A Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Localization

Localization strategy

Find out why designing a global marketing strategy around localization leads to more successful campaigns and gives you a distinctive edge over your competitors.
Localization strategy blog category featured image | Phrase

We live in the era of information technology, which has shrunk the world in an unprecedented way. Globalization has made it common for companies to conduct international operations, with global marketing topping the agenda of business executives across the globe.

With a crucial emphasis on international marketing efforts, figuring out how to make an impact in multiple markets and languages simultaneously can make a huge difference for any business that seeks to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace.

Keep reading to delve into how localization can strengthen your global marketing strategy and give you a leg up in the international market.

What is global marketing?

Global marketing is the set of processes and activities that lead to identifying, attracting, and satisfying customers from all over the world. It involves a comprehensive approach for conducting business in different countries as part of an overall strategy to meet or exceed organizational objectives and achieve sustainable global growth.

When expanding your business globally, some aspects that may change for each market you enter include:

  • The product portfolio: It may require the creation of custom products and services that meet customer needs in a given region or market.
  • The messaging: It’s important to adapt the content of your materials to the local preferences of each market, the economic climate, social trends and customs, and more.
  • The channels: How you use to reach your customers, such as the different social media, as well as the local partnerships you may need to form in order to distribute or sell your products or services.
  • The pricing structure: Global product pricing being an art in itself.
  • The business model: It’s likely going to be affected by local regulations and tax structures in each local market, among other things.

Some brands even adapt their names to meet language or cultural preferences. The US-based Lay’s potato chips, for example, are sold across the globe as “Walkers”, “Sabritas”, “Smiths”, or “Margarita”. What’s also interesting, Lay’s flavors vary not only from region to region in the US but also around the world to reflect popular foods in different countries.

How do you define a global marketing strategy?

A global marketing strategy is a solid plan for positioning a company’s brand in the international marketplace. It includes all of the ways in which your organization will compete in global markets.

To define a successful global marketing strategy, you need the input of every department of your company as well as a detail-oriented approach that considers the following aspects in each market you penetrate:

  • The value proposition: What makes the brand unique? Why should consumers care about it and choose to purchase your products or services instead of your competitors’?
  • The target audience: Which customers are you going to go after? Who makes up your ideal target customer segment? How will you stand out from local and global competitors for this particular group?
  • Success factors: What has to happen so that consumers in a given market will connect with your brand, identify with it, and choose it over the competition?
  • The business model: What are the most effective ways to build your brand in each market? How are you going to drive revenue in different markets since local regulations and financial conditions are likely to vary from one region to another?
  • The products and services: What are the primary offerings you’re going to promote in each market? How will you adapt them to local needs and culture?
  • The marketing mix: What are the most effective tactics for reaching your target customers, communicating with them, and closing a sale? What are the campaigns and activities you plan to undertake and their estimated costs? How are you going to position your brand in the minds of consumers?
  • The resources: What kind of investments, financial and human, are needed in order to execute the global marketing strategy? What kind of organizational structure, processes, and technology are you going to use to strengthen your brand globally?
  • The local factor: What are the cultural, economic, and political factors in each region that are likely to affect your brand’s success? How will you adapt your strategy to the local environment in each region? What are the messages and themes that are likely to resonate locally?

One of the most important factors that impact a company’s success in international marketing is the ability to design and deploy campaigns that sound and feel local to the different regions or markets. This is known as marketing localization.

What is localization in global marketing and why is it important?

Localization is the process of adapting all elements of your global marketing campaign to your target markets, so it can reflect the needs, interests, and context of customers in that specific area.

In order for a localization strategy to support global marketing initiatives, you need far more than just translating campaigns into the native language of each country. You need to understand variations from one market to another in terms of social values, economy, social trends, technology, legislation, and more.

When you show this kind of commitment to your customers upon entering a new market, they are more likely to respond positively to your brand, and several studies prove it.

The 2021 Hispanic Digital Fact Pack, for example, is a post-pandemic in-depth analysis focusing on Hispanic consumers in the United States. It provides insights into the nuances, attitudes, and habits of this growing market segment following a turbulent year of severe economic slowdown.

