As content marketers know, any strategy worth its salt requires solid planning. But when it comes to preparing content for global consumption, localization—something marketers don’t think about until they’re ready to expand to new markets—is often tacked on to a content strategy as an afterthought. That’s when localization becomes disruptive to your timeline and budget.
What some global content marketers learn the hard way is that it’s best to plan for localization from the start: a provision called internationalization. Think of it as planting a seed. When you internationalize your website, app, or software—for instance, by leaving enough design space for languages with longer words, using Unicode to standardize encodings for different languages and characters, and storing content separate from code to keep text strings intact for each time you localize for a new country—you won’t see the benefits at first. But come localization time, internationalization yields a much smoother process.
So why are some companies slower than others to adopt internationalization? Perhaps because it’s an added process and investment. But what about global companies that haven’t yet discovered internationalization? What about those that have heard of it and appreciate its value, but are in no rush to implement this added step as they managed to adapt to the challenges of inefficient localization?
We wanted to find out more on this, so asked leading and mainstream content marketers how they feel about internationalization in a study conducted with Econsultancy. The following eBook explores how internationalization works, our findings on companies’ strategies, and what we can expect to see in the future.
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To see the Econsultancy report for more insight into companies’ global content strategies, click here.
How Important Is Internationalization in a Global Content Strategy?
How do companies prepare their products or services for the global marketplace?
Before they can be localized, products are reengineered to prepare for multiple language support without changes to the core application. This procedure is called internationalization.
Internationalization (often symbolized as i18n) ensures seamless localization for all future needs and deserves serious consideration when equipping a product for global use. However, in a new report with Econsultancy, we learned that many companies haven’t adopted the practice. So just how important is internationalization to a global content strategy?
Who’s already internationalizing?
According to the report, the following percentages of leading and mainstream companies consider internationalization and careful planning of a global content strategy critical for two objectives:
- Creating a global brand
- Customer experience and transformation
In line with the rest of the report, which shows leaders as more likely to lay the groundwork for quality in global content, this data suggests they are more likely than their competitors to internationalize. Most leaders consider internationalization as a prerequisite for consistent brand messaging and becoming digitally competitive in the age of the customer. Yet some leaders—and a much higher proportion of the mainstream—overlook this step.
Does every company need to internationalize?
If a product or service isn’t properly internationalized, the company risks having to make code changes during localization. At this stage, finding out the product doesn’t support certain global features (such as multi-byte characters or local date and time formats) can lead to scheduling delays and higher costs.
Internationalization isn’t necessary for every global content strategy—it’s mostly reserved for website translation, software or app localization, and UIs. However, you may need to internationalize if you plan to:
- Launch new or expand existing products and services into new international markets
- Avoid dealing with costly, last-minute issues during the localization process
- Sell a product or service with language-specific functionalities to address for new markets
Internationalization in the future
We also saw from the report most leaders who don’t currently internationalize as part of their global content strategy plan to increase their budgets in that area—and their reasons go beyond greater efficiencies in planning.
The ultimate goal for leaders in digital transformation, which now drives almost every interaction between brands and their audiences, is delivering the optimal customer experience.
Internationalization à Global consistency à Amazing customer experiences à Local relevancy
Digital channels are essential to a global content strategy now that half the world is online,and every online consumer expects the wow factor. Most companies agree that customer experiences can’t hold up without a solid foundation of brand consistency, and this starts with internationalization.
Want to learn more about the processes and resources leaders deploy for global success? Download the full report.