Localizing at Scale to “Premiumize” Local Content

Apr 26, 2017

Article ImageAt first glance, content globalization may be seen as a cost rather than in investment. This short-term and misleading view should be challenged and used as inspiration to execute goals on time and on budget. One way to turn digital globalization from a cost center into a profit driver in the mind of stakeholders—and in everyday content operations—is to deliver highly engaging and demand generating content. This may mean localizing less content and seeding it with greater detail and alignment.

On the one hand it has to be strongly linked to products and areas of the business driving profits in each target market. Therefore localization may have to be re-balanced and tied to more granular commercial and human factors. On the other hand sensible positioning and development decisions must be translated into real value during local customer journeys and enriched experiences. Ultimately local customers have to use localized content as premium content—contributing to make products and services shine and drive sales. The challenge lies then in calibrating localization to accommodate personalization that goes above and beyond normal expectations. Like for brands and products, “premiumizing” localized content is primarily about taking it to the next level of quality, exclusivity, integrity, and actionability.

From a business leadership perspective content localization sometimes pops up as an afterthought, or some sort of low-level and straightforward activity. To avoid this bias it is paramount to reshuffle and re-map how localization is planned, budgeted, and managed in order to reflect what it actually entails and requires. Just like all business processes. By doing so, globalizing organizations are able to establish a sound baseline and define the primary actions to enhance localization time- and cost- effectiveness. As a matter of fact this ensures mainstream localization, pushing content to audiences in international markets that are supposed to pull it and be satisfied with it. It has inspired localization models and practices for decades.

Yet the digital age has reset some content supply chain settings, and urged all resources involved in development and design to work more closely with localization teams to deliver sharper content to the right customers at the right time. Combining differentiation and customization is the name of the game to unleash superior quality and customer centricity. It implies localizing content for customers as individuals instead of markets by segmenting and deploying it accordingly. Content must be localized as deeply as necessary (i.e. hyperlocalized) to make it feel truly personal instead of mostly collective. This additional investment may be offset by revisiting choices and priorities, resulting in less localized content generating more relevance and delight. Content can be further optimized by changing and reducing the number of channels and geographies—but always in synchronization with business priorities, and consumer requirements.

From a customer experience perspective, premium localized content catches attention more quickly, retains all of it, and keeps it stickier over time. Immediate satisfaction leads to lasting trust. Across local markets premium content is considered when it is elevated to higher than average expectations in terms of localization. Customers have to be surprised. This calls for more creativity that pertains to their own daily life. Nothing should be ignored whether it is linguistic, cultural, or functional because there are no irrelevant details in customer experiences. Everything matters.

Localization must convey ideas, concepts, or purposes that are meaningful and personal. Localized content should be seen as if it was created by local people for local people. For example, shorter product descriptions or well-localized online campaigns add more value than having to digest a lot of content with some local flavor. Re-using and re-purposing localized content can increase quality by replicating great experiences throughout customer journeys. Accuracy and consistency play out obviously. Quality over quantity can help delight customers relentlessly across digital properties. They are going to be more impressed and convinced by an application or a product that is carefully localized for them than by visiting platforms that are available in a large number of pre-selected languages and locales, yet with poor or no content for them.

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An announcement made the headlines just a few days ago that could help recalibrate and accelerate globalization in a sustainable way. China announced it was going to invest $124 billion in order to strengthen the new Silk Road (also know as One Belt, One Road) aiming to boost global development, trade, and cooperation.