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People have been championing the phrase “buy local” for decades. In the 90s, it meant buying your coffee from the neighborhood shop rather than Starbucks or getting your tools from the local hardware store rather than Home Depot. At the time, buying online wasn’t an option, so shoppers relied mainly on brick-and-mortar retail.
However, the internet ushered in a new era as ecommerce exploded and created a global marketplace making goods and services around the world accessible in just a few clicks. However, globalization hasn’t diminished our society’s desire to support local communities. The rallying cry of “buy local” persists, right alongside a preference for more personalized experiences at every turn.
So how do business owners, big and small, compete on a global scale and still offer a localized and personal online experience to customers in markets near and far? The answer is localization, and this article discusses why it’s important and how a localization strategy benefits the digital services and ecommerce industries.
Let’s start with the big question – what is localization?
Savvy global marketers get it, but the term may be new for those outside that circle. Localization is the process of reshaping marketing assets, such as a website, to feel “local” anywhere in the world by optimizing content to create a connection with end-users in a language and format that feels familiar and resonates with them.
Localization goes beyond translating your text into a targeted language when marketing to new global markets. It also involves adaptations to images or colors, formatting, UI and design, payment methods, and more to create an experience that feels native to end-users, no matter where they are in the world.
Implementing a digital localization strategy to make your brand relevant to markets outside of your local area or language region affords businesses of all sizes tremendous benefits. Research indicates that 75% of customers choose to purchase goods in their native language, which makes sense and underscores the importance of localization in global marketing efforts.
However, there are additional intangible benefits for businesses ready to expand globally using digital localization, like attracting new external investors. Here are the five main reasons localization can play a critical role in successful international marketing beyond just increased sales.
Digital commerce has cracked retail wide open, ushering in more choices than ever before. Brands have to work harder to stand out and meet buyers’ growing expectations. One of the many benefits of localization strategy when expanding overseas is increased brand authority and presence that would be difficult to obtain otherwise.
What does this mean – and how does it help? Brand authority is a big part of building trust, and trust is critical to acquiring and keeping customers. Increasing your brand authority also helps establish a larger presence in a highly competitive digital marketplace. However, the best way to establish trust in new and foreign markets is to appeal to audiences in a linguistically and culturally acceptable manner, which localization can accomplish.
Building on the benefits of increased brand authority and presence, another of the many benefits of localization is access to more users. Having a digital presence doesn’t guarantee immediate acceptance when entering new markets. However, incorporating localization into your global expansion strategy ensures that the new audiences you’re accessing find your content accessible and relevant.
A digital service or ecommerce business’s success is largely dependent on its SEO strategy, no matter the location. When your company is marketing to target audiences in countries with different languages, publishing multiple versions of your website—or at least specific pages—is critical. However, this involves keyword research and optimization in that language because a simple translation of keywords is not enough to drive qualified traffic.
Improved search results rankings are one of the significant benefits of localization. Working with localization and language experts familiar with the marketing language and digital marketing platforms in your target countries or regions ensures consistency across website content, email marketing, remarketing, and product descriptions – which can collectively improve search engine optimization in new markets.
Return on investment is critical to any business because it fuels further growth. Expanding into new global markets requires special consideration for linguistic and cultural preferences to convey your message effectively, and a digital localization strategy checks all the boxes. Although it’s an investment, the benefits of localization in global expansion efforts far outweigh the cost, and here’s why – content optimization.
Without localization, your advertising assets may miss the mark in foreign markets if the content doesn’t translate effectively. When a localization expert optimizes your content for global markets, you can be assured the messaging will remain intact and relevant to the new audience. This creates even more opportunities to connect with end-users in a way that resonates with them, thereby providing a solid return on investment.
This last benefit truly underlines the importance of localization when expanding your brand overseas. All of the benefits of localization strategy mentioned before culminate to create more brand exposure in your targeted markets. As your reputation builds in new markets, others will take notice – and they may be interested in investing in your brand and expansion efforts, thanks to your impressive digital localization efforts.
While localization is essential to optimizing content for global markets in a way that resonates with them, personalization creates even more opportunities to connect. Personalization is the process of keeping in mind the needs and preferences of your audience so that you market the right product and experience to the right person at the right time.
