The Road Ahead: Marketing Localization in 2018
This past week, I sat down with Erica Haims of Haims Consulting to discuss the direction of marketing localization. We discussed the considerable changes evident in both technology and the processes used to adapt marketing to create an emotional connection with global markets. Here are Erica’s insights to the future of marketing localization in 2018 and beyond, as well as how we need to adapt.
Q1) What has been your experience in the translation/localization industry?
I was given a unique opportunity to join Apple’s marketing communications department back in 2008. The 2nd generation iPhone was just released, it was an exciting time. This was before the iPad and App store existed. The devices that Apple creates vary in functionality and content availability from region to region. Localization started to be re-defined as the adaptation of content in addition to translation of text at that time. Now there is increased complexity to the marketing content across many industries. A worldwide production effort is required and there are many pitfalls as marketing messaging travels around the globe.
Q2) From your experience, how has digital marketing changed the way we look at localization?
Advancements in e-commerce and the increased availability of WiFi have created an opportunity to reach new customers in emerging markets. Suddenly, many new companies are competing for these customers’ attention. Since people prefer to be spoken to in their own language, many more industries are seeing the need for localization. Translating text to specific markets for a particular industry is an enormous challenge in and of itself. But now once you add imagery to your text, your marketing messaging may have an entirely new meaning. Add conflicts with local culture, political climate, and natural disasters and now marketing content has become complex and demanding. Globalization strategy needs to be nimble and flexible due to the many adjustments that have to be executed. This is why the relationship between a client and their language service provider (LSP) is the key to success in the global marketplace. The LSP is your expert in all things your business and international business and will guide clients through their expansion into each new market.
Q3) How has the increase of competition with global companies affected the industry?
More and more industries are deciding to go global and globalize their marketing. The LSPs have evolved to meet that need, which is fantastic. The localization industry has been tasked with things like “transcreation” and “glocal” marketing. This new terminology is in direct response to the increase in demand for localized content. Companies look to LSPs as their experts in localization and that now extends to the marketing content.
Q4) What is the biggest difference you see between reaching global targets today vs 10 years ago?
First: Competition – Amazing advancements in e-commerce and WiFI were made this past year alone. The ease in reaching consumers has brought more competitors to the emerging markets.
Second: Timing – The greatest threat to a product launch is actually time. Your foreign consumer knows when products are available and the demand is to have products available everywhere at the same time.
Third: Adaptation – Products vary per market in feature and content availability. Large organizations, such as Apple and Microsoft, have been adapting their content via country throughout this past decade. Now even smaller brands who wish to expand their reach are seeing the need to adapt the content in addition to the text.
Fourth: Technology – Advancements in machine translation technology and translation memory allow for text translation to be completed faster than ever before.
Fifth: Flexibility – News travels fast around the world. Quick adjustments are necessary when there are natural disasters, conflicts between nations, and events that impact your customer.
Q5) In light of the current global marketing environment, what do you think the next big shift needs to be in the way translation and localization is handled?
I see the actual role of the LSP being elevated to valued partner. This partner is your greatest advocate, expert in all things related to their client’s business, and defender of their brand. I believe an easy adjustment to be made for a successful partnership will be to bring your LSP into the fold as early as possible. Allow them access to as much context as possible and allow them access throughout the project lifecycle. This will empower your translation/global adaptation partner to ensure that your presence in foreign markets are set up for success.
Q6) You touched upon the technology advancements in Machine Translation and Translation memory? What impact do you see these advancements having on the industry?
Machine Translation and Translation Memory advancements are really fascinating. These tools have been in development for some time. Now we are starting to see their necessity in our space. Translators can focus on the increase of projects and their complex requirements. Translators and copywriters have more time to collaborate on ensuring that the message is in line with the overall brand message. Localization technology has enabled LSPs to keep up with their clients growth and handle the complex needs associated with the localization of marketing content.
Erica’s answers resonated with the comments we have been hearing from clients. Venga Global has seen a shift in how clients want (and need) to localize. As a translation and localization partner, having a knowledge of both client’s products and their target markets is essential. As Venga’s CEO, Kåre Lindahl, stated in his recent post, Is Marketing Translation Dead?, “I believe that translators and copywriters should work together with client’s internal resources as dedicated teams on a long-term basis. I cannot stress enough the need to involve all people, internal and external, at every step of the process and for year after year. This builds an understanding of the company, the products/services, marketing objectives, and so many more aspects that enable successful global and local campaigns.”
Just as companies today need to know their clients to create tailored, personal campaigns, localization experts need to have as much knowledge about their clients as they do of language and culture of target markets. Only then will we be able to meet the demands of the global marketplace.
Erica views content through a global lens. Her unique vantage point covers just about every angle of content production. She has held long-term roles at Atlantic Records and Apple. Erica recently launched Haims Consulting to assist brands with their global marketing execution.