In 2022 and beyond, in the post-COVID-19 era, businesses need to consider new expansion strategies. One way to do so is by using a localization business strategy.
With all industries having been affected, whether positively or negatively or both, by the pandemic, businesses have discovered many benefits and opportunities in e-commerce and virtually connecting with customers.
But expanding to new markets, especially those that speak a different language than yours comes with a few requirements.
One of those requirements is localization; that’s adapting your business and how your customers see it to the target audience and culture.
In this case, localization becomes part of your business strategy.
In this article, we’ll help you understand how localization can fit into your global business strategy and how to create a localization business strategy.
What is a business strategy?
Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the market for years and decades, you need to have a business strategy to drive your company forward.
As a business strategy is a “clear set of plans, actions, and goals that outlines how a business will compete in a particular market, or markets, with a product or number of products or services,” explains the International Institute for Management Development (IMD).
It may sound simple but in practice, a business strategy is a bit harder than it looks, especially once you begin implementing yours.
The difficulty arises from the fact that your business strategy needs to take several factors into account. These factors include market dynamics, your local competitors in the new market, the general business environment for the market you’re targeting, as well as your company’s strengths, weaknesses, and threats.
“Planning and preparing a business strategy, therefore, requires strong skills in strategic planning and business analysis, as well as a good understanding of functions like marketing, sales, and distribution.” (IMD)
What is a localization strategy?
Now that we’ve covered the business strategy, let’s define the second part of your strategy: the localization strategy.
A localization strategy is an approach where a company uses language localization to break into a new market.
The language localization process involves various levels of translation and adapting marketing, content, customer service, and various aspects of the business to the new market, its norms, languages, buying habits, and culture.
This means that part of your localization strategy is “address[ing] purchasing habits, customer behaviors, and overall differences in each country” you choose to operate in. (Pitney Bowes)
Let’s say you’re a US-based fashion brand and you’re looking to expand your operations to Germany. Getting German buyers to leave brands they’re familiar with and buy from you is not going to be easy.
They already see you as an outsider. However, by using a localization strategy, you can get closer to your target audience.
This means you’ll need to speak their language (formal, informal, slang), offer clothing that’s similar to what they like, and create the same level and quality of experience your buyers would expect from a local brand.
Localization not only focuses on what you say to your customers but how you adapt your messaging, content, and offers to them.
It’s worth noting that entering a new market using a localization strategy is also known as using a language investment model.
Difference between translation and localization
Before we dive into how to build a localization business strategy or when you should consider creating one, let’s first differentiate between two important but related terms: translation and localization.
Translation is the process of transferring text or content from one language to another.
Localization is a sub-division and deeper level of translation where the language isn’t merely rendered but given the local feel of the target language.
When you have a blog post in English and want German readers to understand it, you may consider translating it into German.
But if your blog post handles specific information that requires a more native-like feel, or when your target audience isn’t Germans but Swiss-German speakers, then what you need is localization.
Your blog post needs to be localized to Swiss German which comes with many subtle differences compared to the German spoken in Germany, for example.
Why localization is important for business
We’ve hinted briefly at why localization is important for a business. But let’s offer a few brief points on why localization is becoming a necessity rather than a just ‘good-to-have’ option.
A localized business strategy comes with various benefits, here are the top four benefits:
It provides A competitive edge
Having a localization business strategy means you can begin competing with brands in the new target market on their own turf. However, if you’re not using localization, you’ll always be perceived as a foreigner and customers may approach you cautiously.
you get more satisfied customers
When customers begin interacting with your brand and discover that you’re speaking the same way they do, they’ll begin to trust you more and buy from you more regularly.
Customer satisfaction may come in the form of customers realizing your site is localized to their local language, uses the local currency, and has customer support professionals who speak like the locals, among other ways.
you Boost brand loyalty
As customers familiarize themselves with your seemingly-local brand, as they begin engaging with your brand online and with your customer support professionals, you can begin to see an uptick in brand loyalty.
You gain Higher revenues
One of the benefits of having brand-loyal customers is increasing customer retention and accordingly your revenues and getting more word-of-mouth or referral marketing.
This, of course, relies not only on your ability to localize your brand and your product or service but also provide quality experiences for customers.
In other words, localization becomes the essence of your global business strategy, supporting your efforts in attracting and retaining customers and growing your business as a whole.
How to create a localization business strategy
Now that we’ve handled the basics, let’s create your localization business strategy. To do so, we recommend you follow these seven steps.
The following process is designed to help you when you’re starting with your first localization business strategy. So, step no. 7 for example, will help you with later strategies you may consider for further business growth.
