Recession-proofing your localization strategy

How to scale your business and drive successful international expansion in the face of budget, resources and capacity constraints.

date iconJuly 2, 2023     tag iconConsulting

Challenging economic conditions and a tricky employment market are hurting many businesses’ growth efforts. Today’s economy is vastly different compared to before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, it’s also getting tougher to recruit and retain talent on a budget. And it’s even harder for those localization teams that are trying to reach potential clients across language and cultural boundaries.

Making the most of available resources is more important than ever. Many businesses are facing downsizing or difficulty in attracting and retaining the talent base to enable them to shine.

It’s not easy to find the expertise that can help your products thrive in new markets and ensure your message hits home across languages and cultures. So here’s what to look for when building a localization strategy that unlocks new markets and delivers a strong return on investment.

What the right growth strategy can deliver

Before we get into the essential capabilities your global team should have, it’s important to know from the outset what an effective localization program can deliver.

Increased agility

With the right data-based strategy, you’ll know all about your own business, your target markets and your rivals. Armed with this crucial information, you’ll be able to make crucial decisions nimbly to maximize the impact of your localization team.

Optimized investments

Speaking of impact, the right program will deliver a much more efficient ROI. Smarter strategies based on concrete data can deliver the confidence needed to spend less and deliver more.

Target the audiences, markets and clients that data shows you are best positioned to reach – via the most efficient channels. The result? Better quality leads that your sales teams will have a greater chance to convert.

Personalized user experiences

Speaking to your clients on their terms can be challenging enough in one market. But it’s even more challenging across languages and geographies.

Building expertise in being able to straddle linguistic and cultural divides is key to providing the personalization clients demand nowadays. True masters of this will be able to provide a personalized experience regardless of language or culture, all while maintaining your strong brand voice.

Sustainable growth

Challenging market conditions don’t have to mean difficult decisions. With the right strategy you can go beyond building resilience. By taking advantage of opportunities your rivals haven’t spotted, you’ll thrive in new local markets. And with a strong strategic foundation, you’ll be best placed to take advantage should market conditions improve.

Proven strategies to build an efficient localization team

Unlocking those benefits above all comes down to having a smart strategic program to make the most of your localization efforts, targeting the right audiences with communication that speaks on their terms.

Whether you focus your efforts on an internal localization team or choose to partner up with local experts and remain agile, here we have some actionable strategies that are proven to deliver.

Fine-tune your message to existing clients

When things get difficult and you’re making organizational changes, it’s crucial to not lose focus of your existing loyal customer base. It’s much more cost-effective to market to existing clients you’ve already won over than trying to reach new ones. Communicate with them effectively through the right global marketing tactics.

Make the most of data

You just can’t strategize without the foundation of good data. So knowing your audiences, through analytics packages and market research is fundamental to your localization plan. It’s even more fundamental to doing it on a budget. A knowledge base in making the most of audience research, with web analytics, cookie data, and other tools will allow those insights on which you can base strategic decisions.

Build a data-driven international expansion strategy

And talking of strategic goals, a partnership might be a strong way of identifying them. An external partner has the benefit of being able to look at your localization program afresh, with the expertise to perform content audits, set out editorial calendars, work on topic clusters and map out potential keywords across languages.

Either way, knowing your goals from the outset is foundational to being able to judge your success, define your multilingual content processes, and reach the clients you need to.

Know your competitors

Competitive intelligence is not only crucial when operating in crowded international markets. Making the most of existing opportunities demands that you know where your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses lie, so you can better position your offering.

This is all the more crucial in challenging market circumstances, where the ability to strategize to position your offering ahead of competitors makes all the difference. Spotting new trends and opportunities in your existing market or new ones in time for you to adapt can take you from simply surviving to thriving. Using SEO tools for competitive intelligence is an agile way to achieve this.

Make smart strategic moves

Data can give you invaluable insights. But it’s not just about being an expert on your existing clients. With the right insights, you can identify product adjacent gaps in existing markets that you might be well positioned to exploit with extensions to your current product offering.

On a global level, the right data research combined with expertise can tell you those untapped markets that are already perfectly primed with demand for your products or services. All so you can unlock new revenue with the least outlay possible.

Think like a customer

While trying to make your localization processes as efficient as possible, it can be all too easy to lose track of who you’re trying to reach. Think about your customer experience and what problems your clients might be facing. Difficult economic times, or circumstances particular to one target market, might mean you have to tweak your messaging.

It can be easy to forget when you’re swamped with data and content processes, but customer-centricity should always be the foundation of your efforts. Everything you create should start with putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and asking, “what’s in it for me”?

