When expanding internationally, many companies struggle to meet their time-to-market, language quality, international customer engagement, and business growth goals. The need for flexible content development models (coupled with robust language, multimedia, and international digital marketing services) is a major trend with companies focused on implementing a successful marketing localization strategy.
The biggest challenge for scaling localized creative content across multiple markets is achieving a balance between efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency addresses budget, quality, and time-to-market. Effectiveness addresses user experience, connection, engagement, and ROI.
For marketing and creative content, both are critical. But the two primary models companies use for scaling international content – centralized and decentralized – only address one or the other, leaving marketers in an untenable position.
There’s a better way to scale multilingual content for global marketing. Here’s what you need to know about each model – and why taking a hybrid approach is most effective for driving lasting, scalable international growth.
CENTRALIZED MODEL FOR A MARKETING LOCALIZATION STRATEGY
This localization management model allows for language, design, and production to be managed through centralized control-points. Generally, this involves one or more LSPs working with either your corporate headquarters and/or agency of record (AOR), localizing US-centric content and pushing that out to in-country stakeholders for their review and approval.
- High-efficiency content production.
- Empowers HQ around global content goals and provides maximum control over branding, messaging, and design.
- Localization technology easily implemented to manage high-volume, in-language content.
- Translation memories and glossaries maximize content consistency and reuse.
- Cost-efficiency and time-to-market centrally managed.
WHERE IT GOES WRONG
The outcome of centralization is often a lot of localized content, the appearance of scale, and short-term growth. But companies looking to drive long-term growth in competitive markets may struggle to meet market-specific needs. Especially in producing locally relevant, authentic content that meets both language and creative standards. In centralized localization management models:
- Localization efficiency and cost control can easily become an organization’s main drivers.
- Over-centralization often occurs – efficiency becomes everything, technology rules.
- High-volume, quick-turnaround language delivery becomes the definition of scale.
- Localization technology dictates the content-creation process, and “quality” becomes a unicorn that companies seek out in endless RFP cycles.
- In-country linguistic and creative talent – critical to drive local engagement at scale – is devalued in the process.
DECENTRALIZED MODEL FOR A MARKETING LOCALIZATION STRATEGY
In this model, regional office typically create content in-country, working with local agencies against central brand and marketing guidelines.
- Highly effective content. Empowers in-country stakeholders around local content goals.
- Each market is responsible for its own content development, reducing the need for global management and oversight.
- Increased flexibility and maximum tuning of content for local needs.
- Budget and time-to-market managed on locally relevant objectives and goals.
WHERE IT GOES WRONG
A decentralized model in a marketing localization strategy can result in loss of brand control. Many organizations find that local markets can go beyond adaptation. Modified brand standards, value propositions, or misinterpreted messaging becomes the norm, and the outcome is diluted brand identity, duplicated effort, and the loss of opportunity to leverage insights & content successes across markets. Lack of centralized oversight often means:
- Brand positioning, look and feel, and tone of voice can become inconsistent.
- Use of different colors, fonts, and logos from country to country.
- Unclear or altered campaign goals, such as implying premium positioning for a mid-market product (or worse, the opposite).
- Poorly managed online assets, which may have an impact on the performance of search marketing efforts.
- Cost efficiencies and operational optimization become impossible to deliver; centralized marketing data and ROI are challenged.
HYBRID MODEL: BALANCING GLOBAL INTEGRATION AND LOCAL EXECUTION
Getting the balance right between locally and centrally managed international content production is crucial to a successful marketing localization strategy. And that’s exactly what a hybrid model can deliver. It unites the best features of centralized efficiency with the essential involvement of in-country stakeholders and creative talent.
In a hybrid model, strategy and KPIs are centralized, while execution involves heavy engagement and collaboration at the local level based on a company’s (and each country’s) needs. Through this approach, the results win out, not any one method of scaling content delivery.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT A HYBRID MODEL AT YOUR COMPANY
1. Align the right people, process, and systems with the tactics that will help you get the best results. The right model for your organization likely doesn’t exist “out of the box.”
Avoid the temptation to trade long-term marketing localization scale for short-term quick and easy outcomes. Remember that people are central to marketing and creative content, from in-country linguists to designers to your in-country stakeholders. Processes and systems should be geared toward maximizing human creative talent, setting everyone up for success. Keep in mind that agency “partners” work far more effectively to help you grow than “vendors.”
2. Ensure brand consistency while tailoring style guidelines and key messaging based on in-country UX standards.
A hybrid approach enables better control of messaging across media, while leveraging crucial local insights and feedback from in-country stakeholders and offering the opportunity to share budgets with local offices.
And it is possible to leverage centralized localization industry-standard tools, such as glossaries and translation memories, for creative content. They simply require a content management strategy adapted for creative needs and skill in managing and maintaining these living assets.
3. Don’t get hung up on translating everything.
Consider what will have the biggest impact in each market and be selective about what you translate. Because when it comes to marketing localization, translation is a tactic, not the goal. It’s just one piece of the puzzle. From an ROI perspective, it pays to think beyond language delivery at scale and avoid the temptation to mass-translate every word of English.
In scaling your marketing localization strategy, a hybrid approach is crucial to achieving both effectiveness and efficiency. The right agency partner will offer marketing and creative services that combine the best features of centralized efficiency with the essential involvement of in-country stakeholders and creative talent. They’ll mobilize the people, process, and systems that are key to an effective delivery model in order to drive success based on your content goals. The right partner will operate as an extension of your team and pivot with you as you grow and scale your international content.