In a globalized world, foreign market outreach should always be a consideration. Despite the surge in global interconnectivity, companies today still suffer from archaic approaches to expansion, which do not recognize the potential of international audiences.

In general, a website is a company’s most valuable platform, functioning as a virtual storefront and a doorway to the world’s untapped markets. Therefore, if there is any desire to expand and reach new audiences, one should design and employ an international SEO strategy.

What Is International SEO?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It is an online marketing strategy useful for designing one’s website to appear in the top search engine results. Contrary to a Search Engine Advertising (SEA) strategy, where entities pay to have their advertisements prioritized, SEO relies on organic results. This means that, with SEO, companies optimize their website content based on popular keywords that are searched by users.

Local SEO is a website design approach that places advertising focus on a particular  market. If a corporation has French origins, a focus on local SEO will drive the company to gravitate towards keyword searches specific to France. With that said, as one incorporates certain keywords into a website, they might find it difficult to rank well on search results depending on the competitiveness of either the keywords or general market. To account for this, international SEO provides an opportunity to experiment with multiple markets and ultimately boost traffic.

International SEO brings SEO optimization to a new level, opening a company to even wider audiences. In our example, there is an entire world outside of France with various other cultures and markets to reach. Choosing to implement an international SEO strategy could quickly develop a company’s presence on the international web, therefore, generating significantly more traffic and even more conversion. 

With international SEO, there might also be less competition abroad, making it easier to rank well on search engine results for keywords specific to a given market. Therefore, with a site optimized for international SEO, users from different countries will be able to find one’s company through a search in their native language. Optimizing for international audiences is key, and it is exactly how companies can expect to increase their traffic. The broader a target audience, the more likely people are to encounter the website.

What Should I Know About Going Global

SEO optimization is not done in a day, nor is it without cost. Going global needs resources. In addition to this, keep in mind that it is a significant undertaking that can never be finished– it must be continuously maintained.

To launch the internationalization of a website, one will need:

  • Media developers (native speakers) to continuously create new content and have it translated.
  • Web developers in order to optimize the technical aspects that will be discussed below.

International SEO: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Certainly, this is a complicated undertaking that is not necessarily adapted to every company or type of market. So, how does one know if they should expand their market abroad?

Refer to two questions:

  • Is there an interest in expanding to foreign audiences? Do some market research.
  • Are there sufficient resources to accomplish this? Check prices for freelance translators, media creators, and content writers on dedicated platforms, such as Malt.

If the answer for both questions is “yes,” then do not lose out on a great opportunity. Take the plunge!

Choosing The Right Markets

Selecting new target markets is the immediate step forward if deciding to expand globally.

To determine the most promising audience, refer to specialized tools that analyze market data. Using these, companies should be searching for foreign locations where people browse their website. For example, an English-focused website might detect English search queries from Germany. In this instance, Germany then presents itself as an interesting target market. The company in question should consider developing a German version of the website to encourage even more traffic. If this method is too reliant on external factors, companies should perform research on keywords for different countries, creating an overview of the general interests in their markets. As this research is continued, the SEO difficulty will be indicative of the market competitiveness. To develop a broader understanding of market availability, check out some of the world’s most widely used languages on the internet like Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, or Japanese.

Sometimes, companies have to decide between choosing a target country or a target language. This all depends on the type of market being pursued. A corporation producing cups stylized with French captions might find its product marketable to not only French customers, but also Canadian or Belgian ones too. In this case, it can target the French language itself, and not just France. 

As for whether you should target a country or a language: it depends. Some products may be of interest to speakers of a particular language anywhere in the world. Others may only be of interest in certain countries. Just note that the technical method to identify the language of your site will be different in each case (we’ll look at this in the last part of the article).

How To Develop International SEO

Localize Your Website: The International Leap

The first step in internationalizing a site is to localize it for foreign audiences. With that said, if a company decides to target an entire language, culturally adapting it for each dialect could be difficult. In this scenario, proficient translators are recommended to navigate the nuances of each culture’s language.

In moving forward with a localization process, a company should contact a Language Service Provider (LSP) when specific cultural audiences have been selected. After the source website has been completed, it is then time for the globalizing or internationalizing phase. Depending on the languages chosen for translation, the size of characters and words can vary greatly and interfere with the design of a website. Therefore, be open to adapting the interface for multilingualism if necessary. In addition, take into account the usual interface features and differing measurement units of each country. Offer users from each culture a different version of the website, uniquely adapted in layout, colors, design, images, etc.

What About SEO?

Once the content has been translated, the process arrives at the heart of international SEO. It is time for the material to be optimized for search engine results. With this task, determine the most popular search engine for the target country. Even if Google remains the general world leader, it is not always the primary option around the globe. In Russia, Yandex dominates the market, and in China, Baidu is the leader.

Follow the foundational SEO rules, but this time, curated for the target country. This means observing and applying the most popular keywords, creating valuable, relevant content, and offering links to any translated sites. Do not forget to adapt the links after translation too! A company might even benefit by creating new content for unique versions of its website.

If there are multiple dialects, i.e. British-English or American-English, use Google’s Keyword Planner or Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest for keyword research regarding specific countries. More often than not, nations do not share the same search habits and expressions. If targeting a specific language rather than a country, focus keyword research on the country that holds the most speakers.

