Importance of Localization – in today’s connected world

By: Sumit Sheth
(
Head – Creative Imagineering, Blue Star Infotech)

 

Multi lingual marketing has been a challenge that marketers are facing in today’s world. A dilemma with many global enterprises is whether they should go local, communicate in a region’s native language and have local flavour in all communications. For many years multi lingual marketing has been ignored due to high cost, involving more manpower and failing to establish a clear ROI on the localization cost.

However the world is going online and it is predicted that by 2030 each and every individual will have access to internet. Thus e-commerce will be the future and business needs to change their model and be online to sell their products and services. English for a long time was considered to be the de facto language of communication. With saturation in western countries (US and Europe – the largest online buying community), businesses have understood the need to tap opportunities in other parts of the world. Factors such as penetration of internet, population growth and increased purchasing power among consumers in Asian and African countries, have forced businesses to review their strategy and invest in developing markets.

Last year, Common Sense Advisory, a research firm conducted a survey among 3000 consumers in 10 countries which includes Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Turkey. Some of the startling facts revealed are –

  • 55% of the participants said they only buy products from websites that provide them with information in their own language
  • 30% of the study’s participants never buy products from websites in English; 29% rarely do this
  • 56% of the people surveyed spend more time on local-language sites than on English ones – or never visit English websites at all

The results of this survey evidently indicate that localisation is must for businesses to succeed in global markets and most importantly to establish their brand in target markets.
 

What is localization?

Localisation as interpreted by many as just adapting the content of your site to local language. Though content is king and is an important aspect, localisation is much more than mere translation. It has to be a well thought out strategy and businesses who fail to recognise this will be in trouble. It involves representing your brand in another country, so it has to match their customs and expectations. It needs to have that local flavour and at the same time it shouldn’t dilute your brand identity and positioning.

Localisation has to be in alignment with your business goals and there are multiple factors that need to be considered for localisation. Some of them are –

You need to be very clear about your vision on localisation – what are you planning to achieve out of it and how important it is for your business or is it absolutely required

  1. It involves cost – and can you really justify it? Will it lead to increase in sales and will that incremental increase match the associated cost. You need to identify which markets and languages will yield the best results for your product
  2. What happens if you build a site and the number of visitors are low – you need to have budgets for multilingual SEO, campaigns to get more traffic on your site
  3. How do you translate the dynamic content – videos, audios, blogs
  4. A long drawn strategy to update the content regularly
  5. It involves very close co-ordination among multiple teams – sales, marketing and IT
  6. You need to do thorough analysis of online behaviour, custom, traditions in a particular region. Remember people’s habits and ways of living are different in different countries. And unless the website meets the local expectations, it will fail
  7. Monitoring their Social behaviour, comments, reviews and feedbacks is essential. (e.g. facebook, website reviews, blogs etc.)

 

How to reduce localization costs?

Even though localisation definitely gives you many business benefits, it also involves considerable investment. The ideal situation is you do the integration and maintenance centrally, while outsourcing the translation to regional marketing teams. How can one ensure that enterprises are able to generate significant revenues and keep a check on costs?  Enterprises can take some of the measures given below.

 

Below are a few tips to reduce the cost –

 

  • Target key languages for select markets:

One must research and determine languages that cater to a wide range of international users. Such languages are pre-dominant and comprehendible to greater area or markets. It is reasonable identify such languages for countries where competition is less and markets are more receptive and peoples purchasing power is high

  • Establishing a smooth formatting pattern:

Manual editing of text embedded in graphics files, leads to problems in creating translation memory, and escalates costs. By using a standard formatting pattern,  enterprises can curb costs and localise projects

  • Incorporating translation memory savings:

The Translation Memory (TM) is a set of translations that are available for re-use when translating new, untranslated strings. The Translation Interface automatically indicates translations that are available in the Translation Memory.

  • Computerized translation services:

It is believed that in future translation would be more machine based and it would slowly phase out the need of human. This would be more cost effective.

What the future holds?

The world no doubt is open for businesses who would understand the need of consumers, can communicate in their own language and personalize offerings as needed in different markets. With global market becoming more competitive and the consumer base shifting to developing countries, businesses have little choice but to adapt localisation.  A recent study indicated that –

  • In 2013, among the Top 10 Global Websites, 79% of the users were outside America. In 2014, 86% of their users were outside America. (Source: KPCB).
  • 80% of the countries within the Top 5 for download and revenue in Google Play are non-English speaking countries from Europe and East Asia. (Source: App Annie, Q2 2014).
  • Mobile app revenue in Asia increased by 162% year-over-year (2012 to 2013), while North America’s revenue grew by 46%. (Source: Distimo, Q1 2014)
  • It is found that leading global websites supports more than 30 languages. In the annual Web Globalization Report Card, which surveys more than 150 global websites each year, the average number of languages supported is 29

It clearly indicates that as the world gets more connected, language would be key to reach out to consumers. There is lot of technology available today to make translation an easier process and it not only provides translation services but complete solution and structure for maintaining multi-lingual sites.