9 Tips to Creating a Successful Localization Strategy 

December 15, 2021

You want to capture success in global business but don’t know where to start? What makes the major differences between a company that merely has business in foreign countries and a corporation that has an outstanding reputation and long-lasting growth worldwide? It all boils down to a solid localization strategy. 

If you’re ready to go global and desire to deliver your products or services to potential customers in a new local market, consider these highlights below before developing a localization strategy. 

Read more: Coca-Cola’s Localization Strategy: What Makes Them Successful

What a localization strategy is and why you should do it 

International companies should consider localization strategy as an extension of their business plans. This will be your overall plan for adapting your content to digestible and understandable materials towards the local audience. Websites, social media, product or service information, marketing campaigns are some typical components involved in the process. 

With a proper adaptation plan for a new market, your localized content resonates with audiences as it integrates relevant cultural nuance to feel familiar, instead of nonsense translated texts by replacing English words. This also put a cornerstone for tactical plans to implement specific actions to enter new markets. 

What should you prepare to enhance your localization strategy? 

We have compiled 9 useful tips to set you up for success: 

Start a research 

It will be highly risky to enter a new region without understanding if the market is potential for your business. To have a concrete foundation, you should put the market research and competitive analysis first. Since the characteristics of the markets are different, the competitive advantages you use in one country won’t work in another. Hence, take a deep dive into the industries, rivals, customer pain points, interests, etc to understand the audiences. 

Understand and follow local laws and customs 

Before delivering any message to your customer, ensure that you understand and adhere to the legal requirements of the region. Company registration procedures, financial arrangements, and staff recruitment activities must comply with local laws and practices. 

Once you are ready to bring your brand to locals, it’s essential to consider what regulations affect promotion and advertising. Each country has its own rules. For example, in Vietnam, advertisements for alcohol or alternative products for breast milk are prohibited. Any text, picture, video also should be carefully considered as there might be some violent or risque details that are acceptable in your home country but turn to the contrary in another.  

Revisit your branding 

Your brand’s integrity is the factor that you want to maintain its reputation at every phase of the localization strategy. You’ve invested both time and money to vividly determine and communicate your business’s personality to your customers and partners. If you want to remain a stable brand’s image, it’s wise to find out what native people think of your overall identity. Do they understand it? Does its meaning follow your intention? Brands may have different “flavor” in each market and sometimes you have to change yours to communicate successfully.  

Build your team and know your options for translation  

Successful localization strategy requires a proficient and rock-solid team. Gathering people that work well with each other is one of the biggest challenges. You have to make sure that they have the suitable skillset and talent to effectively function with others. Your team may have excellent translators, programmers, designers, etc. However, it is not an easy task to form a team with a smooth process, high productivity, and trouble-free management. Moreover, translation is not merely converting source text but also requires the translated content to connect with the global audience. Otherwise, all of your efforts will fall flat if you can’t meet their expectations. However, what localization option will you purchase?

Here are three common remedies for you to consider:  

Professional Agency:

This will be a viable option if you want to localize a large volume of content into various languages, making project management and quality assurance more challenging and sophisticated. With substantial resources both technical and human abilities, they can ensure deadline compliance and high-quality output. However, the budget for professional translation services may be higher than the other options.

Freelance translation team:

When you’re targeting one to two languages and working with a limited budget, a freelancer team will be the appropriate answer. If you choose this route, be sure to partner with subject-matter native translators and regularly keep them on track with the timeline. Otherwise, some issues about time management and human capacities may arise during the process. Fortunately, the cost of this service is more reasonable than the agencies’ offers. 

In-house translator:

If you frequently have updated content for a specific market, internal linguists will be a decent choice. Whenever you have several words to a medium volume that needs to be translated, they can instantly complete it, saving you a lot of time and resources to look for the outsource talents. Keep in mind, however, this option may put the quality of your content into question. 

Cater your content and offerings to each location 

After careful research, you will realize that each market will have different “tastes” about the content and various desires to benefit a product or service. Use what you’ve learned from your consumer analysis to figure out whether any cultural nuances, taboos, or events should or should not be mentioned in your promotion, description when communicating with the locals. Remember that your home market’s content may not always 100% fit in another country since some content may be normal in one location but be considered offensive to others. 

A lot of companies assume that their price should stay the same as in their home market when going global. This may cause adverse consequences as native competitors may offer more attractive prices along with interesting benefits that only local brands can have. You can adapt your products or service by redesigning the packaging or providing a lower price or higher with additional value when the demand and supply of the specific market warrant it.  

Familiarize yourself with the translation process 

Vetting the translation process can help you prepare for the launch better. A rigorous translation process should not miss the following steps:  

  • Assessment of your project scope, goals, and resources 
  • Analysis of source content and imagery 
  • Development of a glossary and style guide 
  • Preparation for relevant files for translation 
  • Translation, proofreading, and editing your content 

With the help of professional resources and long-term investment in your international reputation, these core steps can support you to capture the opportunity to enter the new market with a competitive advantage. 

Take advantage of technology  

When you’re assessing content in multilingual languages, platforms, and channels, technology will be fine support. At first glance, you may think you only need human translation to complete the project, but actually, the industry relies on a plethora of software and tools that pave the way for reducing manual tasks, automating processes, and assure quality. Thanks to technology, turnaround time is incredibly reduced with higher quality and more reasonable costs. 

Hence, you should find out if your translation partner applies the relevant technology to enhance your localization strategy. Some typical automation includes: 

  • Translation memories to store and re-use translated terms for cutting down the cost 
  • Workflow automation tool to streamline the process between global resource 
  • CAT tool for translating, proofreading, and editing 
  • QA Tools and software to evaluate language quality 

Remember to integrate an SEO plan into your localization strategy 

Whenever you want to penetrate a new market, a native website for native people is the first thing on the list that needs to be localized. However, only placing your information on the website will obscure your presence on the Internet as your site is not friendly enough with the search engine. Therefore, a comprehensive SEO strategy with keywords that locals use to describe their demand will help you to optimize suitable content with the right keywords. Additionally, SEO strategy will include backlink building which is a guide to show you how to get the link juice from other local websites and make your site more reliable and get a higher rank on the search engine. And remember that each country has its preferred search engine, for instance, Baidu is the common one in China while people use Yandex more frequently in Russia. There are also a vast number of elements in the SEO plan to get your present closer to potential customers, therefore, remember to integrate this strategy into your localization one.   

Become part of the community 

If you are a newcomer to a specific market and you want to make your brand at home, make sure that you show that you have a presence there. You should stay alert of current events and join a hand to help communities in times of need. A practical example would be when the pandemic COVID-19 outbreak around the world, a lot of global companies donated both money and medical facilities to the local government that they located to overcome the critical time. This will bring your brand closer to a wide range of customers with positive and respectful images. Hence, seek out important moments where you can connect with customers and give back to the local community. 

Develop a workflow strategy 

To have a smooth localization process, preparing a workflow strategy is a must. Continuous localization refers to translating small batches in bursts so you’re able to release your products or services and updates simultaneously in various languages. Hence, you need a specialized workflow to assure a quick and responsive solution for the requirement. Develop it as detailed as possible so that you can keep track of every single activity and avoid unexpected problems. The workflow strategy may include some typical factors such as deadline, the person in charge, contact point, etc. 

Localization strategy takes time and resources. These tips give you a taste of the complication that you may encounter while expanding your business market. Once you start these preparations for your localization strategy, you will be on the fast track to global expansion. 


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