Five Questions to Ask When Targeting New Locales

by Nadia Hlebowitsh
4 Minute Read

Rolling out your product or service globally is an exciting endeavor. After all, localizing your business can boost your sales, give you a competitive advantage, and expand your brand recognition and searchability. You’ll also build rapport with new customers - in fact, 75% of users prefer to buy products in their native language (not to mention in their local currency), so localization can have a big impact on company reputation.
Yet, targeting new locales can be tricky. You’ll want the local people to understand and trust your brand without any mishaps (#translationfails) - or worse, culturally offensive graphics or unrealistic payment methods.

To help you get started on targeting a new locale, here are a few of the most important questions to ask. With them, you’ll have a better sense of your localization project’s feasibility and scope, as well as key considerations to prevent mix-ups with all those new customers you want to impress.

Why this new locale?

Localization is hardly quick and easy, which is why you should target new locales with care. Remember that a locale is influenced by the language, culture, and location. For example, if you’re interested in marketing to Canada, you’ll have to consider both English and French speakers.

It’s important to dig deep into your new locale, including local buyer preferences, purchasing power, and interest level. You’ll also have to look into any competition and cultural barriers that may impact your product or service. Getting the full view of your target locale will help you define your localization project.


What are the cultural norms for this locale?

Targeting new locales goes way beyond language. How do local brands communicate here? What are the expectations for design style and brand voice? For some countries, it would be odd to market using a very informal tone or create a unique character with certain elements or colors.

Consider what type of graphics, images, and videos would be suitable. A common mistake for Latin American marketing translation, for example, is using images of wintry scenes for Christmas products. Big mistake - as December there is smack in the middle of summer!

Cultural norms also include how potential customers use technology, such as popular payment methods, type of devices, or level of internet connectivity. In India, 89% of people access the internet on a mobile phone, for example, so you’ll want to focus heavily on mobile localization for that region.

Norms also depend on your target audience. Be sure you understand who in your locale you’re trying to reach. Get a strong sense of this specific group, including their purchasing habits, ideal brand voice, and payment methods.


How will UX design be impacted?

This is a question that's often an afterthought for plenty of companies. While it may not be top of mind, localization actually goes hand-in-hand with UX design - that’s because every language appears differently on screen. For example, English sentences are often much shorter than other languages, Arabic requires right-to-left reading, and Chinese characters are detailed and need larger font size.

But that’s only the start. Besides updating dates, currency, and measurements, UX designers will have to consider the impact of styles and visuals. Perhaps a modified design with different colors or graphics would be more successful in your chosen locale.

Ideally, you’ll have to rethink website URLs and navigation, too. It’s best practice to have some kind of gateway or button so users can easily select their preferred language. It’s also important to have one language per page, each with a unique URL.

Your users - and Google's website crawlers for SEO - will thank you!


Do I have the right infrastructure for this localization project?

This is a biggie that requires technical know-how. To start your localization project, you’ll need certain technical capabilities, including:

- Characters and accent marks in your target language

- Formatting for dates, currency, measurements, etc.

- Customization for country-specific content

- Ability to add language-specific URLs and SEO

- Support for new payment options

- New design or layout needs on mobile

- Integration with related services, such as marketing, email, and customer support 

You’ll need to work with your internal technical team to find out the capabilities and limitations of your current system so you can be better equipped to target new locales.


What tools will I need to manage this localization project?

Localization and marketing translations are important and complex tasks that require use of the proper technology - not just spreadsheets! You should work with localization experts who make use of time-saving tools and automation.

Your best tool for localization is your people power. You’ll need a multi-disciplinary team that, in many cases, includes a project manager, translator, editor, UX designer, and developer. Don’t forget about a legal consultant for all the privacy and data protection issues in your target locale, too.

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In our highly globalized world, expanding your international reach is a key moment in your business. You can use these questions to target new locales and get a strong understanding of your localization project requirements. Happy localizing!

Need a hand with your next localization or marketing translation project? Reach out to the Lilt team for a customized consultation.