Content Localization Guide (2022): How to Get It Right

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content localizaiton guide

As marketers, we spend much of our day optimizing our content to beat the latest Google algorithm or social media trend. While algorithms may keep changing, one principle remains the same.

If you want your website to rank in the right places, you need to create content that your target audience finds useful.

Figuring out how to do that in your home market is complicated enough. Then your company prepares to go global. Not only do you need to translate your content, you also need to localize it to resonate with audiences in your new target markets.

It’s not a small task, and that’s why we created this guide. Read on for tips, examples, and resources to help you succeed at content localization in a few simple steps.

Overview

What is content localization?

What is content localization

Content localization is the process of creating or adapting content according to the linguistic and cultural nuances of a target market. In most cases, this will involve translation, but localization also considers aspects such as:

  • Cultural sensitivities.
  • Idioms and phrases.
  • Visuals, images and colors.
  • Date and time formats.
  • Trends.
  • Currencies.
  • Laws and regulations.
  • Payment methods.

A major goal of your global content strategy is to make your target audience feel like you are speaking directly to them.

In that case, content plays the role of showing how your product or service fits into their lives. More importantly, how it can make their lives better.

And well, it goes without saying that life on the streets of Rio De Janeiro looks quite different from New York. So the content that you create for people in the United States will not resonate as well with local audiences in Brazil. That is where content localization comes in.

But remember that localizing your content does not mean you have to create all new content from scratch for each locale. As your business keeps adding new languages, that would be impossible without going over budget. In many cases, it’s not even necessary.

Most of the time, translating and making a few changes to your existing content assets will suffice to attract the attention of global audiences.

Additionally, here is a link to the most common localization problems and how to overcome them.

Why localize your content?

Why localize your content

It's quite simple. When it comes down to it, you are always localizing content. Yes, even the content you create for your domestic market.

Why? Because all marketing materials are focused on your audience (or at least it should be).

Think about the processes you have in place to create content for your target audience at home. Your content marketing strategy will consider questions such as

  • Who is our target audience?
  • What do they want to learn about?
  • What are their needs, desires and pain points?
  • What language will make the content accessible to them?
  • How can we craft our messaging, tone of voice and style to appeal to them?
  • How can we help them solve their problems?

When your target audience changes locations, so do the answers to these questions about what types of content they want to see. That's why content localization is important.

And while it goes beyond translation, language is a core part of adapting content to international audiences.

The latest research speaks for itself:

  • 75% of consumers prefer to buy from websites in their native language.
  • 40% of internet users will only buy from websites in their native language.
  • 65% of non-native English speakers prefer content in their native language.

If you don't localize your content, your company is missing out on the huge earning potential that comes from interacting with consumers in their own language. Even the ones who already speak English.

Types of content you can localize

You can localize any type of content, including:

  • eBooks.
  • Infographics.
  • Posters.
  • Magazines.
  • Videos.
  • White papers.
  • Blog posts.
  • Website content.
  • Emails.
  • Case studies.
  • Reports.

Whether your marketing is digital or print-based, you will use different types of tools to create content. That means your marketing collateral is likely spread across multiple file formats, making it difficult to streamline your translation workflow.

Just the thought of how much work goes into choosing and preparing content assets for translation into several languages gives me a headache. But the job is much easier than it used to be thanks to tech-enabled localization platforms.

Using a translation management system like Redokun, businesses like yours enjoy a faster and smoother content localization process. Rather than copy-pasting text from dozens of source files into spreadsheets and emailing them to your translators, you can simply upload them to a translation tool from your browser.

The task of organizing your files according to language and extracting segments for translation? Redokun will do that for you, supporting file formats like:

benefits of using a translation management system for localization

To see how localization works in practice, here are some examples that show what types of content global companies localize to capture international audiences:

  1. Adobe: Long-form content localization example
  2. Samsung: Short-form content localization example

Adobe: Long-form Content Localization Example

At first glance, there aren’t many obvious differences between this English article on the Adobe blog and its Korean translation. Other than the language, obviously.

For one thing, the image is exactly the same. But what about the content?

adobe English content example
Above: Adobe article in English
adobe localized content example
Above: Adobe article in Korean

As a Korean speaker, I can spot the following ways the translator has localized the content for Korean audiences:

1. The title goes into more detail to help with local SEO ranking.

While the English title is more general, “Tips and tricks for e-commerce product photography,” the Korean version translates to “Creating a product page: A simple way to shoot and edit product photos."