The report reveals that if a company takes the time to understand what really matters to Hispanic consumers and to include elements of their specific culture in their communications, 71% of them will think more positively about the brand or purchase its products.

Where do I start with my global marketing localization?

Ideally, you would want to localize all elements of your global marketing plan while maintaining global brand consistency: from the website and landing pages you design for international audiences, to your global communication campaigns and product offerings. Even the physical environment in which you hold a launch event or present an ad campaign matters.

As a first step, though, it’s helpful to identify those aspects of your global marketing plan that are likely to be most impactful with consumers in different regions. What are the specific elements that can make a difference and drive growth in various markets?

A good starting point is the marketing mix—also known as the 4 Ps of marketing—the set of elements you use to market and sell your products or services and build a brand:

  • Product: Localizing your product offering means adapting the product to local conditions. For example, a company in the electronics industry wanting to sell a digital camera in the Caribbean might consider customizing it with additional features such as underwater modes to make it particularly relevant for consumers there.
  • Price: When it comes to pricing, localization can be purely cosmetic—changing the currency symbol—or structural, e.g., raising the price in a market where you have higher costs or lowering it in a market where consumers find it harder to afford your product or service.
  • Place: Global marketing managers need to consider factors including distribution channels, retail locations, and web presence in each region. For example, a beauty product company might choose to work with partners in different regions to sell products through salon chains or online marketplaces that are most relevant for each area.
  • Promotion: You should aim to localize your marketing communications across channels—traditional and online. These include your website, social media presence, advertising campaigns, public relations efforts, and more. Localization can be as simple as changing the language of an advertisement, or it could involve actions such as tailoring the timing of a campaign to a regional event.

What about transcreation?

If you’ve been reading about international marketing lately, you may have come across the term “transcreation.” Let’s dissect it to understand what transcreation is, how it differs from localization, and why it can make a difference in your global marketing efforts.

We’ve established that localization goes much further than language and content (i.e., you can localize anything from your visuals to your UX to your pricing strategy).

Transcreation, on the other hand, is different—it’s all about the content. A hybrid between “translation” and “creation”, transcreation involves rewriting a text to adapt it to a specific culture or target audience.

Transcreators usually come into the picture when you need to adapt the most creative elements of a piece of content. For example, they might customize slogans, taglines, jokes, symbols, storytelling, and even emojis to be culturally relevant in each local market.

For example, in Japan, parents don’t use the story of a stork delivering babies to explain how their child arrived. Instead, they tend to explain that a baby came from a giant floating peach.

A diaper company from the UK aiming to increase sales in Japan would benefit from adapting its marketing to take advantage of this local myth (after all, most wouldn’t understand what the stork is all about!). A transcreator could serve up a new, Japanese-specific version of the ad campaign based on the peach story.

Global marketing examples that made history—the good and the bad

When looking for inspiration from global marketing examples, it’s useful to analyze not only global marketing campaigns that were successful and localization-aware, but also those that failed. Let’s look at a few examples of each.

Good: Mercedes-Benz

Originally Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG), this car manufacturing company was renamed Daimler-Benz in 1926 when Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz (from Benz & Cie.) signed the agreement for the merger of the two oldest automobile manufacturers in the world.

Both men had been designing and selling cars since the 1880s, with Emil Jellinek, an entrepreneur and racing enthusiast, as their largest dealer for DMG vehicles.

After Gottlieb Daimler passed away, Jellinek went on to help create the Mercedes 35hp in 1900. Jellinek named the new cars after his daughter, Mercédès Jellinek.

The company registered the wordmark “Mercedes-Benz” as a trademark in 1925. While the company continued to trade as Daimler-Benz, the car line began to carry the Mercedes-Benz name. Jellinek suspected that the German-sounding “Daimler” would not sell well in foreign markets—a strong localization example that we can still learn from almost a century later.

Bad: BMW

In 2016, BMW had to pull an ad from the United Arab Emirates after local complaints about the use of the country’s national anthem in the commercial.

