How to Build an Effective Localization Strategy

by Drew Evans
5 Minute Read

Whether you have a new idea or are an established brand, eventually, you’ll have to create a localization strategy.

In order to understand, target, and transact effectively with customers in various communities or countries, a global customer experience and localization strategy are must-haves. While translation is a critical component of language localization, it’s not the only factor in your localization strategy.

To help you reach your target market, we’re going to cover what is localization, strategy techniques, and how to implement a successful localized marketing strategy.


What is a Localization Strategy?

A localization strategy is a plan of action incorporating a locale's culture, idioms, habits, and behaviors to best market and deliver your goods or services. The strategy needs to be understood by every department when creating new content, as every component will impact localization.

Business endeavors that enter foreign markets need to be tailored to their specific buyer persona. Otherwise, you risk alienating your target audience or fail to maintain a consistent user experience.

When you engage with the new demographic, a tailored localization strategy will make them feel like they’re dealing with an approachable, local business.

Here are some keys to an effective localization strategy when diving into a new market:

  • Understanding the cultural norms
  • Researching potential buyer personas and their purchasing habits
  • Complying with acceptable payment options
  • General comparison of pros and cons of localization

The core principle of creating a localization strategy is to build a unified brand that delivers a stellar user experience, regardless of the local market. Several methods can be considered when formulating a localization strategy. Advantages and disadvantages can be found in each, but the end goal is always the same.

Regardless , though, an effective strategy will increase your customer reach without succumbing to the potential mishaps of releasing general content to all locales. Without utilizing a localization strategy, a company can’t address issues concerning address formatting, honorifics, and potentially offensive idioms.


How to Plan a Business Localization Strategy

Three main components that need to be accounted for when developing a localization strategy:

Digital Marketing

When entering a foreign market, it's important to account not just for the kinds of content that this new market consumes, but also how it consumes content. For instance, one region may use mobile phones, while the neighboring area may be more accustomed to a desktop view.

The strategy will also need to tailor content to a specific locale, even if the base language is the same. A classic example is the word “chips.” Chips could refer to fried potato wedges (french fries) or thinly sliced fried crisps, depending on one’s country of origin.

Cultural Standards

It’s critical to identify cultural norms and standards when building a business localization strategy. Phrases, expressions, and honorifics hold different meanings or carry varying weights depending on which part of the globe you’re targeting. Expressions that have been historically established can’t easily be transferred to other countries.

Case in point: when the American fast food-chain KFC tried entering the Chinese market, its slogan “finger-lickin’ good” was translated to an equivalent of “eat your fingers off.”

Obviously, the one-to-one translation doesn't quite work the same.

Purchasing Preferences

Each country’s preferred payment methods should be included in the localization strategy. Providing users the ability to use the local currency or payment processing methods (such as WeChat Pay in China) removes an unnecessary obstacle during the buyer’s journey.

Monitoring the localization process throughout the entire launch can be daunting. Luckily some solutions can ensure a brand delivers optimized content for every engagement with potential clients, regardless of where they are in the world.


Localization Strategies That Work

The key to any localization strategy is cross-departmental communication, flexibility, and adaptability. Localization is an ongoing effort; very few websites remain static for long.

This continual process is why localization needs to become part of daily operations. If a company releases a new product or line of products, localization needs to be implemented at every development stage. And by continually iterating and updating, it's not necessary to play catch-up later down the line. As a result, delays in launching in certain regions can be mitigated.

An effective localization strategy consists of five parts, including:

1. Maintaining proper localization workflows

Several moving parts are involved in localization, and numerous departments will need to communicate effectively to ensure that content is optimized for a region. Integrating proper workflows will increase the speed and turnaround of a project.

2. Processing the source language into one or more target languages

A critical function is translators understanding the target language and the cultural norms behind it. A translation solutions provider can eliminate any unintentional faux pas.

3. Quality assurance

Depending on the size of the project, a review of the translated content will be needed to prevent mishaps.

4. Deployment of localized content

After the content has been thoroughly inspected, it can be released for public consumption.

5. Measuring efficacy through KPIs

The process doesn’t end with deployment. As with any content optimization, a localization strategy needs to account for the performance of the translation. Any localization done may need to be reworked or tweaked to stay on brand while engaging users by measuring the KPIs.


Ultimately, an effective localization strategy takes time and effort to put in place. Once content has been translated, that's only the beginning of the process. Working with a services provider that understands your company's needs is important, as they can help you build now and scale for the future. 

If you're interested in learning more about Lilt's localization and translation services and technology, please get in touch!