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The Future of Global Digital Marketing: Adapting to a Digital-First Universe With a Holistic Content Journey for Localization

Why marketing and localization teams must work more collaboratively for brands to survive and thrive as e-commerce dominates consumer purchases

This is the first part in The Future of Global Digital Marketing series, which explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on digital transformation and digital marketing as companies strive to deliver a consistent multimarket, multichannel experience.

Think of your customers’ shopping habits. If you’re like most retailers, your customers exclusively made online purchases when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in lockdowns and forced brick-and-mortar shops to close. An easing of restrictions in many areas has enticed consumers to reenter physical stores, but there’s no turning back to pre-COVID online shopping patterns. 

A TotalRetail article indicates that 65 percent of consumers expect to turn to online shopping more often through the spring of 2022, and that 20 percent of consumers plan to make purchases solely online within five years. Digital marketers must think about their global content marketing strategy in new ways to capitalize on the trend.     

Retail experiences have dramatically shifted from in-store visits to online shopping in our digital-first world. Change was in progress before the pandemic arrived. COVID-19 greatly accelerated it. Forward-thinking retailers have already moved to a digital-first paradigm, which involves the adoption of holistic content cycles that span across both marketing and localization functions

This new way of working addresses important localization challenges that include: 

  • The creation of engaging digital content at scale
  • The efficient delivery of this content across multiple locales and languages
  • The management of customer digital experiences across all channels in a consistent manner
  • The management of content lifecycles across locales and languages

The ability to successfully execute these initiatives is vital for a company’s overall financial performance. 

Why is Business as Usual Problematic? 

A company can only bolster its online global sales with a content strategy that addresses the needs of online, multilingual buyers. Yet, many retailers fail to implement one. For instance, a report by Stripe on The State of European Checkouts in 2020 found that 74 percent of the checkouts it examined in European sites were not translated into local languages. This oversight led to increased bounce rates at the last stages of the customer journey, a scenario every company wants to prevent.  

Companies that embrace a holistic, end-to-end content journey and successfully connect localization and marketing functions will be better equipped to implement an effective global localization strategy that will lead to maximum online sales in our new, digital-first environment. 

How Do You Handle Your Content Journey Holistically? 

When moving towards a digital-first paradigm, companies need to handle their content journey holistically. To implement this concept, marketing and localization teams must come together to address localization activities under one single process and toolset. As basic as it sounds, it’s revolutionary because it involves working in an entirely new way and because it focuses on content performance as the most important Key Performance Indicator (KPI). 

A content journey is as much a marketing activity as it is a localization initiative. Having a systemic approach to website content creation, common language guidelines and assets helps you create engaging website content that lends itself to localization. This is because you place attention on the message. It also prepares localization and translation teams to achieve success by addressing terminology consistency and some of the language queries upfront. Focusing your efforts on producing carefully crafted content that is effectively localized at the beginning of the process results in hassle-free, speedy translations that hit high marks for quality without having to rewrite and rework the content. 

Why Should You Execute a Holistic Content Journey? 

In the past, content journeys were disjointed. Marketing and localization teams operated under different schedules and budgets, and they frequently used different tools. This practice often resulted in a misalignment of goals, caused project delays and required frequent localization reworks. In a digital-first universe—where a company’s ability to thrive is contingent upon localization—this old way of operating won’t suffice.  

 As a leader in localization and digital marketing, we are privileged to work closely with some of the most successful market leaders across industries. From this vantage point, we’ve observed multiple companies in a variety of verticals embrace the holistic approach. The upshot of their efforts is remarkable. 

Companies that manage their content lifecycles holistically remove friction between content creation and localization teams. They create content faster and with better quality. They are also better equipped to deal with consumers’ voracious appetite for locally relevant and highly personalized digital experiences.

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What is Lionbridge’s Eight-Step Content Journey? 

Based on the sum of our experiences, we’ve developed a generic content lifecycle and a set of best practices that any company can use to elevate their localization process. Our eight-step content journey lifecycle encapsulates the most important activities across marketing and localization. 

The content journey, as illustrated below, encompasses the initial content planning step, the endpoint or “track performance” step and everything in between. The intermediate steps involve crafting content, sending content to your Language Service Provider (LSP), converting your content, transforming your content, enhancing your content and getting it back.  

