Localization isn’t just a matter of making your products and services available to people in a new region or country. Successful localization requires a holistic approach that takes into consideration the cultural and cultural norms of your target market. You need to maintain brand consistency across all regions, whilst simultaneously remaining sensitive to the needs of each audience.
The process isn’t easy, but it’s worth it; penetrating foreign markets provides you with access to new customers, increases your influence within your niche, and allows you to recruit workers from new talent pools. It’s an exciting opportunity to realize your brand’s mission on a larger scale.
Here are the main points you need to consider when devising a localization strategy:
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Make sure your brand name, slogans, and advertising campaigns will not cause offence or confusion
The meaning of words, phrases, symbols, and colours vary by country and region. For example, the number four is considered unlucky in Japan but carries no special symbolic weight in most European countries. When it comes to evaluating your advertising campaigns, make sure your images and taglines don’t violate local cultural or religious norms.
Don’t forget to localize images along with the text. Photographs and illustrations are more likely to resonate with your audience if they feature people of the same ethnic background. If you are using testimonials or reviews, feature local, relatable people. Be careful to avoid references to cultural traditions, celebrities, and world events that hold little significance for your new market.
Take your audience’s preferences when it comes to payment and shipping
MasterCard and VISA are accepted in most countries, but it’s important to check that you are catering to the needs of your target market. For example, whilst most Americans are comfortable using PayPal, Chinese customers often prefer Alipay. You will need to identify the most popular gateways among your audience and integrate them into your platform.
You also need to offer prices in the local currency; research shows that 33% of online shoppers outside the US tend to abandon their online carts if prices are only shown in USD. You should never assume that the customer will be happy to convert the price for themselves.
With regards to shipping, do not assume that your customers are familiar with UPS and other international carriers. Instead, they might prefer to use local services; research your options. If you charge for shipping, make this clear early on in the buying process. Don’t add on the cost just before the customer places their order.
Translate your content into your target market’s native language
The majority of internet users (72%) are more likely to purchase a product if the description is written in their native language. Make sure your translated content is flawless. This includes your contact information, your “About Us” page, and product reviews.
The lead localization expert at PickWriters advises that translation should never be left to amateurs. “Customers will notice any errors, and your reputation will suffer as a result,” he notes. “Invest in professional translation. It will pay off.”
If you have bilingual employees, you may assume that they will be able to translate and review your copy. However, it isn’t necessarily the case that someone who can speak two languages can translate between them.
Professional translation is a skill honed by years of training; professional translators possess not only an in-depth knowledge of two or more languages but are also sensitive to the difficulties that come with producing material suitable for a new culture.
Provide localized customer support
Set up an FAQ page in your customers’ language, and ensure that your site is easy to navigate. If a lot of visitors search for similar terms, it suggests that you need to change its structure, tackle problems with your product or service, or both. Ensure that your refunds and returns process is set out clearly.
Whether you are providing email, phone, or live chat support, make sure customers can talk to someone who speaks or writes in their native language. You should also hire a native speaker to handle your social media presence. Research shows that 85% of customers are more likely to buy a technology product or tech-related service if they could access technical support in their first language.
Consider working with a localization expert
Making mistakes during the localization process can cost you dearly. For example, failing to comply with local regulations can result in hefty fines, and poorly translated slogans or advertising copy will make your business look amateurish. Over 50% of online consumers say that the ability to access product information written in their native language is more important than a product’s price, a statistic that underlines the need for perfect translation.
As global expansion becomes the norm, the localization industry has flourished. A good localization agency can help you conduct market research in other countries, differentiate your products to suit your target demographic, and even provide multilingual customer service technicians.
Keep an eye on your competitors
If other companies have succeeded in breaking into your target market, learn from their successes and setbacks. Analyze their marketing campaigns, and find out how they have differentiated their products from those offered by local rivals.
Explore their website and social media content. What colours do they use? What messages – both overt and implicit – do they use to attract their audience? If they offer customer service via social media channels, what tone do they use when communicating with their customers?
Remember the golden rule: The customer comes first
In summary, you need to put your customers’ needs first and cater to their expectations. Carry out as much market research as your budget allows, consult with experts familiar with the region, and listen to customer feedback. If a customer complains that your service is inadequate or isn’t sensitive to the local market, thank them; their remarks could save you a lot of money in lost sales. Stay flexible and responsive, and you will be rewarded with an expanded customer base who will be happy to recommend you to others.