What's Your Website Localization Strategy?

May 15, 2015
By: TMCnet Special Guest
Clint Poole, Vice President of Global Marketing, Lionbridge

In today’s highly connected and globalized world, brands are increasingly looking to capitalize on the heightened ease of access and entry into new markets. As any successful global brand can tell you, expansion into new markets entails much more than merely opening an office or offering shipping to a new country. Expansion takes strategy and planning, and for marketers, this process often entails spearheading innovative and effective ways to connect with customers across regions.

Enter your website localization strategy. Beyond simple translation, website localization incorporates a number of other crucial factors. For instance, if a company is localizing a landing page for a product, the product features may need to be adjusted based on regional differences, and the product name will also need to be double (and triple) checked to ensure it does not translate into (or sound similar) to an offensive or otherwise undesirable name.

To better understand the state of website localization today, Lionbridge recently conducted a survey of hundreds of marketing, IT, and localization professionals from more than 30 countries, and the numbers revealed several challenges – as well as opportunities – in this evolving space. For instance, today, localization activities largely fall to marketing departments, and translation quality was most often cited as the top website localization challenge.

The good news is a majority of respondents are already localizing content, understanding that localization is an important step to ensure customers are receiving relevant information and that their companies are maintaining brand consistency across the globe. For example, nearly all respondents (93 percent) translate product/services solutions pages. This was followed by campaign and landing pages, marketing assets, and press releases; on the other hand, just over a third (36 percent) of respondents translate blogs. Given that blogs are great tools to humanize a brand and connect more casually with customers, this is a surprisingly low number.

These statistics underscore the need for a strong website localization strategy, but shockingly, nearly half (40 percent) of respondents reported

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that they do not currently have formal strategies in place. Considering how often content is being localized – nearly 40 percent localize content weekly and an additional 27 percent localize content monthly – it appears some brands are executing on localization without first stepping back and developing a thoughtful strategy.

There is clearly an opportunity for companies to create a localization strategy – and it is easier and less expensive than some may initially think. To start, it is important to understand the pitfalls associated with translating content on an ad hoc basis, which does not allow for the level of consistency that global brands should be seeking. Vital details, such as tone and writing style, can vary from one language service provider to another, or even from one translator to another. Instituting a formal strategy can help ensure as much consistency as possible – such as by utilizing a group of translators who are familiar with the corporate messaging guidelines and general style guide.

When it comes to the benefits of a website localization strategy, companies will see improved translation quality and cost, which were the two largest challenges identified by survey respondents. In addition to creating a better final product, developing a website localization strategy has a two-fold benefit of also reducing cost. Many language service providers offer bundled discounts – for example, an organization could purchase a package to localize a certain number of websites in a month for a flat rate, rather than paying for one page at a time, which is usually a costlier option. Selecting a primary and secondary language service provider also has additional benefits, such as a more thorough translation memory database and a much higher likelihood that the translators will already be familiar with the global brand and its products.   

Given that nearly half (44 percent) of respondents are planning on expanding into new markets in the next three years, it simply makes sense to employ a website localization strategy. Doing so will help all stakeholders, from both the organization and the language services provider, to stay on the same page and eliminate as much confusion and uncertainty as possible, while also providing an added bonus of a reduced per page cost.