How to Create an Effective Marketing Localization Strategy
Selling your product or service to a global audience is no small feat, but a robust marketing localization strategy can make it achievable. This guide will show you how to create a marketing localization strategy for increasing your brand’s influence on an international scale.
Pro tip: The adaptation of content for multiple markets is a major challenge of any marketing localization strategy. This is easy to overcome with the help of a localization platform like Centus. Here’s how.
Keep reading to find out:
A marketing localization strategy is a plan businesses follow to tailor their marketing initiatives to global audiences. The marketing localization strategy aligns marketing campaigns with the diverse cultural and linguistic contexts of a target region.
Marketing localization strategy covers all aspects of a company's marketing mix. The strategy’s key components include but are not limited to:
Email marketing: Tweaking email content and delivery schedules to the preferences of the target audience in various geographic locations.
Website translation: This goes beyond simple language conversion and takes into account regional idioms, cultural allusions, visual appeal, and even payment options.
Blog posts: Writing culturally appropriate posts that resonate with the local audience while taking into account local issues, trends, and interests.
Search engine optimization (SEO): Adjusting keywords and online content for regional search trends to increase visibility in regionalized search engine results.
Ads: Creating advertisements in the local language that represent local culture, traditions, and beliefs.
Social media: Customizing the social media strategy to fit with the regional culture, calendar, customs, and popular platforms. To learn more, check our guide to social media localization.
Product localization: Adjusting the product’s packaging, directions, and even features to suit the needs of the regional market.
Customer service: Offering multilingual support and modifying support hours for target time zones.
PR: Adapting news releases and other public relations materials for local markets to maintain a consistent brand image.
Sales strategy: Modifying sales techniques and incentives to reflect regional preferences and purchasing behaviors.
Now that you know what a marketing localization strategy is, let’s see how your business can benefit from it.
For organizations looking to grow internationally, having a marketing localization strategy is a requirement, not an option.
According to a report by Common Sense Advisory, 76% of consumers prefer to buy products in their native language. This statistic underscores the importance of a well-planned localized marketing strategy. However, marketing localization goes further than that.
With marketing localization, your message is not only understood by your target audience but it is also embraced by it. The well-implemented strategy builds trust, foster deeper relationships with customers, and ultimately, increase sales and market share in foreign markets.
The benefits of a marketing localization strategy include:
Increased market penetration: By aligning your marketing content with the local culture and language, you're more likely to connect with your audience on a deeper level and increase your market share.
Improved customer experience: Localization ensures customers feel valued and understood, fostering brand loyalty and continued patronization.
Better brand reputation: A well-executed localization strategy signals respect for the local culture, improving your brand's reputation in the international market.
Enhanced competitive advantage: With localization, you can differentiate your business from competitors who might not be as attuned to local nuances.
Increased revenue: A successful localization strategy can lead to increased sales by effectively reaching and engaging with more potential customers.
Legal compliance: Local laws and regulations vary. By localizing your marketing strategy, you can avoid legal issues related to advertising standards, data privacy, and consumer rights in different countries.
Improved SEO: Localizing your SEO strategy helps your content rank higher in local search results, driving more organic traffic to your website.
Granted, technology has turned the world into a digital village. And yet, cultural differences still persist. Especially when it comes to marketing.
By addressing local tastes, preferences, and cultural norms, marketing localization can provide businesses with a competitive edge, helping them to stand out in crowded markets.
A well-planned and executed marketing localization strategy helps your brand navigate the complex landscape of international business, ensuring your message hits home, no matter where home might be.
Developing an effective marketing localization strategy is critical for organizations trying to grow into international markets. Read on for a detailed guide on how to plan yours:
Step 1: Conduct market research — Analyze your target market's cultural, social, and economic elements.
Step 2: Develop a localization plan — Create a comprehensive plan outlining necessary adaptations, resource allocation, challenges, and budget.
Step 3: Gather your team — Assemble a team of experts, including localization analysts, copywriters, designers, and developers.
Step 4: Collaborate with local experts — Partner with native speakers and cultural consultants for accurate translations.
Step 5: Test your localized materials — Make sure marketing materials are accurate and represent the culture and ideologies of your target market.
Step 6: Implement the strategy — Launch localized websites, social media, advertising campaigns, and promotions.
Step 7: Monitor and optimize — Continuously track performance metrics, gather feedback, and refine your strategy for improved results and ROI.
Step 1. Conduct market research
Study the target market's cultural, social, and economic components to uncover marketing opportunities and preferences. This process involves answering the following questions:
Who are the potential customers?
What competitors exist in the market already?
What problem do we solve for the market?
What distinguishes our brand from competitors?
What social media channels are popular there?
What brand personality should we enter with?
What peculiar constraints will we meet in this new market?
What local elements can you capitalize?
