One thing is certain: localized campaign content has a better impact than a one-size-fits-all marketing approach. But, effective localization of marketing campaigns on a global scale goes far beyond adjusting the language and translating your campaigns. It needs to encompass cultural, social, and economic factors and build a real connection with local customers.
Localizing marketing campaigns for global audiences helps brands connect with multiple customer segments in different countries and maximize performance. Localized content should consider linguistic, cultural, visual, timing, and political factors to tailor materials for different audiences. The scale of these changes will be influenced by the breadth and difference of customer segments you target with your campaigns.
From imagery and colors to local references and lingo, this article breaks down how to best localize your marketing content and the insights you need to make it effective. Whether your organization is already localizing campaigns across your digital and physical estate or it’s just getting started, this article will help you to improve communication with your customers across every channel.
So, what should your organization consider when localizing campaigns, and what data should inform your approach? Let’s get into it…
Consumer purchase motivations and preferences across different markets are incredibly diverse, and they are constantly changing. At any period in time, shoppers in one region might be focused on affordability, whereas a product’s environmental impact may be more of a concern in another. To stay ahead of the game, organizations must tailor their marketing strategies to align with these ever-changing demands.
Delivering messaging that speaks directly to your customers wants and needs in a way that feels authentic wherever their location increases trust in your brand and can give your organization the edge over competitors. Meanwhile, failing to resonate with local audiences can quickly squander a global campaign’s success.
Localizing marketing not only helps to better connect with your customers, but it can also prevent cultural misunderstandings and accidentally offensive content. Unsurprisingly, many organizations have experienced financial or reputational damage from absent or improper marketing localization. But, get it right, and it can enhance customer experiences, drive more sales, and allow you to penetrate new markets effectively.
The key to success? Thorough research and meticulous planning.
In order to effectively engage your target audience in different regions, your organization needs to understand the unique preferences, cultural nuances, and market trends of each location and then create or adapt the messaging and promotional efforts to resonate with those customers.
An effective localization strategy combines intensive market research, a deep understanding of cultural differences, strategic planning, and well-timed launches.
Whether your organization’s campaigns encompass social media, email marketing, targeted advertising, in-store promotions, or a mix of everything, market data and shopper insights should constantly feed into and inform your marketing team’s decisions.
Where to start:
Gather demographic and behavioral data in your target markets to build a comprehensive picture of your customers to drive your campaign messaging. What are their incomes, ages, interests, and values? When do customers in this region shop for your products? How do they shop, and what influences their purchase decisions? Are there environmental factors, such as local events, that may influence the timing of their purchase decisions? This information will influence how you vary your content for different audiences.
Most organizations already have a plethora of data about the markets they operate in and how shoppers from different territories shop with them. Ensure the data you already have across your website, email marketing, social advertising, etc, is being used to inform your content decisions. If you know something is a best seller online in a particular area, lead with that in your localized in-store campaigns, too!
Location-based consumer insights are a powerful way to inform your organization’s marketing content. If possible, collect consumer feedback in your stores about their shopping preferences and the types of promotions they’d like to see.
And this collection of data is a constant cycle. Your organization must continually monitor market trends to develop and localize your future campaigns.
Once your marketing team has aligned with your merchandising team and identified the best-selling products and marketing channels in different locations, they will know what to promote and how. Next, the focus can shift to the marketing content, crafting a core message and producing marketing collateral that’s adaptable across diverse cultures. There’s a lot to consider!
One of the biggest elements of localizing marketing is translating content into different languages. After all, most people prefer to consume content in their native language, and according to a recent survey, 76% prefer purchasing products with information in their own language. But language is much more complex than a method of communication. It reflects an area’s history, culture, and even values. So, including local references, regional dialects, and colloquialisms are vital in making your brand feel authentic across different markets.
Now, there are regions in the world where dialects change from one town to the next, so being that hyper-localized might be a little unrealistic! But, ideally, you want to use the correct vernacular across territories or regions. You don’t want to be communicating to Brits in American English or translating to European Portuguese for a Brazilian audience!
Critically, direct translations can have some pretty strange and potentially offensive results. From KFC’s “Finger-licking-good” slogan, translating to “Eat your fingers off” in Chinese, to UK bank HSBC’s “Assume Nothing” campaign, translating to “Do Nothing” in many countries, big brands are not immune from getting it wrong. These errors can be embarrassing and costly, and amending campaigns across vast numbers of physical and digital locations can be a logistical nightmare if you don’t know exactly where all your marketing materials are at any given time.
