There comes a moment in the lifetime of a product when its local market becomes too crampet for it. But goods and services that are successful on their local market, may fail, nevertheless, in a new region.. There are multiple reasons why products fail in a new market, and one of them is the cultural barrier.
Product localization is a way to overcome this barrier and prepare for a better introduction of a product to a new market. Localization makes the product closer to customers by considering local culture, laws, and language nuances in translation.
In this article, we are going to discuss the importance of product localization, provide tips on how to prepare for it, describe the process as well as share some of the best product localization practices.
To localize a product or a service is to translate, modify and adapt it for the target language. Localization is different from regular translation work: the job of a localizer is to consider the cultural, religious, social, and behavioral nuances of a target audience.
But why should you as a product owner bother with localization when you can hire a translator? The research submitted by CSA in 2020 claims that 76% of customers won’t buy a product if the description was written in a foreign language. The same report states that the business risks losing 40% of the market if it made a decision to not localize its products. Why does localization matter so much?
Now that we are talking about introducing the brand to a new audience, you might wonder what actions you should take to succeed. The process of preparation of a product for a new market is called a localization strategy. While it might seem unnecessary to invest in a long-term operation, the more regions your brand expands to, the more complex the localization process becomes.
At first, it might be easy to manage localization for two or three foreign countries, but as time goes on and your product gains popularity, you might face a situation where your knowledge and cultural experience won’t be enough. This is why localization strategy is as important as a marketing strategy: if it’s inefficient, you will lose a part of the market.
A classic example of a successful localization strategy is Netflix. This streaming service captures a wide global audience, providing voiceover and subtitles for shows and movies. Their strategy works so well, that 90% of the German TV series Dark audience comes from outside Germany. And Netflix doesn’t stop there: the service makes subtle changes to app navigation and UI for different countries.
If you find yourself curious, you can learn more about localization strategy. Now, let’s prepare to successfully localize your product.
The first thing to consider in your localization strategy is that product support is a continuous process. As you are improving the quality and widening the range of products, you will have to control and monitor a lot of drafts, documentation, and translation. Continuous localization is a challenging task, but you can make it easier by leveraging existing tools:
While translation tools are very helpful, tools alone won’t provide a good localization. As you prepare for localization:
Now that you are familiar with preparations for localization, let’s explore the process itself.
As it was mentioned before, localization differs from regular translation. You can’t just dive in and start translating your documentation. Before you start the localization process, conduct extensive research on the market and cultural preferences of potential customers. To estimate the potential of your product on a foreign market, answer the following questions:
Answering these questions, keep in mind that advertisements that work well in your native country might not work for a different region. Be adaptive and innovate, consider marketing choices that your competitors made to achieve popularity.
Another thing you must research is local laws and customs. Following local law will eliminate the risk of lawsuits and allow you to communicate with local partners. Look carefully through regulations for quality, safety, and advertisements.
In a perfect scenario, you will eventually localize almost every part of your product: from names to the product description to documentation. But in reality, localization should be effective. You should prioritize the content that should be localized first, otherwise, the expenses will be too high. Research will aid you to determine local demands. Here are examples of content that you’d want to localize as soon as possible:
In most situations, the first step is to localize your website. Global consumers often look through brand web pages to familiarize themselves with a newcomer. A properly localized webpage will boost the customer impression of the brand.
If you chose to localize, you might find yourself in a position where you have to engage an outsource translation service provider. Pick a service provider with experience in localization in multiple languages, good reviews, and an established portfolio. Such a provider will become a trusted partner and give a perfect look to your product.
To oversee and control the localization process, you can hire a product localization manager. Product localization managers are responsible for schedules, suppliers, selection, and management of the localization team. They serve as a bridge between client and service provider, ensuring comfortable communication and high-quality, efficient work.
After a language service provider has translated the materials, the client can involve an in-country reviewer into the localization process. In-country review is a validation of translated material by a local reviewer. ICR is used to ensure that the translation is culturally relevant.
In-country reviewers typically aren’t professional linguists, which means their proofreading ability might be better than their linguistic skill. To avoid troubles and miscommunications, clients need to establish certain guidelines for ICRs. These guidelines may include:
The output of an ICR is a localized material tailored to the target market.
Once everything is double-checked, you may finally release the product and collect the first user experiences. Remember that successful localization, like product development, is a continuous process. This process doesn’t stop after your product is released to a new market. After vital content was localized and the product was well-received, you can plan on localizing less important content. As you update your product, don’t forget to update localizations, too.
While automated translation tools can’t replace an actual translator, they can still help if you’re dealing with repetitive translations. Technology offers an opportunity to reduce localization efforts, cut costs, and speed up the process. A proper tech stack will help with project management, organize your translation files, and provide ready glossaries for future translations.
To successfully move forward, you need to have a grip on the problem you’re trying to solve with localization. Is your company focused on a specific international customer base, or is it trying to quickly expand? Should you strive for quality or efficiency, or both? Once you’ve defined your goals, you can form a model to work with your future localization partner.
Consider the following issues:
To help you evaluate the efficiency of your investments, there’s a performance measure called Return of Investment. Using this measure, you will be able to define direct and incremental revenue from sales of localized products and services.
ROI = (Current added value of localization – Cost of localization)/Cost of localization
Localization ROI is a bit more challenging than classic ROI. This is because localization ROI significantly varies depending on a company and the project. Calculating ROI of localization, you will need to:
In the end, you will have an improved view of the project, a clear understanding of the efficiency of your investments, and be more prepared to communicate your goals to the localizer.
A good localization strategy can unlock the limitless potential of the ever-expanding global market. Introducing your product to a new audience opens new ways to collect profit, stimulate global growth, and expand your business.
To properly manage delicate work that is localization, you need an experienced partner. With the support of the Palex team of skilled professionals, you can translate and localize your products and services into 80 languages. Contact us for a consultation on a profitable localization strategy.