The task of translating and localizing your marketing content may be daunting, but knowing the right tools and approaches can alleviate some of your concerns. That’s why I created this guide: to provide you with concrete tips, real examples, and a list of tools to set you up for success in marketing localization.
- What is marketing localization?
- ~Marketing localization vs. localized marketing
- Why localizing marketing content is important
- Marketing localization examples
- ~Case Study: Canva Localization
- ~Case Study: Fiverr Localization
- Challenges of localization in global marketing
- Six Practical Tips for a Localized Marketing Strategy (+ The Best Tools for Success)
What is marketing localization?
Marketing localization refers to designing or adapting marketing campaigns in accordance with the target audience’s language, culture, and consumer behaviors. It is one of the major elements of your localization strategy.
When you localize your brand assets, you craft marketing messages to suit local preferences for the following:
- Language: What are the major languages spoken in the target market? What about region-specific dialects?
- Tone of voice and messaging: Would your target audience prefer sales talk or a more toned-down approach? What trends are capturing the audience, and how can you leverage them to make your brand feel more relevant?
- Visuals, design, and colors: What color schemes, layouts, and images appeal to the audience?
- Distribution channels: What channels should you focus on to reach the audience? For example, do they use Facebook, VKontakte, Naver, or Weibo?
- Content types: Are they more likely to engage with short- or long-form content?
- Price structure: Should their purchasing power affect how you set prices?
As you can see, language is essential, but that’s not all there is to it. Brand localization needs to be integrated with the overall marketing goals of your company to ensure a seamless customer experience.
That means you should consider localization in every aspect of your marketing mix, from product development to promotion.
That does not mean hyper-localization is the answer for everyone. Too much standardization means you won’t stand out, but heavy focus on adapting to every target market is not scalable and may break your budget.
In-depth market research, analysis, and goal-setting based on your localization KPIs will go far in helping you decide where to strike a balance between localization and standardization.
Marketing localization vs. localized marketing
They may sound like the same thing, but marketing localization and localization marketing are actually very different.
Marketing localization is the process of adapting marketing campaigns to other markets. The outputs will include, but not be limited to
- Translations of advertising copy that focus on nuanced adjustments
- UX design that ensures multilingual accessibility across touch points
- Budgets that allocate resources according to locale priorities
- Campaign modifications that follow local laws and regulations
On the other hand, localization marketing is the strategy that marketing teams may pursue as part of international expansion efforts. The strategy will integrate localization processes with types of marketing used by your business, such as
- Digital marketing
- Inbound marketing
- Content marketing
- Search engine marketing
- Social media marketing
Basically, you can add ‘localization’ to any of the marketing types above to describe the process by which they are localized. Digital marketing localization, for example, is how you adapt digital content assets like website copy, blog posts, and social media to fit linguistic and cultural contexts.
Why localizing marketing content is important
Any campaign, whether domestic or global, needs to start with your target audience. That requires knowing what global shoppers want. According to the latest localization statistics:
- 75% of internet users prefer to buy products from websites in their native language
- 40% of internet users never buy from websites that are not in their native language
- 65% of non-native English speakers prefer content in their native language despite their high English proficiency.
Take it from me: I have lived abroad for almost a decade, speak four languages, and use English for most situations in life. Yet I am still much more easily moved by content in Norwegian, my native language.
The goal of localized marketing content is to give the audience the feeling that you made the product or service directly for them. As a result, you’ll be able to improve:
- Brand awareness
- Competitive advantage
- Revenue potential
- Conversion rates (CVR)
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Customer loyalty
To drive the point home even further, let’s look at actual numbers. In 2014, a study by Appia compared the performance of localized ad creatives vs. English-language ad creatives in Spain, France and Germany. Here are their findings:
- 86% of localized mobile advertisements performed better than their English counterparts.
- The localized ads saw a 22% increase in CVR and a 42% increase in CTR.
No wonder companies that invest in translation are more than two times more likely to experience revenue growth compared to the ones that do not.
Marketing localization examples
The saying goes that all PR is good PR, but that isn’t always true. One of the most important things to consider is how you can avoid offending the audience, as shown by the examples below.