The commercial opened with players of a local football team signing the UAE’s national anthem but stopping halfway to rush out of the stadium into a fleet of BMWs.

Locally, the ad sparked complaints that it was disrespectful to the national anthem because it implied that the cars were more important than the anthem.

BMW subsequently decided to stop airing the commercial locally until they could re-edit it with a different soundtrack.

Had BWM been more aware of the local context, they might have avoided faux pas and chosen a different, culturally respectful way to advertise their product. They would have also saved themselves considerable costs from having to reshoot the commercial.

Good: Coca Cola

oca Cola’s 2011 “Share a Coke” campaign was arguably an unprecedented success in the global marketing business.

The disruptive yet simple idea of showing people’s names on Coke bottles and cans started in the United States. It was an emotional campaign that focused on connecting with consumers through their names.

The campaign’s emotional appeal was such that Coca Cola built massive awareness and engagement with consumers around the world while simultaneously skyrocketing sales. That summer, Coke sold more than 250 million named bottles and cans in a country of 23 million people.

When it came to taking the idea globally to more than 70 countries, marketing teams from each market were allowed to put their own creative spin on the concept, while preserving the core idea of personalized Coca-Cola bottles and cans. They had to localize the names that would be displayed so that people across the globe could relate to them.

These localized versions not only increased local relevance but also provided an opportunity for deepened engagement with consumers. The campaign was a huge success in all markets, from big cities to small towns, without ever losing its local feel or core message.

Without a proper localization strategy in place to support such a massive global marketing endeavor, Coca Cola could have wasted millions of dollars on a failed campaign.

Bad: Dolce & Gabbana

In 2018, Dolce & Gabbana faced enormous backlash after a series of short ads was released in China stereotyping Chinese people.

The controversial ads featured a Chinese model dressed in a lavish Dolce & Gabbana dress trying to eat pizza with chopsticks while a male voiceover condescendingly gives her instructions to be able to eat.

The ads were met with outrage by some members of the Chinese community. A Weibo (Chinese social network) user commented “That’s explicit racism.” There were even calls to boycott the brand.

With Chinese consumers making up a third of the global luxury market, Dolce & Gabbana seems to have completely missed the mark with these ads. A localization strategy that took cultural sensitivities into account would have helped them avoid this pitfall.

Good: Absolut

Let’s now look at the #SexResponsibly campaign from Absolut Vodka—a global brand renowned for its position at the cultural vanguard—in the United States. It addressed the fact that an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds (as reported by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) with perpetrators often using alcohol as both a tool and an excuse to commit their crimes.

On Valentine’s Day 2020, Absolut and Pernod Ricard USA launched the campaign “Drink Responsibly. #SexResponsibly” in an effort to drive real change in the way people perceive the connection between responsible drinking and consensual sex.

What made this campaign so successful in the United States was that it focused on a local issue. If Absolut hadn’t localized this campaign to the US at the right time, when conversations around sexual assault were dominating national media, it probably wouldn’t have generated so much awareness for its brand and would have likely failed to create an impact in a key market.

All these examples make it clear that it’s all about making marketing messages relevant to each local context while still maintaining the brand identity and core values of the global company. The result is more positive awareness of the brand, increased sales, and higher levels of engagement with customers in each market.

Why some global marketing projects fall flat

As you may have concluded from the above selection of global marketing examples, the reasons for failed global marketing projects can generally be attributed to one of the following:

Lack of local research

One of the most common reasons for failed global marketing efforts is that the campaign creators don’t build in enough time to conduct thorough research and analysis before creating a global campaign.

Campaign creators sometimes neglect to incorporate consumer opinion gathering into the planning phase of their projects. They often fail to spend enough time determining how to localize their message for each global market.

The lack of analysis and consumer market immersion can hamper marketers’ ability to fully understand local consumers’ motivations and needs, which in turn translates into a lackluster, culturally irrelevant global marketing campaign.

Hype over substance

Companies sometimes fall prey to the “hype factor” and choose to run a global marketing campaign to generate buzz, rather than acting because it’s actually the right strategy for their business. Their product lacks the right attributes to appeal to a global audience, and the company does not have sufficient resources or time to localize the campaign.

