Content Localization: What It Is, Challenges, and Best Practices

What is content localization?

Content localization: Otherwise known as the most effective thing a business could do for its bottom line and expansion strategy—but one of the least-implemented strategies used. 


Well, it’s often difficult to put together a content localization strategy. It requires ongoing management, a foolproof translation management system and process and an intimate understanding of your value prop and market. However, it’s worth taking the time to master. Statistically, 87% of international customers will not buy from an English-only website—and 56% of respondents noted that the ability to get product info in their own language is more important to their purchase decision than the price. 

Below, we’re going to cover key areas of importance and value that you can gain from the content localization process. We’ll also offer insight into best practices that you can use to help you start today. 

Why Content Localization is Important

Localized content is your key to breaking through in your lane of global industry. Whether you’re working to optimize SEO site content, social media posts or formatting, all elements are equally important. 

Here’s a few other benefits you can gain from focusing on content localization in all areas of your publication workflow: 

  • Enhanced target market access with a new audience 
    • Gaining direct access to the local market. This is because this area of business often houses your ideal consumer, who has the potential to be a  lifetime buyer or brand loyalist. There’s no better way to do that than showing your prospective customers the respect of having localized content available to them in their native language. 
    • Reaching multilingual audiences can foster business growth. Speaking to someone in their native language can immediately remove barriers to investment, helping them to feel confident in your approach, services and offering. 
    • Honoring regional differences in country culture. If you’re looking to secure business from more culturally diverse areas of the globe, your content localization process can help you to immediately break through and connect—even if your target market only has slight differences to dialect and culture.
  • Enhanced user experience
    • Providing content in users’ native languages. When your customers can connect directly with your content due to your comprehensive localization efforts, you can set yourself apart in your market due to the enhanced user experience that your brand provides. Understanding the type of content that needs localization is the first step to curating language-specific content that can impact your international markets. 
    • Addressing cultural nuances and preferences. Marketing content can be a fantastic vehicle to address and honor cultural nuances and preferences. Cultural differences and preferences can influence engagement and conversion in different markets, so acknowledging these differences inherently in your website content and global marketing strategy can establish you as a relevant, tolerant and sensitive global brand. 
  • Improved brand perception
    • Building trust and credibility. Localized content can build trust and credibility in foreign markets. This can be done through targeted strategies, such as international SEO, content-optimized landing pages and local language adaptation for local audiences. This can be especially important for conversion-oriented businesses, such as e-commerce entities. 
    • Demonstrating commitment to local markets. Implementing localization at every element of your digital marketing experience can establish your brand well in different markets. It shows a certain level of commitment and competency that makes your brand stand out as the obvious choice, allowing you to surpass known brands in foreign markets
  • Increased sales and revenue
    • Expanding customer base. As noted above, localization is a powerful force to expand your customer base. Beyond the initial conversion, an ongoing commitment to localization can result in lifelong brand advocacy—making localization a worthwhile investment for many. 
    • Capturing market share from competitors. Customers may find appeal in a new, fresh brand that’s committed to honoring their differences. As a result, you stand a great chance at capturing market share from competitors, which can result in more profitability in the long run. 

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Key Components of Content Localization

Now that you’re aware of why content localization can be worth the investment, it’s time to take a look at the key components of the process that you’ll be investing in. The process can be boiled down into four main parts: 

  • Language translation: This is often considered to be the “base layer” of localization, and with good reason—it’s essential! This is how your clients will intimately learn your brand position, mission and offering(s). 
  • Cultural adaptation: After you have a basal translation, it will be time for cultural adaptation of that content. This is generally best done by a skilled human linguist, as they will be able to infuse certain cultural contexts and elements from your targeted region. 
  • Formatting and design adjustments: Certain types of formatting, such as right-to-left flow or currency formulations, may need to be accounted for in your site’s code. Developers and localization specialists can work with linguists to ensure that everything is properly presented on-page. 
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: This is a critical element of brand preservation and risk mitigation, and should be interwoven in every area of your localization process.

Best Practices for Content Localization

Localization is one of your business’s most powerful tools to leverage to help you break through new markets. It can be applied to nearly all elements of digital marketing: such as search engine optimization, subtitles, site FAQs and each piece of content your brand produces across channels. 

Here are a few best practices to keep top of mind as you work to navigate your own localization process: 

Thorough Market Research

Thorough market research is needed to create relevant content that’s localized and impactful for your new customers in a given region. There are two main steps to consider as you undergo the research process: 

  • Understanding target audience demographics: This generally requires some sort of immersion process, done virtually or in-person, on-site. While this can be an investment for some, it shouldn’t be ignored—it’s one of the best ways to encapsulate the experience of your customers in a given region, giving you the understanding you need to come across authentically and clearly. 
  • Analyzing cultural and linguistic considerations: Once you have the information you need from the immersion process, it’s time to create something tangible that localization and marketing teams can use—much like style guides—helping to ensure that all cultural implications are considered when linguistic assets are created. 

Collaboration with Native Speakers and Local Experts

Whether you’re taking your content creation in-house or outsourcing to a third-party service, collaboration is key to make sure that you’re winding up with the best content possible. By allowing other native experts to have a “say” in your marketing materials, you’ll get that comfortable, natural feel infused throughout your assets…and that’s something that money can’t buy. It also is a great way to ensure that you have the most colloquially accurate and acceptable translations of your content, ensuring that you come across clearly. 

Adapting Visuals, Symbols, and Imagery

Written content in different languages is a single element of your content strategy. Imagery, symbols and visual elements are all critical to making sure that your brand comes across well to consumers. 

Graphic designers and native residents can help you to customize and personalize your content in a way that’s relevant to local preferences. If you have pre-existing content, we recommend taking the time to do this step as well on your different country-specific pages and customer experiences. 

We do want to note: International audiences may respond differently to certain imagery or content. Automate where possible, but be sure to put extra time into researching preferences and “norms” to remain as sensitive as you can be. 

Quality Assurance and Testing

QA, or quality assurance, is a critical step in your localization process. It should be included in some form, whether you choose to use machine translation for your work (such as Google Translate) or a human translator. Mistakes can happen—and this step ensures accuracy and consistency across your assets. 

It doesn’t just check for proofreading errors or misspellings, either. This step can also verify the functionality of your funnel or page structure, evaluating for key, intangible elements—such as user experience (UX). 

Challenges with Content Localization Without Software

Content localization can be difficult without an organized localization flow through user-friendly translation management software. This is due to many reasons, including: 

  • Language complexities and dialects: Certain members of a region may have different preferences and dialects. A comprehensive translation management model can account for these differences. 
  • Cultural sensitivities and taboos: It can be easy to cause offense without meaning to. Having multiple review steps and inherent QA can help you to avoid these pitfalls. 
  • Technical limitations and infrastructure: A localization software and translation management system allows you to complete work in a done-for-you structure, avoiding possible added costs from infrastructure creation for ongoing expansion. 
  • Time and resource constraints: Project management takes time. Handing off management to a mostly-automated and intuitive management system can help you maximize efficiency at every step in your process.

Choose OneSky for Simplified Content Localization

Content localization is a critical element of your growth and development process. 

Intuitive translation management software can streamline your process, keeping your brand at its highest level of efficiency during every stage of growth. Connect with the experts at OneSky today to learn more about the impact that localization and accurate translation can have on your global expansion strategy. We’re here to help!

Mandy Fong

Head of Sales, OneSky

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