To “Localise” or Not to Localize: It Shouldn’t Even Be a Question

british soldier versus american soldier

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Posted: November 20, 2013 | Modern Marketing

I’ve heard it time and time again from busy marketing teams faced with the localization dilemma for international markets. “We don’t have time to build 20 versions of the same email to send to customers in different countries.” Or, from US companies, “Why should we bother localizing for our UK or Australian customers? They speak English, don’t they?”

Imagine their argument was this: “Why should I bother spell checking my emails? Everyone knows what I mean, even when I’ve made an error.”

Most marketers I know do worry about making spelling errors in their emails — and rightfully so. We have people proofing the copy repeatedly in hopes of picking up any typos before the blast. Many of these marketers are the same people claiming that localization is something they’d love to care about, if only they had the time.

People DO Care About Spelling Localization

I’ve got news for you – not making the time to localize for your international markets (particularly English-speaking markets) is like leaving intentional, basic spelling errors all throughout your emails. What does it say to your customers if, when you write “We care about the goals of your organization,” you can’t even spell organisation? That may be a simplistic example, but you get my point.

Now that dynamic content functionality is so common in marketing automation platforms, there’s no reason not to address common spelling variations. Rather than building a different email for each country and manually building lists for email sends, segment your users by geographical region, and build and deliver localized content for those segments.

It could be as simple as changing two or three words in an email, or it could be an entire email translated into a different language, but it’s worth the effort. This strategy extends easily to long-term lead nurturing programs – delivering dynamic content as part of your nurture streams based on geographic segmentation. That way you can manage and maintain a single nurture program, but you’ll still know customers are getting targeted content, maximizing your engagement potential with your audience.

Add just one more step to your lead nurturing process from day one , and you won’t need to worry about it again.

Localization Isn’t Just About Spelling

It sounds like a joke – an Irishman, an Australian and an American walk into a bar…do they all speak the same language? Do they all use the same idioms and understand the same jargon? Not really. Does humor work well in some countries and come off as tacky in others? Quite possibly. Marketers instinctively know this, but the rules are hard to define – not concrete. It’s an all-too common scenario: the US and international marketing teams find themselves debating the best language to use for local markets. Discussion and debate is necessary; those decisions shouldn’t be left to somebody’s intuition.

So how do you decide where to draw the line? It’s already standard practice today to use A/B testing for emails and landing pages to optimize your message and design. Have you thought of doing these tests across geographic regions? Running an A/B test of subject lines, body copy, and even design or calls to action within geographical areas will give you hard data. Which content is eliciting engagement and conversions from the local audience?

Test your assumptions and make your localization decisions based on the only truly important criteria – what’s resonating with your customers.

Veronica Holmes is a Senior Business Consultant for Marketo Australia. Veronica has over fifteen years' experience in marketing operations, communications, web development, and product management. She has an MA from Macquarie University and lives in Sydney.

Read Veronica's Blogs

Localize or localise? It depends on location! Here's how geographic segments can help your #leadnurture program.

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