Once the work is done, maintain the different versions of the website. The effort of globalizing a domain is fruitless without sufficient upkeep. Indeed, if new content is added to the original site, it will have to be translated. Additionally, as mentioned before, it is more effective if you can develop unique content dedicated to each market. So, keep in touch with those essential localizers and translators!

The Right URL

Finally, for a website to be correctly identified by both users and bots, it must be represented by its language. There are several ways to ensure this, but this article will only explain the two most common.

The first method involves assigning a site to each language using different ccTLDs (Country Code Top Level Domain). For example, “mywebsite.fr” would be selected to represent the French site and “mywebsite.it” would be representative of the Italian site. This solution is the most efficient but also the most expensive and strenuous to maintain. It is only recommended for large companies that can afford to host one website per country. Of course, it also only applies if you are targeting specific countries, and not languages.

The second solution is more affordable and allows the company to use a single site for its multilingual versions. This solution is inexpensive and easy to design. In your website code, simply integrate the “hreflang” attribute of the link tag in the <head> section of the html code:

With this method, a “subdirectory” will be added to the website. As the browser identifies the user’s preferred language, the site will automatically redirect them to the appropriate version.

However, web developers should avoid redirecting users needlessly. In some situations, bots become an issue. For example, a Spanish native-speaker located in the US might be redirected due to the server of use being localized in an English-speaking nation. Against the user’s will, bots might force them to view the English site. Don’t forget to mention this potential to the project’s developers.

International SEO is more than having a site translated and waiting for traffic to arrive. In its entirety, it is a much more intentional and detailed process that holds benefits that every company should consider.

If you want to learn more about the nuances of globalization and internationalization, you can do so on TCLoc’s website by clicking here for more great articles.

Edited by Cameron Van.

With software still “eating the world”, as Marc Andreessen was already describing back in 2011, it is very necessary to facilitate software localization so you can sell your products in countries across the globe. One of the most common ways to do this is to engage a language service provider (LSP). So, you choose a reputable LSP and hand your source files over to them. Does that mean that your multilingual software localisation project will be a success? The answer is no. Unfortunately, many technology startups have fallen into the trap of starting software localization without doing essential preparation work, something that is vital to avoid extensive revisions later on. One major aspect of this advanced preparation work is terminology management using an appropriate terminology management system. Using a terminology database helps ensure consistent translations.

Without terminology management, terminology errors will find their way into the end result, meaning that many corrections will need to be done. This costs a lot of time and money compared to cases where terminology management is applied from the beginning. What’s more, this correction work will increase exponentially if your software is going to be translated into multiple languages. Not only is this costly, it can also lead to a loss of trust among customers – a sloppy translation is not a good look for your company. Terminology is therefore key to successful software localization.

The Function of Terminology in Software

The biggest difference between software documentation and literary works is that software documentation places a lot of importance on consistent terminology. For example, if you are reading a novel, the main character might be sometimes described as a loving father and other times as a tyrant. In software, however, a system administrator must always be a system administrator. If you change the name of the person who performs a certain operation, then readers might think that the operation is performed by someone else. Thus, the role of terminology is to provide consistency so that readers know exactly which concept a given term is referring to.

Choosing Software to Manage your Terminology Database

So, what kind of software should you use for your terminology database? Here are some of the most commonly used ones:

If you’re already using a CAT tool such as SDL Trados or memoQ, you may want to use its integrated terminology management system. These offer translators and translation project managers many more features than something like an Excel file, which was unfortunately the common solution in localization for a long time.

How to Add Terms to a Terminology Database

When you add terms to a terminology management system, make sure you follow these best practices:

  • Store terms in their base form.
  • Remember that terms should remove ambiguity.
  • Save terms with as much metadata as possible to guide linguists in deciding which term to use and when.
  • Ensure that you keep the termbase up to date.

Some LSPs will help build your terminology database for you, so it is a good idea to ask them for assistance.

Conclusion and Next Steps

You now know that terminology preparation is not something that needs to be tedious and costly – it is an investment in establishing a process that will maintain translation quality and reduce rework in the future. If you want to learn more about terminology management, check out this free online training from Trados. In addition, the TCLoc Master’s program has experienced instructors who can teach you what you need to know about software localization, terminology management and many other topics. Read more about the application requirements and the program format. Submit your application now! Intakes are available in January and July.

A quarter of Americans have at least one smart speaker device. But what languages can these devices speak? In this article we will discuss the challenges that the localization of smart speakers may entail.

What Is A Smart Speaker?

A smart speaker is a speaker with an integrated virtual assistant that enables human-machine interaction. We can ask our smart speaker trivial questions about the weather or latest news, or make it the central hub for our smart home to control our electronic devices, be it a fridge or a TV. In the past few years, smart speakers have entered many homes all over the globe. According to The Smart Audio Report, in 2019, 24% of adult Americans were using at least one smart speaker device. But what about other countries? How hard is it to localize a language for a smart speaker?

What Languages Can You Speak with Your Smart Speaker?

