If you’re looking to take your business global, reach new markets in new countries, and expand your potential range of customers to whole new degrees, then you are going to need to localize every aspect of your business. This includes your marketing. Localization isn’t just about translation, however. While that’s included, localization goes a lot deeper and more detailed than that alone. Here, we’re going to look at some of the details you need to keep in mind when you’re trying to localize your marketing.
Is localization worth it?
You might be asking yourself, at this point, whether or not localization is worth it as it can certainly seem like a lot of work. Indeed, it is. But the latest localization stats as shown at https://redokun.com/blog/translation-statistics highlight some of the potential benefits that can be won from your efforts. Given that 75% of consumers prefer buying products from sites in their native language, while 40% will never buy from a website that isn’t in their local language, there is real money to be made from the energy you put into localization.
Understand that it’s more than just a basic translation
As mentioned above, translation is covered within localization in many cases, but they are not a one-to-one term. The translation is simply converting a message in one language to another language, making it understandable in both languages, usually as close to the original source as possible. Localization, however, means making the message even more suited and understandable to the recipient. As a result, sometimes, the message can use a little distance from its original form, as long as the intent and heart of the message have the same goal. Localization tends to take into account cultural and linguistic nuance that translation alone does not. Hence why Google translate is not usually enough.
Get to understand the cultural norms of your target audience
If you want to get a good idea of why localization is important and why you should look beyond translation alone, you should take a look at some of the marketing blunders as covered at https://www.polilingua.com/blog/post/cultural-blunders-worst-cases-of-localization.htm. Not understanding the cultural norms of a particular country or group of people, and not realizing what is or isn’t a faux pas can lead to some marketing trouble. A gesture, word, or depiction that might be innocuous to you might have a totally different cultural weight to a different audience. For that reason, you should take the time to actually research the audience that you’re trying to reach and to make sure that you’re as culturally and linguistically sensitive as possible.
Avoid idioms and other parts of communication that don’t translate
One of the limitations of translation is that, even when most words can translate into other languages or to their closest kin, that doesn’t mean that all sentences, phrases, and meanings can. One of the most common examples of these is the idiom. It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but you should be all ears and learn the ropes of localization properly. The previous sentence contained three idioms that, while they might be perfectly legible to an English-speaking audience, have no meaning whatsoever to people of other languages and, as such, the intended message gets lost. We rely on idioms a lot, more than you might realize, so you have to check for them and make sure that you change your messaging where a translation alone isn’t enough.
Pay attention to the conventions of the language
If you’re able to speak or write in another language, then you might well be able to take care of some of the aspects of localization, yourself. However, when it comes to your marketing, you have to ensure that your translations and meanings carry over 100%. For instance, when it comes to typing, you should make sure that you’re inclusive of any accents, umlauts, or any other marks that set apart letters with the help of sites like https://setapp.com/how-to/type-accents-on-mac, as it can often be the difference between one word and different word, entirely changing the meaning of your sentence. Even seemingly minor mistakes can undermine your entire marketing message.
Conventions beyond language matter, too
Making sure that you’re typing appropriately in the language that you’re writing is one thing, but the conventions that countries apply to communication go beyond spelling, grammar, and the range of letters they have access to. For instance, different countries will format numbers and dates differently as well as shown at https://brilliantmaps.com/how-to-write-the-date-in-different-countries/. For that reason, you need to make sure that you double-check anything that you have written as part of your marketing. Beyond your text alone, any point of communication can be muddied by the change in conventions. If you’re creating a message to be read in multiple English-speaking countries, then you should go with formats that are unambiguous to all readers. For instance, instead of 1/2/1990 or 02/01/1990, you should simply write the 2nd January 1990.
Test it with a local audience
One of the best ways to make sure that you’re not stepping on the many landmines of localization is to work with those who have a built-in understanding of the language, culture, and audience to which you’re trying to adapt your messaging. Work with locals at least in the proofreading and testing phase before you launch it out to the public. One can only wonder how many of the marketing faux-pas mentioned above wouldn’t have happened if the team behind it simply took the time to test it with a small group of locals before going live with it.
If you don’t have the in-depth knowledge of the language and culture of the population that you’re trying to market to, then it might be a good idea to work with a localizer and learn from them, instead. A few snafus can really set you back in your quest to reach new markets.