Other translation areas to pay extra attention to are people and place names. In Coca-Cola’s hugely successful “Share a Coke” campaign, marketing teams from each market put their own creative spin on the concept of sharing a personalized drink with a friend. For the campaign to be relatable across the globe, it was vital that they correctly localized the names used in the marketing and on the bottles and cans.
Along with accurate translations, the formatting of your organization’s localized marketing collateral needs to be considered, too. Many countries don’t read from left to right and top to bottom, affecting layouts and even icons and images. Meanwhile, there are numerous variations of time and date formats used across the globe, so it’s crucial your organization uses the appropriate one for the target market to minimize confusion. Currencies also have formatting changes, with some countries using the currency symbol to the left of the number and others placing it on the right.
Across cultures and countries, different images and symbols can convey various meanings. To avoid apparent oversight and to best connect with local consumers, graphics need careful consideration and adaptability. For example, you wouldn’t want your campaign content to feature people driving on the “wrong” side of the road for the target country.
The flexibility to adjust the graphics, imagery, and video content in your marketing across different locations can supercharge your campaigns. McDonald’s recent “Raise your arches” campaign, which featured people raising their eyebrows to suggest a visit to the fast-food chain, recreated their advert for the GCC region. The scenes are almost identical to the original, but it is full of local references and insight.
Colors are an integral part of any marketing campaign, but if your organization uses the wrong ones, the message can be very different from the one intended.
For example, in Western countries, the color red can communicate sales, festivities, love, and danger, whereas in other countries, it can be associated with commitment and death!
Research has found that some colors – specifically blue, green, and white – are generally well-liked and perceived similarly across countries. They may be a good option for global campaigns, but thorough market research is the best way to ensure your organization’s campaign palette is always appropriate.
To ensure a successful campaign launch, it is crucial to analyze the market and determine the most appropriate time carefully. This requires understanding seasonal celebrations and shopping periods and monitoring major events, trending topics, and any other factors that could impact your industry in that region.
By doing so, you can ensure your campaigns capture the attention of your target customer base when they are most receptive. And it’s important to remember that not every campaign will work in all markets, and you might need to make some pretty significant adjustments to maintain relevance.
In-depth knowledge of important local holidays and events can allow your organization to create brilliant localized marketing campaigns to complement or piggyback on them. Meanwhile, launching a campaign during a seasonal event that has no connection to the marketing content you are delivering may result in less interaction and make your organization appear out of touch.
Lastly, an essential consideration is the consumer laws and advertising regulations across different territories and countries. For example, influencer marketing is viral at the moment and regulators all over the world are handing out penalties for companies that aren’t completely transparent about content that has a commercial purpose. It’s crucial to know what is required from a legal perspective in your campaign content.
Countries also differ in their rules around selling specific goods. For example, there are huge variations in how alcohol can be marketed across countries, from target market age limits to what strength of alcohol product is covered by restrictions.
Whether it concerns how you’re marketing or what you’re marketing, localization of global campaigns should always consider any legal implications or restrictions in each market and the impact that has on content.
When your organization has identified the right products for promotion in each market, alongside marketing content that resonates locally and the most effective channels to deliver it by, your localized global campaigns will have the best possible impact.
But it’s no easy task to complete.
After your marketing team (or teams!) have faced the huge challenge of incorporating localization elements into numerous global assets, they’ll also need to be able to adapt campaign delivery and development rapidly. With cultural trends and market dynamics constantly shifting, marketing strategies need to be able to evolve and respond rapidly to changing consumer behavior and other emerging developments. All while maintaining brand consistency and local relevance.
In the digital world, you can produce and launch hyper-targeted content and make adjustments when needed pretty quickly. Physical marketing materials are a completely different ball game.
Managing the targeting, localization, production, and delivery of physical marketing assets – and having visibility and control after they arrive in stores, is much, much harder. And, once they’re installed, adaptability can be very limited.
But this doesn’t have to be the case.
Our platform combines the laser-focused targeting of digital advertising with your biggest marketing channel: your physical locations.
If you would like to improve your global campaigns for local audiences, request a free consultation to see how we can help.