In today’s networked world, having just a company website does not suffice to reach target customers across the globe. To reach the target audience, in whichever part of the world they may be, companies have to take recourse to ‘localization’. Localization refers to translating the software user interface from the existing language to another that will suit a foreign culture. It involves translating the website’s content into a local language, taking into account the prevailing cultural and social norms of that region.
Localization is one of the top online marketing strategies adopted by 70% of the companies worldwide. Today, websites of MNCs offer a minimum of two language options on the home page. French, Italian, German, and Spanish, popularly called ‘FIGS’ in the localization industry are the most commonly localized languages on the web.
Localization assumes significance in online marketing as it more than just the translation of keywords and phrases. It is related to the cultural diversity and ethos of a nation.
Non-verbal behavior, for example, may have various connotations in different countries. The online marketer has to recognize the native sensibilities towards various factors. Colors play a major role in deciding your localization requirements. For example, red in a certain country may represent danger but in another it might mean passion.
Take the Yahoo India page. Some of you may have observed Sachin Tendulkar being featured on the Yahoo India login page. Why is it Sachin and not Shane Warne or some other foreign sportsman? It is because with Sachin on the homepage, the website would get more views. This is an example of effective localization as the online marketer has cashed in on the cricket-loving Indian terrain. Even MNCs are going local by promoting regional celebrities to reach target audiences.
For effective localization, the marketer should have a thorough understanding of the target area. For instance, an online marketer in the United States should keep in mind the different regions such as Midwest or the South and plan his campaigns to suit the sensibilities of the residents in that particular region. The marketer should also consider the consumers’ buying motives, their preferences, and their responses to marketing activities. To do so, the marketer needs to have sufficient knowledge of online local search volume for business related keywords. In order to boost sales in local markets, marketers can use regional key words and phrases within the character limit specified for different applications.
Here are some of the considerations the online marketers have to keep in mind.
- Certain concepts are expressed differently in different societies. Date formats, like MM-DD-YY, DD-MM-YY, and the usage of numbers play an important role for online marketers to design their campaigns and promotional literature.
- Take into account weights and measures – whether to use pound or kilograms, miles or kilometres, and so on.
- Don’t forget the format of address and phone numbers. For example, the term ‘zip code’ is used in America, while Indians are familiar with ‘pin code’.
Simply put, localization for online marketing involves translating the language of a site or a software application to suit a particular region only after taking into account the nitty-gritties of the culture and customs of the region. Many government and private companies have localized their websites to reach more customers across the world. Localization brings companies closer to their customers by creating a strong bond that may eventually win their patronage.