The Internet has made it possible for a global audience to purchase products and services from virtually any company. In theory, any business in any part of the world can become an international business. As long as you’re reaching people who speak the same language as you do and you’re really good at what you do, shouldn’t you have great success with international markets? It seems straightforward enough, but the reality of international business is more complex.
Creating local content in a global footprint requires a two-fold approach. The first step is to find a unique mission and voice with universal appeal. For example, Coke uses the message “joy” across all of their products and advertising campaigns. Their simple, timeless slogans such as “happiness” and “enjoy” are not likely to go out of style any time soon and are easy to translate across varying nations, races, and cultures. Your mission and voice should set your products or services apart from the competition and demonstrate the value they provide.
The second step is to create content locally. Relentless localization is exhausting but key for long-term success. Your offerings for each region must be tailored to the local culture and language. Going back to the example of Coke, they print the names of their most popular regions on cans and bottles in place of the iconic Coke logo. This simple substitution enables Coke to apply a localized strategy to a global market.
Creating localized content goes beyond basic differences in language. Slang, holidays, work schedules, school year schedules, local media landscape, social media networks, and local pop culture all play a role in creating sound localized content. As such, running your content through Google Translate before hitting the publish button is not sufficient. Hire an experienced translator with expertise in both the language and culture, as well as best SEO practices, to complete your translation. A reputable translator may even be able to help you generate new ideas for localized content.
Simply changing the name of the city or town for regional content in a single language is another practice to avoid. Posting very similar content looks lazy and may hurt you in search engine results, as many engines ding similar content as duplicate or low quality or at worst, spam.
As you create localized content, think about what’s different in the areas that you serve. For example, if you offer lawn maintenance services, climate and pest control may vary greatly across different regions. Look for opportunities to showcase customers’ stories, not just your own story. Adding a couple unique case studies or testimonials to city, state, or country pages will help to personalize the content.
Crafting a consistent message that translates easily across multiple languages and cultures, while creating content that is a good fit for your most popular international markets is an ongoing process. It often takes trial and error to create localized versions of global content. Once you’ve settled on a uniform message with universal appeal that works for your brand, don’t be afraid to keep tweaking your localization efforts to reach local markets effectively.