Localization strategy

Localization Management: What It Is, and Why It Matters for Global Growth

Learn what localization management is, why it matters, and how best you can use it to expand the global footprint of your business with the help of localization technology.
Localization strategy blog category featured image | Phrase

Localization management means structuring, organizing, measuring, monitoring, and optimizing the process of adapting a product for different target markets.

If your business is operating in different markets, you may sooner or later face the question of how to manage multilingual content effectively to reach as many customers as possible.

With 65% of online buyers preferring content in their language, you could be missing out on significant business opportunities if you offer an English-only product that fails to address local needs, expectations, and preferences.

Localization management can be the key to bridging that gap. Keep reading to learn what it is, why it matters, and how best you can use it to expand the global footprint of your business with the help of localization technology.

What is localization management?

Localization management means structuring, organizing, measuring, monitoring, and optimizing the process of adapting a product for different target markets. This adaptation is called “localization.” To make the most of it, you need to bring all processes and stakeholders together on a localization management platform.

Effective localization management can mean the difference between the success and failure of your global expansion. That’s why, before you launch into reaching new target markets, be sure to create a clear localization strategy and select the right localization technology.

Why do global businesses need localization?

It might be tempting to think that an English-only product will be able to reach the majority of the world’s online population. However, the stats tell a different story: English speakers account for only 26% of internet users. The rest of the world is online and looking for content in their own language.

This means that if your site is in English only, you’re effectively ignoring 3/4 of all internet users. That’s a pretty big market share. Of course, not everyone surfing the net is going to be interested in your product. Still, with a strong localization strategy and the right localization management technology, you can reach significantly more customers across markets.

Here are some of the most important advantages of localization for your business:

Increased market share

Through localization, you can enter new markets and get a piece of the global pie. The lack of awareness about local customs, preferences, and language nuances can be a big barrier to entry for international businesses.

By contrast, assessing how the product fits into the local context and devising a strategy for successful localization can help you walk right in and start selling.

Increased revenue

As your share of the market dramatically increases with each country you enter, so do your revenue streams. Fortune 500 companies that invest in localization report higher revenue than those that don’t, which is a strong indication that localization equals more money.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all localization ROI model—with some companies measuring ROI in terms of increased sales, and others looking at various factors such as customer satisfaction or time to market—a product that adapts to the local context is more likely to appeal to customers and generate revenue.

A competitive advantage

Competition in the global marketplace is fierce. One simple and effective way to master your market positioning and gain a competitive advantage is through website and app localization.

Your localization strategy will help you understand how customers perceive your brand and product, what needs and wants they have, what your competitors are offering them, and how you can meet their expectations better than anyone else. You’ll be leagues ahead of any competitors still trying to force a one-size-fits-all product on a worldwide audience.

Strengthened credibility

When you localize your content for your customers, you treat everyone as if they’re first-class citizens. Rather than offering a weakly translated version of your original content, you show your customers that you understand and care about their problems, needs, and wishes.

In simple words? You speak their language. You know what products they like and how to communicate with them—and credibility comes naturally when you do that. Imagine trying to promote your winter line of wooly scarves to people living in the Southern hemisphere in a heatwave in summer. Localization helps you avoid such scenarios and maintain a high level of credibility with your customers.

Higher global brand visibility

When you enter a new market, it’s not enough to simply “be there”—you want people to talk about your brand, and talk positively. On top of that, you want a consistent message, both in terms of quality and tone, across all markets. After all, what makes a global brand is a recognizable identity that people can connect with regardless of where they are, and which simultaneously caters to their specific needs.

A well-executed localization strategy will help you understand the local culture and context, craft a message that’s relevant to your audience without losing the essence of your brand, and make sure that you deliver that message in a way that resonates—and converts.

Why is localization management important for business?

Localization entails more than just translating text from one language to another. It encompasses the adaptation of all elements of your product or service—from the user interface and the color palette to content, functionalities, and even the business model—to specific regions or locales, considering the cultural, linguistic, and even political nuances that make each market unique.

It’s a complex process that requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders, including localization managers, translators, project managers, developers, and testers. It also requires reconciling different tools, workflows, and even file formats. All of this can quickly become overwhelming without a localization management platform to centralize all your localization efforts.

