Think Locally to Sell Globally: Why You MUST Localise Your Content

Should you localise your content?

Candies or sweets, aubergines or eggplants… what does it matter? I mean, who cares whether it’s bum or fanny anyway? -snort-

In fact, it matters a lot, especially if you’re trying to break into international markets. The truth is that, despite the huge number of global ecommerce platforms that we now have at our fingertips, selling internationally is hard.

One thing you can do that will make your job a little bit easier? Localise your content.

What’s the problem?

The first problem with cross-border selling is simply getting a foot in the door.

Research shows that, quite understandably, the majority of us prefer to buy from familiar companies and brands, so ‘outside’ businesses are at a bit of a disadvantage before they even begin. On top of that, most consumers say they prefer to buy from local companies.

The solution, of course, is to become a familiar name; something that we’d typically achieve on our home turf by creating a social media presence, putting out a few blog posts, honing our website, and perhaps even whipping up a guest post or two to expand our reach.

But it’s easier said than done when trying to make a name for yourself in a new market. There’s a big obstacle in the way – localisation.

What is localisation?

Quite simply, it’s about speaking to your audience in their language. And in this context, ‘language’ doesn’t just mean their native tongue. It means language, dialect, intentionality, and every other aspect involved in human communication.

Imagine you publish a blog post about your ‘guardian angel’ and invite your German audience to read it. They’re going to love reading all about your guardian fishing rod.

French consumers, meanwhile, may baulk at purchasing your artisanal pork pies if you tell them that the ingredients include only a very small quantity of préservatifs.

Remember to translate your idioms

But aside from actual language differentiations, to localise your content successfully, you’ll need to engage with your audience through relevant idioms.

For example, “tremble my carpentry” doesn’t mean anything particularly useful in English – but imagine a piece of content about pirates, written in English and translated into French.

The French translator sees “Shiver me timbers!”, and, failing to grasp the full splendour of British pirate-talk, translates it as “Tremblez mes charpentes!”.

This is one of the WordHound team’s official Favourite Translation Fails. Simon was engineering a French voiceover session for a long-forgotten game with a script translated from English. It took him a while, and some help from the French voiceover artist, to work out why the carpentry was trembling.

Even in the UK, for example, there are specific phrases and colloquialisms used in some parts of the country that are completely alien to other parts. If you want to come across as a local business, localising your content is an essential building block to overall success.

Localise your content

Ready to localise your content? Here are some quick dos and don’ts from the WordHound team:

Do:

  • Work to build a global brand; modern customers expect to be able to buy internationally
  • Have a flexible content strategy, rather than trying to force content where it doesn’t fit
  • Consider cultural diversity; is your product used differently by people around the world?

Don’t:

  • Overlook local consumer preferences; global buyers may demonstrate different needs
  • Forget about editorial guidelines; the tone of your content should always align, no matter what
  • Struggle to do it on your own. Give WordHound a call for translations and localisations

At WordHound, we’ve built a fantastic team of writers, translators and designers from all across the world.

We can help you to create brand new localised content, or translate existing content to resonate with your audience. No matter where they are. Attracting new customers, and selling globally, starts with thinking locally. 

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