Lionbridge's 8-step content journey lifecycle encapsulates the most important activities across marketing and localization. 1. Plan your content 2. Craft your content 3. Send us your content 4. Let us convert your content 5. Let us transform your content 6. Let us enhance your content 7. Let us deliver your content 8. Track performance

In addition to the eight steps, the content journey can be further classified into two parts, which are based on the activities typically associated with marketing and localization departments: 

1. The marketing component of the content journey is comprised of steps 1, 2 and 8: the content planning, content creation and track performance phases. This work sets the stage for the localization team’s activities. The marketing team’s ability to develop content creation guidelines and linguistic assets helps the writer to create compelling website content and prevents the localization team from having to work with subpar material.

2. The localization component of the content journey involves steps 3-7: sending content, converting content, transforming content, enhancing content and delivering content. If these steps are executed properly, the company’s marketing activities will be augmented. Content that is translated well stands to rank better during searches than content translated by machines. The use of consistent terminology across different pieces of content also helps to improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO). 

How Do the Marketing and Localization Teams Work Symbiotically?

Think of marketing and localization like the yin and yang of content. They are two inseparable parts of one whole. Both serve to reinforce each other by shaping the message companies want to convey to their audiences across different languages. This happens through consistent and thoughtful terminology, the use of style guides and the tracking of linguistic data points. Things like readability or linguistic diversity have a significant impact on how the customer receives the message. 

The collaboration between the marketing and localization teams improves the quality of written and localized content and fixes systemic issues in localization and content creation efforts. The working relationship also improves the company’s Return on Investment (ROI). This is achieved by removing costly reworks from the mix and focusing on what matters the most—outcomes. By working under one set of steps, marketing and localization teams are positioned to break down their silos and better collaborate with one another.   

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How Are Efficiencies Achieved and Costs Reduced During the Content Planning Step?  

During the initial content planning step, companies fine-tune their digital content strategy by deciding what content to address and how much of it needs to be created. 

They are often faced with a choice between creating a lot of content for a particular market or addressing more markets with less depth. There is always a tradeoff. Bringing marketing and localization budgets together helps drive efficiency that can help companies create more content with the same budget. That way, they can work towards targeting more markets with greater depth. 

Companies create these efficiencies by using an integrated technology stack and streamlining processes. Also, recent developments in language and AI technologies allow companies to link content performance with certain language quality indicators, such as readability scores or terminology diversity. These metrics help identify content that may perform below expectation. Teams can then fix the content before it goes to market and is localized. Companies that get these types of actionable insights and enhance the content once—at the start of the process—will reduce costs downstream in the content journey. They’re also able to identify which content to invest in. 

Where Does the Sales Team Fit In? 

It is undoubtedly important for marketing and localization teams to achieve agreement during the content creation planning step, which includes the creation of a uniform process and guidelines for content creation. Companies shouldn’t stop there. Marketing and localization teams must make the extra effort to also get buy-in from the sales team. Having the localization, marketing and sales teams aligned at this stage helps manage expectations and sets everyone up for success. 

Carrying out the content creation stages properly and initiating strong content governance will help prevent non-compliant content from entering the next stages of the content journey. These efforts will prevent issues from multiplying over many languages, which serves to eliminate rework and keep localization costs in check.  

What is the Impact of the Performance Tracking Step?

One of the most influential steps in the content journey is the performance tracking stage. It feeds insights and data from the whole content journey into the early phases of its next cycle to help with the planning and budgeting of your content activities. Think of it like an archery practice session where you shoot the arrow from afar to get towards your target. Upon closer examination, you will see if you hit the bullseye. If you fall short, you will need to fine-tune your technique to improve your results. 

During this stage, companies track the costs of content creation, localization and ad campaigns. They use this information to generate ROI models that will help them invest in marketing and localization activities that will bring the most value to their internationalization efforts. Only companies that manage their content journeys holistically and align their localization, marketing and sales departments can create such models and establish a link between the costs of content-related activities, the number of generated leads and top-line revenues

What’s the Bottom Line? 

Managing your content journey holistically may seem like a daunting undertaking, but small changes can have a big impact on your digital marketing strategy results. The ability to reduce rework costs and identify high-performing content make it worth your while to implement this approach. 

How Can Lionbridge Serve as a Resource?

Lionbridge will continue to help you thrive in the digital-first universe and offer ways to meet increased multilingual content demands. Check back as we add pieces to our Digital Marketing series:

  • Will foreign markets respond better to global content that is localized or to content that is created specifically for them? How should cost, scale and the need for speed factor into the decision-making process? 
  • How can you be sure that bias and offensive terms are being kept out of the content you are introducing to new markets? Is this potential problem even on your radar? It should be.  

In the meantime, visit our Digital Marketing page to learn how you can increase online sales by reaching customers in any market.   

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Janette Mandell
AUTHOR
Janette Mandell