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Why Marketing Agencies Need a Localization Strategy

And how to start building yours.

Brianna Hougham

Updated on July 2, 2024

We are all familiar with the experience of scrolling through our feeds and stumbling across an ad for a product that speaks to a current need or interest in our lives. However, what if that ad not only spoke to a current problem but was also perfectly tailored to your local culture and language? You would feel like the brand truly understands you, right? This is the difference that localization makes.

Localization goes beyond simply translating something — it’s the process of adapting content to meet the linguistic, cultural, and societal nuances of a target market. Localization ensures that the message resonates with the audience on a deeper level.

With social media users reaching beyond 4 billion users and marketing strategies becoming more robust — localization is no longer optional. Marketing agencies have to adopt a localized approach to enter into new markets, build brand loyalty, and stay competitive.

Understanding Localization in Marketing

Localization in marketing is the adaptation of a company’s marketing materials to fit the cultural, linguistic, and societal characteristics of a specific target region or market. Unlike globalization, which aims to spread a universal message to the widest possible audience, and translation, which merely converts text from one language to another, localization considers the subtle yet crucial cultural and contextual elements that make content relevant to local audiences.

Here are a few components of localization in marketing:

Adapting content to cultural preferences: This ensures that the aesthetics, humor, and values depicted in your marketing align with local tastes and traditions.

Language nuances: This involves going beyond translation and adjusting idiomatic expressions, colloquialisms, and tone to better resonate with local audiences. 

Local regulations and compliance: It’s important to be aware of and adhere to local laws and standards to avoid legal issues and build trust with your audiences.

Currency, units of measure, and formats: Accurate localization considers local currencies, measurement systems, date formats, and other standard practices.

An excellent example of a company taking on a localized marketing strategy and seeing extreme success was Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign — starting in their Australian market — where they swapped traditional Coca-Cola branding on their bottles and cans with the top most popular local names. This localized strategy saw tremendous success and increased engagement and sales in diverse markets. 

Benefits of a Localization Strategy for Marketing Agencies

Using a localized approach within your marketing agency has many benefits for both your agency and your clients.

Enhanced customer experience

Localization speaks to the needs, values, and preferences of a local audience — personalizing the customer experience and building stronger brand loyalty. When brands show a deeper understanding and respect for target local cultures, businesses can foster stronger loyalty and trust among their customer base. 

Increased market penetration

A well-executed localization strategy will enable agencies to more effectively tap into new segments of the market that might have been inaccessible or uninterested due to cultural or linguistic differences. Additionally, by maintaining cultural relevance and engagement, companies can improve customer retention over the long term. 

Competitive advantage

Agencies that offer a localized strategy to their customers will naturally stand out in the marketplace. Companies that localize their product can respond more quickly and effectively to market trends and changes — allowing them to maintain their relevance and appeal in dynamic local environments. 

Improved SEO and visibility

An obvious but often overlooked benefit of a localized strategy is improved SEO and visibility. Localized content oftenranks better in search engines in specific regions, resulting in a more significant online presence. Additionally, by using local keywords, companies can more effectively achieve higher search engine ranking — taking advantage of organic traffic and naturally improving visibility.  

Challenges in Localization and How to Overcome Them

Localization, although crucial, comes with its own set of challenges. However, knowing what these are before you get started and addressing them from the beginning can help put you ahead of the game.

Consistency across markets

As you adapt your strategy to different markets, it is important to preserve a consistent brand voice. Having clear global branding guidelines that can be adjusted to meet your markets’ needs without losing the essence of the brand is key. Establishing a framework that allows customization will ensure that your marketing efforts are coherent across markets while being locally relevant. 

Language barriers

Now, there are so many tools to help you effectively breach language barriers. Adopting a hybrid approach that utilizes advanced technologies in addition to engaging native speakers is the most efficient way to ensure accuracy. Hiring local experts guarantees that translation will be accurate and culturally appropriate — keeping a check on nuances that automated tools get wrong. Meanwhile, AI and machine translation tools can help with content adaptation and output. 

Cost and resource management

Localization will require more resources. Focusing on key markets that offer the most value potential will help you manage costs effectively. Additionally, using translation management systems and collaboration tools is an easy way to streamline processes and reduce costs

Developing an Effective Localization Strategy

As you build out your localization strategy, there are foundational things you can start with.

Research and analysis

Every good strategy starts with good research. Begin by thoroughly understanding your target markets and local behaviors. In addition, completing a competitor analysis will help you identify the types of strategies that work and don’t work — and give you a sense of how you can differentiate your brand.

Multilingual content strategy 

Translated content ensures that your text is understandable, but localization adapts the content to fit the cultural context of your audience. Work on incorporating localization considerations from the beginning of the content creation process. This proactive approach will allow you to adapt to various markets as you grow and expand.

Technology and tools

Translation management systems (TMS) can streamline the translation workflow. Meanwhile, a good content management system (CMS) that supports localization will ensure seamless content adaptation and management across different languages and regions.

Testing and feedback loop

Performing A/B testing to understand how your localized content is doing in different target audiences will help gauge what content resonates and what needs to be adjusted. Additionally, gathering feedback from local consumers and teams will help you improve and maintain your strategy so that it continues to have longevity.

Conclusion

An effective localization strategy requires quality market research, nuanced multilingual content, robust technology, and continuous feedback mechanisms. Taking steps towards building a localization strategy is imperative to stay ahead of the competition — and enhance your brand’s global presence while fostering stronger connections to local customers.

 

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About the author

Brianna Hougham

Brianna is a solutions engineer on the OneLink solutions team. When she isn’t writing LMS training material, she is helping with creative solutions for client website translations. She lives outside of Boston and in her free time is an avid triathlete and hiker.

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