As you can see, it doesn’t even mention e-commerce. Instead, the title elaborates on the takeaways of the article. More importantly, it takes into account local SEO by emphasizing keywords that the target audience in Korea is more likely to use when searching.

2. The translated article uses honorific language.

Out of what feels like a million different written forms of Korean, there are two forms that are used in blogs.

The first is the objective form used in newspapers and personal journals, while the other is the honorific form that you are more likely to see in advertisements.

As this translation uses the honorific form, it reads more like sales copy. In contrast, the original version in English draws more on the author’s personal expertise as a subject matter expert.

3. The translator has exchanged certain words and phrases for more common local language alternatives.

This is localization 101. When there are words and phrases that wouldn't make sense if you translate them directly, you would find simplified or local equivalents in their place.

An example you can find in this article is "sweep," which is an industry-specific term that refers to the material used as a backdrop in photographs. The Korean language version just says “backdrop.”

As you can see, there are many ways to localize content, but the key to capturing your audience is to make it subtle. When done right, it should read as natural to the audience as if you originally wrote it for them in their language.

The Adobe blog post is an example of localized SEO content. Now, let’s have a look at another very important format, especially in the B2C marketing space.

Samsung: Short-form Content Localization Example

Whether you call them reels, shorts, snaps or TikToks, short-form video content has taken the world by storm. Even the most casual social media user has a hard time avoiding them these days, making it one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal.

Samsung, the fourth most valuable tech brand in the world, has taken notice.

As part of their global content marketing strategy, the company uploads short videos on their social media accounts. And as their target audience is worldwide, they make their social media content available in multiple languages to improve reach and engagement.

That doesn’t mean they translate every single piece of content for every single target market. When deciding to localize content for each market, they take into account factors like:

  • Platform usage: How many users are there on each platform in the country?
  • Resources: Does the company have access to native translators for the market?
  • Performance: How well did the content perform in the original market, and could the audience respond differently in a new market?
  • User journey: What role does this piece of content play as part of the overall user journey in the new target market? Has other parts of the journey been localized?
  • Content: What kind of content will the audience most likely to engage with? Do they need to make any changes to the visuals?

For example, Brazilian users make up 40% of TikTok’s market share in Latin America. A quick look at Samsung’s TikTok profile in Brazil shows us that the number of followers is almost double that of the official global profile.

samsung global TikTok content

As a result, Samsung translates the majority of their content to the local language in Brazil, along with a few changes made to the content mix and visuals to attract locals. In contrast, the company’s Mexican and Thai accounts do not have nearly the same amount of localized content.

Samsung English content example
Above: Samsung TikTok video in English
samsung localized content example
Above: Samsung TikTok video in Brazilian Portuguese

The screenshot above shows Samsung's "a day in the life" video in English, which they have translated to Brazilian Portuguese. Do you notice any differences other than the subtitles?

Off the top of my head, I can see changes to things like text style and placement, which were no doubt carefully chosen to improve engagement with local consumers in the country.

Now that we've got the what and why out of the way, let’s look at how.

4 tips for building a content localization strategy

4 tips for building a content localization strategy

Ideally, you should have a strategy that lays out:

  • Goals and objectives (both short-term and long-term).
  • The roles and expectations of everyone on your team.
  • Expected deliverables.
  • The localization processes and tools that help you structure your workflow.

To help you along the way, here are some tips on how to implement best practices for content localization into new markets (and how to build a localization strategy):

1. Data-based research is great, but not everything

Sure, your market expansion strategy should be based on thorough research and hard, quantifiable data. This is an important step to reaching that all-important ROI because it justifies how and why you should introduce your products or services to overseas markets. You may do so through tools like:

  • A/B testing.
  • User surveys.
  • Secondary research.

But there are some things that data can’t tell you, so when it comes to the nitty-gritty of content localization? Native speaking translators and local experts are your best bet.

A/B testing can tell you that the CTR for one of your ads was 3.0% higher than another ad you published in French. It can’t tell you that your product name was offensive to the audience there because it sounds like a swear word. In other words, it doesn’t tell you the real reason why they clicked on your ad.

⭐️ Tips on how to localize your content:

It pays off to listen to native speakers because they have an intimate knowledge of the culture in the target locale, but make sure you listen to a range of viewpoints from multiple consultants - ideally with experience from marketing in your industry.

Here is a list of where to find professional translation and localization services: 40+ Places to Find a Translator and how to build your localization team.