The most popular smart speakers that support multiple languages include Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod. The big market players are working hard on introducing more and more languages to their smart speakers to reach a bigger audience. Currently, the number of languages supported by virtual assistants is as follows: Amazon’s Alexa – 8, Google Assistant on Home devices – 13, Apple’s Siri on HomePod – only 6 languages. These smart speakers also speak some dialects of English, French and Spanish. However, overall these numbers do not seem that impressive. Why do the global market players not localize their smart speakers in more languages?

Localization Challenges for Smart Speakers

Language localization for a smart speaker is a costly and elaborate development process, as it requires the collection, analysis and testing of a vast amount of speech data. We cannot just take the strings of information used to generate the input and output for an English-speaking smart speaker and translate them word-for-word into, say, Russian. The goal of a virtual assistant is to imitate natural human conversation, so we expect our smart speaker to have not only grammatically correct speech, but also some knowledge about our local culture. For example, we may want it to tell us the local news or a joke that will be understood in a given cultural context.

In 2018 Google announced the localization of its virtual assistant into 30 languages. As of 2021, Google has not even reached half of this goal. This can be explained by the fact that it takes the same amount of effort and money to teach a virtual assistant to speak languages with only a few million native speakers as it does to introduce a much more commonly spoken language. It is no surprise that many smart speakers can speak Spanish (483 million native speakers), but not Latvian or Slovenian (1.3 and 2.5 million speakers respectively). It is therefore sensible to assume that it will probably take some time until languages with fewer native speakers become available on smart speakers – not so much because of their linguistic complexity, but due to their lack of potential profitability.

The big smart speaker producers have not only been slow in localizing the less widely spoken languages, but also some of the more widely spoken ones, such as Chinese and Russian. This delay opened the door to local tech companies to introduce their monolingual smart speakers. For example, the Yandex.Station smart speaker with its integrated virtual assistant Alice has literally no competition on the Russian-speaking market as there is no other smart speaker supporting the Russian language. The advantage of such monolingual smart speakers is that local companies may concentrate on developing a product specifically designed for their own market. This allows them to create a product which sounds more authentic and is better able to reflect the specific local cultural nuances than its international counterparts.

Future Prospects of Smart Speakers Across the Globe

Artificial intelligence technology is constantly developing, giving us reason to believe that the costs for smart speaker localization will decrease with time. This will allow smart speakers to speak more languages and acquire more functions, making them increasingly useful for many households all over the world.

What is your experience with smart speakers? Do they speak your native language yet? Let us know in the comments. 

Do you want to learn more about localization? Apply to the TCLoc Master’s Program now!

Languages, Locales and Challenges

When it’s time to localize your product, choosing your target markets is a crucial step. Once you have narrowed down which languages to localize into, the trickiest part might be yet to come: opting for the locale that makes the most sense for your company. Neutral language localization can help your company cover more target markets more efficiently.

Many locales (variants) can exist within the same language depending on the countries and regions where that language is spoken. For example, American English is different from British English. One can rightfully argue that localizing in one or another does not matter much since users will generally be able to understand other variants of their language. However, the main idea behind localization is to adapt the content of your product so that the user has the impression that it could have been created in his/her country or region. This in turn can increase positive perception of your product. An appropriate localization strategy allows you to adapt your product to each new target market in a way that benefits your company. A product that speaks to your consumers in their language and culture is more likely to be successful.

Multinational companies that have the time and budget may therefore decide to localize for several locales (e.g. both American and British English), but that might be more difficult for other companies that do not have the same financial resources, as localization costs money. However, localizing for only one locale often means less opportunity and revenue for your company. Therefore it can also be very difficult to decide which locale will be the best bet for your product. That’s when neutral language localization comes into play.

What is Neutral Language?

Neutral or universal language is a language which doesn’t pertain to just one specific country or region. It can instead be understood anywhere that language is spoken while also not being offensive to any speakers of that language. This approach is budget-friendly as you only have to localize your product once instead of multiple times for multiple locales. Let’s take a look at a case study featuring neutral Spanish:

With over 463 million native-speakers, Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It’s an official language in 20 countries and is usually one of the first languages to be localized when expanding to the European market. Localizing products in Spanish is therefore crucial for many companies. 

However, there are many variations within Spanish (terminology, syntax and even ways of addressing people) depending on the country or region. It’s also often thought that there are only two types of Spanish: Castillian (from Spain) and a Latin American variation. However, there is no such thing as a common Spanish in the Americas. Words or expressions that are completely normal in some Latin American countries can be seen as confusing, ridiculous, or even offensive in others, depending on the context in which they are being used.

In this case study, tech giant Microsoft opted for a global and inexpensive approach by localizing some of its products in neutral Spanish. Here are some examples:

  • Choosing terms that are not used anywhere but that are understandable in every country. An example would be “computer,” which can be translated as “ordenador,” “computador” or “computadora” depending on the region. Instead of picking one of these, they decided to use “PC” and “equipo.”
  • Using gender-neutral possessives for borrowed English nouns and acronyms to avoid conflicts about gender. Depending on the country, these nouns may be considered either masculine or feminine (for example, “tu PC” (your PC) instead of “el/la PC”).
  • Excluding terms that have offensive or vulgar connotations in some Spanish-speaking countries.
    The complete Style Guide can be downloaded here.

