Content Goes Global: Communicating With Customers in Their Own Language

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Don't Wait
There are, of course, times when localizing a website may not make sense. Roth says, "When you present yourself in local languages in a local market, you are setting up the expectation that you can serve clients in that market," he points out. If, due to regulatory or other issues, you are not prepared to support global customers in a consistent way, it's better not to set the expectation. "Otherwise, when you are ready to enter a new market, you may have already ruined your chances," says Roth.

However, the choice not to localize should be a conscious one and should be revisited as market condition change. While globalization was a longtime goal for, for instance, it started making more sense once 20% of the U.S. site's visitor traffic was coming from other countries. The company now has 14 sites serving 25 countries, most recently adding Russian and Indian versions, and the company's international sites now serve about 2 million unique visitors and 6 million page views each month (December 2009 figures).

The concept of taking content global can seem overwhelming, and there's a temptation to give up before you even start or to form a committee and spend 2 years devising just the right
approach. Neither will help your global competitiveness.

Fenstermacher says, "Start tackling the problems a bit at a time, and use it to get informed." With each small success, the map toward a truly globalized content strategy will emerge.

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