This hype or “PR push” can end up costing companies millions of dollars and ultimately nothing more than a temporary spike in sales. Truly successful global marketing projects that yield lasting results are the result of a clear strategy implemented diligently over time.

No clear objective

As with any other marketing effort, global campaigns are only successful if there’s a clear goal behind them as well as a plan for achieving it.

For instance, a company might launch a global marketing campaign simply to increase brand awareness in multiple markets. But if the campaign doesn’t offer anything unique or compelling to captivate prospects so that brand awareness translates into an increase in market share, it will be “marketing for the sake of marketing” instead of a focused initiative designed to have a real impact on the company’s bottom line.

Misaligned tools and processes

In order for a global marketing campaign to be truly successful, marketers need to ensure that the tools and resources they plan to use are aligned with their objectives.

Working on international marketing campaigns is one of the most complex tasks handled by any global enterprise, so marketers need to make sure they have the right technology, infrastructure, and processes in place to ensure success.

For example, the manual translation of global marketing materials (think excel spreadsheets and countless email back-and-forths) often results in slow, low-quality work, causing the company to needlessly spend time and money on costly rework. A greater focus on localization best practices can help streamline the process and put an end to inefficiency.

Local misunderstanding of the brief and brand strategy

In some instances, a lack of understanding, at a local level, of the campaign’s objectives and the global brand strategy plays a role in a failed global marketing effort.

For example, if the global brand strategy focuses on the product’s ease of use, and regional managers believe their local market consumers are more interested in the product’s affordability, a lack of alignment between the two could result in a misguided campaign that misses its mark.

To avoid this, marketers must ensure that the brand strategy is clearly communicated at multiple levels.

Even when marketers do an excellent job of conducting analysis and research, creating the right message, and mapping out a roadmap for execution, they must clearly communicate the strategy to each local team in a way that ensures alignment.

How to implement a localization-aware global marketing plan

Marketers have an opportunity to positively impact consumers across the world by making localization the central focus of their plan. A global marketing plan should ideally cover all aspects of your campaign: from the translation of key documents (promotional materials, landing pages, web copy, etc.) to the management of translators—and from the technical requirements for tools to the development and maintenance of your website in multiple languages. The following steps can serve as a guide to undertaking this process.

Put together a strong team to support your marketing localization

To get started, you first need to think about the stakeholders who should handle a process as complex as marketing localization. It’s recommendable to have a single team responsible for managing the global localization process. From planning to execution to post-campaign evaluation, this will ensure a cohesive approach across the various involved stakeholders.

With the cost of global expansion being high and team members potentially being dispersed across the globe, it’s more important than ever to provide for a team setting that facilitates collaboration and streamlines communication in every aspect of the process.

The challenge for global marketers lies in striking the right balance between centralized control through headquarters and empowered local teams. The latter may have the know-how for localizing global campaigns but can also lack a full understanding of the big picture defined by the headquarters.

Considering that shortcoming, it’s key to build bridges between global counterparts, break down communication silos, and provide opportunities for global learning so everyone involved can take full advantage of existing expertise, resources, and technology.

Here’s an overview of the most common stakeholders in marketing localization projects:

Localization managers

A localization manager is in charge of the localization process from start to finish. In the initial phase, they’re responsible for hiring translators and localization testers. As the project unfolds, they make sure that all communication flows smoothly and all files for localization are properly uploaded or delivered to the team.

Product managers

Product managers are responsible for the strategic direction of product development. They often have a strong understanding of the international competitive landscape, so they can be a reliable resource and play a key role in executing your marketing localization strategy.

Developers and localization engineers

A localization engineer handles the database and sets technical guidelines for other team members to follow during the localization process. They can offer direct support to linguists by offering screenshots or demonstrations of parts of the products so that all translation output is as accurate as possible.

Designers

Designers are the creative force that makes sure your users enjoy a flawless user experience irrespective of language while interacting with your product. They can make sure that all translated text, selected colors, and illustrations fit well in the new, localized version of your digital product.

