Localization is about adapting your content for international audiences. Marketing is about driving action and getting audiences to engage with your content. When the two come together – and inform each other – that’s when the magic happens. 

An effective strategy that blends marketing + localization best practice can take your brand global, engage local audiences, and drive ROI without breaking your budget. Here’s why that blend matters.

LOCALIZATION NORMS UNDERCUT MARKETING GOALS

Producing content in-language will certainly help an organization achieve a multilingual presence. But it doesn’t in itself deliver a positive customer experience, build brand awareness, or drive sales.

For example, an efficiently translated website delivers a level of understanding about your offering. But it won’t necessarily be discoverable on local search engines or inspire action from international consumers. The content you decide to localize has to be relevant, authentic, and engaging in-market in the same way that your domestic content fulfills those goals at home. Translation is just the first step in achieving that. It’s a tactic, not the goal. 

Language service providers (LSPs) are highly effective at providing high-volume translation services across a wide range of languages and content formats. And they do it quickly and efficiently with technology and workflows designed to drive cost savings. However, while language “quality” is often a key selling point, in practice its meaning is subjective. The true value of translation relies on the contextual environment in which it’s consumed. And LSPs rarely think strategically about marketing goals for the content they’re working with.

Simply put, traditional localization isn’t enough for your marketing content. Unless your marketing goals inform your localization strategy, the content you localize could fall flat with global audiences and cost you the results you’re looking for.

MARKETING FALTERS WITHOUT LOCALIZATION STRATEGY 

Marketing teams rarely approach localization strategically and often lack the international network of in-country talent they need to succeed. Even big-brand global marketing agencies with international locations don’t always collaborate between offices on clients’ international efforts. When adapting US marketing for a global audience, most marketing agencies source localization providers to help them do that. And they seldom involve their end-client in the selection process.

When that happens, their focus is rarely on evaluating appropriate localization services (translation, transcreation, concept adaptation, image sourcing, design, UX, etc.) based on marketing goals. Finding a localization partner becomes a transactional, language-only effort that’s often too close to the launch date to achieve meaningful results.

This might be fine for simple informational content like product descriptions. But for heavily branded, creative content or digital marketing campaigns, one-size-fits-all translation just won’t cut it. A marketing localization mindset is key to determining the best approach based on what the content is for and who its audience is.

When localization best practice doesn’t inform your global marketing strategy, the quality of translation and the in-language experience can suffer. And your international audience won’t relate to content that doesn’t feel authentic and relevant to them.

THE BLEND: MARKETING LOCALIZATION

Successful marketing content isn’t just understandable. It inspires the consumer to take action. And you can measure its value in real business terms – increased sales, brand sentiment, etc. 

Marketing localization is about understanding international audiences, considering which content is most relevant to them, and localizing that content – from language to visuals and user experience – in a locally authentic way. It means your content can be found online (based on local search preferences) and promoted via digital marketing strategy based on in-country consumer behavior. By measuring and iterating based on those activities, you can continue to develop locally effective content to drive long-term growth.

Marketing localization is a growth investment with measurable goals and KPIs, including ROI. Marketing metrics can inform which content makes sense to localize and help make the case for expanding in-market activities. This allows you to be strategic with limited localization budgets. So you can define local needs and demonstrate localization value based on in-market trends and results.

When localization is carried out thoughtfully, in the context of your business and marketing goals, you’ll have not only a more effective end product, but a cost-effective investment in your long-term international growth.

FINAL THOUGHT

Localization is about adapting US English source content to create an authentic linguistic, visual, and interactive experience. Marketing is about driving engagement with localized content, inspiring action in the target audience, and defining the goals that measure success.

These two disciplines should be properly blended and balanced in the context of your company’s international goals. If not, both can be adequate, and may even deliver short-term results. But neither will achieve the international growth potential you’re after.