- Strategy /
In a global market, the benefits of localization may seem obvious. For anyone working directly in the language services industry, or at least anyone who regularly deals with Language Service Providers, the benefits might seem more evident. When it comes to businesses that are just getting started on their international journey, taking their product or service into global markets isn’t always plain sailing and the benefits localization are definitely not always obvious.
Here at Applingua we have witnessed and been part of many businesses starting their move into international markets. Over the years, our customers have reported back to us the benefits of localization and shared with us their trials and tribulations. In this post, we look over the six most commonly reported benefits and give our own little take on them.
Before we start, there’s one important aspect that needs to be cleared up: the difference between translation and localization. This definition from The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) explains it neatly, “Localization is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market. Translation is only one of several elements of the localization process.”
So let’s apply this to an example so we can see what it means. Imagine we’re translating a business sales document ready for a pitch presentation to your customers. Translation takes the text and converts it from one language to another language ready for your potential market. However, localization aims to adapt your business sales document so that it is customer ready - colors, linguistic nuances, dates, times, and everything else so that it appears like it was originally written for that customer market.
That’s the key. Localization is not just about translating the text, it’s about making it look and feel as though it were produced in the target language in the first place.
It’s the authentic look and feel which make the benefits of going that extra mile and choosing localization over plain translation something which cannot be understated.
In no particular order, the top six benefits of localization are:
This list of benefits isn’t exhaustive. There are many more benefits, but these ones in particular are the topics that most often come up during feedback and evaluation sessions with our clients several months post localization.
Your product or service is currently available to your customers in your home market. You’ve built your solution so it fits the market and your customers’ needs. Culturally, linguistically and stylistically it works your local market. Does it work globally? Pre-localization, probably not.
But why limit yourself to your local market alone? There are many more prospects in the global market you can access via the internet. The ubiquity of wifi, mobile phones and tablets means you and your business can potentially have direct access to billions of customers around the world.
Selling your product online isn’t enough to increase your global market share. Localization is what helps get you there. By localizing into just one language, you open your product to a new and potentially bigger market. It’s about accessibility - if a customer cannot understand how your product or service helps them, how will they ever be convinced to part with their money?
A natural progression from an increase in market share is an increase in potential revenue. If just 25.3% of the global population are using the internet in English, think of all those customers you are potentially missing out on! And just simply by not having your website, mobile or web app available in another language.
By offering your solution in just one other language, depending on which one it is, you’re potentially opening yourself up to winning millions and millions of paying customers. If you translate your solution into Chinese, you’re talking just over a billion potential customers!
All those extra customers and that increased market share should, in a scalable business model, lead to increased revenue.
This is of course by no way guaranteed and various clients report various success. Entering a new market does require thought on how you will market your business in that location. Some cultures have different attitudes towards free and paid apps, with some countries being less inclined to purchase an app or service subscription than others. Conversely certain cultures are sceptical towards ad-supported revenue models.
However, for ad-supported apps and services, the increase in user base can convert quite quickly into ad revenue.
Some brands will skip the localization process and just translate the bare text of their solution. This way they miss out on one of the biggest benefits of localization.
Localization means you adapt your solution to fit the target audience. It means you change colours where they’re inappropriate, you choose different words where they don’t fit, you format numbers, times and dates, as well as many more things.
This way, you avoid being culturally insensitive and help to create positive associations between your brand and your market.
In an EU survey, 9 out of 10 internet users said they would choose to use a website in their own language if it is available. 4 in 10 internet users thought “they missed interesting information because websites were not available in a language they understood.”
Customers are crying out for products and services to be available in a language they understand. By speaking their language it makes sense that your business seems more approachable in the global market. It also shows existing customers in that market that you care about them and are thinking about their requirements.
To quote the late Nelson Mandela, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
You’re pretty lucky if your business is the only one in the market. For the rest of us, we have to find ways to compete and win customers. Many apps, games, websites and online services can use language as a competitive advantage.
If the competition is only available in English, you can gain an advantage with Spanish speakers in your market or in the global market if your business offers its services in their own language.
What’s more, once your product or service is set up localization, then half the battle is complete. After you have prepared your solution technically to be localized into one language, it makes it much easier to add additional languages in the future, putting you ahead of the race if you learn your competitor is also thinking about localization as a strategy.
You want your brand to be a global player in the market. You want it to be recognised by anyone anywhere in the world. But you don’t want to forget where you started i.e. your local market.
Having a brand which was built locally but has a global presence reinforces the positive associations with the brand.
Take KFC for example. It is a global brand present in many countries around the world. Yet despite being a global brand, we all know where it started - Kentucky! You could even say it put Kentucky on the map.
Of course, when KFC entered an oversea market, it didn’t simple take its name and translated ‘fried chicken’, it rehashed its menu to suit local tastes and localized its tag line to work with the local language.
Break down all the potential cultural and linguistic barriers between your brand and the rest of the world by localizing and reek the benefit of everyone having a closer connection to you and your company.
The only way you will be able to enjoy the benefits of localization is by actually localizing your solution. Before you do that, you will need a strategy in place. A localization strategy. But how do you go about creating one of them?
While putting together any strategy is hard work, we’ve already taken the first steps for you in this blog post to help you get started with developing your localization strategy.
If you have any questions about localization and benefits, whether its what are the best markets to enter or what are the key aspects to consider, we’ll be happy to help where we can. Drop us an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see what we can do.
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