When going international, one of the biggest challenges organizations face is how to create effective content that scales across multiple markets. Many companies turn to language service providers (LSPs) that offer high-volume, low-cost translation solutions for cost and process efficiency. 

But this approach doesn’t scale well for marketing and creative content. The traditional LSP focus on centralized content efficiency, consistency, and reuse doesn’t naturally lend itself to locale-specific marketing and creative nuance. Organizations may be able to efficiently churn out multilingual content, but often miss out on a key element of marketing localization: ensuring their content is truly effective in meeting business and marketing goals in both the short and long term. Here’s what to keep in mind.

THE EFFICIENCY MINDSET AND WHAT GOES WRONG

In traditional localization delivery models, efficiency is key to scaling multilingual content needs. Efficient processes. Efficient technology. It’s all about producing in-language content quickly (and at volume), maximizing reuse, and reducing the cost of language over time.

However, for marketing and creative content, this efficiency formula is oversimplified. Traditional LSP solutions certainly help establish a multilingual presence quickly, but they rarely address marketing goals. This can put companies at risk of:

1. Limited scope for customer experience.

Any company is likely to see expanded market reach by simply translating their content. Brands can reach 90% of global online GDP by localizing into just 14 languages. And international consumer preference toward making buying decisions in their own language is well-established. But the impact of translating everything may be short-lived and doesn’t guarantee long-term success. Your customers may tolerate and even welcome broadscale translated content. But translation is a tactic, not the goal. It’s the least a company can do to reach their international audiences. Translation alone is not a long-term solution for ensuring a satisfying global customer experience that leads to a strong brand and long-term customer loyalty in global markets.

2. Devalued human talent and poor quality.

When LSPs lead companies to think about scaling content purely in terms of production efficiency, in-country linguistic talent is often devalued in the process. For marketing and creative content, this can lead to poor quality – where meaning, connection, and relevance are literally lost in translation. Adapting content so that a company’s message, brand, and value proposition are conveyed in a locally authentic way often takes a more creative linguistic process. Many LSPs struggle to meet these needs at scale.

3. Localization software “lock-in.”

Software can be highly effective in quickly publishing and managing multilingual content. But it doesn’t necessarily allow for tailored content strategy at the local level. Companies may find themselves “locked in” on software designed for efficient translation management. And then find they can’t easily implement transcreated content or an international SEO strategy, or develop tailored blog content, landing pages, or other marketing tools at the local level. This can prevent efficiently translated content from ever becoming truly engaging and limit international growth. 

HOW TO CREATE EFFECTIVE CONTENT THAT SCALES

The goal of marketing localization is to achieve a balance between efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency addresses budget, accuracy, and time-to-market. Effectiveness addresses user experience, connection, engagement, and ROI over time. For marketing and creative content, both are critical.

The only way to achieve this at scale is to implement a hybrid strategy designed specifically to meet both short- and longer-term multilingual content needs. A global content model that balances the best features of centralized efficiency with the essential involvement of in-country stakeholders and creative talent. And that grows with your organization as your localization strategy matures.

To create effective content that scales internationally, strategy and KPIs are centralized, while execution involves heavy engagement and collaboration at the local level based on your organization’s needs. 

Doing this on-budget and on your organization’s timeline really isn’t as complicated as it may sound. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

1. Align the right people, process, and systems with the global digital marketing tactics that will help you get the best results.

Bear in mind that a future-proof multilingual content model for your organization likely doesn’t exist “out of the box.”

2. Ensure brand consistency while tailoring style guidelines and key messaging based on in-country UX standards.

The right model will enable central control of messaging across media, while leveraging crucial local insights and feedback from in-country stakeholders alongside the opportunity to share budgets with local offices.

3. Don’t get hung up on translating everything.

Consider what will have the biggest impact in each market and be selective. Remember, when it comes to marketing, translation is just one piece of the puzzle.

4. Select the right localization partner.

Check whether the agencies you’re working with offer marketing and creative services such as transcreation, copywriting, design, and UX. You may not need these things right away, but you’ll need them down the line if you’re going to scale your marketing and creative content to drive ROI for the long-term.

FINAL THOUGHT

Gaining international market-share goes beyond making sure international consumers simply understand what’s being said in their language. It’s about inspiring and engaging them around a message to evoke a specific set of feelings, drive action, and get results. Marketing localization is part of a broader global strategy. It’s a business investment with measurable goals and KPIs, including ROI. 

The answer lies in connecting the dots between traditional language services, strategic local content, and localized marketing activities. Your global marketing goals should inform your system and process decisions, not the other way around. 

The right partner for your marketing localization needs will help you scale for both efficiency and effectiveness so that you can easily leverage results and insights across markets while creating content that’s locally authentic and relevant. And crucially, they will only recommend marketing localization strategy and activities that align with your organization’s global growth goals.