2. Prepare to localize at scale

There are two key elements to creating localized content at scale across multiple markets:

  1. Tailoring content marketing for your product offering to each individual locale.
  2. Having processes in place to ensure efficiency while maintaining quality of output.

Finding a balance between localization and production efficiency can be a tricky pursuit because it takes a lot of effort to adapt your product offerings and marketing messages across countries. And chances are your company won’t just stop at one country or region in its long term plan for global expansion.

As a result, your company should shape its workflow around the expectation that the localization process will be continuous. It is important that your translation workflow is sustainable because the demand for multilingual content will keep growing as your company scales.

⭐️ Tips on how to localize your content:

Focus on easily readable content with universal messages that translate well. The most scalable solution is to develop a base of content that only requires modification in terms of language and phrasing.

That being said, sometimes it does pay off to create hyper-localized content for high value markets. In the end, the the path you choose will depend on your marketing goals and the specific needs of the target audience in the country.

3. Keep your priorities in order

So how do you determine which content to localize for which market? In short, dive into the metrics of your marketing dashboard, content management system (CMS) and social media channels (here are additional tips about how to manage your localization project).

As a first step, figure out what content is performing well in your domestic market, and consider if and how you need to adapt it for multilingual audiences. Think of things like traffic potential and revenue.

You should establish your content localization priorities around the following KPIs, organized by country and language:

  • Website traffic.
  • New customers.
  • New leads.
  • Click-through rates.
  • Conversion rates.
  • Customer retention rate.
  • Customer satisfaction (net promoter score).
  • Customer lifetime value.
  • Likes, shares and engagement.

⭐️ Tips on how to localize your content:

Ensuring that your content localization efforts are in line with your business goals and resources is the main priority. That requires having measurable and actionable metrics to determine results and identify opportunities for future growth.

You will also want to figure out how to engage with your audience and build a community around your content. But then, how do you find reliable data for aspects like engagement and community building to justify your content strategy?

For research on local SEO and competitor ad strategies, use tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Facebook Ad Library and TikTok ad library. You may also want to check out local communities on Reddit or domestic social media platforms.

4. Automate, automate, automate

To level up your efficiency without sacrificing quality, consider automating menial tasks by adopting a translation management system (TMS).

In doing so, you ensure that every single member of your localization team can focus their efforts on what they do best:

  • Your translators can translate the text without spending valuable time fiddling with text boxes and formatting.
  • Your managers can streamline the management of projects without getting bogged down with back-and-forth emails, spreadsheets, and instructions.
  • Your reviewers can review the translations without having to search endlessly for new updates and changes.
  • Your designers can quickly create localized designs without having to recreate the document, video, or any type of media from scratch.

With the right translation tool, you can bring all team members together in real-time to collaborate on projects.

⭐️ Tips on how to localize your content:

By gathering everything in one place, a translation management system like Redokun makes an invaluable addition to a global marketer’s toolkit. To learn more, read our article about how your workflow can benefit from automating your translation processes.

What is content localization software?

What is content localization software?

Content localization software is a type of software that helps you automate and centralize all tasks related to content translation and localization. By consolidating project management and translation technology into one tool, it helps businesses create a more seamless localization workflow.

With a content localization tool like Redokun, you can produce multilingual documents way faster by using:

  • Translation memories: No need to spend time constantly updating style guides and checking past documents. Redokun will automatically create a database of previously approved translations for you. Without you even having to lift a finger, the system will suggest similar sentences from previous tasks while your translator works. Saving time while maintaining quality and consistency - the best of both worlds.
  • Machine translation: Leveraging built-in Google Translate and DeepL machine translation engines, your translators can get suggestions on how to phrase sentences when they are stuck.
  • Quick revisions: Any updates to the file? Just upload the new file, and your team will be notified of any new segments they need to translate. Without compromising what they have already translated.
  • Online translation and collaboration: Since Redokun is cloud-based, all you need is a browser and an internet connection. In just a few clicks, your team can onboard, translate, and collaborate on the same page from anywhere in the world.
  • Progress tracking: Need updates on how your translators are progressing on their tasks? What about the overall status of the project? It’s all there in the dashboard.
  • Hybrid workflows: With our tool, you can onboard new hires by simply sending out an email invitation. The same goes if you work with vendors. Instead of sending spreadsheets with tasks back and forth, they can get to work right away.

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Barbara Stivan
Marketing Manager, DEA System

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