Why do businesses need localization services? Many businesses operate in the English language, particularly online. And yes, the worldwide use of the Internet and online services have helped a wider use of the English language. But then, why do so many, particularly large businesses use services like website localization?
Actually, some basic facts give clear answers to that question. According to the information from 2020, 75% of the population will choose a product or service that is offered to them in their native language. And that is out of some 3.17 billion people using the internet. Out of all those numbers, English represents only less than 20% of users. The number of people actually speaking English around the world is about the same as those that do.
It is also worth noting that at that time (2020), 40% of brands had no localization strategy in place. So, what is going on here?
On one hand, quite a number of businesses and brands are relying on their English language branding and services. And at the same time, many will rely on just basic translation of relevant materials into another language.
But, there is an essential difference between translation and localization. According to writing experts, localization is the process of adapting a product, service, advertising, or any other content to a specific market. It “requires you to convert text from one language to another, but also to adapt to all the different factors that define a certain group of people: time zones, national holidays, gender roles, product beliefs, and cultural references. The end goal? To give your content the look and feel of having been created specifically for each target market you’re aiming at.”
Localization services in business
As small business specialists Chron note, Globalization is a reality for both small and large businesses because the growth markets are in Asia, Latin America, and, increasingly, Africa. “Strategic planning must include options for growing market share overseas, which means creating new market segments and not making assumptions on customer preferences and buying patterns based on North American customers.”
Essentially, if businesses want to become effective global operations, they have to use not only translation but also localization services.
First of all, translation basically means taking text written in one language (called the source language) and writing it in another language (called the target language). In business, it involves the translation of labels, manuals, training videos, commercials, and websites into local languages.
As Chron (above) points out, to save costs, some companies develop their manuals and training materials in multiple languages. For example in English, Mandarin, Hindi, French, Spanish, and Arabic.
“Corporate websites have to be translated, especially the frequently used e-commerce and help sections. Relocating managers should learn to communicate in the local language or at least understand some of the nuances of nonverbal communication. Senior management should consider the use of simultaneous translators in meetings with their global partners, especially if some of them are not comfortable communicating in English.”
On the other hand, “localization is the modification of product design, packaging, and marketing functions to suit local markets. Product changes may be necessary to account for cultural differences and local regulations.”
Also, “marketing campaigns may need changes to respect cultural differences. For example, certain kinds of costumes or public displays of affection may not be appropriate in some countries.”
What should localization involve?
Localization is for anyone trying to push their business an extra mile. “It is a crucial step for companies selling abroad, be it in physical locations or through an online store, whether you’re a giant like Coca-Cola or a small açaí farmer in the deep forests of Amazonia.” In the current ever-expanding world of gaming, video game localization is becoming practically essential. “Localizing your offer for specific markets will make it more appealing to your clients, and thus increase your conversion rate, as well as build up credibility for your business.”
As BunnyStudio blog points out, sometimes no localization will be deemed necessary. This is the case of material that is extremely technical and precise.
On the other hand, an extreme amount of localization will need to happen. This is usually the case of advertising campaigns that target a particular demographic. “Imagine an advertising campaign for very young people. The use of their local slang could probably help. In this case, if the copy is written elsewhere it must undergo a stringent process of translation and localization.”
When you need to make sure what needs to be localized and whatnot, it might be handy to have a checklist.
- Do you need to change your visuals (videos, images, etc.) to suit each market’s tastes and cultural habits?
- Should you adopt the design of your website, packages, guides, and all other materials to fit the translated text?
- Is it necessary to update graphs, stats, and surveys with the local market data?
- Do you need to convert to local units of measurement and currencies?
- What about the format for dates, phone numbers, and addresses?
- Is there information you need to collect and take action regarding legal and local regulations?
What can you use localization services for?
The use of localization services can practically encompass any form of business service. But let’s focus on five that currently will benefit the most from content localization:
- Website localization – You cannot just simply translate the content of your website from English to a target language. “Website localization means custom designing your website to create a compelling site that appeals to your users in a foreign market. Your content will be adapted to suit local tastes; which means everything from the language, layout, currency, measurement units, images, date and time formats, and more to fit the cultural norms of the intended target audience.”
- Mobile localization – Mobile devices are of a highly personal nature. Users typically expect that content and apps will be available in their native language, which makes localization critical.
- Localizing multimedia – Multimedia involves using embedded subtitles, captions, and voiceovers. Getting it right for local audiences also involves including persons with disabilities on the local level.
- Software localization – Using software on a local level involves making sure that the users have full knowledge and perception on how to get the best out of each software app.
- eLearning – Making sure that each and every student on a local level fully understand each of the courses, but also get the best knowledge out of it based on hers/his local needs.
Testing the localized materials and data
Ok, so localization seems to be an essential element for any business going worldwide. But how can you make sure that the localization services you engaged have done exactly the job that suits your needs? You can get some qualified answers through localization testing.
The process of localization testing is primarily essential if you are planning to localize an app or a video game. Such a process involves validating whether an app (or a video game) is ready to go live in a foreign market. “Localization testing is a procedure that assures the accuracy of translation in context, and ensures that an application behaves as expected whether it is for desktop, mobile or online distribution.”
Localization testing typically ensures that:
– linguistically, the translated content communicates the original content’s message properly to the target audience and is adjusted to regional expectations (do you use Fahrenheit or Celsius? Pounds or Kg?);
– cosmetically, the user interface of the localized application does not represent any problems due to the change in character sets and content (ie Arabic and Hebrew goes from right to left, and German is way longer than English);
– functionally, the application functions as expected and is adapted to regional preferences (postal codes have letters in Canada so validate accordingly) (Summa Linguae)
The weight of each category depends on the product that you need to localize. “The linguistic aspect will be more important in a marketing-oriented publication while testing a mobile application will require more focus on cosmetic and functional aspects. “
Getting the right localization service for your needs
As Chron (above) notes, localization and translation services should enjoy strong demand. More and more businesses, big and small around the world look for customers outside of their borders. “Companies may face competition for qualified translators as well as marketing professionals. For those who are proficient in multiple languages and have an instinctive feel for local cultures. Small businesses should start planning for globalization from day one, starting with a website design that can handle different languages and character sets.”
But, then, localization involves many other facets of business, from ’simple’ advertisements to precise software adjustments. What do you need to get the best service? To focus and define what kind of localization service you need in each of your target markets. The checklist or a similar one as mentioned above could be a good starting point.
The second element to concentrate on is the scope of localization services that are on offer from potential providers. The more services they provide, i.e, audio services, translation and localization, writing, and others, the better choice you will have.
Localization services involve engaging freelancers that are native speakers of either the source or the target language or bilingual. At the same time, they have to be very fluent in either the source or target language. Then, be fully aware of all the localization requirements of the potential local market.
In all of the above respects, BunnyStudio offers, a wide scope of services you would require for proper localization services. At the same time, we make a careful selection of translators and localization experts that would be able to make sure that your localization needs are fully satisfied for a wide selection of local markets.