Going Global 101: What is a Localization Strategy (And When Do You Need One?)

Part 7 in our Going Global Series

Last Updated: September 12, 2019 5:53PM

This is the seventh in a 10-part blog series on “Going Global.” Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll offer tips and tricks gleaned from 20 years in the business. Today: you’re ready to go global. But do you have a localization strategy? Here’s why you need it, and when you should be thinking about it. 

You’re ready to go global.

Ready to spread the word about your business to untapped customers in new markets. Excited to adapt your brand story to the local cultures and customs that create resonance. Prepared to make global reach and local nuance a key part of your process.

If your company has created a globalization strategy, it has:

Thus, with an eye on globalization, your company has approved budgets. Created deadlines. Identified KPIs.

So, what could be missing?

A Localization Strategy: A Key Part of Going Global.

In short: before your company launches its globalization initiative, it must codify a localization strategy.

What is a localization strategy?

Global (or global-hopeful) companies should view a localization strategy as an extension of their business plans. As a global company, you need locally consumable websites, content, marketing messages, and more. In sum, your localization strategy is your plan for executing on that business requirement.

When should you create your localization strategy?

By now, you probably understand that localization is a key aspect of going global. With that in mind, when should you consider localizing your content and experience?

The most successful global companies consider localization at the beginning of their globalization process. So, if you are considering going global, you should already be considering how to localize most effectively and efficiently.

Preparing to Localize: Three Things to Keep in Mind

As you prepare to craft an effective localization strategy, keep these three things in mind:

Think Ahead

As we’ve mentioned, it’s never too soon to localize. From the very beginning of your globalization process, consider how you can structure your content to communicate with as broad an audience as possible. That means you should:

  • Prioritize messaging that works across multiple markets.
  • Encourage the development of multicultural buyer personas.
  • Avoid over-personalization in favor of universal human experiences, which feel personal for as many people as possible.

Above all: if you can create source material that multiple cultures can understand, you will reduce the time and resources needed to localize effectively.

Playing Catch-Up

Have you already begun the globalization process without a firm localization strategy? Don’t hesitate—the best time to start incorporating localization is now. Firstly, determine which parts of your site are the highest priority for localization. Secondly, develop a strategy by answering questions like:

  • What are our target markets and languages?
  • How does our company name, logo, and tagline translate int those other languages?
  • Do we have a global SEO plan that optimizes for those markets?
  • Have we spoken with in-county staff members for their opinions?

These questions form a starting point. They can thus help you visualize the scope of your go-forward strategy.

Keep it Simple

Both B2B and B2C companies are embracing personalization as a major trend in their marketing. For example:

  • More than 75% of marketers believe that real-time personalization is essential
  • 94% focus their resources on analytics and customization
  • 60% of marketers find effective personalization very difficult to accomplish

But what’s the first step in personalization? Speaking the same language—literally. At Lionbridge, we find that the more we strive to find common ground among our audiences, the better we can personalize and localize.

As you prepare to go global, try to minimize pieces of content that need to be culturally specific. That way, you can make your content relevant to the broadest possible audience.

Are you ready?

We hope you understand that localization is an integral part of globalization. Before you can effectively go global, you need to have an effective localization strategy in place. Next week, we’ll walk you through how to create one that works for your business.

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Lions head in black and white
AUTHOR
Molly Donovan