Conclusion

Hence, opting for neutral language localization can be an efficient way to target multiple markets at a lower cost. Although it would be interesting to know how satisfied Microsoft’s users are with neutral Spanish, this approach remains a good option for companies that want to localize in a language but don’t know which locale to pick or don’t have the budget to localize for several locales. 

If you want to know more about localization, visit the TCLoc Master’s program website. Feel free to share this article on social media!

Do you ever wonder what is the difference between Globalization and Localization? 

The current and modern way of trading makes it easier for any entrepreneur to expand their business globally. If you have a rapidly growing business, then you know that internationalization, as a corporate strategy, increases the complexity of communicating, respecting, understanding and working in new markets. Even if the right path to go global may not exist, it is essential to know which challenges await you and especially how to choose an adapted internationalization strategy.

1. What is Internationalization and Why is it a Business Strategy?

Let’s Take a Look at the Definition!

Internationalization is a process which “requires a combination of both international and technical expertise, and generally involves both deploying new systems and reengineering existing ones”. By making your product international, ”you design or develop your content, application, specification, and so on, in a way that ensures it will work well for, or can be easily adapted for, users from any culture, region, or language”.

Reasons to Internationalize

Whether you are a software, video games, website design or any other multimedia company, it is a good idea to ask yourself whether you should go global, and consider an appropriate strategy to make it work.

  • You want to expand your business
  • You want to diversify & satisfy your customers from different parts of the world  and meet an increasing demand
  • You feel that your business is ready to make the next big move and go beyond national boundaries
    you want to be successful on all new markets

Internationalization from the User’s Perspective

Nowadays, everyone can purchase new products online, for example,  any software can be downloaded from anywhere  in the world; any item can be bought anytime without it being physically available in store.

– Internationalization from Your Perspective

The risk is that your product isn’t adapted to the way your client desires, mainly  because you didn’t originally plan to sell it in their country.   This can lead to frustration among users.

As Maria Garioni said: “A global vision and strategy is therefore essential to succeed in modern markets shaped by the technological progress brought about by the digital revolution, and to be successful in present-day increasingly challenging economical and political frameworks”.

2. Globalization vs. Localization: Core Differences

Globalization is “a situation in which available goods and services, or social and cultural influences, gradually become similar in all parts of the world”. This means that you want to erase regional characteristics in order to make your product globally accessible.

Localization is “the process of making a product or service more suitable for a particular country, area, etc.”. Here, on the contrary, you want to adapt your product to a very specific target audience.

Learn more about internationalization, globalization and localization!

3. Build Your Own International Business Strategy

– Provide a Framework

Whether you are launching a globalization or a localization process, a strategy is needed in both cases in order to clearly identify the goals and the working method of your internationalization process.

Naturally, every product and business is different; it is essential to build your own strategy. 

Find out more about this topic:

Five Questions to Build a Strategy by Roger L. Martin

A Manager’s Guide To International Strategy by Julia Hanna

– Find International Partners

An international business strategy will automatically allow you to tie relationships and communicate with several partners in different domains: Marketing, Sales, Business Development Personnel, Language Vendors, Translators, Proofreaders, Language Service Providers, Software Engineers, Project Managers, Testers, Publishers, DTPers, Localization Managers.

Find out more about a good relationship with a language vendor!

4. Take Action !

 You have now found out more about the outlines of globalization and localization. It’s time for you  to study the most adapted solution for your business and build your own strategy.

Be sure to keep yourself up to date!

Share this topic on social media!

Dating from the early 1970s, outsourcing remains a powerful business trend. Whether it be onshore, nearshore, or offshore, more than 90% of companies practice it nowadays. Outsourcing offshore IT operations was the root of the incredible job market growth in countries such as India and the Philippines. However, as needs evolve, so does the career market. For instance India has experienced a significant increase in technical writing degree programs as well as job offers in the last decade. In this context, how helpful would outsourcing technical writing be?

What Is Outsourcing?

In simple terms, outsourcing is the practice of hiring services or buying goods manufactured outside a firm. Companies often outsource customer service operations (call centers). However, they also tend to outsource production tasks, human resources, and even entire divisions, such as the IT department (e.g. IBM). Undoubtedly, the main objective of outsourcing is to reduce costs without compromising quality. Nevertheless, this strategy provides other significant advantages: better focus on more important aspects of the business, more competitiveness and faster turnaround times.

To outsource, companies can either turn to big third-party providers, or hire independent contractors or freelancers. The key for a successful outsourcing experience is partner relationship management. Creating partnerships is healthier than just paying for a project.

There are three types of outsourcing: onshore, nearshore, and offshore. The difference lies in the geographical location of the third-party. While onshore outsourcing involves a provider in the same country, offshore relocates work or services overseas. As for nearshore, the third-party is located in neighboring countries.

Outsourcing Technical Writing

Technical communication is a key element of a product‘s success. Clear and comprehensible software manuals and other instructional materials improve the customer experience and reduce risks. However, creating professional content is a difficult task. Companies may lack the necessary skills or the financial resources to produce such documents by themselves.

