5 Common Mistakes Can Jeopardize Your Localization Growth and How to Avoid Them
If you have a local business and you are looking to expand your business internationally, you might come across the word localization many times.
Well, many people confuse localization with translation which is a big mistake. Localization abbreviated L10N is a process of adapting a product that appeals to the new targeted region that may or may not be speaking a different language than the current targeted region.
Localization is not only specified to translation but is much more than that. Breaching into international markets is not an easy task. You need to get into your target audience’s mind by adapting your product to that region’s culture, language, values, and traditions.
According to research conducted at CSA Research, 55% of consumers internationally would only buy from websites that provide product information in their language.
Why don’t we explore an example so that you may understand how localization works?
Let’s assume that you are working in Japan and you have a brand ambassador for your product and you have selected an ambassador according to Japan’s popular sport i.e., baseball.
Now let’s say you want to expand your business in India and are also looking for a brand ambassador there. If you market that product with the same strategy and you present that baseball player in India, obviously you won’t get that same response.
But if you take a cricketer as an ambassador, it will be a whole other story.
Now that you understand what localization is, we can discuss some common mistakes that can jeopardize your localization growth and will also discuss how to avoid them.
5 Common mistakes to avoid in localization:
There are many chances of error during localization if you don’t avoid these common mistakes that people tend to forget.
If you are careful during the process, you won’t have much trouble localizing and will get through to your targeted audience without any hassle.
Now Let us explore what mistakes are being performed during localization that can affect your marketing strategy drastically.
1.Depending solely on machine translation:
Different translation tools are now hovering around the internet. While these tools are great for quickly translating your content to the language you want, those tools come with their drawbacks.
There are many instances in which translating your content word-by-word will make it even worse. The reason for that is sometimes there are different meanings for the words you use in different languages.
Even though machine translation is a cost-effective and fast method, it is not the best way if you are looking to market your product in a different region.
Highly automated translation will sometimes not make sense in many cases, that is because machine translation cannot grab the slang and other regional languages used by people there.
How to avoid it?
Hiring a person or a company who knows the language, culture, and values of that specific region you are targeting to make sure you blend in well with your audience.
The quality of translated content is never on par with the content translated by a human who considers all aspects (language, culture, and values) while translating the content.
2.Overlooking design changes:
If you have a website that needs to be translated into another language you must keep in mind that different languages require different spaces to cover the same message.
Translating your content into another language will always affect your space. For instance, Finnish requires 40% more space than English.
Similarly, Non-Latin characters (like Arabic) usually start from right to left whereas Latin characters (like English) usually start from left to right. Now if you overlook design considerations you might be in trouble later on.
Also, don’t overlook graphics and images and set them according to the regional requirements. You might not realize it but some things can be acceptable in your region but they might be inappropriate for the region you are targeting.
How to avoid it?
A method that works most of the time is that you assume 20-40% more space than English as it may require more words to explain the same thing in another language. It will give you enough space to cover additional words for any other language.
Also, ask your web designer to do design changes to avoid changing the interface of the page when translating into another language.
3.Ignoring cultural context:
If you are targeting a country and you are entering the market without understanding the culture and references of that country, you will be facing a lot of difficulties marketing your product.
Let’s suppose you have an e-commerce store and you are trying to sell bikinis, it might sell in European countries but you will have trouble selling in middle eastern countries.
That is because it is not culturally appropriate there. You will be more successful selling other fabrics that cover the whole body.
Did you know:
Coca-Cola once made a big mistake while localizing in China. They named their brand in Chinese which was pronounced as Coca-Cola. The problem that occurred was the character used in the writing meant “Bite the Wax Tadpole”.
This was a huge mistake considering it was a big brand. Of course, they changed it later on to a set of characters that means “Happiness in the mouth”.
How to avoid it?
Understanding the culture, references, and slang of the country you are targeting should be your priority. A person who belongs to the country you are targeting must be a part of your marketing team.
Never rely on word-to-word translation while entering a new market, do your research and challenge your competitors with a plan.
4.Not offering local payment method:
If you are entering a new market and you are not changing your payment method to what is most used in that country, you might not get the response you are expecting.
Even if you consider all other elements before targeting that new country and you are not changing your payment method to that people are comfortable with, you won’t be selling your product as you like.
Even though PayPal is considered the most used payment method in North America, it is not available in every country. Even if it is available, many countries still enjoy other payment methods.
According to Oberlo, As of 2021 49% of users worldwide use a Digital/Mobile Wallet for their online payments, 21% use credit cards, and 12% use debit cards.
How to avoid it?
Before entering into a new market, do thorough research on which payment methods people enjoy the most in that specific region.
Try adding that method to your payment options if you don’t already have it. This will make it easy for consumers to purchase from your e-commerce store.
Some countries don’t even have a proper payment method. If you are targeting those countries try to go with the payment method that is already being used there.
5.Doing excessive localization:
There is another mistake that companies tend to make when localizing in other countries and that is excessive localization.
Remember you don’t have to change your company to blend in with other regions, you have your own charm. Try to market your product in a way that appeals to your targeted region.
Not all content/products need to be localized, just focus on localizing the content/product that needs to be changed.
For Instance, if KFC changes the whole menu to fit a specific region, it will lose its charm. They just need to adjust the taste according to what people like but they don’t have to change their trademark burgers.
How to avoid it?
Do not change everything, just change what is necessary and try to blend in with your targeted region without being excessive.
Don’t try to bring politics into your marketing strategy and also don’t spam the cultural references, just be minimal and take your product/content to the next level.
Localization is one of the most important aspects to consider when targeting a new country. Common mistakes will only jeopardize your localization process so avoiding them is important.
If one market needs something it doesn’t necessarily mean that other markets will need it too. You need to make sure that you do thorough research and be prepared while entering a new region.
Make sure you do not make the mistakes we have discussed above and do not take L10N lightly. Keep in mind that developing a brand image inside your target audience's mind is why you are doing localization.
Hire reputed companies for the specific region for localization. If you are targeting African countries, you can contact AfroLingo, one of the leading companies providing translation and interpretation services in South Africa.
Working with thousands of clients we have gained a tremendous amount of experience in this field and we know the ups and downs of the market.
We provide professional localization experience if you are looking to target African countries. We not only provide local languages like Xhosa translation but we also make sure that you enter the African market with all the necessary steps required.