The Internet has changed many fundamental aspects of business. Whether you realize it or not, your business is now competing on the world stage against competitors near and far.
At the same time, there has been a steady release of marketing tools designed to help you promote your business to this international market. Often these tools are so simple to use that businesses jump straight in, blasting their marketing message across the globe.
Despite the best intentions, these ‘do it yourself’ campaigns generally fail – sometimes at great cost to the business. By making it so easy to get started, many marketers are being tricked into ignoring the fundamentals of their trade – analyzing international markets on a local level.
Understanding market differences
Before beginning any international campaign, it is crucial to understand the difference between global marketing and localized marketing.
What is global marketing?
At the most basic level, global marketing is generalized messaging intended for everyone. Your website homepage is a perfect example because it has to be written in such a way that as many people as possible can understand who your business is and what you offer.
Typically, globalized marketing materials are written in English, the world’s de facto second language.
Global marketing campaigns are useful for raising the profile of your business and its services, and for driving sales to larger companies. Assuming English is not your first language, you will need a translator to prepare your copy for an international audience. You will also need an SEO expert to optimize that content to rank highly on global search engines.
What is localized marketing?
Localized marketing is far more focused, with a much smaller target audience. A good example would be a sales email sent to potential customers in Poland.
For maximum conversions, the email needs to be written in Polish, and to take account of local customs and norms. And the same is true of any campaign materials aimed at a specific international market – including website landing pages.
Localized marketing is a very involved process. Even if the content is roughly the same, marketers are effectively running one campaign per language/country that is being targeted. To ensure their message is properly tailored to the cultural norms of their target market, marketers will need to use native speakers who are familiar with both language and convention.
Why localized marketing beats global marketing
Search engines like Google help to promote the illusion of localization through the use of pay per click (PPC) advertising. Using PPC, marketers can display text ads to people in their target markets, encouraging a click through to their website.
But without tailoring the landing page to the target market, all you end up with is extra visitors – the number of sales from these clicks will remain disappointing. Worse still, many of these clicks – which you are charged for – will be a complete waste of money.
Instead, marketers must allocate their spending more carefully. Research produced by Common Sense Advisory Inc found that leading companies spend between 0.03% and 1% of annual revenue on activities related to multilingual code and content.
For the Chief Financial Officer, this may sound like an excessive outlay. The evidence, however, proves that this investment drives more than enough revenue to cover the outlay and increase profits. Indeed, 67% of those businesses who have the most mature localization programs invest more than $2 million every year on language services because this spend is understood to be a revenue enabler.
Ultimately localization outperforms global advertising because it is better targeted to your audience.
Getting started with localization
The preparations for a localization program are remarkably similar to any other marketing campaign. The real difference is with the resources used to execute the campaign.
Research possible markets
With a global campaign, the location of the end user is of little importance – you simply want to reach as many people as possible. A localised campaign is more finely targeted, so you need to decide where to target. Specific products and services will perform very well in some markets, and not at all in others. To avoid wasting your budget, identify those hopeless markets early, then focus on those most likely to do well.
Understand your target markets
There are countless examples of businesses making disastrous international product launches because they failed to understand the cultural norms of their new market.Take KFC for instance. When the fried-chicken franchise expanded operations into China, they accidentally translated their infamous slogan “Finger-licking’ good” to a not-so-appetizing phrase: “Eat your fingers off.”In the end, however, the blunder didn’t end up hurting KFC too badly: It’s the No. 1 quick-service restaurant brand in China today, with more than 4,400 restaurants in more than 850 cities.
There is only so much research you will be able to do without in-depth knowledge of your target market. Partnering with a localisation expert like PromoLingua gives you access to a dedicated team of linguists based in-country.This use of in-country linguists is vital to your localisation efforts. Not only will they help you avoid making a mistake like KFC, but they can help shape your message to ensure its meaning is not lost.
With the per-campaign research and planning complete, your business can move on to executing the campaign. As mentioned before, this will actually be very similar to the campaigns you run in your home territory. Just make sure that you follow any additional guidance provided by your localization partner.
Ready to learn more? Contact our localization experts today and let us help guide you through the localization process, to ensure your message is properly understood – and your marketing budget is not wasted.