The key to success in any industry is knowing your target audience and catering to their needs.
Part of this process definitely involves understanding their major pain points, anticipating their needs, and crafting high-quality content to match. But you don’t want to underestimate the effect that a solid localization strategy can have on your bottom line.
Approximately 65 percent of global consumers strongly prefer to read content in their own language, even if the quality is less than ideal. Website localization matters, and if you plan to take your operation global, it’s crucial to your ultimate success.
Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know to get started.
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What Is Website Localization?
The term “website localization” refers to any and all efforts to tailor a website to the needs of potential customers in a specific country, nation, or other target regions.
For some brands, the entire global market may be the target. But others might focus on specific countries or geographic regions for their own reasons.
Here’s a brief look at why localizing is important if you’re looking to take your brand beyond the boundaries of your home base:
- Proper localizing helps a global brand build credibility within the desired markets.
- It boosts visitor engagement and increases the chance that a visitor will eventually convert into a paying customer.
- It helps global brands build stronger, more attractive brand identities.
- Website localization offers some serious SEO benefits, as it’s often easier to compete in languages other than English.
How To Get Started with Website Localization?
If you think that website localization sounds daunting, you’re not alone.
Many brand managers and digital marketers are concerned that the task will be over their heads, but the good news is that it’s easier than it sounds. You just need a plan you can stick to.
Lay the groundwork first
A staggering 5 billion people worldwide are online every single day. Naturally, not all of those people will be good fits for your company’s products or services. But there’s tons of growth potential there, regardless.
Start your journey by formulating a localization strategy that will get you where you need to go. During this process, be sure to consider answers to questions like the following:
- Which global regions and markets are the right fit for your brand and why?
- What’s your localization budget like?
- What team members and tools do you already have in your corner?
- What is the ideal goal for your localization strategy?
Do plenty of market research
You can’t connect with and sell to markets you know nothing about, so it’s essential to do your homework on the target regions.
For example, what is the culture like in a target country? What are your potential customers looking for, and how can your products help meet their needs?
You’ll also want to consider whether your global target audience can afford your products and how much it will cost you to transport items from your warehouse to their front doors.
Assemble a reliable team
Website localization isn’t the type of task that anyone can accomplish single-handedly. You need a team of responsible, experienced professionals at your service if you’re serious about reaching your goals on time.
If you don’t already have someone on staff who can perform the following jobs, consider outsourcing them to experienced professionals to ensure that they’re done correctly:
- Web development
- Translation (preferably native-level)
- Web and graphic design
- Content writing
- International SEO
- Social media marketing and management
- Market-specific customer care
Automate the process when you can
Website management of any kind can be an insurmountable task for even the most efficient teams if you try to execute every task by hand. But this goes double for something as monumental as website localization.
Not only does trying to handle things manually invite human error into the mix, but you’ll be wasting your team’s valuable time and labor on tasks they don’t need to be doing personally.
Internationalize your website
Website internationalization differs from website localization in that it describes the process of readying your website for the more extensive localization process. It helps ensure your existing code won’t interfere with the translation process in any way.
Comprehensive internationalization is the key to launching your brand’s website and content in any market you wish without having to build a new version of it from the ground up.
It’s about making sure your site has the tools and capabilities it needs to be a global success.
Focus on providing a great user experience
User experience (UX) is everything when it comes to a brand’s potential for success.
It’s crucial to winning a customer’s trust, persuading them to make a purchase, and cultivating brand loyalty. It’s also an essential part of convincing search engines to rank you well.
That said, you never want to lose sight of user experience during your website localization project. Before implementing a decision (big or small), consider how it will impact your UX.
Some things to consider include the following:
- Cultural associations with specific colors, language, or imagery
- Whether your website layout will make sense to your target market
- Whether your site needs to be simplified to accommodate slower internet speeds
Run multiple tests before the launch
Once your website is successfully localized, it’s time to go over everything that’s been done to make sure there are no issues. Digital-age consumers aren’t very patient with websites that are plagued with technical errors or otherwise hard to use.
Thorough testing is vital to ensure you’re truly ready to launch. But be sure to pay attention to both functional and linguistic tests. Functional factors to test include:
- Shopping carts
- Load times
- Download speeds
- Formatting of measurements, weights, times, names, etc.
- Entry fields
- Hardware compatibility
- Payment processing features
And when it’s time to run linguistic tests, be sure to check on elements like:
- Appropriateness for the culture
- Errors with grammar, spelling, or punctuation
- Proper keyword use
- Overall content readability
- Overall cultural appeal of the content
Plan your marketing strategy
Finally, you’ll want to think about how you’ll market your new site once the website localization process is complete.
This means adequately analyzing the logistics of how consumers in your target location like to shop, as well as the suitability of your marketing content.
- How do consumers like to stay in touch with brands they like: email, social media, or something else entirely?
- Do key elements like slogans, taglines, and calls to action clearly translate into your target market’s native language?
- Do your keywords match the actual wording that people in your target region are likely to use when searching?
The Benefits of Professional Website Localization
You only get one chance to make a first impression on a new global market, so everything about your website localization project must go perfectly.
Professional website localization services can help. Here are some of the biggest benefits.
Translations will be on point
While it’s true that international customers would still rather read content in their own language when the translation isn’t perfect, a translation that really sparkles will make a much better impression.
A professional translation team can guarantee this benefit for you.
Your content will be culturally appropriate
Ensuring your international website hits all of the right notes with your target market is about more than just great content translation.
It’s also about getting the little details right, including currencies, color choices, cultural associations, and more. A professional service understands how these factors ought to be handled.
You’ll have specialized SEO help
As mentioned above, you likely won’t be able to reapply the same keyword research, social trends, and market data that worked for your local campaign.
Some concepts may be truly global, but most will need to be reassessed with the target country in mind. Hiring SEO specialists who understand how this should be handled will increase your chance of succeeding.
The job will get done correctly the first time
Many brand managers think they understand what’s needed to pull off a large-scale website localization project, only to find out later that they’re in over their heads.
It’s much better to guarantee that things will be done right the first time instead of trying to fix mistakes after the fact.
While it’s true that website localization is a huge undertaking, the potential payoffs are worth it. But it’s crucial to do things properly from the very beginning.
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