Why You Should Localize Your Content in Multiple Languages
Regarding the messages you want to broadcast about your company’s products or services, your content is only as valuable as the audience you can reach. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to localization, delivering your content in multiple languages unlocks new markets and customizes your content. Therefore, it resonates with your target customers.
Let’s look at why you should localize your content in multiple languages and explore some best practices to support your multilingual content localization strategy.
What is Content Localization?
Content localization is the umbrella term for creating or adapting content to suit a specific market’s linguistic and cultural needs.
Localization is often required because an organization wants to sell its products or services in a new country or region. However, localization can also reach new customers in a market where products or services are already being sold, such as Spanish speakers in the United States.
While translation is a significant part of the process, localizing content for other markets includes several different steps, such as:
- Adjusting text for cultural nuances
- Evaluating how visuals, images, and colors may be interpreted
- Changing date and time formats (for example, in Europe, day-month-year and the 24-hour clock are standard)
- Adding support for other currencies
- Considering global laws and regulations for data and compliance
Localization Benefits Transcend Profits
How content is localized for different markets can vary widely, but the financial reasons to localize content make clear financial sense.
Customers won’t buy what they don’t understand — and most of the world speaks languages other than English. For example, only 1.5 billion people worldwide speak English natively or as a second language, which means 80% of the world speaks different languages. Compared to English-only offerings, it’s clear that most of the world’s population is an untapped market.
Many businesses must focus on engaging their global audience with a full language experience that conveys their brand, reputation, and trustworthiness. This is supported by CSA Research’s report titled “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy”:
- 40% of consumers will not buy products or services presented in other languages
- 65% of consumers prefer content in their native language, even if it’s poor quality
- 74% want product reviews in their language even when additional content isn’t localized
5 Reasons to Localize Your Content in Multiple Languages
Translation alone isn’t enough to justify the cost and strategic infrastructure needed to create and maintain a robust content localization program. Here are a few other reasons why content localization can be critical to a company’s bottom line.
Customized content resonates: Put simply, localized content helps create emotional connections. Messaging in their native language helps customers feel like the product was made just for them and is relevant to their daily life. Translated content demonstrates a commitment to that market and can help accelerate product adoption and drive sales.
Customer satisfaction increases: When customers can make educated decisions, their satisfaction with a brand increases. Reading websites and brochures and paying for a product in their local currency influence a customer’s decision-making when considering who to buy from. Additionally, localized post-purchase content like customer support or upgrade emails support customer satisfaction long after the initial purchase.
Localized content stands out: Researching how your customers experience the world and acting on that intelligence can lead to more effective engagement. Multilingual content — product reviews, user interfaces, or sales collateral — sets your brand apart and grabs the attention of local audiences. Your content is far more likely to be seen, remembered, and acted upon by potential customers when you speak their language.
Meaningful content builds trust: One of the most significant advantages of localized content is that it shows respect for other languages, which helps builds trust with global audiences. Translation delivers the message that your company is committed to understanding that customer’s culture and speaking to them in their language. While sales materials and websites are easy wins when translating, localizing your support documentation, blog posts, eBooks, and FAQs demonstrates a more profound commitment to meeting your customers’ needs.
Gain a competitive advantage: Many global companies consider their content localization strategy a competitive advantage. Why is that? You win if you can sell in a different country in a customer’s language and your competition has no localization initiatives. However, other competitive advantages include increased web traffic and engagement, higher sales conversions, and improved search engine results.
Pro Tips to Help Content Localization Go Smoothly
While there may be no one-size-fits-all approach to content localization, flexibility and adaptability are advantages when creating localized content in multiple languages. As you start or continue your localization journey, these best practices will help you avoid typical pitfalls.
Design content with localization: Preparing for international markets can take time, but a little up-front work can avoid headaches later. A number of decisions must be made before a single word is translated. Trying to untangle an ad hoc process isn’t just more time-consuming.
If you’re dealing with digital content, you’ll probably need a language services provider (LSP) to help with layout and design in multiple languages. LSPs are experts at understanding how languages contract and expand and ensuring the final documents are professional and accurate.
Preparing a website, platform, or app for translation at the code level requires internationalization to ensure your content is localization-ready. This preparation includes extracting hard-coded text and storing it in resource files, adapting your content so that the user experience (UX) is consistent across cultures, and managing tricky issues like average word lengths and reading direction.
It’s ok to have priorities: Consistently, the three most significant factors in localization generally are cost, schedule, and quality. While having all three is ideal, having an all-or-nothing approach to content localization is only sometimes reasonable. If resources or budget are limited, you can prioritize different types of content by language or region.
These decisions largely depend on the content’s nature and your organization’s strategic priorities. Getting time-sensitive material out quickly may require more machine translation (or MT) and automation. Materials that need high levels of accuracy, such as medical text or marketing materials, might require a more thorough localization quality assurance (QA) process or even transcreation, which involves specialized copywriting and design to align your content’s messages with your target audience.
Don’t be afraid of technology: It’s easy to see how quickly translating content can get messy. Someone wants a brochure translated quickly but can’t understand why the ad hoc translation takes so long to finish and costs so much. Compare this to a process where original documents and their translations are managed using a Translation Management System (TMS) and Machine Translation (MT).
These technologies can automate tasks, improve efficiency, and lower costs. Multiple languages can be processed at once, and if needed, your localization program can be augmented and scaled with technologies that include AI, neural machine translation, and terminology databases (or termbases).
The Reward of Localization
Localizing content into multiple languages is essential to business in today’s global, interconnected world. For many companies, the reward of localization is more than just added revenue; it’s more substantial brand recognition and competitive advantage. However, many find the most significant reward comes from the satisfaction and loyalty of their customers around the globe.