- The last thing you want to do is pull a HSBC and spend $10 million on a rebranding campaign due to a mistranslated slogan.
- And Honda did well to do their research before launching their brand-new vehicle, Fitta, in Europe. I cannot stress this enough: that is not a word you want to use lightly in Scandinavia.
While you can find countless articles on the internet about advertisement translation errors, there are also numerous examples of companies who have done localization right.
Let's have a look at what two of them can teach us.
Case Study: Canva Localization
If you work in marketing, you’ve almost certainly used Canva. But did you know the drag-and-design app is available in more than 100 languages?
To find examples of how they have implemented localization best practices, I had a look at their landing pages in Norwegian and Korean. The section where localization appears the most obvious is their template library.
The screenshot above shows the template section of Canva’s main landing page in Norwegian. It highlights designs in the local language that a person from the country would likely be looking for at the time, including:
- A Facebook graphic for the upcoming national holiday (17 May)
- An invitation to an end-of-year school party using local date and time formats
- CVs and birthday invitations using local names
- Posters referring to annual regional events in the country
Now, let’s compare it with the Korean language version. How is it different?
The template section for Korea showcases similar designs, but with a distinct local flavor, such as:
- An Instagram graphic for special event gift sets
- An electronic card for the Parents’ Day holiday
- A presentation using local styles and terminology
- An ad creative for the summer traveling season
As you can see, the Canva localization teams considered factors like design trends, upcoming events, and preferences when choosing which samples to show across locales.
Moreover, the headline translations have nuances from language to language:
- In Norwegian, “Maler for absolutt alt” is a direct translation of their English saying “Templates for absolutely anything.”
- However, the Korean “거의 모든 용도를 위한 템플릿” means “Templates for almost every use.” This is the work of a transcreator.
With such attention to marketing localization, it is no surprise that 80% of Canva's user base comes from non-English speaking countries.
Case Study: Fiverr Localization
Businesses looking for freelancers to design, write, and translate marketing materials often use Fiverr. As of 2022, the platform is available in seven different languages.
And Fiverr’s localization efforts have shown results. For example, after they launched their website in Italian, traffic from the country increased by an impressive 97% over the course of three months.
Social media localization is key to Fiverr’s global content marketing strategy. While they only run one account per platform (instead of several local language ones á la Spotify), their social media ads are available in different languages. For example, can you spot the differences between the LinkedIn creatives in English and German shown below?
The German translation retains the meaning of the text and uses the same images. However, these two elements are localized to fit the specifics of the language in:
- Font size: The meanings that English speakers express in two words or more, German speakers can accomplish in one. Professions are no exception when it comes to the German's infamous compound nouns, so the English “graphic designer” becomes “grafikdesigner:in.” Accordingly, the localized creative reduces the font size to contain the message in one line and avoid cutting off the word.
- Colors: While the English ad is pink, the German one is green. Finding the exact reason for the color change between locales requires a deep dive into Fiverr’s marketing metrics (or maybe just being a fly on the wall in their meetings), but many factors will have influenced the decision. Including considerations for colors and their psychological associations in advertising for specific demographics.
- Grammar rules: Anyone who has attempted to learn German will have a love-hate relationship with their gendered nouns. The colons in “was jede:r” and “grafikdesigner:in” are there to express gender neutrality, as “was jede” is feminine, while “grafikdesigner” is masculine. This is unnecessary for the English creative because the language is already gender-neutral by default.
Keep in mind that, usually, Germans will make nouns gender neutral using a slash rather than a colon to separate gendered suffixes.
So why did the designer do it differently in this case? One look at their logo will tell you why.
Notice the green dot following the brand name in the logo? This is a design element frequently applied across their marketing materials. In the creative used in this example, using colons means they can replicate the dot design of their logo to maintain visual coherence.
With one simple design move, Fiverr manages to localize its social media ads while maintaining that all-important brand consistency across global touch points. They almost make it look easy.
Challenges of localization in global marketing
Before we start talking about the marketing localization tools and techniques you can adopt, let’s look at the pain points they address.
