germany, China and the US. While these large markets seem like an attractive prize, they are highly competitive and require significant investment to achieve any cut-through. In comparison, markets such as the Nordics and South Korea, while smaller, are less competitive but still have sizeable populations of customers who are comfortable with shopping cross-border and have the means to do so.
You should consider localization across all digital marketing channels. It is important to ensure consistency across these channels to deliver a competitive customer experience, particularly when faced with in-market competitors. Localizing everything sounds scary and expensive, but it doesn’t need to be if you employ a broad range of localization techniques, using machine translation where appropriate and creative copywriting elsewhere.
Locaria grew from a digital performance marketing agency’s need for multilingual content as solutions offered by traditional translation agencies and media networks did not support marketing objectives and could even be damaging to online performance. Translation agencies didn’t understand platform and search engine format constraints, keyword research and SEO. They would translate everything at a high cost, but without any accountability for whether the campaigns performed.
Advertising networks, on the other hand, lacked qualified linguists or the localization technology that drives efficiencies, and their complex company structures meant localization of campaigns was often done by informal favour. This resulted in poor campaign results. Locaria saw an opportunity to put together the quality assurance, linguistic skills and localization technology of a traditional translation agency with the marketing savvy and proactive performance culture of a digital agency. This is performance linguistics.
Contentful addresses a lot of the common challenges translators face when working with a CMS.