While it’s tempting to use one global marketing strategy for all audiences, it’s not going to get you very far. Each country has its own culture, language and nuances that are essential to capture if you truly want to succeed in the region—which is why you need a well-designed localization strategy.

Adapting your brand’s marketing campaigns, products and services for each new market you enter is essential for international growth.

Keep reading to discover why a localization strategy is so important, including the pros and cons—plus two successful examples.

What is a localization strategy? 

Your localization strategy is the guide you follow to connect your business with local audiences around the globe. It involves adapting everything in your campaigns to each individual market, including language and local lingo, images, cultural preferences, pricing and distribution channels. 

It’s important to remember that localization goes beyond translating your campaigns. For example, the language, references and channels your brand uses in Brazil and Portugal should be tailored. Although both countries speak Portuguese, they have different slang, different pronoun uses and even different vocabulary at times. Same with the US and the UK!

The main goal of a localization strategy is to create a tailored customer experience for each audience. To do this, you need to speak to your audience in a way that makes them feel like you know and understand them, and can also relate to their needs, pain points and interests—no matter where they are in the world.

See also: Translation vs. localization: What’s the difference and why should you care?

People working on an effective localization strategy for their business

When does a localization strategy make sense?

A localization strategy makes sense for businesses who serve different markets with varying cultures, preferences and languages. The most obvious time when you’d consider a localization strategy is if you’re targeting audiences who speak a different language to your primary audience. But, it’s also important when targeting different regions that speak the same language—there are key differences between the US and UK and Brazil and Portugal, for example.

While the world is getting closer thanks to the internet, consumers worldwide live very different realities and, because of that, have unique perspectives, needs and interests. So, in short: any business who wants to branch out into new regions should consider both marketing and product localization.

Key elements that go into a localization strategy

Localization in marketing usually incorporates a few of the below elements:

In terms of distribution, not all markets use the same platforms in the same way. And, in many cases, you’ll have to adjust your strategy according to which platforms work best for each audience.

“At WeTravel, we used LinkedIn to promote our campaigns and content in the US. But in Latin America, we realized they don’t use LinkedIn as much and actually engage and communicate with peers on Facebook groups. So, we changed our strategy to produce content that resonates with those groups.” – Allan Formigoni, Portugal-based content and email marketing manager at WeTravel

It’s also essential to not underestimate the importance of connecting with locals when creating your service or product localization strategy. You need to find people who fully understand your target audience and who can make sure your campaigns are locally relevant.

Think about how you’re going to grow your network in each market—whether it’s by hiring freelancers, employees or even an agency.

“You need to really connect with the locals in the market you’re trying to reach—whether they’re your colleagues, customers or people in your network—to make sure that the strategy you’re creating applies to their reality. Otherwise, what you’re doing is not useful at all and it won’t work.” – Mário Costa, Portugal-based marketing and communications director at MANZ

Remember, each market has different rates for the various areas of marketing, like copywriting, and you’ll have to adjust your budget accordingly.

At VeraContent, we put local teams together in each country for you! We work with local community managers and professionals who specialize in over 20 languages.

Why is a localization strategy important?

Localization strategy examples and best practices

Effective local marketing strategies play a pivotal role in going global. When you localize your marketing, you allow more audiences to get to know your brand, increasing your customer base.

Localization is also the best way to overcome cultural barriers when entering a new market. Unless you are offering a completely new product or service in the region, you need to be able to convince your audience why they should pick you over another—perhaps local—brand that they already know. Speaking to them in a way that they can relate to will give you the competitive advantage you’re looking for.

Simply put: Localization fuels international expansion and is key to long-term international success for any business.