As a result, outsourcing appears to be a fantastic option. The advantages are numerous:

  • Professional technical writers have access to the proper knowledge and resources to produce documentation. They know how to deal with any kind of content, and they can adapt documents according to the target audience. Moreover, they can provide editing and reviewing services. This ensures the quality of the text. 
  • Experienced professional technical writers can produce user-friendly documentation, thus creating a positive effect on customers. This reinforces customer loyalty.
  • Outsourced technical writing is performed by professionals that are up to date with the latest trends of the industry. They also know the right tools to increase productivity.
  • Since technical writing requires a lot of time, outsourcing allows employees to focus on the core elements of the business.
  • The cost-saving aspect cannot be overlooked. For many companies, covering the salary, insurance and training of a full-time technical writer is simply out of the question.

India is one of the countries that has seen a major growth in technical writing degree programs and technical communication companies. According to Indeed, the average salary of a technical writer in India amounts to $7,060 per year. 

What About In-house Technical Writing?

Despite the benefits of outsourcing technical communication, some companies may be inclined to hire their own staff of technical authors. Although it represents a large investment, the nature of the content may persuade a business to look for an in-house professional instead of relocating work elsewhere, especially if such content is very specific to the company’s product and internal information.

Naturally, this alternative may take some time to be implemented. Apart from the technical writer recruitment process, companies have to set up a management system and acquire the right tools. But in the long term, the effort pays off. 

A Wise Choice

There’s no right or wrong in outsourcing or hiring. The decision whether to employ a single technical writer or turn to a freelancer, that is to say a team of experts, depends on the needs of the company. Establishing the desired solutions for the business is key to determining whether to outsource or to hire in-house.

To conclude, outsourcing and employing in-house can complement each other. A company could call a provider as a consultant, and hire a technical author to manage the project. In that way, it will have the expertise of the provider, and a full-time worker in the office.

To read more about technical writing, click here.

As you might know, Netflix has become one of the largest online streaming services. Their product is available in over 190 countries and currently supports 26 languages. Netflix is still fine-tuning its multilingual localization processes to ensure that all its content is universally accessible.

How does a streaming organization as large as Netflix handle localization across the world?

What Is Localization and Why Is It Important For Netflix?

The Art of Adapting to Cultural Zones and Values

Localization (L10N) is a key phase within the process that you cannot ignore when expanding services into the global market. It is about adapting a product from a specific region or country. Basically, it refers to translating multimedia content such as software, video games, websites, as well as audio and video.

When localizing, you should take into consideration cultural differences and diverging values. It can indeed become a significant challenge when you have to repeat this process for five or more languages. Netflix changes the catalog choices depending on the region. You do not find the same content if your IP address is in France, India, or South Korea.

However, localizing is much more complex than just adapting a movie and show selection. When localizing a user interface, you have to think about readjusting several technical aspects which differ from country to country.

Localizing Netflix’s User Interface

Pseudo-localization is an important phase within the localization process because it specifies technical definitions regarding aspects of text adaptation to a target language. It actually becomes a prerequisite when you have to translate from a Western language to an Asian one for example, e.g. from English to Chinese or Japanese.

But what is exactly pseudo-localization?

In their Netflix Tech Blog, Netflix published an article about the technical issues they regularly face when updating or adapting new content on their multilingual user interface.

Here is a list of multiple parameters Netflix’s pseudo-localization team have to take into account:

  • Left to right/right to left script.
  • Vertically or horizontally presented texts.
  • Length constraints/limited number of characters. Sometimes, a translation from one language to another ends up being too long for User Interface elements such as buttons, titles, or descriptions. Therefore, the text would not fit into the space provided in the interface.
  • Appearance: Character sizes, formats, fonts… Without pseudo-localization, it could lead to cultural or technical inconsistencies.

To summarize, pseudo-localization can be defined as the phase in which one adapts and edits every piece of text of a user interface to a target language.

Who Handles the Localization on Netflix?

One Project to Manage, Several Tasks to Divide

Each person who takes part in this process has a specific role. There are several ways to split the tasks of a multilingual localization project. With so much content, you may ask yourself how Netflix handles the work of translating all of this efficiently.

Netflix outsources translations. All of these tasks are usually executed by several Directors of Localization, Localization Project Managers, and Language Managers. They are the link between Netflix and external localization vendors or freelance translators working for the streaming services company.

Project Hermes: An Internal Localization Team at Netflix

In 2017, Netflix launched a global campaign to hire the best translators to increase the quality of their subtitles, the Hermes Portal. This campaign encompassed a global language, translation and technical test accessible worldwide for anyone who had access to Netflix. However, given that Netflix is more specialized in technology development and project management than in localization, the project turned out to be too costly and ambitious. The company had to cancel it and leave this process to their external localization vendors.

All in all, Netflix handles the management as well as the technical aspects of a localization project (pseudo-localization, content workflows) while external partners deliver localized contents such as translated subtitles and dubbing. When content does not belong to the company, Netflix has to buy the publishing rights from other companies and does not necessarily have permission to edit subtitles.

Even for Netflix, Multilingual Localization Is Challenging

In the online streaming industry, managing a multilingual localization project is a challenge because they have to tackle every aspect of the translation process. Languages and technologies have been evolving at a fast pace in recent times and with innovation, organizations have found ways to manage it.

