Content & Media Localization: Everything You Need to Know
We live in a connected world, making it easier than ever to reach new audiences virtually anywhere, despite language and geographical barriers that may have impeded communication efforts in the past. The internet has connected us and everything, providing easy access to people worldwide in mere clicks.
However, just because content is available in foreign markets doesn’t guarantee easy acceptance of what is being said or written. People want to feel seen and prefer to engage with relatable content, which means if it’s not in their native language, at the very least, it’s already missing the mark. Enter content and media localization services: the process global companies and marketers rely on to successfully share content in foreign markets worldwide.
What Is Localization?
The definition of the term “localization” can vary depending on the context. In cases of online content and media, localization is the process of holistically reshaping your marketing assets, such as a website, to feel “local” anywhere in the world. It is a multi-faceted strategy for optimizing content to connect with end-users in a language and format that feels familiar and resonates with them.
So, it goes beyond just translating a written copy into another language. Localization services also adapt images or colors, formatting, UI and design, payment methods, calendar date formats, and more to create an experience that looks, feels, and sounds to the end user like a local company created it.
Why Is Localization Important?
Content localization is about ensuring your target audience understands your content in the proper context. Language barriers aside, many other factors can affect how content is absorbed, comprehended, and accepted. When combined, translation and localization create relevant and tailored content that benefits marketing strategies – and your messaging success overall – in several ways.
Reach a Wider Audience
The content localization benefits are many, but it begins with reach. Taking your content global widens your audience; however, it’s only effective if the content is well-received and attracts engagement. Content and media localization strategies will ensure that your content isn’t just available to new audiences – but also relevant to them.
Increase Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction has many layers, and access to content does not guarantee satisfaction. A newly targeted audience will need to achieve a level of comfort and confidence to really engage with new content, which is next to impossible if they cannot even read, understand, or easily interact with it.
Content localization demonstrates a commitment to new global customers that you want their attention, affinity, and business enough to communicate on their terms – and signals that their engagement is important, as well as their ease of use and overall satisfaction.
Rank Higher Against Competitors
Localizing your content for specific global markets increases your audience reach and can improve your SEO rankings. People in different countries use different search engines and, naturally, language-compatible search terms. If your content isn’t localized, your online visibility in the intended market will suffer.
Let’s look at an example. Say you create unique, custom dog sweaters, and you want to expand from the United States to England. No problem! They can easily purchase their favorite furry pal a custom sweater online. However, it’s unlikely that anyone in the U.K. will find your product if you refer to it as a “dog sweater” because the term for a sweater is “jumper” in England. This is just one small example of how website localization can improve SEO rankings and make it easier for global customers to find your product or service online.
Increase Your Revenue
All the benefits we have outlined so far lead to one happy conclusion – a content localization strategy is essential to successfully enter new global markets, increase your reach, and grow your revenue. Finding and reaching new customers is the first step; however, it’s pointless if the engagement doesn’t follow.
Studies1 have shown that approximately 40% of internet users will never buy from websites that are not in their native language, and 65% of non-native English speakers prefer content in their native tongue, even though they are highly proficient in English. Therefore, not localizing content for new foreign markets will likely slow (or prevent) content adaptation and sales success.
Build a Loyal Audience
The desire to support local businesses is pervasive in today’s society, no matter the continent. There was a time many, many years ago when buying overseas signified wealth and prestige because it was only accessible to an elite few. However, the novelty of “buying foreign” is long gone, diminished by the cry to support local and strengthen communities amidst a globally competitive marketplace.
Therefore, entering a new market wholly different from your own in language, culture, and more is tough. You’re an outsider, and it’s easy to spot this if your content isn’t localized.
What Content Can You Localize?
Like language translation, content localization applies to all communication and information-sharing formats, such as websites, blogs, books, and more. If the goal is to reach and engage with new audiences from different countries and cultures, then localization will help achieve this goal. Following are examples of the types of content a content localization service can adapt for global expansion.
Websites typically top the list of content localization strategies. They are a vehicle for communicating, branding, selling, and engaging people with your business no matter where they are in the world. Furthermore, websites are often the first point of contact for people engaging with your product or service and a great place to make a great first impression through localization.
Blogs are excellent tools for marketing, SEO, engagement, and brand-building. However, they need more than just translating to resonate with audiences in different countries. Since blogs tend to be written in a more casual tone of voice, a straight translation, rather than content localization, of the text can leave you vulnerable to both linguistic and cultural missteps.
Emails are another marketing and communication tool that benefits from localization. Emails are meant to engage and connect with recipients, so sending them in the recipient’s language is important. However, other factors may also need adapting to encourage engagement and deter accidental offense. For example, currencies, dates, cultural references, colors, calls to action, and more need adjusting to make the email appear locally written.
Many may think that books only need translation to appeal to speakers of other languages. However, books, including training, service, and user manuals or eLearning guides, benefit from content localization services to truly look and feel local to the region, resonate with the target audience and build brand loyalty – even if your brand isn’t native to the area.
Social Media Posts
Social media is prevalent in most countries around the world, and it’s an excellent tool for reaching new audiences from across the globe. Adopting a content localization strategy for your social posts in other languages and cultures will ensure your messaging is saying what is intended. It can also help avoid embarrassing mistakes that can live forever online, such as unintentionally offending targeted audiences with remarks or references deemed inappropriate or ridiculous in their culture.
Newsletters, like the other content we’ve mentioned so far, often need more than just straight translation to resonate with audiences in other languages. Say you are an international bank with offices around the world that publishes a quarterly newsletter for employees with critical updates to policies or other big company news. Content and language localization experts can ensure that each newsletter is adapted to resonate with employees in each global office, thereby building trust, improving communication and employee relations, and strengthening company loyalty.
