How to Use Localisation to Help Your Business Go Global

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No matter which foreign markets you are looking to expand within, adapting your content to an international audience will be necessary if you want to reach your goal. Here are some tips for how to use localisation to help your business go global.


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Going Global – The Importance of Localisation for Your Business

More companies than ever before are presenting their products and services to an international market. The benefits of going global are clear – the world marketplace has undergone dramatic changes over the past decade, and English-speaking consumers represent only 25% of this market share.

The other 75% comprises over 2 billion people, with the majority of them speaking at least one of nine of the planet’s primary languages. If you aren’t tapping into the vast potential that these numbers represent, you’re likely missing out to competitors who are. 

Globalisation involves much more than changing the currency in your shopping cart or word-for-word website translation. It includes working with highly skilled language services experts who can adapt your content so that it is relevant and appropriate to your target audience. This is known as localisation and it is one of the most critical components of introducing your brand to a foreign market.

Recommended reading: Embarking On International Business

What Is Localisation?

Localisation is an integral part of translation services. Translation takes the content from one language and converts it into another. Localisation goes a step further. It takes the translated words and ensures that they are culturally relevant and appropriate to the target audience. Its goal is to make the product or service appealing to consumers who live in other regions.

A localisation expert is a native who understands the culture of your target market and can help make the content appear as if it was written specifically for that audience. With proper localisation, the fact that the material has been translated from the original language should be virtually undetectable. This is accomplished through several processes, including:

  • Formatting addresses, phone numbers, dates and times correctly to adapt to another region.

  • Adapting graphics or images to the tastes and sensitivities of the local culture. This may include things like changing a colour scheme that has negative connotations within a particular society or replacing images that would be considered indecent within another culture.

  • Changing the website design so that the text can be displayed correctly in the translation.

  • Converting product descriptions and shopping carts to other measurements or currencies.

  • Complying with the legal requirements and guidelines of the region.

  • Adapting content that could be offensive or off-putting to your target audience.

Recommended reading: 5 Mistakes Companies Make When Trying to Go Global

Localisation – Where to Start

Businesses of all sizes can use translation and localisation to maximise their appeal to different global audiences. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry. We’ve got a list that includes practical, actionable steps you can implement in your own business right away.

1. Multilingual Marketing and Keyword Research

Before you decide to put your company on the world map, you will want to know who your target audience is. You may plan to expand into just one country or desire to open shop in several locations at once. No matter how ambitious your plans are, knowing what appeals to a foreign audience, as well as understanding other economies, is imperative before you dive in headfirst.

The language services provider or translation company you choose to oversee your project will assist you with methods of conducting multilingual market research, so you will be able to make choices that should maximise profitability for you and your business.

Keyword research should also be a part of your market research. It is not enough to substitute popular keywords in English with their equivalent translation. The target audience may have no interest whatsoever in your original keywords. Instead, you will want to determine a few things about them, such as:

  • What specific words do they use when referring to similar products and services in their own language?

  • How (and with which search engine) do they conduct online searches?

  • Which member of the household typically purchases products like yours?

  • What appeals to your target audience on an emotional level and how do they prefer to express those emotions?

2. Creating Glossaries and Style Guides

There will likely be words or phrases that are so intrinsically tied to your brand that the absence of them would change your message altogether. Setting up a style guide that includes these key phrases allows everyone who works on the project, from translators to localisation professionals, to be on the same page.

A glossary that includes other key phrases you can't do without is also imperative. You want everyone on the translation team to provide seamless content that consistently portrays your brand, so you need to support them as best you can with specific details such as these.

3. Understanding the Way That Other Cultures Do Business

If you want to be successful in another country, you and your team should do whatever you can to learn about the way your target audience conducts business in their region. Discover the etiquette and customs of each locale and strive to integrate them into your both your online and offline communications.

The saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” has never been more accurate than in today's global marketplace. Localisation embodies this sentiment. For example, the Germans have customarily considered humour to be inappropriate in the business world. The Japanese have stringent protocols and strict etiquette in their dealings. Italians, meanwhile, consider trust and relationship-building to be extremely important factors when conducting business with others.

Learning to respect each culture’s nuances will pave the way for your localisation efforts to be successful.

Over to you now. How have you gone about localisation for your business going global? Tell us in the comments below. 

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