Localization is a cornerstone in marketing, and to explore best practices further we hosted a three-part webinar series focused on different marketing areas. In part one, we discussed best practices for localization in videos (including subtitles), voiceovers, and on-screen tests, whereas in part two we focused on the localization of websites.
In this installment, we will focus on best practices when localizing written content where Jeremy Clutton, VP of Account Management at Unbabel, will speak with David Oswald, Website Manager at Raymarine, as they discuss localizing everything from product descriptions to technical content to best target international audiences.
Starting with Content Creation
Translating your website to suit new audiences is a significant first step in localization. Still, if you build a rapport with customers and prospects over time, all written and visual content must be created with global audiences in mind. From product descriptions to blogs, each has different challenges and approaches.
Creating a great user experience for your international audience requires you to consider how you manage all these channels to market and how this content is consumed.
Content creation is the beginning of this process.
“Nothing is done within a vacuum,” Jeremy shares. “The quality of your content is designed to drive traffic to your site or create engagement. That said, creating content for a single market becomes significantly more complex when you look at multiple markets where use cases differ. The way that people engage in the content can be different.”
Growing a brand depends on the message you deliver, but not all content is equal in priority, and businesses must determine where to invest time to produce the best ROI.
“You have to be able to look at the content challenges and timelines,” David says. “[Then determine] where you should put your resources and where you should put your efforts. We’ve been super conscious of that and are still super conscious of it going forward.”
When entering a new market, there are many additional factors to consider:
- Cultural differences and sensitivity – Attention formalities, religion, and attitudes toward specific topics.
- Number of languages – Particular regions may have several languages, and translating to one might not yield the results you expect.
- What’s happening in the region – Be aware of anything people feel strongly about.
- How colors and images are perceived – What might have positive connotations in one country may have the opposite in another.
- Currency, time, and date formats – Are multiple currencies used? Will your date get misinterpreted?
- Payment methods – Make it convenient for customers. For example, certain countries will accept Bitcoin, PayPal, etc.
- Method of communications – Sometimes e-mail isn’t always best, i.e. in Brazil where they strongly prefer messaging apps and social media.
- Laws and regulations – Import and export rules, what information you must display, consumer rights, etc.
Tackling Nuances of Content
As marketers, you’ll leverage several different channels, and each track will have different localization challenges to bear in mind, especially regarding technical content, product descriptions, and more. In David’s experience, handling spacing and how a new language will fit on a website can be a considerable challenge.
“One thing I would say is always try to think about it from an international perspective from the beginning,” he says. “Consider how you can try and make the English content as concise as possible, because often when you’re translating from English into other languages you end up with more characters. That’s inevitable, especially for Latin languages.”
Additional considerations for technical content localization include whether or not your company name may be translatable in some cases, choosing a legible font, keeping the design consistent, and ensuring specialists who know the terminology are reviewing the accuracy of the translations.
Localizing Product Descriptions and Images
Regarding product descriptions, people prefer to shop in their native language. 71% of Unbabel’s Multilingual CX survey respondents said that it was essential for brands to promote their products in the native language, so getting product descriptions right is critical.
Businesses should ensure the proper numerical format is used and bear in mind that localized descriptions minimize the chances of returns. In addition, accurate descriptions can improve their search engine ranking. But consistency is also important to keep in mind.
“We’re super conscious of users jumping between country sites,” David shares. “Structurally, they should remain very similar, including the content, imagery, and copy. Those can be localized and should be localized. But that uniformity and consistency of user journey is key.”
Finally, image localization is equally essential. When localizing images, businesses should consider an array of factors:
- If people are in the picture, are they from the region?
- Avoid hand gestures and symbols that aren’t universal
- Will character length in the image impact design?
- Be mindful of connotations associated with different colors
- Will there be text on the image? Should it overlap or sit below/next to the text?
Key Takeaways and Best Practices
While localization in marketing can seem daunting, keeping a few critical factors in mind can simplify the task and lead to a better ROI for your business.
- Create content with international audiences in mind from the start
- Take into account which channels will be most effective
- Think how the content can be recycled for different channels
- Consider how the fact that your product or service may be consumed differently in different markets will affect your approach
- Look beyond content and ensure the entire experience is localized
- Leverage data to determine performance and adjust for different markets as needed
Interested in learning more about best practices in marketing localization for videos?
Watch the entire webinar here.