Unlocking new growth through localisation

Why the right localisation strategy could help your business find new audiences and grow sales

As the impact from the pandemic continues to be felt around the world, we've interviewed a series of Google's Global Business Solutions Localisation partners to gain new insights into how companies are responding, rebuilding and reimagining. In a post-COVID world, where people's interactions with a company's brand may be entirely online, ensuring the user experience (UX) is a positive one in all languages will become increasingly important.1 In times like these, consumers may be less forgiving — so the companies that meet and exceed their needs with the right strategy and content will build loyalty and lifetime value.2

Let's jump in by looking at some of the key insights and observations that have emerged in recent months.

  • Growing demand for localisation - As companies move towards ecommerce models, the need for localisation has increased as they try to regain lost ground from the closure of physical stores.3
  • Healthcare translations on the rise - Demand for translation of research and other COVID-19-related information has soared, as healthcare professionals look to disseminate knowledge quickly and accurately to colleagues in other countries.4
  • Rise in demand for remote language services - For example, remote interpreting has replaced face-to-face methods in hospitals, schools and courtrooms and other private sector organisations needing to meet new social distancing rules.5

How did businesses respond to the crisis?

  • Using localisation to maintain revenues - With physical sports suspended during lockdown, one international broadcaster needed new content to offer audiences. After noticing that the Belarus national football league was still playing, they quickly translated and interpreted broadcasts of the games to bring a previously niche league into the spotlight, and sustain revenues.6
  • Tuning into customers' needs and emotions - For example, ads, copy or other collateral showing or referencing large groups of people together were reoriented to the current guidelines in each market.7
  • Treating each market individually - Rather than simply translating from a 'one for all' source text, brands are creating specific content for each market — ensuring they understand the audience and their current mindsets.8 In some instances, creative may need to take a more lighthearted tone as buyers seek escapism and humour to brighten their day.9
  • Conducting regular reviews - Global companies are revisiting and reviewing their content more frequently, to ensure it continues to resonate with audiences as the recovery gains traction.10

How can you rebuild your localisation process?

Consider new market channels

For example, exploring digital, reviewing company training (eLearning vs classroom), or expanding into new markets are all areas where content localisation is important for success.11

Review your localisation process

It's vital your business can understand and quickly respond to local customer trends. Be sure to select suppliers who can offer you a broad range of language services, from translation to interpreting, and variants of each. Doing so will give your business room to flex in-line with consumer trends — some of which are impossible to predict right now.12

Plan your identity and marketing strategy now

The pandemic has changed the world in so many ways. What do your consumers now expect from you? What are the new values and expectations of your brand — and how should this influence your taglines, calls to action, and propositions? Localisation is key to getting this right, and it's critically important that marketing teams take this into account to avoid embarrassing mistakes.13

Source your localisation needs centrally

Acquiring all your language services from one single supplier can bring huge benefits, including more streamlined management of trademarks and brand messaging continuity in different regions. It also helps marketing and sales teams manage cross-border messaging strategies more efficiently.14

Steps you can take to help your business reimagine

Go global

International businesses tend to be more insulated from the economic impacts of COVID-19, as they're able to shift their focus to markets with relatively short lockdown periods and/or faster recoveries. In contrast, businesses relying on one single market have had to work within the constraints of that environment, and wait for lockdown to be lifted. As such, brands should explore opportunities for market diversification, and ensure their marketing and creative content is localised to consumer behaviours and norms.15

Revisit and review your localisations

As consumer confidence returns and markets re-open, competition between brands is likely to become more fierce than we've seen previously. Brands that are ready to jump into those spaces with properly localised services and products will find themselves at a distinct advantage. As such, businesses should be revisiting and reviewing their localisation processes, and ensuring they're ready to deliver maximum ROI.16

Prioritise areas to localise for long-term gain

Thanks to globalised ecommerce platforms, many companies are present in 'new' markets without even realising it. For example, if your business has seen modest sales in West Africa, and you're selling/trading in English, you may find that localising to French, Yoruba or Arabic dramatically increases your sales revenue with relatively little effort.17

Optimise digital

The pandemic saw many companies shift to digital for the first time, and this trend is likely to continue18 — especially with B2B purchases. If you're considering this route, be sure to assess your operations to identify and address any gaps in their digital go-to-market. For example, prioritising immediate needs like virtual events and social selling over longer-term requirements like product delivery and support.19

Embrace new technology

A sector that's been hit particularly hard by the pandemic is tourism. But some companies are using the downtime to plan for the future. For example, one travel firm has developed a new system that lets them create either human translations or machine translations for their marketing materials. Using machines for non-critical translations will help reduce costs, and the technology as a whole will ensure they're ready to start targeting customers as they book holidays and begin travelling again.20

Focus on workflows

Ensuring your workflows are as smooth and easy to understand as possible will help your transition into new markets and relieve some of the pressure on staff. Two ways this can be achieved are through the use of workflow automation and platform connectors, both of which can help a lot when it comes to localisation.21

For more support and guidance for businesses, take a look at our operations best practices guide plus other useful resources on the Market Finder's Localisation section.

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