Localization management tools can help you automate, streamline, and optimize your localization processes, making them more efficient and cost-effective. They can also help you manage your relationships with localization vendors, track progress, and measure the results of your localization efforts.

A localization management platform provides a single source of truth for all your localization data and brings together all the tools, processes, and people involved in your localization efforts. This makes it key to ensure the success of your localization projects and, ultimately, your global expansion.

The benefits of localization management

By making it easier to control the localization process like the strings in a marionette, the right localization management service, website localization tool, or app localization tool will help you:

  • Increase productivity: Localization management tools include features such as translation memories, which let you set up a database of previously translated content. This can help you improve turnaround times, as you can simply recycle existing content rather than starting from scratch each time. Add machine translation capabilities to the mix, and you can further speed up the localization process.
  • Ensure quality and consistency: The best localization management platforms will help you maintain consistent branding and terminology across all your localization projects through purpose-built features such as glossaries and term bases. They’ll also help you automate quality assurance (QA) checks on your localization projects to ensure that they meet your standards. This includes checking for things like incorrect tagging, formatting issues, typos, terminological inconsistencies, and so on.
  • Save time and money: Localization management is all about automating localization tasks such as project initiation, file preparation, notification and assignment of tasks to linguists and other stakeholders, and quality assurance. Automating localization processes can help you achieve significant cost savings. For example, you can use machine translation (MT) to generate initial translations, which a professional human translator can edit and finalize.
  • Track progress and measure results: Localization management tools give you visibility into every aspect of your localization projects. This includes being able to track the progress of each project, see which tasks have been assigned to which stakeholders, see analytics on translation quality and the performance of individual translators, and measure the results of your localization efforts in terms of key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Become more agile: Content integration is an essential feature of any localization management platform. It allows you to let content flow freely between your localization tool and different systems, such as your content management system (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM) system, or ecommerce platform. This gives you the agility to localize on the fly, without having to go through a lengthy process of exporting and importing files each time you need to make a change.
  • Improve collaboration: Localization management tools improve collaboration between all stakeholders involved in localization projects. For example, many platforms include features such as a comments section, where stakeholders can discuss localization issues and provide feedback. Others allow your designers to include automatic screenshots of their designs in the localization platform so that localization teams can access more context and see how the translated text will fit into the design.

These are just some of the ways in which localization management can benefit your business. The key is assessing your specific localization needs and finding the localization management platform that’s right for you.

Localization management needs a clear strategy

A localization strategy should be the foundation of any localization management process. It’s what will help you determine your localization goals, priorities, and processes, and ensure that your localization efforts are aligned with your business goals rather than working in silos.

A localization strategy will inform your localization management decisions. It should answer questions such as:

  • What are your localization goals?
  • Who are your target markets?
  • What content do you need to localize?
  • How will you manage and optimize your localization workflow?
  • What technology do you need to support your localization efforts?
  • What budget do you have for localization?
  • How will you measure the success of your localization efforts?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a clear understanding of your localization needs and requirements. This will make it easier, among other things, to select the right localization management platform for your business.

For example, if you establish that you need to turn around hundreds of product descriptions per day for different markets, you’ll need a localization management platform with specific features. For example, content integration with your ecommerce platform, AI-driven machine translation to speed up the localization process, and advanced reporting to help you pinpoint localization bottlenecks.

What is localization management software?

Localization management software is a tool that helps you manage the localization process from start to finish. It typically includes a combination of features that allow you to streamline localization operations.

Below are some of the most common features of localization management software:

A translation memory (TM)

A translation memory is a database of all the translated content that your localization team has produced. It’s used to store translations so that future localization projects can benefit from previously translated content. This saves time and ensures consistency across your localization efforts.

Term bases

A good way to reduce human oversight and localization errors is to use a glossary of terms, also known as a term base. This is a repository of all the approved terms and phrases that translators should use in their localization work. It helps to ensure consistency and accuracy in your translations, and you can use it as a reference tool for future localization projects.

