Engage New Markets and Drive Sales with Localization for Startups
Do you want your startup to “take over the world”? If so, you are going to need a good localization plan. But, before you jump right in, you need a little primer on localization for startups. Here are the essential facts to get you started.
1. Localization Relies on a Strong Local Presence
When you visit a new market to attend meetings or conferences, take some time to get out and talk to clients. Of course, right off the bat, you probably will not be able to go everywhere you want, especially if money is tight.
There are solutions available even if your staff cannot be everywhere. For instance, a Forbes article highlights how Soundwave (a music service now owned by Spotify) put its most loyal users to work as brand ambassadors in their home countries.
Within the first 24 hours of launching their “Roadie” program, they had all of the users they needed. In return, fans of the brand got preferential access to updates, swag, the chance to host company events, and networking.
The lesson to be learned from Soundwave is that your customers can be your best “boots on the ground.” If you already have a small international presence, leverage it to provide a personal touch and gain market share.
2. Localization Is Much More than Simple Translation
Translating your message into fourteen languages—Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German, English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Swedish, Russian, Korean, Italian, French, Dutch, and Arabic—will help you reach around 90 percent of the planet’s population according to Common Sense Advisory.
Of course, language is just part of it. Learning about the culture is crucial to localization for startups. You must adapt your content to not just the language but the culture as well. Using the United States as an example, the people in California may use different grammar and syntax than locals in rural Alabama.
3. Start with the End Product in Mind
As tech startups develop new software or apps, you need to keep in mind that you may one day want to introduce your product to foreign markets. This means creating software applications that are easy to adapt and scale to different cultures and languages.
Software that is internationalized has the following qualities: the ability to support characters in several foreign languages, authoring in formats that support right-to-left languages as well as left-to-right languages, and allows for space in the UI to make room for expanded text.
It is also important to keep the end product in mind when creating website copy, marketing materials, support documentation, and other content.
What is entailed in creating easily translatable content? Avoid long, complex sentences, jargon, and idioms. Instead, write content that is easy to read and informative.
GALA, the Globalization & Localization Association, recommends also keeping in mind that websites are moving toward more visual content, including infographics, videos, and images. Creating visuals is much pricier than writing a blog or page of content.
Therefore, create videos that will work for multiple markets. The main bulk of your video can serve as a template to build on. So, avoid cultural taboos. Later on, you can add subtitles, voice-overs, or even additional footage.
4. Translation Can Take a Long Time
Translating your marketing materials can take a lot longer than you may think. Of course, there are ways to cut corners. You could choose machine or crowdsourced translation, but those methods do not produce the good localized content that you need.
Good professional translators take significantly longer than you might imagine. You can have it done correctly or quickly. Therefore, you should give yourself enough time to have a quality translation completed.
A professional localization service provider is your best bet since they have the infrastructure in place to take on your project. Get a quote for how long the project will take and add 20 percent more time to that to ensure it will be ready for your new market launch.
5. Show Your New International Audience that You Are Committed
Even if the results are imperfect, it is imperative that you put in the work to localize. For instance, it is shortsighted to think that presenting your product in English in a country where English is a secondary language will have the same effect as localizing your marketing materials in the native vernacular.
Therefore, do not give up if you cannot be perfect. Instead, people will recognize when you put forth the effort to localize even if your localization is incorrect or small.
On the other hand, if users see that you are not committed to the market, they will ditch you in a heartbeat.
At Accelingo, we recommend leaving the localization efforts to the experts. Language service providers who specialize in localization for startups have resources that allow them to adapt your materials to the international market you are looking to break into.