Translators

Translators are essential to your localization projects as they put words to paper in your target language. Depending on the size of your project, you can hire one or multiple translators to work on different parts of your product.

Localizing isn’t just about translating words from one language to another. You need to rely on localization specialists with excellent language skills who truly understand what it means to go global. Localizers are generally experienced translators and subject matter experts who have technical knowledge in the field and can make the difference between the success and failure of your project.

Bad translations can backfire and keep customers away instead of drawing them in. You may cut some costs here and there, but you’ll spend way more trying to fix the errors in your marketing localization later on.

Instead, invest in delivering high-quality content that is translated by professionals who’re truly proficient in your target language, have a strong understanding of both your industry and target market. Only then will you be able to build a positive image for your brand in any local market.

Localization testers

Localization testers are your boots on the ground to make sure the final localization results are what you’d imagined. They’re the proofreaders that check the copy for any language and design inconsistencies so that the final product looks as good as it can.

For example, if during localization testing a translated word turns out longer and doesn’t fit well the original design, they can catch that and either choose an alternative word or ask for tweaks in the existing design.

Get to know your target markets

All stakeholders you work with should have in-depth knowledge of both your product and the market you’re localizing for. Your team needs to understand the local market and its specific demands in terms of marketing, design, and legislation. This is the only way they can craft a user-friendly product.

When localizing for the Chinese market, for example, you need to take extra care not only with translations and marketing. China also has many tricky rules when it comes to coding, choosing the right local servers, and respecting the laws of the Great Firewall (GFW).

Take the example of Supercell’s Clash of Clans. At their initial launch in China, hundreds of thousands of people could download the game only to see they were unable to buy the in-game currency. The game relied on users’ access to Google Play, which people in China didn’t have.

This is just one example of how things can go wrong if you don’t research carefully all market specificities before launching your product. Sometimes, this can mean localizing to integrate with local products instead of your traditional partners (such as social media platforms). Otherwise, you may waste time and money correcting errors, testing, and retesting.

Define your potential customers

When setting up your marketing localization process, defining some “local” profiles for your potential customers will have a critical impact. Once you know who you’re going to sell to, you can better adapt the localization process to more specific goals. This will help you reduce both time to launch and costs.

That said, defining an international buyer persona is no longer enough if you truly want to know what customers really want. Instead, you’d need to build local buyer personas for each country you’re localizing for.

For example, most South Americans speak the same language, but they use it differently from one country to another. Likewise, Asia has strong potential with its emerging markets, but approaching Asian customers requires a distinct marketing localization strategy that’s in line with local culture and traditions.

You need to find out beforehand who you’ll be dealing with in any of those markets. Think about age, gender, relationship status, interests, education level, where they live, how much they earn, and what their purchasing habits are like. These answers will likely vary with each new country you’re approaching but are crucial for your success in localization.

Finally, be ready to tailor your marketing localization strategy and target your content each time you start a new localization process. Adapt as much as you can from your centralized global marketing program to cut costs, but don’t ignore the local specifics.

Decide on what type of content to use for local markets

When getting ready for marketing localization, you also need to think about what content you’re going to use. Having strong marketing content that’s easy to localize is essential when you’re looking to capture market share—as it will help you build brand awareness.

It’s not just about sending a message in the right language but also reaching real people using a voice your potential customers can understand. The best strategy is usually a mix of translated and localized content.

It’d be impossible to come up with original content for each country separately and still stay within budget. Still, you can’t reduce your content marketing strategy to translations and adapted slogans either—so how much should you translate?

It all depends on revenue and cost-efficiency. Analyze each market individually and decide based on their specific characteristics. Translating English content into other European languages might help, but this strategy can hardly pay off in China. People there have almost no interest in products that aren’t directly related to their country.

Introducing local content allows you to target messages, so don’t just consider costs when deciding between translations and localized content. Try to see the entire picture before deciding on one way or another—and don’t be afraid to adapt your strategy if you don’t get the desired results right away.

Consider machine translation for certain content types

The use of machine translation (MT) in marketing is a controversial topic among marketers and linguists alike. Some swear by it because of its speed and cost-effectiveness, while others consider it a necessary evil at best and an overrated shortcut at worst.

