Strategies for Success: A Product Leader’s Guide to Localization

19. September 2023y

Localization plays a crucial role in the success of new product launches and expansions. In fact, according to a study by Common Sense Advisory, 76% of customers are more likely to make a purchase if the product information is available in their native language. Understanding how to build an effective localization strategy and communicate efficiently with your customers is essential for tapping into new markets and maximizing global growth opportunities.

Here are four key steps to develop a localization strategy that can enhance your product’s local relevance, connect with diverse audiences, and drive business growth.

Step 1: Identify Your Market

Identifying the market is the first crucial component to developing a localization strategy. By conducting thorough market research to understand the cultural, linguistic, and consumer preferences of the regions you wish to enter and analyzing demographic data, market trends, and consumer behavior, you can tailor your product development to meet the specific needs of each market.

Understanding the nuances of your target audience will enable you to craft localized experiences that resonate with them and drive user adoption.

Step 2: Build a Localization Kit for Your Company

Creating a comprehensive localization kit will help you streamline the localization process and ensure consistency across languages and regions. This kit should include style guides, glossaries, and brand guidelines that provide clear instructions for translators and localization teams.

Establishing consistent terminology, tone of voice, and visual elements allows you to maintain your brand identity while adapting it to local cultures. For example, along with translating over 500,000 words, Unbabel created style guides that fit perfectly with each Accor brand, catering to different target markets.

Step 3: Adapt Content for Local Markets

Localization goes beyond mere translation. It involves adapting content to suit the cultural nuances, customs, and preferences of different regions. Taking a holistic approach to content localization is key, including not only language translation but also cultural references, imagery, and even product functionality.

By investing in culturally sensitive localization, you can avoid misunderstandings, build trust with local customers, and create a seamless user experience. And it pays off in ROI as well with companies that invest in culturally sensitive localization reporting a 35% increase in sales.

Step 4: Test and Iterate

Localization is an iterative process and it is essential to continually test and gather feedback from local markets to refine your localized products. Conduct regular user testing, gather customer insights, and listen to feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Implementing an agile localization process allows for quick iterations and ensures that your product evolves alongside market demands. For example, Unbabel helped Global Electronic Components accelerate its localized product launches, reducing time to international markets from 4 weeks to 5 days.

Common Pitfalls of Localization Strategies

Localization strategies are crucial for successful global product launches. However, there are several common pitfalls that companies should be aware of to avoid costly mistakes. Understanding these challenges and taking proactive steps to address them can significantly enhance the effectiveness of localization efforts.

1. Neglecting Cultural Adaptation

Overlooking the importance of cultural adaptation can lead to misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and even offense among local audiences.

For example, popular fashion retailer H&M faced backlash in 2018 for a culturally insensitive ad featuring a black kid wearing a hoodie that read, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.” The advertisement sparked outrage as it perpetuated racial stereotypes, highlighting the consequences of overlooking cultural sensitivities in localization efforts.

To overcome this pitfall, companies should conduct thorough cultural research, collaborate with native speakers or cultural consultants, and ensure that localized content aligns with the cultural norms and expectations of the target market.

2. Over Reliance on Machine Translation

While machine translation (MT) has made significant advancements, relying solely on automated translation without considering the importance of human translators can be problematic. MT tools may struggle with context, idiomatic expressions, and cultural nuances, leading to inaccurate or awkward translations.

Brands should strive to combine the speed and efficiency of MT with the expertise of professional human translators who provide the necessary context, accuracy, and cultural sensitivity required for high-quality localized content.

For example, Unbabel used machine translation and human translators to help Physioswiss successfully translate its marketing content and press releases into three different languages.

3. Insufficient Quality Assurance

Failing to implement robust quality assurance measures can result in subpar localized products, leading to negative user experiences and reputational damage.

It is crucial to establish quality control checkpoints throughout the localization process, including linguistic review, functional testing, and user acceptance testing. Rigorous quality assurance ensures that the localized product meets the desired standards of accuracy, functionality, and user experience.

For instance, Unbabel’s AI translation tools coupled with a dedicated quality monitoring team helped Orange translate 3 million words in more than 30 different language combinations while maintaining accuracy and speed.

4. Lack of Localization Context

Localization context refers to providing translators and localization teams with comprehensive information about the product, its features, and its target audience. Without sufficient context, translators may struggle to accurately convey the intended meaning or adapt the content appropriately.

To overcome this pitfall, organizations should invest in creating detailed localization kits that provide comprehensive context. These kits will enable translators to produce localized content that aligns with the company’s branding and resonates with the target audience. For example, Unbabel helped ClassPass to expand to 30 countries and optimize its multilingual operations with on-brand quality.

Unlock Global Success with an Intelligent Localization Solution

Building a successful localization strategy is vital for product leaders seeking to expand their global reach. By following the steps outlined in this article, companies can create localized products that resonate with diverse markets.

Unbabel’s comprehensive localization solution, empowered by the acquisition of Bablic, offers the necessary tools and technologies to overcome common localization pitfalls. With Unbabel’s machine translation and quality estimation capabilities, businesses can achieve accurate and culturally relevant translations, enabling them to deliver superior localized experiences. Embracing Unbabel’s approach to translation ensures seamless expansion into new markets and drives the success of global product launches.

Request a demo to see how Unbabel can help you build a successful localization strategy.

About the Author

Profile Photo of Jessica Florez
Jessica Florez

Jessica Florez is the Senior Content Strategist at Unbabel. She has 10 years of proven success in content marketing strategy and development to build business brands, support global sales teams, drive demand for products and services. She boasts a wide range of expertise in both B2B + B2C integrated marketing roles, for industries that include financial services, healthcare, tech (SaaS), and tour & travel. She earned her BA from the University of Central Florida, and her MFA from Hofstra University.