Driving demand, engagement and loyalty with customers around the world is more complex than ever. One thing is simple: speaking a customer’s language is the most fundamental and effective element of personalized communication. How can marketers overcome language barriers to excel at delivering all the right content, to all their audiences, in all the languages they speak?
It pays to localize. Fortune 500 companies that stepped up translation budgets were 1.5 times more likely than their peers to report revenue growth. They were also twice as likely to show increased profits and 127 percent more likely to raise earnings per share.
Localization done well produces success because it is fundamentally customer-centric. A customer’s locale is as core to their identity as their name, making localized content is inherently more relevant. Localized content also reinforces to consumers that your company is stable and committed to their market.
You need intimate knowledge of your brand’s audience in every country you serve. You must have local insight – even if you don’t have a team on the ground – gained by leveraging partners, research, and even site visits. As Kodak’s former CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett says, “Just because someone likes Chinese food, it doesn’t make them an expert in that market.”
Localization of marketing isn’t just a nice-to-have for well-to-do Fortune 500 companies any more. Localization offers a clear path to fulfilling many of today’s most compelling business needs:
Even though 50 percent of CMOs in a CMO Council Survey said their global marketing was underperforming, marketers can still point to lots of reasons to avoid getting involved in localization. Frankly, the localization process has traditionally been difficult and inefficient. Campaign content to be localized and deployed in other markets is copied out of one system, then emailed to a translator. Then individual managers must ping reviewers to stop their day jobs and take a look to see if the translation is accurate. It’s time consuming, it’s poor use of time, you lose control of your message, it’s expensive and you’re not doing all the campaigns you need to in local language to support all the markets.
Beyond process, there are lots other reasons localization is hard to do well:
This presents the worst of all worlds for marketers. They are leaving money on the table in other countries (in other currencies!), spending too much to get there and taking too long to do it. What can global marketers do to offer deeper personalization through better localization?
Here are suggestions for breaking down silos across geographies, across business units, and across marketing teams and channels:
Personalization is vital to effective marketing, and localization is critical to effective marketing across borders. And that’s because localization IS the ultimate personalization. No matter how otherwise targeted and personalized your marketing is, if it’s not in someone’s native tongue, it will not have the same impact. With such a huge opportunity waiting for your brand across the globe, marketers have a chance to be heroes by building and integrating their company’s organizational capability to rule the world.
This article first appeared on ShellyPalmer.com