Content Localization: What It Is and How It Helps Build Global Engagement
By Josh Hebb
In an interconnected world, tailoring your content for global audiences demands a deep understanding of linguistic, cultural, and regional nuances.
English remains the most spoken language worldwide, spoken by 1.5 billion people. However, Chinese (1.1 billion), Hindu (609 million), Spanish (559 million), and numerous other languages represent a far greater percentage of the world population. As such, enterprises that want to gain a foothold in a new market need to tailor their content to appeal to different audiences through localization.
But how can you achieve that localization?
This blog will equip you with insights into crafting content that transcends borders and resonates with diverse cultures. From language adaptations to cultural sensitivity, learn how to effectively connect with global audiences while maintaining authenticity and relevance.
What is Content Localization?
Content localization, also referred to as l10n, means adapting content assets to fit different cultural and regional contexts.
Many organizations associate content localization with translation, ensuring that someone who speaks a different language can easily consume the content.
However, localization goes deeper and is more than just translation but rather a complete personalization of content while considering the tone of content, cultural sensitivities, and audience preferences. Content localization, like any other form of personalization, aims to make customers feel at home and catered to.
Some examples of content localization include:
- Translating an article published on a website into three different languages
- Adapting marketing materials to align with cultural norms and avoid upsetting the audience
- Converting measurements, currencies, and date formats to suit local standards
- Adjusting product offerings to coincide with local holidays
- Incorporating region-specific legal and regulatory information into content
- Localizing customer support by providing services in native languages
- Tailoring pricing strategies to suit the economic conditions of specific markets
Localization vs Internationalization
Content localization is often used interchangeably with internalization (i18n). However, the reality is that these terms have different meanings, as internalization refers to expanding into other markets.
For example, a company based in the United States will internationalize by expanding operations into Europe and Asia. However, once you’ve internationalized, you need to then need to localize to ensure that you can appeal to the expanded audience.
Why Localize Content?
There are several reasons why businesses should include localization in their content strategy.
As Part of an International Expansion Strategy
Moving into new markets is often one of the key reasons why brands consider introducing localization in the first place, but it shouldn’t be relegated to an afterthought. Creating localized content can help audiences familiarize themselves with your brand and generate interest before the expansion is complete.
Increased Audience Reach
Localized content provides access to a larger audience for the company to sell its products or services. Even companies that aren’t expanding to new markets with a physical presence can reach customers in countries halfway across the globe by implementing localization strategies.
Better Engagement and Conversions
Customers prefer when a business engages with them in their own language. As such, localizing content can encourage better engagement and lead to more conversions and revenue.
More Nuanced Type of Personalization
Localization provides a more nuanced type of personalization because it doesn’t just tailor a service to accommodate these individuals. Instead, it inherently anticipates a customer’s preferences and caters to them in their local language while considering cultural context before they even interact with a brand.
Edge Over Global Competitors
Businesses that can localize their content can gain an advantage over their competitors. Since localization requires the effort to understand and adapt to cultural differences, it can endear the customers of that region to the brand, increasing trust and loyalty while the competition is simply translating or not even attempting to localize content at all.
Challenges to Expect When Localizing Content
While localizing content can provide businesses with increased reach, engagement, and conversions, implementing a localization strategy doesn’t come without challenges.
Maintaining quality and brand consistency
Ensuring localized content accurately conveys the intended message without losing nuance or meaning can be challenging. Also, keeping the brand’s unique tone and voice while having the resources to quickly identify and resolve any potential errors in the localization process can be difficult.
Businesses must know the differences between regions and individual countries. For example, within countries in Latin America, one word could have a different meaning from country to country (sometimes offensive), even though each country in question speaks Spanish. Hence, translating wouldn’t be enough to localize content in that region effectively.
Coordinating between local teams and regional partners is another challenge that must be overcome when considering timezone differences and whether or not the business has the proper workflows and iteration loops to provide appropriate feedback and approvals.
Content Localization Strategies
Businesses that want to implement a successful content localization strategy should follow these steps:
- Determine ideal target markets and languages
The first step to localization is identifying the right target markets and languages. A localization strategy should align with a broader business strategy, so if there are any markets where the company plans to expand, those markets should be the first candidates for localization.
Businesses should also consider their content analytics to understand if there are any untapped regions where they are currently generating a lot of interest. Even if these countries or regions aren’t part of the business expansion, they may still be worthy of localized content.
- Build a localization strategy
The next step is to build the localization strategy, including deciding which content to localize. Some enterprises may have the resources to localize all of their content assets. Still, for the vast majority of companies just getting a foothold in new markets, some prioritization must be done.
Key marketing and branding assets, legal content like privacy policies or terms of service, contact pages, and pricing should be completely localized for the primary target markets.
However, some content assets may only need to be translated into another language. For example, if only 2% of the new target market speaks a specific language, it can be simply translated to start rather than spending additional resources doing a complete localization.
- Humanize content localization by consulting local experts
Content localization shouldn’t only be the job of the primary marketing team and a few other stakeholders. Businesses must also seek out local experts who can weigh in on any campaigns to ensure that everything is fit for consumption and reduce the likelihood of any culturally insensitive or offensive language creeping in.
- Adopt a DXP or headless CMS
Finally, companies should adopt a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) or headless CMS to enhance their localization efforts. Content localization requires the best tools to be successful, and a DXP can provide the capabilities businesses need to accomplish their localization goals. It enables companies to create a central hub to store and manage content assets so that localization teams can easily access and tailor content to fit their needs.
With a DXP, companies easily integrate additional localization tools such as translation and language management systems and personalization engines. Teams can also build the ideal workflows and internal processes to ensure they get the most out of these tools and maintain content quality across borders.
- Monitor results
Localization will continue to evolve as cultures do, with people in one country slowly adopting some of the preferences of another country and vice versa. Companies investing in a localization strategy should monitor their results to determine if they need to adjust the strategy or can continue on their current path.
Next Steps for Building Content Localization
Content localization is essential for any business with aspirations of marketing to and appealing to a global audience. It can provide numerous benefits when done right, but to get it right, companies need to be aware of the challenges they might face and follow the right strategies for success.
Content Bloom does end-to-end digital consulting and we know the benefits and challenges of localization. We provide the expertise to help our clients with content-driven solutions, including building modern web and mobile sites and launching digital products and marketing campaigns.
With our content management and digital marketing knowledge, we can help you build your localization strategy and select the right CMS and DXP tools from vendors such as Contentful and Adobe to execute your strategy fully.
Contact us today for more information about how you can localize your content.
Why is localization written as l10n?
Localization is also written as l10n because there are 10 letters between the letters l and n in the word “localization.”
Why is internationalization written as i18n?
Internationalization is often written as i18n in English where 18 is the number of letters between i and n in the word “internationalization.”
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