We reached out to several localization marketing specialists in our network to figure out the challenges they face when adapting marketing content for global audiences. Here were the most common answers:
- High costs of outsourcing localization services
- Slow turnaround and time-to-market
- Reliance on manual translation processes
- Problems maintaining brand consistency
- Difficulties in communicating with local teams
- Finding a balance between localization and standardization
- Adapting design and formatting to foreign markets
These problems may not apply to every company. But generally, the root cause of marketing localization challenges boils down to how businesses manage their localization processes. The good news is that by having efficient systems in place, you can save your team from falling into these traps.
Six Practical Tips for a Localized Marketing Strategy (+ The Best Tools for Success)
When done right, marketing localization can be a powerful way to capture international audiences. But a lot goes into creating and executing a localized marketing strategy that is both tailored to single target markets and scalable to meet your company’s growing marketing demands.
To make that process just a little bit easier, here are the steps we recommend you take to get started.
1. Assemble a localization team
Once you have reviewed the relevant metrics and made an informed decision on which markets to enter into, it’s time to put together your localization team.
The availability of freelancing platforms has made multilingual talent more accessible than it used to be, but that can be a double-edged sword. Anyone can call themselves a translator or writer, so it pays off to be picky at this stage.
Ideal candidates will possess intimate knowledge of the the language and consumer behavior of the target audiences. As a result, they will most likely have some form of experience in marketing within your industry for that particular locale, be it as a transcreator, copywriter or project manager. Bonus points if they already know your business well.
While it depends on your specific business needs, a localization team will most likely include the following roles:
- Localization project lead (or project manager)
- Content writers
- Marketing specialists
- SEO specialists
- QA reviewers
- Web designers
Tools for Success
So, how do you find these people? Generally speaking, you have two options:
- Recruit talent for an in-house team, either from within your business or through external sources. For the latter, you can turn to job boards like LocJobs, GalaGlobal or LinkedIn.
- Outsource your localization processes to LSPs and freelancers. You can either find them on platforms like Upwork or choose from the many LSPs on the market.
We've also compiled a list of other places to find translators here: 40+ Places to Find a Translator
2. Involve your localization team
This sounds like a no-brainer.
But more than 40% of localization team members surveyed in a CSA study said they were involved either only part-way in the decision-making for marketing campaigns, or not at all.
Why is that a problem?
Well, not letting your company’s localization stakeholders have a seat at the table affects their ability to deliver the quality that is expected of them. Many marketing translation mistakes could have been prevented with proper communication and collaboration.
By integrating the localization team in the overall strategic planning process, you can optimize marketing campaigns with the expectation that it will be adapted for different audiences.
That means your team can focus on creating copy that provides impact for many and not the few. In turn, reducing the the time your translators spend on finding the equivalent words for untranslatable idioms and phrases.
Tools for Success
When your workflow includes multiple language pairs handled by a decentralized team, things are bound to get complicated. Particularly if you keep relying on manual processes.
3. Use desktop publishing software ideal for translation
Marketing is much more than text. That makes desktop publishing (DTP) software essential to create visually appealing materials for your target audience.
Chances are your marketing collaterals will include design elements like:
These visual elements can be disruptive to your workflow.
Unless your translators are also skilled desktop publishers, they won’t know their way around your chosen software. Nor would they know how to adapt the design space to fit changes in things like sentence length in the translated content.
Usually, businesses will solve that by copying and pasting the text to a spreadsheet and sending only the text to the translator. Once they receive the translated version in return, the designer or desktop publisher reformats the original layout to fit the target language.
In other words, a lot of copying and pasting and back-and-forth emails that slow down your efficiency.
That’s why many businesses these days use a translation management software that works with versatile DTP file formats. With a TMS, all your translators need to do is translate the text, while the formatting of the original file is preserved automatically. This saves you and your staff time, money and a lot of headache.
Tools for Success
Examples of DTP software that are ideal for translation include:
4. Go all-in on local SEO marketing
If you want to find an answer to something, where do you turn? Most likely, it’s trusted old Google. Personally, I think I google something at least 20 times a day.