Brands that use a combination of localization and personalization strategies when targeting global markets position themselves for greater success by creating experiences that connect in the right ways at the right time. The result? Consumers feel like the brand “gets them” no matter where they are in the world.
The rise of ecommerce has created exponential opportunities for global expansion across industries, regardless of a company’s location or size. However, launching a website created in America does not guarantee success in another country. For instance, a shopper in Germany may visit an American ecommerce retailer and immediately click away if they cannot read the content or comprehend the currency. However, simply translating the text from one language to another will not produce the results that ecommerce localization provides.
Ecommerce sites that want to attract shoppers in other countries need to adapt their content using localization to foster connectivity and purchases in other markets. Ecommerce localization services include translating and optimizing all aspects of the site’s experience, including the product descriptions, meta descriptions, currency, contact information, banner ads, and more. Investing in ecommerce site localization ensures your efforts are not just reaching global audiences but also engaging them with content that feels familiar as if it originated in their country.
The digital services industry is a little different than ecommerce in that it’s 100% digital, both in service offerings and consumption. However, like ecommerce brands, digital services can benefit from localization when targeting foreign markets with their content. For example, a video streaming service can benefit from localization that optimizes content with subtitling to create familiar dialogue because the process incorporates cultural considerations, like colloquialisms and local customs. Localization for digital services results in adapted content that feels familiar to audiences no matter where they live and stream.
The best way to illustrate the effects of localization in the digital industry is to look at what some of the biggest names in digital services have done successfully in other countries to attract and win market share.
Ready to see great digital localization in action? Let’s look at how three streaming giants and the almighty Google incorporated localization to achieve international success.
Netflix uses localization in both development and translation throughout its services. As a content streaming service that strives to deliver what the user wants with every interaction, they’ve successfully incorporated digital localization to meet this objective in numerous global markets. They’ve prioritized creating and adapting the technologies and processes necessary to translate not only their own applications and interfaces but also subtitles and voice dubbing, so content is accessible for each user, no matter where they stream.
Furthermore, Netflix has taken digital localization a step further by producing regional content rather than relying solely on the appeal of American content. For example, Alice in Borderland is a Japanese live-action Netflix series adapted from a webtoon, which has become popular enough to earn a second season release.
Google utilizes localized search engines and separate domains for each country, which creates highly accurate results for users worldwide. Realizing early that internet searches are not one size fits all, Google’s focus on localization is one of the reasons its name has become globally eponymous with internet searches.
Google’s localization isn’t exclusive to search results either. They’ve incorporated the process into their homepage. Google’s ever-changing logo on the homepage, i.e., Google Doodles, is a product of localization. The Google Doodle changes to commemorate regionally relevant holidays to celebrate the culture and traditions of the user.
Spotify provides a platform for users to stream music, podcasts, and even videos from their mobile or desktop devices, and it is arguably the most popular music streaming service in the world. Although the localization process is apparent throughout their services, especially when recommending regional music, there’s one particular example we want to highlight.
Spotify responded to the 2015 Southeast Asian haze, which plagued Malaysia and Singapore with smoke from neighboring Indonesia’s forest fires, with a tongue-in-cheek playlist called “Hazed and Confused.” The playlist featured 40 tracks like Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe,” and it was a big hit with local listeners.
HBO’s mantra is “think global, act local,” explains Melissa Weiner, senior vice president of product planning and strategy for the company. Per this mantra, their localization approach is similar to Netflix. Their expansion into global markets has been successful thanks to tailoring movie and show recommendations to the specific region or country.
Weiner further explains the strategy by saying, “From a technical perspective, from an infrastructure perspective, we think globally. But act locally, what we like to do is from a content perspective, from a language perspective, even from a cost perspective, we like to localize for in-region.”
There’s no question that localization is critical to successful global expansion for ecommerce and digital services companies. Where’s your brand headed? If global expansion is on the horizon, we offer in-depth localization services for each production stage for a range of industries.
From website content to fully-fledged marketing campaigns, you can rely on Dynamic Language’s expert, professional team to make your content native to everyone who needs it.