Although Netflix had considered having its own in-house localization team, it decided against it and continued with outsourcing to external translation teams around the world. This illustrates that even a company with the reputation of Netflix is still learning and developing strategies to manage localization projects.

We could have also taken the examples of other streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Premium, or the more recent Disney+, as each of those companies are facing similar challenges and are actively researching for creative solutions to improve the quality of the contents they are sharing with their subscribers.

Sharing your thoughts about Netflix’s localization management may bring some new and interesting insights on this topic. Either way, feel free to comment here!

The launch of a business in today’s global economy requires the ability to adapt a company’s strategy to be locale and culture aware. This strategy has to focus on the GILT (Globalization, Internationalization, Localization and Translation) process in order to successfully reach a global audience. A global vision and strategy is therefore essential to succeed in modern markets shaped by the technological progress brought about by the digital revolution, and to be successful in present-day increasingly challenging economical and political frameworks.

UI & UX design strategy

When globalizing a business such as an e-commerce, it is important to first approach the issue of internationalization (i18n) creating a product or service that can potentially be marketed worldwide with the goal to provide a unified user experience, then it is also crucial to proceed with content localization (l10n) making all the necessary adaptations according to the local market and adopting a marketing strategy to raise brand awareness.

Functionality, design and navigation are the key points of each UX strategy. However, user experience cannot only rely on aesthetics, as it is about making sure that systems make sense to people, by appealing to empathy and emotions, so that the user can clearly understand the purpose of the UI and benefit from it to satisfy a certain need. In the context of globalization (g11n), one of the main goals to keep in mind is to provide a unified and coherent global experience by means of a strategy that ensures consistency and compliance with guidelines.

Information processing theory and mental models

Users always approach a new product and its features based on their mental models that are generally formed by education, experience, age, and culture. So, people have expectations and mental models that are based on previous experiences with specific products. Since unexpected surprises popping up as part of the UX or UI can lead to confusion and frustration, the goal of high-quality UX design is to create a process that allows users to accomplish their goals quickly and easily. For this reason, designers should consider users’ expectations to align the design process with users’ existing mental models in order to improve existing products and design new ones – e.g. adopting skeuomorphism, which implies that the UI both looks and functions like its real-world counterpart.

To understand users’ behaviours, habits, and needs, UX designers need to analyse the process of human cognition including the different functions and types of visual attention.

As illustrated by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “some of the most influential theories treat the selectivity of attention as resulting from limitations in the brain’s capacity to process the complex properties of multiple perceptual stimuli. Other theories take the selectivity of attention to be the result of limitations in the thinking subject’s capacity to consciously entertain multiple trains of thought. A third group of theories account for attention’s selectivity in ways that need not make any reference to limitations in capacity”.

Based on the cognitive psychology of attention, which deals with mechanisms of perception forming behaviours, it is possible to identify two ways of visual attention within the context of the human information processing theory: spatial attention (directed to a region) and feature-based attention (directed to a feature). Besides this, there are different types of attention, which are determined by the situation and the intensity of the stimuli: divided (simultaneity of processes), focused (concentration on a target stimulus), sustained (activities requiring attention over a long time) and selective attention (choice of more relevant stimuli).

As a result, the cognitive load needs to be lowered by reducing the options available and consequently the decision time, trying to appeal to the five senses for grabbing attention (e.g.  cocktail-party effect) and to improve GUI design in order to avoid the change blindness effect.

The customer journey through cognitive psychology & neuroscience

Starting with the assumption that human brain is lazy and prone to shortcuts, while cognition is a complex process, it is evident that much of what drives human behaviour is subconscious. According to Kahneman, human thought can be split into reactive (responsible for instinctive cognition) and analytical (applied to more complex scenarios) systems. Most of human decision-making processes belong to the first system of “fast thinking”: even if we don’t perceive it, we tend to make decisions quickly relying upon predefined schemas or mental models. Certain neuroscience techniques (such as eye-tracking cameras, skin sensors and electroencephalograms) have recently been adopted to help UX research to identify what stimulates “fast thinking.”

Based on recent studies of neuroscience, there are some useful tips for designers to create great user experiences:

  • Design should be kept simple so that information is easy retrievable.
  • Priming someone to expect things like elements of the UI, certain interactions, or timing in a process improves the ability to react to new information.
  • Information should be organized for lazy readers: according to the F-pattern commonly used by the brain to scan for information, it is better to organize the text structure so that it is easy scannable, but also using colour theory, weights, and contrast to direct user attention.

Colour is a form of non-verbal communication because choosing a colour means communicating a message that is rooted deep within our subconscious. Colours have a big effect on the user’s experience because they affect users’ mood. Don’t forget: the importance of colour psychology in UI design is pivotal because it can boost conversions and increase profit.

Post-it reminder to run a usability test as part of the UX design process

Usability and accessibility for a successful globalization of your business

To sum up, UX design is the method to meet the users’ needs, while UI design originates from the combination of visual and interaction design. User Interface design ranges from GUIs of computers, mobiles, and tablets to many other devices. Despite the differences between user experience and user interface design, these two aspects are strongly interrelated.