What Media Can You Localize?
Any content created for digital platforms falls under the broad umbrella of media content, including movies, videos, podcasts, radio, and much more. All kinds of digital formats benefit from media localization services to ensure successful reception in foreign markets.
From YouTube content and social posts to training videos, businesses use video for all sorts of communication purposes. Fortunately, these valuable forms of marketing and communication can be adapted for use in global markets, but it will take localization to achieve results that resonate. Localization of videos can include voice-overs, subtitling or captioning, and dubbing to adapt the content.
Again, a straight translation of audio content, like podcasts, runs the risk of confusing the intended message of the content, which is why media localization is recommended for podcasts with global expansion goals. Localization of podcast content includes transcribing the audio, translating the content, recording the translated script with a native-speaking voice artist, and audio post-production.
Like podcasts, localization of audiobooks ensures the original intent of the content remains intact after adapting it to another language. Audiobooks often feature multiple characters and dialogues, which need more than simple translations to convey appropriate tone, voice, etc., for the intended foreign market. The right narrator from the target market is essential for successful audiobook production.
Movies & TV Shows
Streaming services, like Netflix, regularly use digital media localization for TV shows and movies. Many of the shows we watch online are initially produced for other markets and adapted for the US audience, like Squid Game, for example.
Radio can also benefit from media localization. Depending on the type of radio content, this process can be fairly straightforward to more complex. For example, a radio advertisement typically just needs native-speaking voice talent to ensure the tone and emotion of the messaging remain intact throughout the adaptation. A talk show, on the other hand, can involve more cultural references throughout the content that need massaging to resonate in the same way in foreign markets.
Video games expanding overseas require digital media localization to resonate with players in global markets. This involves identifying and adapting the game’s name, art assets, packaging, manuals, website, help and support content, and cultural and legal differences to create a gaming experience like the original that appeals to global markets. Video game localization results should ensure the game is easy to understand, play and enjoy, no matter the player’s locale.
App localization has many layers, and it’s essential to ensure the new version does not differ from the original app in terms of functionality and usability. When localizing application content to appeal to different audiences and geographic target markets, media localization services adapt the UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) and ensure the content aligns with the cultural, linguistic, and technical differences that may exist between the original users and the foreign-market users.
Content & Media Localization Strategy
We’ve covered the importance of content localization, as well as its numerous applications, so let’s dive into how to approach and execute these projects for success.
Identify Content & Media You Want to Localize
The first step in your content localization strategy for global expansion is to select the media and content that you want to localize. Since virtually any type of content can benefit from this process, the list may be lengthy – even intimidating. If this is the case, then begin with the content that performs best with your current audience.
Identify Target Audience
Once you’ve selected the content for localization, the next step is to select and identify the audience you want to target. Marketing best practices align with the “fish where the fish are biting” theory, i.e., begin with the markets where growth potential is strongest to get the most bang for your buck.
Identify Target Languages
Once your audience is identified, selecting the language for your localization process should easily follow. Carefully identifying your target audience and language will help you best localize your content and imagery with authenticity and accuracy, but also avoid breaches in cultural sensitivity that could compromise your credibility.
Choose the Right Localization Company
This step is critical. Not only is selecting a service with high-quality localization experts important to the content’s adaptation, but ensuring the entire process is well-managed from start to finish will support the on-time and on-budget execution of your material. There are plenty of options available, but they are not equal – which is why we’ve included more information to guide your selection efforts in the next section titled “How to Choose the Right Localization Company.”
Perform Localization Testing
Once your content or media localization is complete, it’s time to test the results. This can include measurement of several factors, including engagement metrics, sales or financial impact, and associated cost savings gained from your efforts.
Enjoy the Results
Content localization is a proven tool for international marketing success. In fact, the Fortune 500 companies that invested in website localization and translation experienced improved engagement and resulting revenue,2 as demonstrated by these research results:
- Companies that translated information to communicate with and retain their partners were 2.67 times more likely to experience revenue increases. They were also 2.6 times more likely to generate improved profits.
- Fortune 500 companies that translated to keep up with or to gain an edge over their competitors were 2.04 times more likely to have an increase in profits and 1.27 times more likely to generate augmented earnings per share.
How to Choose the Right Localization Company?
Content localization success largely depends on the tools or services used to accomplish global expansion goals. Not all localization services are the same, so what should you look for in content localization or website localization companies? Here are some tips that should help streamline your decision-making process.
There is more to the business of content localization services than language and cultural expertise. The language services industry revolves around information and data, which can be very sensitive. Therefore, you should consider language services companies that prioritize information security and quality management through ISO-adherent processes and services.
For example, all of Dynamic Language’s services are backed by our proprietary Quality Management System and certified according to ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and ISO 17100 standards.
This should go without saying, but experienced translators and localization experts are a must for exceptional results. Look for well-established content and media localization services that can demonstrate a proven track record and established principles of ethical behavior to guide processes and client relationships.
Customer testimonials and reviews are great resources for evaluating any service provider, including content, media, and website localization services.
Global expansion shouldn’t be concerning if you have the right tools and the right team to support your efforts. Dynamic Language has been at the cutting edge of language and localization services for more than 30 years, expertly helping industry-diverse clients in the U.S. and across the globe seamlessly communicate and conduct business beyond linguistic and cultural barriers.
At Dynamic Language, we believe that exceptional service and quality results come through a process that makes it easy for everyone to do their best work. Through our ISO 9001, ISO 17100, ISO-27001, and EN 15038-compliant quality processes, we’re consistently able to deliver translated projects on time and often under budget with a well-organized system that supports both our customers and our language translation teams.
Contact us today to discuss your content and media localization goals and how we can help achieve them.