To find out who your customers are and how to segment them, you’ll need to create customer personas. A good customer persona breaks down the following common characteristics of a customer group:
How customers address their pain points
Thorough market research helps you avoid mistakes in terms of content and design, among other things.
For instance, when BestBuy entered the Chinese market, it used a literal translation of its name, "百思买" (Bǎisīmǎi). Unfortunately, this translated to "think deeply before buying" in Chinese, which lacked appeal and carried negative connotations.
The name was also similar to a Chinese idiom that meant "no matter how hard you think, you'll never figure it out." As a result, BestBuy failed to connect with Chinese consumers and eventually sold its Chinese assets in 2014.
The BestBuy example illustrates one of the risks of not properly researching the target market before launching a product.
Step 2. Develop a localization plan
Once you've gathered enough data on your target market, it's time to create a localization plan. This plan should include:
Localization goals: Common localization goals are the growth of market share and brand awareness.
Adjustments for marketing materials: Consider the necessary adjustments for content, channels, and campaigns to suit the target audience.
Required resources: Set aside resources for website localization, local social media marketing, paid ads, and content creation to ensure a cohesive and effective marketing strategy across all channels.
Potential challenges: Consider the potential risks associated with your marketing localization and develop contingency plans.
Localization budget: A budget helps you know when you’ve gone overboard, and is important for calculating your ROI.
Step 3. Gather your team
Assembling a skilled and diverse team is another crucial step in this process. Your team should consist of:
Localization research analyst: The research analyst examines the cultural, sociological, and economic characteristics of the target market to identify preferences, possibilities, and potential difficulties for the marketing localization plan.
Product manager: The product manager, who may also be the localization project manager, is in charge of the strategic direction of product development. They have a deep understanding of the international competitive landscape and play a crucial role in executing the marketing localization strategy. They may also be in charge of hiring translators, localization testers, and other team members. Product managers also guarantee effective collaboration and timely delivery of localized files to the team.
Translators: A translator should have exhaustive expertise in the target language and a deep understanding of the target market to ensure accurate and effective translations.
Language specialist: Localization specialists or language specialists are linguistic and cultural experts. They collaborate closely with translators to make sure that translations are accurate and culturally suitable for the intended audience.
Localization copywriter: The copywriter contributes to the modification of marketing messaging and develops fresh material for the target market, making sure that it appeals to the regional audience while upholding the voice and tone of your brand.
Designers: UI, UX, and graphic designers ensure all visual elements in your marketing strategy align with the target market.
Developer/ Software engineer: The developer is responsible for adapting the company's website, including its structure, layout, and functionality, to accommodate the localized content and ensure a seamless user experience for the target audience. Developers run the technical side of your marketing localization.
Social media manager: The social media manager creates and manages localized social media content, engages with the local audience, and monitors the performance of social media campaigns.
SEO specialist: This specialist researches and implements localized search engine optimization strategies to improve the visibility of the brand's online presence in the target market. They may also be in charge of running and monitoring paid ads.
Analytics expert: The analytics expert tracks the performance of your marketing localization efforts, gathers feedback, and provides insights for refining and optimizing the strategy.
Step 4. Collaborate with local experts
Partner with native speakers and cultural consultants to ensure accurate marketing translation and cultural adaptation. This collaboration helps give your marketing efforts the authenticity it needs and stops you from committing a marketing blunder.
Take, for instance, Nokia's Lumia phone launch in Spanish-speaking regions. In Spanish, the product name is slang for "prostitute," a mistake that local experts would’ve spotted.
Step 5. Test your localized materials
Testing helps you understand the marketing strategy’s performance and how to improve it.
Testing methods include:
Focus groups: This involves a small, diverse group of people whose reactions are studied to guess the response of a larger population.
A/B testing: It involves comparing two versions of a webpage or other marketing asset to see which one performs better.
User feedback: Collect user feedback to understand their experience and make improvements based on their suggestions.
For example, you could A/B test two different translations of a website headline to see which one leads to more conversions.
Step 6. Implement the strategy
Once your localization plan is in place, launch your localized marketing strategy.
This involves applying your localization efforts to every area of your marketing mix, from your website and social media accounts to your customer support and PR teams.
For instance, your website should be translated and culturally adjusted, your social media posts should cover regional holidays and events, your customer support staff should know regional etiquette, and your PR efforts should aline with regional news cycles.
It is important that you maintain a consistent message across your marketing channels to avoid confusing your audience. Also, make sure to use only authorized marketing channels in the region.
Step 7. Monitor and optimize
After implementing your localized marketing strategy, it's important to continuously monitor its effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.
Utilizing tools like Google Analytics can help track engagement, conversion rates, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). You should bear in mind that your projected ROI would vary from market to market.
