Some 60% of global marketers have no strategy for multilingual content marketing, according to a recent survey by Cloudwords. That's a dangerous oversight, because not thinking about translation until after the content is produced tends to complicate the process and increase costs. And it increases the chance of missing out on opportunities in emerging markets.

Localization is important

The economic potential of non-English-speaking markets, both online and offline, is staggering:

  • By 2025, the number of global consumers in emerging economies will reach 4.2 billion, and annual consumption in emerging global markets will increase to $30 trillion. (McKinsey & Company)
  • 56.2% of consumers say information in their own language is more important than price, and 60% of consumers from non-English-speaking countries rarely or never buy from English-only websites. (Common Sense Advisory)
  • Fortune 500 companies that translated information to keep up with or to gain an edge over their competitors were 2.04 times more likely to have an increase in profits. (Common Sense Advisory)

Therefore, winning consumers in these new high-growth markets will require companies to scale their global marketing initiatives and manage cultural diversity at a whole new level. They will need to radically change their mindset about localization, as well as their translation processes and allocation of resources.

What does good localization look like?

To be more effective in emerging markets, global brands must ensure that their content not only speaks to the culture of the audience but also reflects the intended brand message consistently from one region to the next.

Determining how much to cater to local preferences requires local partners who understand both what will resonate there and what global brand message you are trying to convey, so that they can bridge the gap between the product and the local market.

By running campaign development through a central marketing team and getting input from local stakeholders, you can maintain brand consistency and add local relevancy, while minimizing costs and time to market.

For example, Coca-Cola recently had a campaign going that played off of the World Cup. For each country, the brand had individual pages that reference local football celebrities and culture, but the overall concept across the geographies is essentially the same.

Intel also does a great job of localization. When launching its Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, to demonstrate the improved performance and speed the company put together an overview animation that featured two cars racing side by side. To get its global sales advisers and customers excited about this key technology for second generation Intel Core, the company had the video translated into 11 languages, including Arabic, Portuguese, and Turkish.

Set yourself up for success

Properly planning your campaign for localization down the road will save you time and money. Furthermore, consulting with your translation provider at the beginning of the planning process can help you avoid pitfalls of localization.

1. Create style guides and glossaries: Glossaries and style guides are the primary vehicle for global brand consistency. They create common ground for discussion and brand progression to build upon, and they keep translators (even the best ones) and internal reviewers from getting tangled up.

2. Internationalize the code: Internationalization is the process of designing a website or software application so that it can be adapted to various languages and regions without engineering changes. Internationalization makes it much easier to add locale-specific components and translate text to accommodate different regions.

3. Design images with localization in mind: Layer your text separately in the native design program instead of embedding text within images; doing so make it is easier to update. Also, remember to select a font that is compatible with the translated language, and design your graphics with enough space for language expansion. Generally speaking, you can expect text in English to expand by approximately 30% in length during translation.

For example, we worked with a client who had created a beautifully animated image in 3DMax Pro by creating a different graphic file for each letter so they could float in independently. To localize it, a vendor would need to translate 1,200 different jpegs, which in a typical translation process would cost approximately $1,800 per language. Luckily, we were able to recreate the image from scratch in 3DMax Pro for $65 per language.

4. Build a translation manifest: It's essential that you make your source materials, not just PDFs and EPS files, readily accessible for the translation process. You should also maintain a file manifest (a map of what to translate and where to find it). Having a structure that is easy to navigate will save you time and money during the translation process.

5. Establish review cycles to ensure quality and consistency: A clear review cycle process saves time on edits while still providing an opportunity to get input from your local stakeholders. Outline which components will be available for review, and establish which kind of edits can be made, at what stage, and how often.

* * *

The moral of this story is that by developing your campaigns with localization in mind and improving your global content management process, you can decrease product launch timelines and save money. Plus, getting your in-region stakeholders to buy in from the beginning helps to ensure your campaign will be culturally relevant, giving you a better chance of winning the loyalty of consumers in your target markets.

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Localization Should Be a Forethought: Five Tips for Success

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Darren Megarry is VP of corporate sales at VIA, which delivers multilingual business solutions, including online translation, marketing localization, and global e-learning. He has more than 15 years of international sales and management experience in the software, electronics components, translation, and e-learning markets.

Evelyn Toro is the VP of global operations at VIA, which delivers multilingual business solutions, including online translation, marketing localization, and global e-learning. She has over 13 years of localization experience in increasingly responsible roles within several companies.