Integration with existing systems

Most localization management platforms offer some degree of integration with existing systems, such as your content management system (CMS), design software, coding environment, and so on. This allows you to streamline localization operations by automating tasks—such as importing and exporting files, sending notifications, and generating reports—and avoid errors and delays that can occur when localization teams have to switch between different tools.

Project and workflow management features

Localization projects can be complex, involving multiple stakeholders, workflows, and processes. Localization management platforms typically offer project management features to help localization teams keep track of all the moving parts and ensure that localization projects are completed on time.

Advanced reporting

Localization management platforms usually come with built-in reports that give you insights into your localization efforts. For example, you might be able to see how many words have been translated in a specific language, how much the project has cost so far, or which localization bottlenecks are causing delays.

Machine translation

Some localization management platforms offer machine translation (MT) capabilities. MT is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) that can be used to automatically translate content. While MT is not yet good enough to completely replace human translators, it can be used to speed up the localization process significantly. By translating large amounts of content quickly—especially low-visibility or non-customer-facing content—MT can free up localization teams to focus on more creative or complex localization tasks.

The benefits of localization management software at a glance

Check out the benefits of using a localization management platform vs. localizing manually.

Why working without a localization platform is painful How a localization platform benefits your projects
You have to carry out lengthy and tiring manual work You can stay productive by automating repetitive tasks
There are no useful resources to rely on, such as a translation memory You can use previous translations and past work to speed up your projects
You’ll have to shift through and fix a ton of human errors and mistakes Avoid simple errors completely with built-in quality control
Start each new localization project from scratch Use your translation memory to speed up projects and improve consistency
Take longer to build a product without the use of technology Complete your product faster, in some cases, with just a few clicks
Reporting and monitoring will have to be done manually at every step Generate reports and monitor your project status with one click

What are some best practices for localization management?

When dealing with multiple languages and remote teams in different locations, there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid. For effective localization management, there are several best practices you can follow to keep your team on track and ensure you meet all deadlines.

Ensure internationalization before localization

Before you start on your website, app, or software, you should always design with localization in mind. Internationalization (i18n) is the process of preparing your product so that adapting it for different languages and cultures is easy.

By designing your product for localization from the start, you can avoid having to redesign your product later on—which can be both costly and time-consuming. Internationalization includes considerations such as not hard-coding translatable strings into the code, accounting for different writing directions, supporting variations in date, time, and number formats, etc.

Design with an international user experience (UX) in mind

It’s good practice to combine internationalization considerations with a localization-friendly user experience (UX) design. For example, space is a key element in any good UX design, and especially important when you plan to make your product available in more languages. Different languages take up different amounts of space, so leaving enough room to accommodate new ones is vital.

Adapting the user experience to local expectations is also about:

  • Verifying the cultural appropriateness of your visuals, such as graphics, colors, icons, and illustrations
  • Fulfilling local expectations for layout, such as where navigation links should be placed
  • Ensuring the overall tone and style of your product is appropriate for each target market—for example, whether it should be formal or informal
  • Letting users choose what language they want to use rather than imposing a language based on their location
  • Supporting locally preferred payment methods

Test localizability early and often

Testing is essential before you launch your product to the market. Localization testing includes rigorous linguistic testing, to ensure that all your translated content is up to par, and functional testing to check that there are no bugs in your software, no date formats are incorrect, or broken strings appear.

Testing is a fundamental part of any project, and an effective localization management tool can help you program appropriate tests throughout your project. Some common areas to check include:

  • Hardware compatibility
  • The format of times, dates, weights, measurements, etc.
  • Entry fields
  • Hyperlinks
  • Images
  • Broken strings/design
  • Payment processing
  • Loading time
  • Spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors
  • Cultural appropriateness
  • Keyword use
  • Untranslated strings

Rely on the right localization management solution

Choosing the right localization management solution will ensure a seamless translation project from start to finish. With everything in one place, no key information is missing, no strings are forgotten, and everyone’s comments and questions are displayed. All your team members work on the same page, with context, instructions, and even the chance to chat with each other to bolster team spirit. Being confident in your translation management software will allow you to reap all the benefits of entering new markets faster and with reduced hassle and cost.