It should come as no surprise that people prefer to spend time on websites that are written in their native languages, and that reflect their local culture and manners of communicating. In fact, studies have confirmed that this is the case. In addition to this people are also hesitant to make purchases from companies if online support is not in their language as well. This includes support offered via chatbots.
Digging even deeper into the numbers, over 56% of consumers claim that the ability to get information on products and services in their native language trumped pricing in terms of preference. In addition to this, according to the same source, over 40 percent of companies defined as luxury brands have created a localized Facebook presence. The growth and engagement on these localized pages surpasses that of their global pages.
Of Course Localization Isn’t All About Translation
One mistake that many brands make is that they focus solely on translating their existing websites, blogs, and landing pages into new languages. This simply isn’t localization. First and foremost, translation, even when done by a human and especially when done by a machine, doesn’t change content in a way that reflects local culture. There is much that can be lost when language is the only thing addressed in localization efforts.
Instead of translating their websites and hoping for the best, successful brands are focusing on creating the best possible customer experiences for their customers by using transcreation. Instead of simply taking what is written in one language and translating it into another language. Transcreation involves taking existing branding and messaging and making it relevant to the target audience.
When customers navigate websites that aren’t just in their language, but are fully relatable to them, the resulting experience is much more pleasing. This is why transcreation involves modifying symbols, pricing and date formats, and other items that can be variable. Transcreation also recognizes that two locales that speak the same language can be culturally very different from one another.
Localization And Customer Security
It is important to note that it is especially important that localization efforts reflect local customs and expectations in the areas of financial and personal confidentiality. For example, certain trust badges that indicate that a website is secure and that customers can feel safe making purchases might be meaningless in another location.
The Role of Translation in Localization
Although it is important to understand that there is more to creating better customer experiences via localization than translation, it is also important to understand the role that translation plays. A certified translation service will have translators available who know how to translate language based on common usage rather than simply providing literal translations. Consider Lingvo House or a smaller local agency.
Risks of Poor Transcreation Efforts
Five years ago, Puma decided to create a pair of shoes celebrating the United Arab Emirates 40th annual national day. The shoe, featured on the company’s localized website sported the colors of the flag of the UAE. To put it lightly, people were incensed. The idea that the colors of the flag would be worn on an item that came into contact with dirt (or worse) absolutely horrified people. It took a long time for Puma to overcome that blunder.
Competitive Analysis And Customer Experience
As companies move into other countries, it is extraordinarily important that they pay attention to what companies that are already in their niche are doing. However, this isn’t just for gaining an understanding of marketing tactics that work on local populations, it’s also for understanding acceptable ways of interacting with local cultures and meeting buyer’s expectations.
For example, images and symbols on your packaging could mean something entirely different in another culture. For example, a smiling picture of someone giving the ‘thumbs up’ gesture on a box of cereal is perfectly fine in the United States. Unfortunately, it is quite offensive in the Middle East and Australia.
Transcreation + Branding = Bonding
In a perfect world, your branding would translate perfectly from one country and one culture to another. Unfortunately this is rarely the case. You will have to engage in at least some rebranding in order to reach new customers in new places.
Obviously, that’s a lot to put on your plate. You’re faced with translating your content, ensuring that you are modifying that content for culture and not just a new language, and on top of that you have to form a new branding identity that works for your new audience. You’ll need a lot of resources to make that happen. However, if you can navigate the transcreation process successfully, your new audience will connect with your brand.
Conclusion: Prepare to Embrace Change
Ultimately creating a great customer experience is akin to being a great host, no matter who visits your home. This means being sensitive to their customs and traditions. It also means creating a sense of familiarity that makes them feel comfortable.
To accomplish this, you must take the time to educate yourself about your new target audience, get professional assistance where needed, and have a willingness to rebrand in order to form bonds with your new customers.
Freelance writer and digital marketing buff. Five years in online marketing. One year as a World Teach Volunteer. I love testing custom acquisition growth hacks and always on the look out for new startups.