Localization Trends 2017: Why Language Has an Impact on Buying Decisions Across Markets

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In the digital age, marketing teams at global companies face new challenges when it comes to managing multilingual content—with heavily regulated industries, such as financial services, facing additional constraints. In a recent Learning Symposium for marketing professionals, Pablo Navascués , Director of Financial Services and Investment, Lionbridge, spoke to specialists from the financial services industry about translation and localization trends, and how these were being driven by technology, regulation, and the digital transformation of the industry.

Localization Trends: no longer a luxury, but a vital investment

Localizing digital marketing content is a key topic of discussion with our clients at Lionbridge. Our conversations revolve around how to manage and make the most of content, how to engage with local sales teams in different regions around the world, and—crucially—how to make a return on the investment.

Localization is no longer perceived in the industry as a luxury designed to portray a certain image to a particular audience. Instead, organizations now recognize that language has a fundamental impact on buying patterns across global markets. As research carried out by Common Sense Advisory shows, 72% of customers in all industries spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language. The same proportion said they would rather buy a product that is offered in their own language, while 56% say that information in their own language is more important than price.

Consequently, as global marketing professionals are acutely aware, it is not a question of whether you invest in localization, but how. Yet, the most effective strategy isn’t always clear.

Why global digital content sometimes fails—and how to avoid the pitfalls

There are a number of reasons why global content strategies fail. A decentralized approach, for instance, can result in a lack of coordination between central and local marketing teams. In turn, this can lead to duplication of cost and effort when it comes to creating and translating content. The organization’s brand can also suffer from a lack of consistency and control.

So how do you avoid these pitfalls? Automation is key to eliminating the need to manually transfer content for translation, allowing global campaigns to be rolled out more rapidly. This in turn means faster global engagement and conversion, helping to increase global growth and revenue.

Streamlining through integration

In recent years, we have seen a trend toward automation—in particular, content management systems (CMS)—as well as making localization an integral part of these systems. If an organization makes the mistake of implementing a system that does not have multilingual capabilities from the outset, it may then be forced to introduce manual processes for localization or roll out new systems alongside existing ones. Then, it’s back to square one—and the time and money invested will be lost.

An integrated approach is therefore crucial. At Lionbridge, we find that the most successful integration model is one that is based on a central production hub and technology platform. Different “features,” such as translation, sales, web content, and data reporting, can then be “plugged in.”

To draw an analogy from our personal lives, this works in much the same way as we use our cell phones. Here, we have a single device running on a single platform—iOS, say, or Android. We use that device to perform a number of tasks: making calls, keeping a database of contacts, performing calculations, carrying out online transactions… the list goes on. The idea of having a different phone for each of these functions seems absurd to us—yet this is exactly what we are seeing at organizations that do not have a single centralized production process or technology platform.

Marketing technology landscape: a minefield for decision-making

One major factor hampering efforts to centralize and integrate processes is the current marketing technology landscape. This has become extremely complex in recent years, with an estimated 4,000 different technologies available, requiring a huge amount of analysis for decision making. It is hardly surprising, then, to see companies end up with a dozen different systems, both new and legacy, running side by side. And by the time one has been implemented, the next update has already come along, so the whole cycle begins again.

At Lionbridge, we believe that the web content management market will therefore begin to consolidate as organizations gravitate toward just a few players, such as Oracle, Adobe, and Sitecore. These are companies that are perceived as “leaders” in web content management: They offer strong ability to execute—thus ensuring the effectiveness of their clients’ ambitious digital business strategies—and have the completeness of vision to enable new customer-centric models to succeed on conceptual, communicational, and architectural levels.

“Decoupling”: doing more with less

Another trend that we are seeing at Lionbridge is in “decoupling” (see graphic “Do more with less by breaking up Global Digital Marketing Services”). This means that while a digital marketing agency creates ideas for a campaign, the execution and production is outsourced to a provider such as a professional translation services company.

Lionbridge already works with clients in this way—for example, implementing multilingual email marketing campaigns for its clients across geographical locations and reporting back on the data. This results in significant cost savings for Lionbridge clients.

Innovative solutions in multilingual reporting and automation

The need to integrate data and reporting into different marketing channels, along with time-to-market requirements, is leading to an evolution of new solutions from companies with multilingual capabilities. One example is Vermilion Software, which allows commentaries to be automated and launched simultaneously across regions and challenges. Another example is the work being done by Deloitte to regulate content in documents such as PRIIPs KIDs, the EU-wide disclosure standard for Packaged Retail Investment and Insurance Products.

Key takeaways

  • Ensure localized content is part of your digital marketing and technology strategy: the system that you implement should have multilingual capabilities from the outset.
  • Consider outsourcing production processes to specialist vendors: by decoupling the creative process from the execution of ideas, you can cut your costs substantially.
  • You are not alone: organizations in financial services face the same challenges in terms of global digital marketing, technology, localization and regulation.
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