Content Globalization: 5 Guidelines to Avoid Pitfalls & Scale Content
The Internet makes it possible for any company to market to a global audience, but it’s not easy to do global marketing successfully. Getting the right marketing content to potential customers worldwide is beyond simply translating it from one language to another. And most of the time, complexities aren’t out there in international markets – they are in a company’s own marketing function. That means one of the fundamental global marketing questions every company needs to answer is, “Are we organized and aligned to deliver the right content at the right time to every audience we want to reach?”
The answer for most companies is, “No.”
In fact, many companies have structures and habits that make delivering effective content in their own home markets difficult. These problems are just amplified when trying to scale content delivery on an international basis.
There are five issues that are common to almost every company trying to launch global marketing campaigns. Until you solve these problems, chances are you’ll get in the way of your success before your content gets out the door.
1. Creating engaging content isn’t an art form. It’s a business process.
We’re not saying content shouldn’t be creative and compelling – just the opposite. The problem for most companies is that they haven’t figured out how to harness that creativity within an efficient operational structure, which would allow them to build a process that can deliver the right content and scale. Some companies have content produced by a loosely amalgamated collection of employees, consultants, contractors, and technology suppliers, all working quasi-independently. It’s hard enough to make that work in one region and one language; however, it’s virtually impossible when your content has to be translated, localized, and delivered across many global markets at once.
To solve this problem, consider that many of the most successful content marketing operations use a content factory model. Think about how you can produce this compelling content but with a much more streamlined organization and process – and one that has a global supply chain. Carefully analyze your assembly line to identify where the machine is efficient, where it can be streamlined, and where there are redundancies. Then, redesign the process to be as efficient as possible.
And remember, factories can produce some beautiful, well-designed, audience-enticing products, so your creativity can remain intact.
2. Unifying all the content efforts and connecting it to business goals
If content drives marketing and marketing drives the business, then the more content you produce, the faster and farther you drive, right?
Maybe. The problem is that so many people in so many parts of the enterprise are creating content. It gets thrown into every manner of web content management systems, marketing automation platforms, and document management systems. It’s lingering in marketing collateral, sales tools, pitch decks, and social media feeds. HQ creates it, field offices create more, regional hubs make even more. It’s in every format and every language.
If that sounds like a good solution for feeding the content engine, ask yourself this: Who’s keeping track of all of that? Who is making sure that all the content is really useful, that it’s aligned with the marketing messages and current campaigns, and that we are not paying twice for the same content?
This is why you need content strategists to align your content production with the business goals. It’s time for a complete content audit. You need to know what you have, who created it and when, and where it is. And because it’s global content, you also need to know who translated it, for what markets and which languages, and in what format. Once you have that single lens for your content, you are in a position to use a single marketing globalization platform to organize, control, and publish the content you have.
3. There are too many typewriters
Nobody would think of creating online marketing content today with a typewriter. It’s an outdated tool: designed around an entirely different working environment and with output that just doesn’t integrate well with modern processes.
So if there are no more typewriters in your marketing toolset, why do some companies use tools designed around Web 1.0? Why is their content generation process built around email, FTP file exchanges, and spreadsheets? Sometimes, it’s just because “that’s how things are done.” Other times, it’s because they are trying to integrate too many different vendors and processes, and the tools they know (like conventional project management systems) aren’t up to the job. In either case, their content factory can’t deliver top results.
The solution is something you see in factories all the time: retool. But before you do, make sure you talk to the people on the factory floor, the people who have to produce, manage, translate, and then deliver all the content. You’ll find that they have a much better understanding of the problems inherent in the old tools. That’s the knowledge you’ll need to find the right technology to automate your content factory and junk those clunky old typewriters.
4. Walking through walls hurts
To develop global marketing content, you need to translate your campaigns and value propositions into a wide range of languages. Much of the time, though, translation projects wind up becoming massive barriers to success. Why? Because to get them done you need to go through the walls that separate all the silos of your marketing organization. Almost 65% of marketers say that silos inside their marketing department prevent them from having a holistic view of marketing campaigns across all channels.
Different departments that have some responsibility for planning, creating, and distributing content don’t always consult each other. It’s hard to build an efficient content factory when the factory floor is divided by all those walls.
Tearing down those walls is a challenge in every organization – in part because those walls are usually built to keep others in the organization out and keep power and resources in. It takes work on both sides to dismantle those walls.
Consider creating a global marketing council, and ensuring that key stakeholders from inside each of those silos have a seat at the table and a voice in creating the global content marketing strategy. With the right collaboration tool in place – just like the one you’re using to manage campaigns and content – you can keep everyone engaged and provide the incentive to rebuild an open operation that can be globally efficient.
5. People think more of you when you think more about them
Being successful as a global marketer is not about translating words from one language into another, but rather about conveying ideas from one cultural baseline to another. Ask anyone who has visited another country for the first time: you soon find you need more than words alone to have your meaning understood. Sometimes, those misunderstandings lead to tensions and less than ideal outcomes.
The same problem exists in marketing. 75% of global marketers say customizing their campaigns to fit local values is moderately or extremely challenging today, and over 30% believe it will be even harder in 3-5 years. Part of this is the result of tension between those in charge of marketing, who see centralization as key to brand consistency, and local offices, which aren’t getting what they need to reach their markets effectively.
The solution comes down to adopting a global mindset from the outset. Don’t treat globalization as an ad hoc activity, but instead embrace it as part of your go-to-market strategy, an operational imperative. Start with a global assessment. Make a list of every market your company intends to reach in the coming year, and in the coming two to three years. Identify the languages needed to reach them. Work directly with your people in those regions to understand what they will need to be successful. Then, build campaigns in a way that allows for the countries and regions to adjust them to local needs, from modifying images to localizing content and adjusting delivery methods. You might even ask each region to build one global campaign or piece of global content each year, adding to everyone’s knowledge and awareness of what it takes to have a global mindset.
If you tackle each of these problems – create the right processes with the right tools, get a handle on your content, break down walls and approach global marketing with a global mindset – and put the right technology in place to create, collaborate, and manage your global marketing content, your chances of success will increase tremendously. Get rid of the problems in here and you’ll do much better out there.
What are some strategies that worked for you when scaling content efforts? Was there anything particularly helpful? Share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below.
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