Repeating step no. 7 every localization business strategy you create will help you with lessons learned and speed up later strategies.
1. Familiarize yourself with your audience’s culture and norms
The first step in your business strategy is to familiarize yourself with your target audience and their culture, norms, language, buying habits, and so on.
In other words, your market research should cover detailed aspects of how your competitors operate, how people perceive them, what kind of language they use, and so on.
It should also include cultural norms, which may be different from yours and require additional effort when you begin localizing your content.
2. Create a localized marketing strategy
The next step is to use the information you’ve gathered from your research and use it to create a marketing strategy with a localized feel.
Your target audience shouldn’t feel like someone is shouting at them from a distance but rather that your brand is able to connect with them on the same level as local brands they’re familiar with.
Ensure that your marketing strategy and efforts rely on localization. Invest in localization either by hiring a team of people from the target market and language or by collaborating with a translation and localization agency like TranslationParter to support your needs and growth.
Use localization marketing to localize the content of your marketing campaigns. This can include website localization or mobile app localization, among other types of marketing materials that need translation.
3. Humanize and put customers first
It’s one thing to translate and even localize to a different language. However, it’s also important that your content is humanized.
In other words, your content and how you speak to your target audience should be inclusive.
Part of building a business strategy and getting your brand to succeed is to become human. Your customers shouldn’t feel as if it’s all about you. Instead, put your customers and their needs first.
4. Localization isn’t just about words
You may have realized this by now. Localization isn’t just about writing and rendering words and content into a different language even with the local flavor.
Localization extends to the images and designs you use. So make sure that localization begins at the beginning, from design and development all the way to content and customer support.
5. Focus on your audience’s needs
Your market research will tell you what type of devices and methods your customers like to use when buying products and services like yours.
Do they prefer to buy them online using a website? Or do more people buy similar products and services using mobile apps? Or do they prefer to go in-store? Or do they research online and then buy them after a couple of months of research?
This means you’ll need to consider both buying habits and the buyer’s journey when preparing to launch your business in a new market.
6. Use SEO translation
Part of creating marketing materials in a different language, especially a website, is using search engine optimization (SEO).
In this case, it becomes SEO translation. The translation and localization efforts within your business strategy should encompass your SEO strategy and keyword research.
Keyword research helps your website rank in the target market. With localization in the mix, you’ll be using keywords your target audience uses to search for related products and services.
As for your website, consider whether you’ll be conducting an international SEO strategy or not.
7. Your localization business strategy should include everyone
This step relates more to your business than to the customer-facing side of your localization strategy.
Including the different teams in your company in your localization strategy is a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that your strategy is a successful one.
This means that designers, marketers, business development executives, sales personnel, translators or linguists, product managers, and developers are all included and all collaborating together.
For example, developers should be aware of how localization works and what you’re planning to do so they can take code requirements into consideration when developing your website, mobile app, or your product itself.
8. Document everything
Last but certainly not least, make sure you document everything. Whether it’s your first time creating a localization business strategy, documentation is key.
It will help you with future strategies for growing your business and you can create a lessons-learned section when you’re done.
It will also serve as a reference for future efforts or expansions within your new target market.
In addition, documenting your localization business strategy ensures that future team members who join your company and become part of your new expansion plans can be aware of what’s required of them and what they should avoid.
Your documentation process should also include a style guide – and if you don’t have one, create one, your brand’s tone of voice, your competitors, and which of them you like and which of them you don’t.
Add your SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities) to your documentation so you can see how you’ve progressed within months or years from launching your strategy.
Why hire a professional localization company
As you can see, your localization business strategy involves a long process and a lot of work. Not to mention finding people in the target language who can relay what you’re trying to say isn’t a simple task.
After all, not everyone who is bilingual is a translator or even knows how to localize content let alone support your business strategy in its entirety.
That’s why hiring a professional localization agency comes with benefits.
Here are the main benefits of working with a translation and localization agency:
- Can take on large volumes of work.
- Can provide you with several languages if you’re looking to expand in several markets at the same time
- Have experience with various types of content requirements so it’s easier for them to get the job done faster and more efficiently
- Work with tried-and-tested native speakers
- Can support your various content localization needs such as localizing your website and mobile app at the same time
- Can support you by taking on or outsourcing your behalf localization requirements such as voice-over, video editing, and other related services.
As you can see, localization can get you a long way when entering a new market. But that’s not all. Data shows that 76% of people are more likely to buy from a brand that speaks their language than one that doesn’t.
So translation and localization help you break the barriers of languages, get closer to customers, and build trust. If you need help with localizing your content or launching and building a localization business strategy, then get in touch with TranslationPartner.
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