When developing a global web presence, most companies have ‘tiered’ their markets – and their respective country sites — according to current revenues and growth potential. Example: your marketing manager might say ‘Poland is stable, it’s not a huge market for us, it’s not growing, stats are low, so it’s tier 3 and we’ll only localize small amounts of content’.
But which content? For which audience? How do you decide what that critical mass of localized content is – for all your tiers? While revenue is clearly THE major criteria, there are other factors you should also look at before you finalize your country and/or language prioritization list, as well as your allocation of countries into tiers. Here are just a few:
Legal requirements: Does the market have legal requirements with respect to language and localization? Many countries have laws that stipulate that all commercial offers or specific types of content – terms and conditions, user manuals, instructions – must be in the language of the country.
Contractual requirements: Does your company have contractual agreements – with partners, distributors, customers – that says you will provide content in their language?
Market recognition: How well-known is your brand in this market? Indeed, how well understood is your offering? You may be selling goods or services that are new and unfamiliar, and require a little more explanation than in your home market. This will affect your content strategy for that (or those) markets.
Competition: What are your competitors doing in terms in your target markets? Can you use localization as a differentiator, or do you have to play catch-up? Look carefully at both breadth and depth of content translated. Many companies give a good first impression by translating their home pages and all their navigation, but quickly fall through by linking straight through to non-translated content (and often without warning).
Barriers to English: Do your audiences understand English? Do they have a strong preference for their native language? Not only do some countries have a higher resistance to English, specific audiences may well have different comfort levels as well. Influencers in the C-suite who travel the world and belong to global peer communities may be far more at ease with English than folks who are actually using or installing your products or services. It may make sense to apply different rules to different types of content, rather than have an across-the-board policy that applies to all of it.Cultural forces
Formal vs informal: Is the country you are targeting more formal and hierarchical than your home country? That might not impact decisions about which content to localize, but it will impact how you go about doing it. You may need to adapt your chatty, conversational tone, and make it a little more formal for certain markets.
Market presence: Do you a full subsidiary with lots of employees in the market, or just a small office, with two people responsible for everything? Unless you have a highly centralized model, this is going to affect the volume of content you can maintain over the long term.
Enterprise culture: How much flexibility do your markets have in terms of rolling out new products, services and campaigns? Do they have a high degree of independence or must they follow strict rules and guidelines? Or, is the company now in transition, moving from a decentralized culture to one that’s more centralized in an effort to reduce costs and streamline operations?
Are you offering the same products and services in all markets? Is it the same breadth of portfolio – you may be offering only a subset – but also, is it the same feature set? How is this offering supported worldwide? Is there one single mega call center with capabilities for different languages? Or multiple support centers?
Finally, what are you looking to achieve with your localized web presence? Do you want users to interact with you? Fill out forms? Purchase products? Or do you just want a minimum presence that says, ‘hey, we’re here’. The more complex the objective, the deeper the relationship you want to develop, the more you will be called upon to translate and localize.