“Every single market will have a different way of buying the exact same product. So your content needs to reflect how people make decisions in each specific region or country, from your content strategy to your branding, visual identity and tone of voice.” – Allan Formigoni, Portugal-based content and email marketing manager at WeTravel

Localization strategy: Advantages and disadvantages

Before developing a local marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to consider the various localization strategy advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages:

  • Breaks down language and cultural barriers in new markets
  • Builds trust and brand loyalty with local audiences by making your brand relevant to them
  • Provides access to a broader audience
  • Improves customer satisfaction with customized experiences
  • Gives you a competitive edge against both local and global competitors
  • Allows for more rapid global growth

Disadvantages:

  • It takes time, money and resources to create and implement
  • Making a mistake with your localization could be harmful to your brand
  • Without proper guidelines, it’s easy for local content to go off-brand
  • Not everything can easily translate and make sense in each region

The localization strategy benefits far outweigh the cons. However, it’s important to get it right. Your local marketing campaigns can quickly go off course without following a well thought-out localization plan.

One of our recent podcast guests, Mário Costa, marketing and communications director at MANZ, emphasized that not all campaigns work in all markets. Adjusting your campaigns to each audience’s particular habits and needs is a challenge that you need to pay attention to:

“There are many moments in the year, like Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Easter, that don’t necessarily work in campaigns across all the markets your brand operates in. You need to pay attention to everybody and make adjustments for each market—which isn’t easy.”

See also: 6 ways to ensure a quality localization – even if you don’t speak the language

What companies invest in localization?

Companies that invest in localization see improvements in market share, engagement and revenue. From massive global brands like Coca-Cola, Apple and Nike to smaller startups, any company looking to expand into new markets successfully should have a localization plan.

Localization strategy examples from VeraContent

There are different levels of how in-depth you go with your marketing localization. For example, you may prefer to start by just creating separate local social media accounts. Then, perhaps you’ll go a bit further and start localizing your website, blog posts, case studies and other marketing collateral.

Remember: If you don’t have adequate resources to go all-in, then start small. It’s better to localize fewer areas of your marketing well than getting overwhelmed by trying to do too much—as that’s when mistakes start to creep in.

We don’t all have the resources to follow the same localization strategy of Coca-Cola—and that’s okay!

Here are two successful localization strategy examples that we’ve worked on with our clients at VeraContent:

Spotahome: Localized website content

Spotahome used a localization strategy to expand their business across Europe

Spotahome, an innovative online housing rental platform, started in Spain in 2014 and has since expanded across 11 European cities. This expansion involved updating all of their external communications to be carried out in six languages: English, Spanish, Italian, German, French and Portuguese.

To get this right, they invested in quality SEO-focused localized content—and that’s where we came in! We assisted with creating and translating content to attract local landlords in each region and international tenants.

In just three months, a focused campaign targeting landlords in their key regions saw a 30% increase in traffic to sections of their website tailored to landlords. It also helped them rank higher for several target keywords in all six languages.

Read our full case study with Spotahome.

See also: US vs. German marketing content: Why localization is key

PopSockets: Localized social media strategy

Popsockets uses local social media accounts to reach European markets

After massive adoption in the US, mobile phone accessories brand PopSockets decided to expand worldwide by opening operations in Europe and the Middle East (EMEA), Asia and South America.

Social media has always played a massive role in their marketing and also forms part of their localized marketing strategies. PopSockets enlisted VeraContent to create a team of community managers for each European target market to grow their social presence in more European countries.

With the help of local community managers in each region, we increased community engagement and gained qualitative insights into the local audiences.

Read our full case study with PopSockets.

See also: 5 global marketing strategies to inspire you in 2022

How to kickstart your localized marketing strategy

Developing an effective local marketing strategy may seem daunting at first, but breaking it down into manageable phases helps get the localization process started. Start by first considering what you actually need to localize—is it your website, social media channels, apps or other marketing materials? 

In many cases, your website is the first area to translate and localize. It’s the tool you use to build your brand’s international reputation, connect with potential customers and sell your product or service. Assess whether or not the content you have is relevant to a global audience or if you need to create entirely new content.

See also: How to localize your website and why it matters

Your next step should be thinking about your social media. Assess which platforms are the most popular with your target countries and how local audiences use them.

See also: Global vs. local social media accounts: Which one’s right for your business?

Later down the line, your localization marketing strategy could include email marketing, more in-depth content marketing and local advertising strategies.

Whichever channels you use to start with, you’ll need to ensure that your marketing approach focuses carefully on each particular audience.

Before you design your localization strategy, download our free worksheet and learn how to adapt your content to local markets. 

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