If certain aspects of your campaign aren't performing well, it's important to revisit and revise them. Localization is a dynamic process, and remaining flexible and responsive to your audience's changing preferences is crucial.
In summary, your post-launch localization process should involve 3 major steps:
Tracking performance metrics and gathering feedback from your target audience to identify areas for improvement.
Refining your strategy based on the insights gained to ensure your localized marketing campaigns remain relevant and effective.
Staying up-to-date with changes in the target market's preferences, trends, and regulations.
Consistently improving your approach and basing your choices on data will lead to improved outcomes, increased return on investment, and sustained customer engagement.
Mastering the art of a marketing localization strategy requires a mix of strategic thinking and practical execution. Yes, it is as complex as they say.
However, here are some actionable tips to guide you in your localization process:
1. Prioritize quality translation and localization
Translation alone will not help you meet your localized marketing objectives. Content must also be modified to meet the target market's cultural, social, and legal context. To avoid misconceptions and offensive statements that might damage your brand, invest in high-quality localization.
Hire professional translators who are native speakers and understand the local culture. You can also leverage localization platforms that provide comprehensive localization services.
2. Understand the cultural context
Each market has its own customs, traditions, and societal norms. Failing to respect these can lead to backlash and damage your brand reputation.
Before entering a new market, spend time researching its culture and habits. Pay attention to local holidays, traditions, popular communication channels, and societal norms. Consider working with local experts or agencies that can provide cultural consulting.
3. Manage your stakeholders effectively
Stakeholder management is crucial in a localization project. This involves identifying all parties involved (internal teams, external agencies, local partners), understanding their needs and expectations, and ensuring clear and regular communication.
Use a localization management system to organize tasks, meet deadlines, and communicate efficiently.
Pro tip: Centus provides an affordable and scalable management solution for your marketing localization efforts. Learn more.
4. Comply with regulations and policies
Every market has its own data privacy, advertisement, and product safety regulations that businesses must comply with. Non-compliance can result in fines, legal action, and damaged brand reputation.
For example, China has strict advertising laws that, among other things, regulate the use of superlatives.
Consulting with local legal experts or compliance officers can help you navigate target market regulations and policies.
5. Ensure consistency across all channels
Consistency in messaging across all marketing channels helps build trust and strengthen your brand image. Regardless of the platform – be it your website, social media, email marketing, or customer service – ensure your localized content aligns with your overall brand message.
A central content management system can help maintain consistency across channels. It allows you to store, manage, and track all your localization content in one place, making it easier to control your messaging.
6. Leverage localized SEO
Localized SEO can significantly improve your visibility in the target market. This involves optimizing your website with keywords and phrases that your target audience uses in their local language.
Use SEO tools like Ahrefs to research popular keywords in your target market. Also, consider the local search engine preferences. For instance, while Google dominates in most countries, Baide is more popular in China.
7. Collaborate with local influencers
Local influencers can be a valuable asset to your localization strategy. They have a deep understanding of local culture and a strong relationship with their followers. Collaborating with them can help you gain trust and reach potential customers effectively.
Start by researching popular influencers in your target market. Platforms like AspireIQ or Upfluence can help identify influencers that align with your brand.
8. Consider your time to market
Finally, consider your time to market. Localization is a time-consuming process, and rushing it can lead to mistakes. However, delaying too much might give your competitors an edge.
Therefore, it’s essential to find a balance. Create a realistic timeline for your localization process, while considering all the steps, from market research to testing. Using project management tools can help track the progress and ensure timely completion.
No global marketing strategy is feasible without a comprehensive marketing localization process.
The only way to conquer global markets is by strategically aligning your offering and marketing campaigns with the needs and preferences of your audience in the target regions. To this end, run comprehensive research on the desired market and tailor both your product and its marketing accordingly.
What does localization mean in marketing?
Localization in marketing refers to the process of adapting a product, service, or content to a specific locale or market. The goal of localized marketing is to advertise a product or service as if it has been created specifically for the target market, regardless of its language, culture, or location.
What is a standardized or localized marketing strategy?
A standardized marketing strategy involves using the same marketing mix (products, price, place, promotion) in all markets, regardless of cultural or geographic differences.
The advantages of the standardized marketing strategy are cost efficiency and consistent brand image. However, it may fail due to cultural differences across global markets.
On the other hand, a localized marketing strategy adapts the marketing mix to suit the local market’s specific needs and preferences. While it’s more expensive and time-consuming, it better resonates with local customers.
Does Coca-Cola use a localization strategy?
Yes, Coca-Cola uses a localization strategy. The company adapts its products and marketing campaigns to suit the tastes and preferences of local markets around the world.
A notable example of this is the “Share a Coke” campaign, where Coca-Cola replaced its logo on bottles with local names in each market. Interestingly, family titles like “elder sister” were used in India and pet names were used in China.