Objectively, machine translation has its place in marketing localization as long as—and this holds true for any tool—you leverage it for content that performs well and supplement it with human brainpower where it falls short.

Machine translation can be a useful resource for quickly translating small chunks of text that have no major repercussions for marketing campaigns, but you would want to steer away from it for high-visibility or sensitive content that needs to be extremely accurate, creative, or well crafted. Below are some general guidelines to help you decide when to use MT for marketing localization.

Raw machine translation: Use it with caution

For low-impact, low-visibility, low-traffic, quickly perishable, and unambiguous content, you can normally get away with using machine translation output that doesn’t undergo human revision. This is called “raw machine translation”.

Some examples of this type of content include:

  • Internal documentation
  • Website footers
  • Social media posts compiled internally for sentiment analysis
  • Repetitive technical content that doesn’t need to be 100% accurate, just actionable, like instruction manuals
  • User-generated content like product reviews, for which consumers generally expect low quality
  • Chat or email support messages

Raw MT will benefit your marketing localization efforts only as long as you use the best-performing machine translation engine for your language pair and content.

Post-edited machine translation: The middle ground

There are times when content is a little bit more sensitive than what you’d want to put through raw MT, but it’s not so critical that you want to spend the time and money to get a human translator involved. In these cases, post-editing the machine translation output can be a good solution.

More commonly known as machine translation post-editing (MTPE), this process entails a human translator cleaning up the machine translation to make it more accurate and idiomatic. The post-editing can be either light (LPE) or full (FPE).

Some examples of content suitable for MTPE in marketing localization are:

  • Ecommerce product titles
  • Product descriptions
  • Knowledge bases
  • FAQs
  • Back-end SEO meta information such as image alt texts and captions

To keep the brand voice and key messaging consistent across cultures and languages, it’s possible to aid the work of post-editors with traditional translation technology such as glossaries, termbases, and translation memories, as well as brand books and style guides.

Modern technology also makes it possible to identify and estimate the quality of machine translation output to concentrate post-editing resources where they’re most needed.

Human translation: For sensitive material

Every marketing campaign contains elements that relate closely to branding or the target culture. These high-traffic, durable assets aimed at persuading, delighting, or reassuring the target audience—together with sensitive or confidential content—are best left in the hands of human experts:

  • Homepages, landing pages, and high-visibility website UI
  • Blog posts
  • User-oriented newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Print and digital advertising
  • SEO content
  • Legal or contractual documentation

Evaluate and gather local feedback

For each global marketing campaign you launch, create a “fitness” scorecard around each individual campaign component that assesses its localization fit. Involve your localization department to ensure the scorecard is accurate and results are meaningful.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your localization efforts in all markets, consider conducting regular customer interviews and using the feedback to continually adjust campaign components. Carry out regular post-campaign evaluations of what worked and what didn’t, so you can apply your learnings to future campaigns.

Invest in technology and automation

With marketing localization involving multiple stakeholders, you can’t afford bottlenecks, rework, and unnecessary delays. Those long email back-and-forths; the attached file that nobody is certain is the most updated version; the translation that’s sitting there waiting for marketing to sign-off on a minor change—all of these can add up to a marketing campaign that’s late to market and/or over budget.

Yet, most common translation workflows still look like this:

  • The development or marketing team copy-paste the translatable content into a document.
  • The marketing or localization manager sends the file to their marketing translators, either for them to open locally on their computer or by sharing a link to Google Drive or similar.
  • The marketing or localization manager also sends any reference material (branding guides, style guides, glossaries, etc.) that can help the translator to do a better job.
  • The translator starts working.
  • The translator might have some questions or need to request the marketing team’s input—this process takes time, especially when there are multiple marketing translators involved.
  • The translator completes their work and sends it back to the marketing or localization manager, who forwards it to a proofreader.
  • The marketing or localization manager receives the translation back from the proofreader and approves it.
  • The translated content is then integrated into the relevant marketing channels.

