When you’re on a website or interacting with content, it hits home more often when it’s been localized. If you’re reading articles in Texas, it would make sense to have them available in both Spanish and English. Since in many counties more than 50% of Texas residents are native Spanish speakers. As a business you’re going to want to consider the needs of your consumers, and part of that starts with localization.
Localization can also be much larger than the example above, especially as company’s target consumers internationally. The more people who can access and understand your content and marketing materials, the more engagement you’ll see. In an effort to understand how large brands are making content more accessible to a broad range of users and consumers, I had the chance to Zoom chat with Israeli tech guru Hila Shitrit Nissim.
Jeff Fromm: How does localization enable a more equitable and sustainable playing field?
Hila Shitrit Nissim: Localization is an investment in accessibility — a way to give content and services and essentially establish connection between more people. For consumers, this means a greater number of resources and information to pursue their passions, education and/or career. For businesses, localization can be used as a way to engage audiences that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Companies continue to face all kinds of financial, competitive, or logistical challenges in their domestic market. This means expanding across borders is bound to add more complexities into the mix. The silver lining is the sheer number and room for great ideas to thrive.
Fromm: What brands are acting on localization well, and how have they accomplished that?
Nissim: The e-commerce sector is a good example. Retail giants Amazon and Alibaba are well-known for their brilliant business models and CX strategies, but what is so central to their success is localization. It has been so tightly incorporated at a macro-level into the user interface and at a micro-level, embedded in product names and descriptions.
Other brands are following suit and have seen great results. iHerb is an online retailer for health and wellness products that offers a culturally aware Web experience. iHerb’s website offers 15 languages per market, allowing varying groups easy access and understanding of their assortment of product offerings. In addition, the site is retrofitted with 10,000+ localized products and descriptions. Moroccan oil is another great example. As a luxury hair and body care provider with a smaller product catalog, the company offers an online shopping experience in 40 languages.
For content and streaming, it’s hard to beat Netflix and Spotify. They’ve instituted rigorous standards for localization and carefully vet their vendors. The localization investment has paid off in parallel with their international content distribution strategy.
Fromm: What risks do CMOs face when they don’t localize?
Nissim: The biggest risk is simply putting an unnecessary ceiling on the growth potential of their business.
Whether CMOs are promoting an e-commerce marketplace, app, enterprise software, or consumer goods and services, localization and geo expansion unlock new audiences by telling a locally authentic and brand-consistent story, attuned to the needs of the target market.
CMOs are under a lot of pressure to keep moving the revenue needle upward. The quality of their product and the competitiveness and maturity of their market are largely out of their control. A thoughtful localization strategy is something CMOs can own to drastically influence growth. And an investment in localization can increase over time — you don’t have to start with 50 markets or languages. Choose one or two, learn from the experience, fine-tune the process, and apply it to others. Done right, localization can scale with your market growth strategy.Fromm: For business applications, is localization only relevant to text?
Nissim: While text localization remains essential for online and marketing content, brands increasingly leverage localized multimedia to tell a more personal and multi-dimensional story to the marketplace. It’s now common for companies to internationalize their YouTube channel or marketing videos with voice-over narration, dubbing, or subtitles. Contact center applications, help desk, and tutorial resources are often given the same treatment to provide comprehensive support to an international user/customer base.
Finally, whether it’s a multinational consumer brand or a niche B2B supplier, every company tries to leverage snackable videos on LinkedIn or TikTok to stand out in their industry. Localization allows them to repackage and repurpose original productions without breaking the bank.
Making content accessible to more people is an obvious way to reach larger audiences. If individuals can’t understand the information you’re distributing, there’s no way they can interact with your organization or products. Communication is essential for building connections, gaining trust, and marketing to consumers. Localization trends should not be ignored, as they continue to influence more communication practices.