Search engines are the go-to place to find information whether you are in US, Norway or South Korea, but it’s not always all about Google.
While Google is the first stop for 61% of search engine users in the United States, they don’t even have close to the same market share in South Korea. Instead, the local search engine Naver occupies a whopping 56% of search enquiries in the country.
Not only is the search engine different, but so is what people search for - and the way they word their searches.
That’s where local SEO comes in. If you’re not optimizing your website content to rank for the right keywords at the right time on the right platforms, you’re missing out on huge revenue potential in your target market.
For example, let’s go back to our Canva case study to see if they rank for “create a logo” in Norwegian.
They sure do, and at SERP number one at that. Now that’s search engine marketing localization done right.
Tools for Success
A list of SEO tools for multilingual keyword research (some free, some not):
5. Analyze competitor ads
Sun Tzu may have been talking military strategy when he said “know your enemy”, but you can apply his wisdom to many things in life. Including the art of marketing.
Before you craft your ad campaigns, the first thing you want to do is benchmark what local competitors in your niche are doing:
- Who are the market leaders?
- How do they promote their products?
- How successful are their marketing strategies?
- More importantly, what can you do to beat them?
Gone are the days of traipsing through ad jungles to find the ones relevant to your industry. Once you know who your competitors are, it’s easy to figure out what they are doing to appeal to customers.
That helps you know what to do when creating and adapting marketing assets for local markets - and also, what not to do.
Tools for Success
Find your competitors’ ads with these tools (again, not all free):
- Facebook Ad Library
- LinkedIn (go to your competitors’ Profile → Posts → Ads)
- Semrush Competitive Research Toolkit
- TikTok Ad Library
6. Effectivize your translation workflow with CAT tools
If your job description involves localization, your workspace probably looks a lot like this:
- Many, many emails and Slack threads
- Tabs full of spreadsheets and docs
- Folders filled to the brim with previous project files
- A Notion or Trello board
- Probably a tab or two with Google Translate
These are all great tools to help you translate, manage and collaborate on projects.
But increasing demand for localized content equals more words to translate, more languages to manage, and more people to hire. When you handle all this manually, your business loses time and money.
Having the right computer-assisted translation (CAT) software tools brings you closer to reaching your localization ROI. The latest localization research shows that making the right software choices can reduce 90% of unnecessary translation costs for global businesses.
A translation management system (TMS) like Redokun is the best CAT tool to drive efficiency because it helps you consolidate all your localization processes in one place. In one compact little tab on your browser, a TMS lets you:
- Coordinate your projects: Organize translation projects, invite contributors, assign tasks, keep track of progress and communicate with your team members.
- Improve translation productivity: Leverage features like machine translation and translation memories to deliver higher quality work at a speedier pace.
- Maintain consistency: Keep the language in marketing messages consistent with an in-built translation memory database - created automatically for you!
- Collaborate on translations: Bring translators, editors and proofreaders together on the same page to edit and review projects. Just like Google Docs, but better.
- Reduce manual tasks: Automate your workflow and reduce valuable time spent on tedious tasks like sending emails and tracking spreadsheets.
- Preserve original formatting: Generate a translated file that keeps the original formatting of the document. No more copying and pasting to prepare your content for publication.
Tools for Success
Go global with Redokun
Global marketing is a tough nut to crack. Even in domestic settings, so many elements come together to create marketing magic, such as having:
- Clear goals
- A well-executed strategy
- A strong USP
- A compelling CTA
- A deep understanding of customer needs.
The same goes when you are marketing for global markets, but now you’re adding multiple languages and cultures to the equation.
You need to make sure you’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s. Your attention needs to be focused on making your campaign the best it can be, without wasting time on menial tasks.
That’s where we come in.
Redokun is a TMS that combines the latest translation technology with project management, collaboration and workflow automation features to help your localization team deliver faster and better.
For two weeks, we will give you complete access to our solution without asking for yourcredit card details, ever. Start your 14-day trial today (you won’t regret it).
Till next time,