To conclude, when taking a business global, best practice is first of all to focus on usability and accessibility. Especially for small businesses this is a complex and dynamic process requiring a deep understanding of the targeted markets. In particular, there are some key points to bear in mind when dealing with accessibility:

  • Accessibility does not necessarily exclude aesthetics and visual attractiveness, quite the contrary they should be merged into a unique need.
  • Investing in accessibility definitely improves ROI (debunking the myth) as a direct consequence of the following key factor: an enhanced usability, an increased customers’ engagement towards the brand, a wider reach of the target audience, a simplified development and maintenance stages, as well as a compliance with local regulations and guidelines.
  • Understanding the user’s needs implies having empathy in your sights and learning how to address different types of disabilities (ranging from visual to auditory, as well as physical and cognitive up to learning disabilities);
  • Refer to standards to implement a web content, design and development strategy, such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is very important;
  • The User Experience Design (UXD or UED) process can be improved adopting usability tests to create audit reports and identify room for improvements.

Once more, at the heart of UX (just like the globalization, internationalization, localization and translation stages) there is the goal to ensure that users find value in what you are offering them. For this purpose, your priority should be gaining a deep understanding of users’ needs, values, abilities, and limitations. The freedom typical of the current digital world, offers UX designers many opportunities for creativity and innovation. Nevertheless, UI and UX design always has to target accessibility and usability for the end-user as priorities. Indeed, UX best practices strive to encourage a constant enhancement of the user’s interaction with products and services.

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Reference:

The Localization Industry Primer, second edition was revised by Arle Lommel

Publications Manager LISA https://www.immagic.com/eLibrary/ARCHIVES/GENERAL/LISA/L030625P.pdf

Thinking, Fast and Slow (by Daniel Kahneman) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304581886_Thinking_Fast_and_Slow_by_Daniel_Kahneman


Businesses today are able to reach a global audience. But when targeting different markets, they should be aware of the importance of content localization.

Most businesses today aspire to reach a global audience. Thanks to the Internet, potential customers can be in Delhi, Lima, or even Sydney. Undoubtedly, this offers incredible opportunities to expand your business but it also poses a variety of challenges.

While differences in language are quickly recognized—people want to buy and use products available in their own native language—, a key fact is often forgotten: If you want to go global, you need to stay local.

A successful global marketing campaign should pay attention to specific aspects regarding the target market. A simple translation, in which the content of a marketing copy in source language A is transferred to target language B, is rarely enough. Cultural references, imagery, and humor play a vital role in marketing campaigns, and can determine its overall success or failure.

Here’s an example: Imagine that a food delivery app creates a successful marketing campaign in the UK, the main idea is to satisfy customers’ curry cravings without needing to leave the couch—one click on the app and they can order a delicious spicy curry. It works well in the UK, where chicken tikka masala is a food staple. This means that the target audience can easily relate to the campaign and find it appealing. But if we transfer the same example to a Brazilian audience, you will find out that instead of attracting customers, you might end up alienating them: Most Brazilians are not familiar with Indian cuisine, meaning much less would have curry cravings. Ordering a fresh ‘out the oven’ pizza would be considerably more likely and relatable for that market.

One thing is certain: To reach a global audience, you need to make sure that your content stays relevant and engaging across cultures. Frequently, that can only be achieved by localizing content. Content localization is about more than translation: it is about adapting or changing content in order to ensure it is relatable, culturally appropriate, and appealing to the target audience.

Marketing translation and transcreation are two interesting ways of approaching content localization. Both require a similar set of expertise: professionals who are extremely knowledgeable and proficient not only about their target language but also about their target culture. Also, having strong writing skills is extremely important. However, it will depend on the type of content as well as your marketing goals in order to determine which approach fits best.

Marketing Translation: It’s all about adapting

Marketing translation could be simply defined as the translation of marketing material. However, it entails many more aspects than a straightforward, word-for-word, translation.

In fact, marketing translation is, in large part, an adaptation. While the meaning should stay the same, its delivery might change according to target market. The key point is to convey the message in an appealing and relatable way: it should read fluidly and be as engaging as the original copy.

To achieve this, it is important to take into account the overall aim (build brand awareness, attract new customers, engage with the target audience, etc.). The type of content (blog post, press release, newsletters, social media post, etc.) also determines the translation process—blog posts should be fun and interesting, sometimes allowing for more creative adaptations. Press releases, on the other hand, bring a clear message that needs to be faithfully communicated.

A good marketing translation should always respect the tone of voice, style, and context of the source text. It is fundamental to stay on brand, that is, to preserve the brand’s identity. The outcome should be close to the source in meaning and style, while making it appealing to a new target market.

Transcreation: It’s all about recreating

Many things that are true for marketing translations are equally true for transcreations: it should be relatable, aware of cultural differences, engaging, and loyal to the style of the brand.

But transcreation goes one step further— by recreating the original. The original version is used both as a reference and as inspiration, but the transcreator (a highly creative and specialized linguist) is free to reimagine and reinvent.

Once again, preserving the brand’s identity and the core message is crucial; however, transcreation gives the possibility of changing the content (e.g., references, humor, idioms, metaphors) in order connect and engage with the local market. That is why transcreation is ideal for slogans, taglines, and other highly creative and localized marketing material. Imagery and colours might also be altered in order to improve acceptance or respect cultural sensitivities.

