One of the biggest challenges facing global marketers today is understanding how to effectively reach customers from different cultures and regions across the globe. Marketing technology, web, and social have levelled the playing field for small to mid-sized brands to more easily reach customers outside of their local market. Identifying scalable marketing tactics while still personalizing to local preferences is where these brands are still maturing.

Within every industry, in every country, there are cultural differences that companies have to consider when extending their marketing reach. If a company’s message doesn’t resonate in the right way, it can be a huge waste of money. Having said that, a lot of time goes into developing a company’s brand and key messages and its important these aren’t lost in translation.

To combat these challenges companies must add local flavour to their messaging and content.

Here is an approach to help balance global messaging with local relevance.

  • Plan ahead. Familiarise yourself with market requirements and customer preference, for example:
    • Content - Make sure the content elements will be appropriate and relevant for all audiences, while accounting for cultural and legal differences between countries. This effort is tied to understanding their preferences for channels and communication styles.
    • Languages and display – Keep in mind that your target language may have different character sets and text orientation than English. This will affect your design, layout and even content length.
  • Match channels to local preferences. Start with invest time and effort in understanding the different preferences in each market for consuming content and connecting with brands. Understanding how and where your customers want to connect with your brands. Understanding their expectations should help drive your channel selection.
  • Decide what content to create locally what to adapt: After you map out channel preferences, you can then focus on what kind of content will resonate with your audience and continue to deliver what the customers in each region wants. Different types of content require different levels of customisation, so no two regions should be treated as the same. Identify what types of messages can be delivered globally with localization, and which need to be custom to each market.
  • Technology:Make sure the technologies you are planning to use are compatible with regional capabilities, like available bandwidth and end-user devices.
  • Assessment and feedback strategies. The customisation of content is an ongoing process and only by measuring content performance can you identify what is working well. Identify your key performance indicators and begin measuring performance from the outset. A globalisation partner in-country can be a great resource for identifying any further possible issues specific to certain countries.
This provides a good foundation for global and local balance and is something that many leading companies are already undertaking. Recent Lionbridge research found that 44% of the top 250 FTSE companies in the US and 47% in UK, France and Germany already understand the importance of localising content and making content relevant to local markets in comparison to some of the non-leading, smaller companies.

Why is this? Probably due to the perception that the investments are an expense. But when you calculate the proven impact of content and marketing that effectively connects with customers, the increased in-market revenue will justify the additional investments. Prioritize markets and work through this process incrementally.

The good news is that marketers are becoming aware of this problem, and are working together as a community to tackle it. There are also more and more tools becoming available to try and solve the problems that come with localisation. With the right tools in place and a trusted partner to help marketers manage their journey, it’s becoming more accessible than ever before to ensure localised content reaches the right audience and conveys the right message.

For more info, read our whitepaper ‘Lessons in Global Marketing’

By Clint Poole, CMO, Lionbridge