How to Turn Language into a Key Asset of Your Global Expansion Strategy

May 4, 2022

Harnessing the power of localization to scale your business across markets

When content drives your business, then getting your brand voice right in your audience’s language is crucial to boosting customer experiences, and achieving global growth goals. Localizing your content — or adapting your messaging to a particular culture — helps you deliver your brand consistently across markets in a way that is authentic and native to local buyers.

Companies that have achieved the most success with international expansion tend to set up localization internally as an integrated, centralized effort, transforming language from a cost center into a growth driver. By centralizing your localization activities, teams can use their tech much more efficiently, and reuse assets such as style guides and terminology, while streamlining a better approach across departments. This can help maximize the consistency of your brand content to help gain and maintain customer engagement.

Here’s how you can turn language from a cost center into a growth driver: 

1. Align the value of language to your company’s goals

Is your main objective ensuring the tone of your marketing campaign is right in all languages you support? Or is your priority getting your product content localized and into international markets faster than the competition?

It is essential to define and articulate the value of localization to your business with key internal stakeholders and senior leadership.

Consider the following questions: 

  • How important is multilingual content to your organization?

  • How does language impact your business model? 

  • How embedded is language within your services operations? 

  • What are the current challenges and drivers?

By reviewing the impact of language on your company goals, you create a strong foundation to position localization as central to your business strategy.

2. Measure your metrics and track ROI to make data-driven decisions

Many companies consider localization a cost center, but content is created for a purpose, and localizing helps carry that purpose into new languages and markets. It should act as a revenue generator for your business. To assess its value as an investment, you’ll need to align an ROI to your localization. 

It’s easy to get caught up in task-specific metrics around translation quality. These KPIs matter, but you also need to tie each localization task back to your organization’s wider global growth objectives. You might be updating your Italian website to fix grammatical errors, but remember to frame these day-to-day tasks around the benefits to the company.

For your company, this could look like:

  1. A boost in conversion rates 

  2. Lower bounce rates 

  3. Improved UX within your app or website

  4. Fewer resource demands for translation workflows

By aligning an ROI to your localization efforts, you can track, measure, and report on revenue generated, and have an educated understanding of where to invest or reallocate efforts to yield higher results. It can also help you make more informed, data-driven decisions on how you prioritize your content for localization and determine if more localized variants are required — across the 21 Spanish-speaking countries, for example, or Canadian French vs Metropolitan French. Tracking your localization will enable you to scale into new markets much more efficiently and effectively. 

3. Secure key stakeholder buy-in 

“No localization team exists in a vacuum,” shared Patrick McLoughlin, Localization Manager at Eventbrite. 

Localization in any enterprise is a cross-functional process. It is dependent upon multiple projects, metrics, and deliverables across other teams. Successful localization relies on forging relationships with other departments — marketing, product management, engineering — and as much as possible with senior leadership. Anyone involved in the localization process needs to evangelize the importance of localization to these other teams. 

Take the time to give localization the visibility it deserves across the business, and show other key stakeholders what it means and why it’s important to provide a more authentic experience to your international customers. You could back this up with your metrics, but it’s important to know your audience and what metrics pertain to them.

If you’re presenting to engineers, tailor it to their language and talk technical. If you’re presenting to senior leadership, refer to numbers that highlight the importance of globalization. Rather than listing the number of Arabic pages you’ve fixed with the engineering team this quarter, showcase how this has impacted the overall Arabic customer experience, for example by decreasing overall bounce rate, resulting in a X% uptick in CSAT scores. Framing your report as such and tying other teams’ work to international success can be very impactful. Getting buy-in across the business makes for a smoother localization process, and makes it easier to hit your global growth goals.

Harnessing localization as a growth driver can have a substantial impact on your global expansion. These three factors can kickstart this process, but you don’t have to take this journey alone. Our localization experts know how challenging and complex it can be for businesses to navigate localization and are dedicated to helping you align your localization efforts to your company goals, track and report on metrics, and educate your colleagues on the power of localization to secure key stakeholder buy-in.

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Unbabel’s Content Team is responsible for showcasing Unbabel’s continuous growth and incredible pool of in-house experts. It delivers Unbabel’s unique brand across channels and produces accessible, compelling content on translation, localization, language, tech, CS, marketing, and more.