Keep your content workflow efficient

Efficiency can make all the difference if you don’t have the dream resources you would like for creating the content you need. Simplifying your content workflow by using new tools, or a refined approach to existing ones, can free up your resources to increase both your content’s quality and quantity.

Audit your workflow. Which steps are taking up the most time, and are there tools to help with this? Or are there steps you can remove? A smooth content pipeline will free up teams to deliver what they do best.

Make personalization a priority

Companies across the globe are making tailored experiences a priority and consumers are coming to expect it as a bare minimum.

A study by Accenture says 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations relevant to them – B2B buyers expect it too. A huge 83% of people are willing to share their information to get a personalized experience in return. This information can prove crucial to that data-driven strategy we spoke about above.

The trick is to never lose sight of the end goal – delivering relevant and meaningful information that resonates. That said, having the capacity for effective multilingual personalization can be daunting for those operating on a budget. Which may be a reason to…

Discover the right partnership

One of the major benefits of a partnership is scalability. As your localization demands change, your partner will be able to lean on its existing expertise in markets that might be unfamiliar to you. Likewise, scaling down is entirely possible should you need to refocus your efforts.

A localization agency that has linguistic expertise, a top-notch tech stack and proven success with clients in your industry vertical is likely to have the knowledge base that will make a difference.

Where can partnering with external talent bring maximum impact?

Access to effective tools

If you’re running an in-house localization operation, accessing the most efficient tools and services to keep your content workflows running smoothly can be costly. External localization experts should have access to software and tools, such as a translation portal, translation memory or machine translation, that can simplify your workflow and make your operation more efficient all-round without hefty licensing fees. Your procurement team will be grateful!

Market expansion

Trimming budgets doesn’t mean you have to shelve expansion plans. There are many examples of businesses that have successfully trimmed their localization budgets through a strategic partnership, even while reaching new markets in new languages. The right partner should be able to help deliver efficiencies that deliver that much-needed bang for your buck.

Efficient project management

Localization projects involve numerous moving parts, including content creation, translation, quality assurance, and the implementation of tools like a translation management system.

Managing these complex processes internally can be time-consuming and resource-draining. Dedicated localization project managers are experts at being your single point of contact while they keep everything running smoothly, on time and on budget.

What to look for in a localization agency as your strategic partner

Planning a localization strategy, deploying it locally and continuously measuring and tweaking is not easy, especially on a budget.

As we’ve discussed already, the most cost-effective way can often be teaming up with a strategic partner. But what to look for in your perfect partner? They should:

Be strategy-based

Aligning with your business model and strategic objectives is key. An experienced partner will also provide strategic consultation on how you can best adapt your team, processes and tech stack so they can enable your business to enter new markets.

Have a data-driven approach

Tracking user engagement journeys efficiently will help you tailor your message to be as appropriate as possible throughout the buyer journey. Meanwhile, analytics data will help deliver faster and smarter decisions on where to focus your globalization efforts (and your budget).

Work across channels

Clients expect a consistent experience with whatever channel they choose to interact with your business. And these channels often differ from market to market, region to region. The right partner will have proven expertise in delivering user-delighting experiences across platforms – with the ability to leverage each channel to exploit its unique benefits.

Boast local expertise

The real secret to culturally relevant translation is the local expertise that can make good content shine across languages. Beyond talented linguists, a localization agency will intimately know the process of culturally adapting your content. They will have a local team of native language experts who go beyond just perfect translations with a profound understanding of local cultures and norms.

Be open to evaluation

A partnership is not a partnership if communication is only one-way. A fundamental aspect to any successful partnership is ongoing evaluation and feedback. This will help make sure your partner is meeting expectations and delivering results.

Unlocking global growth in difficult times

It’s worth remembering that there are plenty of companies that ushered in market defying growth during recessions – often thanks to clever localization interventions. Among them are Kellogg’s, Toyota, WhatsApp, Instagram and Amazon, which grew its sales by 28% during the 2008/09 financial crash.

And although the global pandemic made several industries struggle, many companies profited from lockdowns and lifestyle changes across 2020 and 2021, such as Zoom the most downloaded app during this period, and Hopin, which became Europe's fastest growing startup of all time.

It may be difficult to be able to increase or even sustain your company’s localization outlay, or to fill the skills gaps your team needs. But this doesn’t mean you can’t deliver even better results and ROI.

It may be more challenging but doing it well – quite possibly through a localization services partner - will prime your business for future success and allow you to get the drop on your rivals.

date iconJuly 2, 2023     tag iconConsulting

Don't let economic uncertainty hold you back – connect with our team to take charge of localization sustainability.

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