A successful transcreation should be preceded by a creative brief: the transcreator has to understand the creative concept, the desired style and tone of voice, the target audience, and the end goal of the campaign. Only a well-detailed creative brief can result in a transcreation that works both for the brand and for the target market.

To go global, stay local

As businesses go global, it’s important to remember that the key for success is to stay local. It is true that our globalized world feels smaller every day, but one size does not fit all. When deciding to buy a new product, people need to feel an emotional and cultural connection—they want a product that feels like it was made for them.

Whether you choose a marketing translation or a transcreation, content localization is a vital stage of your marketing strategy. The Internet can bring your business to tens of dozens, even hundreds of countries. However it isn’t only only when you speak the language, but when you show that you understand and respect their culture, that you can really reach out and build a global audience.

About the author

Catia Pietro is a Berlin-based Brazilian Portuguese translator and copywriter specializing in non-fiction literature, marketing, transcreation, and localization.

“Do you know the difference between a well-translated website and a profitable one? Localization.” Nowadays, Localization is considered as a Strategic Marketing asset as any mishap could potentially damage a brand’s name and consequently have a direct negative impact on sales.

From my early years in Marketing and Sales, I learnt fast that any content or product should always be adapted to a specific locale or market to avoid any intercultural-misunderstanding or faux-pas.

This is where localization comes into play as it will enable Companies to convey their message in a more effective and appealing way to a specific target segment: Localization goes one step beyond translation: it’s the key point of entry to successful market penetration within countries sharing the same language but where people don’t necessarily share the same beliefs, customs, cultures or values.

To localize or not to localize?

How to assess a good opportunity for localization? Will the target market be worth the investment?

Well that’s a tricky one. Localization Decision-making is a tough choice since you need to consider the money factor at all times.

We all know the challenges that Multinational Marketing can bring: how can one maintain a balance between market opportunities and financial constraints and operating costs? Whether you are targeting a new market or reconsidering an ongoing investment on a current one, not only do you need to comply with a different set of requirements, legislations and regulations but also with different users’ cultural and purchasing preferences. And let’s not forget about the competition and market structures that will definitely shape your Localization Strategy.

What is the best recipe for a successful international market penetration?

To ensure a successful international market penetration, make it relevant to your target market!

  • Take a close look at your market segment demographics (age, income, ethnicity, gender, …) and identify whether they fit your target market. If there is no fit, abort localization.
  • If there is a potential match, you can either identify a partnership with a local leading company that has experience with your target market or address it on your own.
  • You need to project the cost-benefit and assess if there is a potential opportunity for growth and revenue.

How can your business benefit from a Localization Strategy?

From a Marketing standpoint:

Reaching out to existing and new international markets in their native language and without altering the initial Marketing content, must be at the core of your International Marketing Strategy. By emphasizing the intangible values of your product or service you will also improve the consistency of your Company’s global brand message, brand equity and increases brand awareness.

From a Sales standpoint:

According to a recent Smartling survey, “71% of the top marketing decision-makers who responded agree that sales increase in target markets when content is localized and …74% agree with the statement “Content localization is a revenue driver.”“

Localization strategy boosts sales leads: as the level of satisfaction for a product/service improves, it turns into referrals to other potential customers and consequently boosts sales.

From a consumer/user standpoint:

Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” (Source: https://www.smartling.com/blog/3-business-benefits-of-localization/)

According to statistics from Common Sense Advisory, a research firm specializing in global market issues, “56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price” …” and 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language”.

Whether you are a Global consumer brand whose goal is to build a close and personal connection with your customers or a multinational corporation on a regulated sector such as Pharmaceuticals or Telecoms, trying to comply with the specific regulations and requirements of your target market, you will opt in for a Localization Strategy but for different reasons.

Not only will localizing your website or marketing materials show your customers that you respect and understand them, it will also strengthen their loyalty. Any improvement in their user experience, will potentially increase their satisfaction and engagement on your site.

In a nutshell, “when it comes to consumer markets, one size no longer fits all.”

As I am wrapping up this article, a book title comes back to me, it’s Rick Page’s “Hope Is Not a Strategy: 6 keys to winning the complex sale” (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/hope-is-not-strategy-6-keys-to-winning-complex-sale/id502273959?mt=11)

I highly suggest that you take a look at his breakthrough selling strategies and think about how to implement some of them in your business decision-making.

According to the Smartling.com site (Source: https://www.smartling.com/blog/big-plans-for-localization-in-2018/), 94% of multinational companies plan to increase their localization spending in 2018.

Localization is likely to remain a key factor into any International Marketing Strategy for many years to come. This is the most suitable way to address and convey a message to any specific target market not responsive to a Global Marketing Strategy.

Muriel Poirrier

Sources:

https://www.smartling.com/blog/3-business-benefits-of-localization/

https://www.scriptorium.com/2017/05/localization-strategy-your-key-to-global-markets/

https://www.smartling.com/blog/big-plans-for-localization-in-2018/

http://www.novilinguists.com/why-mktg-content.html

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/hope-is-not-strategy-6-keys-to-winning-complex-sale/id502273959?mt=11