Localizing your marketing content to give it global reach is a tough job. If you’re just starting out with global content marketing campaigns, you need to know that localization is NOT just translation. It’s changing slang, usage, style, cultural references, and anything else that would seem foreign to a foreign reader into something that fits their culture and language. At the same time, localized content also needs to retain enough branding to provide a unified and universal customer experience. It’s not easy!
Worse, localization is too often done after a piece is completed. This is too late in the process. It’s much easier to integrate slang, cultural references, and idioms relevant to your culture when the piece is still in the early stages. Yet even this is not enough to create powerful localized campaigns. Why?
Too often, localization efforts treat everyone in the same country or targeted region as a singular buyer persona. Localization efforts need to start at the buyer persona level. Just like age, gender, and other demographic information, country of origin is a powerful differentiator in how people receive and respond to marketing content. You might be surprised how a subtle word choice or even the use of a number can have a powerful positive or negative effect in response.
One way to start developing international buyer personas is through contextual marketing. This is a powerful data-driven technique that can be used to further segment your localization efforts and make them more powerful. Contextual marketing is using a person’s online behavior to understand when they might be ready for a particular marketing message. Ad retargeting is just one example of contextual marketing, but it can also be used for localization.
Contextual marketing is all about placing your customers and your content into different contexts so you can match the right content to the right people at the right time. Localization just adds another level of complexity to your existing contexts. How do you start getting the data necessary to create country-specific contexts?
The easiest way to start looking at differences in customer behavior in countries is to start segregating by location data and looking for trends. Nearly everyone carries a smartphone and geolocation tools such as smartwatches, make it easy to determine where individuals are. If you already have people from other countries looking at your content, pull them into a separate segment and see how they act differently from people in other countries. Be prepared to suspend a lot of judgments about your current buyer personas when you look at the data. Cultural differences can be significant enough that approaching a country with your current personas could alienate them.
In the future, CONCURED will be able to provide location data on the people reading your content and your competitor’s content. This will make it much easier to see behavior changes between countries in your space and create much stronger buyer personas.
Once you have localized personas, here is a way to quickly create pieces for those personas while taking the complexities of localization into account. Instead of sending finished pieces to your localization teams, send them a brief of all of the major points you want every person to encounter when they read the content. From this outline, it’s much easier to create localized articles that stay on message and speak to local audiences and avoids the problem of trying to do it at the last minute.
It is our hope that CONCURED will become the content strategy platform for international content strategists who want to improve their localization efforts.
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