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High inflation, slowed economic growth, the cost of living crisis. There have been murmurings of a recession since 2022. As businesses continue to navigate a challenging landscape, marketing localization is a great way to bolster your international strategy and weather economic uncertainty in the coming year.

An economic downturn is a reality for many countries across the world in 2023. The World Bank has predicted a growth rate that’s the weakest on record. While some countries will stay resilient, others will face shrinking economies and recession. 

With global consumers making hard decisions about where they spend their money, companies are feeling the squeeze.

Many brands are looking for ways to make the most of smaller international marketing budgets. Or they’re reinforcing their global strategies to maintain growth. For both goals, a stable presence in your international markets is key.

Here’s how strategic localization investment can help you sustain growth, even during an economic downturn.

WHY LOCALIZATION?

Marketing localization allows businesses to alleviate some of the impacts of worsening economic conditions while diversifying the risks across multiple markets.

Effective localization also allows businesses to scale up or back depending on the opportunities. So you can nimbly respond to ever-shifting market conditions. 

According to the Common Sense Advisory, localization is vital for a business’s global prospects. In fact, cutting localization in a downturn results in significant revenue loss. Many companies that cut localization budgets during COVID are still bearing the brunt of that decision:

Cutting your marketing and localization budgets in your established international markets may seem like a good short-term solution. 

But in your established target markets with competitive landscapes, your target customers will simply turn elsewhere, leaving you struggling to regain ground. 

The reality for many international brands is having to do more with less. Don’t fall for the localization industry’s biggest myth: that ROI is achieved by translating as much content as possible, as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Machine and AI-driven translation are also touted as silver bullets for international growth at low cost.

Competition for consumers’ attention and money is ever growing, so reaching and engaging your target audiences authentically is crucial.

QUICK WINS AND LONG-TERM SUCCESS

In the face of uncertainty and with budget challenges to contend with, here are four areas that will help you deliver immediate wins – and international success in the long run.

1. WEBSITE LOCALIZATION

Your website is the hub of your brand’s digital activity. Providing a smooth and relevant experience for your international users is crucial. A few ways to do this:

  • Only translate and optimize website content that matters to your international audience. 
  • Do this while driving conversions and sales of products and services you want to grow in-market.
  • Feature in-language reviews and showcase customers, influencers, and affiliations with brands that are well known and valued in that market. 
  • Look for gaps in your existing localized content. The customer journey and user experience are good places to start. 
  • For e-commerce brands, think about localizing your landing pages and payment engines effectively. Make it as easy as possible for your international customers to complete their buying journey.

2. INTERNATIONAL SEO

Just like domestic customers, search is the most popular way global consumers discover new brands. Brands are increasingly investing in international search engine optimization (SEO) as a foundation for their long-term international strategy. 

And it makes sense. If your target audience can’t find you online, they can’t buy from you. 

From translation plugins and site speed issues to technical misconfigurations, there’s a lot that can prevent your localized website from showing up on your local customer’s search results page. A technical SEO audit can help you ensure your language tags, site speed, and UX are up to scratch.

Again, it’s about quality, not quantity.

On-page SEO will help increase your ranking as you target customers search for words that matter to them. How can you make sure your site is up there?  In-market, in-language keyword research – performed by local SEO experts. 

Ideally, keyword integration would be done at the same time as website translation and localization to ensure keywords are incorporated naturally from day one. 

3. PLAN FOR A HYBRID FUTURE

If you’re planning for long-term international expansion, the blend of marketing localization for your marketing and creative content is key. 

This model balances the benefits of centralizing your marketing operations without sacrificing local authenticity and insights that are so important for making an impact with your international target audiences.

The benefit of this kind of model is scale. It’s about finding more productive ways to produce effective outcomes. A hybrid model is critical to managing international growth. 

And for keeping unnecessary overhead to a minimum by scaling up and down with business needs. This is especially relevant in challenging economic times.

4. THE RIGHT MARKETING LOCALIZATION PARTNER

Finding the right marketing localization partner will help you take these steps effectively. This will not only help you meet your customers’ needs but also streamline your processes and take the pressure off your teams. 

What are your inefficiencies in the customer journey? For example, your customer support team might be spending too much of their time answering the same question for different customers in a market.

You could translate your FAQs or write market-specific post-sales content. Localized FAQs, post-sales customer support, chatbots, and landing pages can free up people power to focus on your business objectives. And you may discover new ways to drive revenue with minimal effort.

FINAL THOUGHT

Marketing localization is one of the most effective strategies to reduce risk and continue growth during an economic downturn. Pulling back for short-term savings is a false economy. Instead, balance the need to drive revenue now while setting yourself up for longer-term, sustainable success. 

If your international marketing budget is tight, be selective about what you localize. Consider who you’re trying to reach, why they’re a good investment and how you’ll reach and truly engage with them. This is the most effective strategy to drive ROI. 

Do you have questions about your marketing localization strategy? Get in touch, we’d love to help.

Photo by Sander Lenaerts on Unsplash