Marketing and Localization Part I: Playing to Your Audience
In the modern business climate, you have to think global. The internet has propped open all kinds of fancy new metaphorical doors to worldwide markets, but without keeping customer cultures and preferences in mind, your marketing team can miss out on some really big opportunities… How does a marketer ensure that their content is ready when a new market becomes available?
Two words: localized content.
Localized content is essential to picking up new customer attention and crafting some place where these customers will want to spend their precious time and money. Using content founded on personalized customer experience, marketers can help those customers through the steps of the standard journey no matter where in the world they happen to be located.
If your content matches a given customer’s culturally derived expectations, that’s localized content. Localized content takes context and uses it to do more than merely translate text – at its foundation, localization allows customers to forge a strong connection with your brand, increasing the chance that they’ll make a purchase.
Refining and adapting your content to a new culture is not as easy as simply running what you’ve got through Google Translate.
A famous translated bathroom sign was once posted to indicate the room was handicap-accessible, but the sign’s well-intentioned translation to English ended up printed as “deformed man passage.”
You can see what they were going for, but more than a simple linguistic faux pas, this example represents a cultural miscommunication that failed to account for several things—most importantly, how English speakers would view calling someone “deformed.” Who knows what the original language’s emotional landscape is like? Whatever the case, localization requires attention to nuance!
Localization = More Than Words
Your business’ high-value content requires personalization, which means attention not merely to words but how they are used in the culture in question. And it’s not just about words either – think about your website for example: Are displaying images that make sense to an audience in a different country? Would European or Asian customers be able to grasp what’s happening?
The body language and gestures of people in the photos could mean something totally different to this new audience.
This is the kind of attention and investigation that needs to happen with regard to your localized content, and it needs to happen thoroughly (if you want to be successful anyway). Things like colors, pictures, and font should understand and match the new demographic’s culturally defined expectations. This can be as simple as rendering prices in the local currency, but it can also take into account things like negative cultural associations between concepts in gender and financial independence.
How do your new customers view the concept of spending money on products or services like what you’re offering?
Is it different for men than it is for women? You can quickly see how deep all this might go, and a prudent marketing team will not shy from the heavy research aspect of this process. If possible, it can be a major asset to hire someone who has experience with the culture in question—someone who also understands advertising.
Why Localization Matters
A company that truly grasps and embraces the process of localization pays attention to details. That means all the small factors like rendering dates as units of measurement, etc. small details, yes, but they add up. If localization seems like to much work, realize that a mere 8% of the world’s population lives in North America. In Asia, it’s over 50%. Pretty extreme! If you’re targeting only such a small region, you are, it’s safe to say, missing out on some really impressive potential revenue.
In other words, localization can be a lot of extra work, but it’s worth it.
And with the internet uniting the world as it does, the time is ripe for localization. It’s easier and more accessible, as a process, than ever before. No matter where they live, customers are discerning when it comes to making purchases. That’s because this is one case where region doesn’t matter – if they have money, they probably busted their butt for it. Money doesn’t grow on Asian trees any more often than it does here in the U.S. And what customers generally want is a personalized experience, which includes cultural considerations.
Imagine choosing between two products, one of them featuring in its packaging a confusing muddle of foreign color combos, language, and imagery.
Just next to it is a familiar American product that you can understand. Unless you’re feeling adventurous, we know which of these products you’ll probably go with. These customers aren’t going to consider failed localization in a forgiving light. They’re not shopping to be empathetic or kind to some company – they have needs, and they’re scoping out the businesses that can get them what they need. They expect products to account for cultural norms, and that’s that!
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