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We are a very connected global marketplace thanks to limitless online access to content from every corner of the earth. Although this presents vast opportunities for brands and services to market to a much wider audience, success in foreign markets requires strategic thinking and a plan.
Not sure where to start? Let’s begin with localization. You will need localization services if you are ready to take your content global and succeed in foreign markets, and you can find everything you need to know in this article. Not only will we cover the localization definition and why it’s critical to foreign market acceptance, but we’ll also cover tips for creating a solid content localization strategy, including how to find quality localization services to help.
Have you ever stumbled across a product and decided it’s a must-have? Only to find yourself on a website written in another language that’s impossible to understand and navigate? It happens a lot, and localization is the key to making websites and other content accessible to audiences from different cultures that speak other languages.
Localization is the process of holistically reshaping your marketing assets, such as a website, to feel “local” anywhere in the world by optimizing content to connect with end-users in a language and format that feels familiar and resonates with them. Content or product localization goes beyond just translating written copy into another language, which is only a part of the total content adaptation process.
Localization involves translation, but it takes into account more than text comprehension. Where translation is the act of converting text from one language into another one, localization adapts content for different markets, to a different locale, and a different cultural context.
So beyond simply translating the language of the content, localization services also adapt images or colors, formatting, UI and design, payment methods, calendar date formats, and more to create an experience that feels native or local to end-users in targeted markets. So basically, every aspect of what they are seeing, reading, or hearing seems as if it was locally created.
When exploring localization services, you may come across another practice that seems similar, which is transcreation. Localization and transcreation are two language services often confused – and for good reason. They are similar but not the same, so let’s break them down.
In simple terms, transcreation is a creative rather than literal approach to converting brand messaging to another language. With transcreation, words and visuals are revisited and “revamped” to convey the same intent to an audience in another language and culture. The goal of transcreation is to communicate the same messaging purpose, which is usually to elicit a reaction of some kind (click, purchase, visit, inquire, etc.).
Therefore, where localization efforts serve to connect with audiences in other cultures, transcreation takes it a step further and aims to entice the end-user.
Localization makes content more appealing to new audiences in global markets. So anyone trying to reach a global audience should consider asset localization. These assets often include websites and apps, marketing materials (newsletters, TV, radio, and print ads), product manuals, training materials, user interfaces, quick-start guides, service materials, product warranty materials, eLearning materials, and video games, etc.
The goal is to make anything the target audience touches look, feel, and sound “local” to their region. These efforts build brand awareness and loyalty in foreign markets, even if your brand isn’t native to the area.
Using localization to adapt your marketing and other content for targeted foreign markets increases the likelihood of success. A 2014 Common Sense Advisory study found that more local-language content throughout a customer’s experience leads to a greater chance of purchase.1 Bottom line, content and website localization is your brand’s best chance to be considered “local” in foreign markets.
Content localization involves many steps, each building upon the other. This next section will outline the basic steps of a localization strategy, which can apply to any brand product or service across various industries.
Research is vital when it comes to localization. First and foremost, establish the potential for your brand in foreign markets. Thorough market research and competitive analysis will provide that and other vital information. For example, what competitors exist in your targeted foreign market(s)? Which sales channels do they use?
Your research will also lend insight into pricing, packaging preferences, and more. Remember, what works in one market doesn’t automatically resonate in other markets. Comprehensive market research will provide a roadmap for not only where to go – but also how to get there.
Once your target markets are determined, it’s time to select which languages to use in your localization strategy. The target language affects more than the translated words on your website and other assets. For example, words translated from English to Chinese may need more physical space for placement and readability on a website page.
The next step is translating the content into the target language. Although machine translations, like Google translate, are helpful – they cannot replace high-quality human translators. So, we recommend selecting a translation professional who speaks the language and understands your target audiences’ local customs and traditions.
A professional translator familiar with your target market will also know how to translate other content, such as locations, currency, dates, time, and dimensions, in a format that’s relevant to the end user.
A language localization company will know how to handle the process and expertly lead you through every step. They are trained to look at the content holistically to determine how to adapt every aspect for global markets.
The most significant benefit to hiring professional localization services is eliminating the barriers of language and culture when entering new foreign markets, as your materials are in the hands of language service experts familiar with who you are trying to reach.
Quality assurance testing happens at the end of the localization process, and it’s critical to ensure your content is linguistically accurate, contextually appropriate, and culturally relevant to the target audience. Quality assurance testing also evaluates the final product for accuracy, performance (especially in the cases of websites, video games, and app localization), and cultural relevance.
Here’s an example – you are launching your American eCommerce site in Arabic. Your localization experts should thoroughly review and test all the content. For example, is the text reading right to left (RTL) as is the norm in Arabic-speaking countries? Also, are all of the links intact and unbroken? These are just a few factors that localization quality assurance testing will check and correct if necessary.
Now that we’ve drilled down the importance of implementing a localization strategy when expanding into foreign markets, let’s shift to finding the right resources for the job. There is no shortage of localization services available, so how do you choose the right one? Here are some tips on what to look for when researching a localization business.
The language services industry, like many other industries, is guided by the International Organization of Compliance (a.k.a., ISO), and this is a great place to start. For example, ISO 17100 establishes and defines the translator, the translation process, and client expectations when it comes to quality of service. So, ISO 17100 aims to outline the service a client will receive according to “industry best practice” level procedures.
A well-reputed language localization company will outline their certifications and credentials on their website or provide them upon request. If you encounter any resistance in finding this information, it’s a bad sign.
Testimonials for other clients are a great way to gauge the professionalism, skill, and responsiveness of a localization business. Look for reviews about speed, efficiency, accuracy, and professionalism. An experienced and professional language services company typically shines in all of these areas.
Experience in the language services industry applies to not only the level of language services but also the efficiency of their process. A well-established content localization company will have the experience and tools necessary to execute consistently professional and accurate results with every project.
It’s not enough to have a high-level translator, especially for larger undertakings like comprehensive website or video game localization projects that target multiple markets. Look for highly experienced localization services with the talent and the systems in place to provide services efficiently without sacrificing accuracy and quality.
Whether you are a freelancer in marketing or a C-level marketing executive, understanding the benefits of content localization is critical to successful expansion to new foreign markets. Hopefully, these localization tips and strategy guidelines will benefit your next product or service expansion plans.
If you are ready to engage professional help from localization veterans, the experts at Dynamic Language can help meet your expansion goals. We have been stewards of high-quality, professional language services for over 30 years and boast a team with expert knowledge in 150 languages.
We offer in-depth localization services for each stage of production so that your content will provide a user experience that feels native to anyone in the world.
We are your partners in global expansion.