Localization generally means the process of making something local in character or making it suit to local culture, preferences, and way of doing things. Its goal is to make something more appealing to a certain group of people. In business, it’s about making a product more attractive to the local market. It is mostly done through the business website, promotional materials, and product packaging.
For this post, the meaning of localization does not include the strategy of limiting business activities to a specific local area. It’s more of the act of localizing web content and marketing materials.
But is localization necessary? Can’t a business just use the same website, marketing materials, or packaging regardless of the market where they operate? Consider the following points for you to come up with your own answers to these questions:
Website localisation, tweaks to the way a product is packaged, and changes to advertisements or promotional campaigns are not just whimsical endeavors. They certainly have their benefits. By having website and marketing content particularly targeted at a local market, a business becomes more relatable. Using the local language and expressions makes it significantly easier to reach out to local consumers. More importantly, by localizing, everything you want to convey can be made in the clearest possible terms. Using the language local consumers use allows these consumers to easily understand what you are trying to offer.
Additionally, marketing that is adapted to the local culture and using local language is more likely to create a significant impact. Localized advertisements are bound to have more punch and appeal. It’s always easier to attract potential customers when you use the language they use and the idioms or pop culture references they are more acquainted with.
Obviously, if you are trying to penetrate a local market that does not use English or the language you use, you can’t just use the same keywords for advertising and SEO. You need to do your research and get acquainted with the keywords that will lead local consumers to your product. If you don’t localize your site’s content, there’s very little chance for online buyers to find your product.
Having your content localized is a good SEO strategy. It’s a bit like duplicating your content without the risk of getting penalized by search engines and at the same time increasing your searchability on the web. Doing this means having more content for your site, thereby boosting your site’s SEO-friendliness.
What if your company’s slogan uses a word that sounds dirty or lewd in another language? What if the catchphrases you are trying to hype in your ads don’t sound appropriate in the language of the local market you want to reach out to? These certainly don’t bode well for your business and are bound to make your business a laughingstock at the least or the subject of a banning petition at worst.
Similarly, if you don’t do professional localization and just let your personnel on the ground do their own translations, there’s the risk of making your business laughable or offensive. You’d definitely want to avoid having your product tagline or slogan sounding like one made for an adult product, or something that sounds like an overt admission of inferiority and proneness to defects.
Not many businesses that are foreign to a certain area implement localization. If you are doing it with your business, you instantly get an edge over your direct competitors. Also, there are locals who have the tendency to think highly of foreign companies that exert some effort in communicating to customers in the language they are more accustomed to using.
Another very important reason to localize is to avoid complaints and other problems with customers due to misunderstanding in product fine prints or details published in ads or web pages. Before you end up having to fend off a deluge of complaints over a promo customers thought you were offering (after misunderstanding your ads), it’s better to just set all details as accurately as possible in your website and marketing materials using the local language.
So to answer the questions posited earlier, it can be said that yes, localization is necessary, and no, it’s not essential to have everything localized. However, by not localizing, you will be missing on crucial opportunities to reach out to your target customers. You are basically foregoing the chance to boost your chances of success, which does not make sense considering the wide array of technology tools that can help you do rudimentary translations to be polished by human translators later on, and conduct research to better understand local markets.