This type of workflow might have worked well enough in the past, but with the world becoming increasingly globalized and the need for marketing responsiveness ever more urgent, marketing teams require better marketing localization workflows that reduce the time campaigns take to translate and publish.

So what exactly should you aim for when automating localization? Consider using a translation management system (TMS). A cloud-based TMS will enable you to centralize and standardize all of your processes, manage the creation and use of glossaries, control costs by adopting an efficient workflow, monitor performance with comprehensive reporting capabilities, and take advantage of a range of other features that are useful in managing a localization project.

More specifically, a translation management system gives marketers the following main capabilities:

  • Automation: Translatable content should be automatically extracted from content management systems, source code repositories, or marketing automation platforms and routed to the translation interface. Translated content should be able to be automatically imported back into the original environment.
  • Centralization: Providing a single point of access to all relevant marketing materials, resources, instructions, and content increases productivity and reduces the chances of errors. Marketing and localization teams should be able to work from a single platform, with all the tools they need at their fingertips.
  • Real-time collaboration: A TMS acts as a hub through which marketing teams can collaborate with other departments and both in-house and external stakeholders in real time, ensuring that everyone’s working from the most up-to-date content.
  • Translation memory: A robust TMS lets you store translations in a cloud-based translation memory, which allows translators and marketing teams to reuse content across different marketing campaigns.
  • Support for familiar file formats: No more copy-paste. You should be able to submit content for translation in your preferred file types: IDML, PSD, SVG, HTML, etc.
  • Integration: The TMS should be able to quickly and easily integrate with content management systems (e.g., Marketo, HubSpot, Adobe Experience Manager, WordPress, Drupal, Contentful, Contentstack, Sitecore), ecommerce platforms, marketing automation platforms, and CRM systems, or even let you build a custom integration via a REST API.
  • Quality control: The TMS should include a quality assurance process that facilitates checking translations for accuracy against previously translated content (through the use of translation memories), marketing brand guidelines, style guides, and glossaries.
  • AI-powered machine translation: A modern TMS combines well-established translation technology with AI-powered machine translation capabilities.
  • Tracking and reports: The best TMS will provide marketing teams with insights and reporting that can be used to improve marketing performance and marketing ROI and will let them monitor translators’ performance to make any necessary adjustments.

This makes it obvious that technology is becoming an increasing part of the global marketing mix, with translation management systems playing an integral role in effective localization strategies. With technology firmly in place to support it, a localization-aware global marketing strategy is nigh on unbeatable as a competitive advantage for any company seeking to succeed globally. A robust TMS helps marketing teams deliver higher quality work on time and on budget, which ultimately boosts marketing performance, increases sales, and boosts marketing localization ROI.

Understanding the complexity of measuring marketing localization ROI

The success of your global marketing efforts will ultimately be measured by their return on investment (ROI). Nevertheless, with each local market being unique, determining the ROI of your campaigns and comparing them with one another can be quite challenging.

While creating solid objectives and KPIs is a good first step, you need to incorporate a certain amount of flex into your indicators if you want to provide your key decision-makers with an accurate picture.

Here is an example: Say you’re comparing the performance of ad campaigns running in the US and Brazil. After taking a look at your data, you realize that—with the same budget—you created a lot more leads in Brazil than you did in the US.

Seeing the results, you might assume your Brazilian campaign must have had better messaging, but this is exactly where you need to be flexible in your interpretation: The cost per lead (CPL) is much higher in the US than in Brazil.

This makes it obvious that the evaluation of localized campaigns needs to take place at two levels—the effectiveness of the message and the effectiveness of the medium.

Still, even that’s not as straightforward as it might sound. Many less developed economies, such as those in Africa, have less sophisticated methods of campaign evaluation (recall tests, diary completion, brand recall, etc.), and that can further complicate the comparison with developed markets.

Successful global marketing rests on localization

Global marketing is, above anything, local. With a clear commitment to localization from day one, the best global marketing strategy connects the right people with the right processes by leveraging the right technology.

This solid basis can help global marketers effectively launch campaigns that resonate with customers worldwide and motivate them to buy your product. The final result? An even greater global revenue growth in the long run.