To dig deeper into this discipline, I interviewed another expert in the translation and localization industry, Yves Lang, vice president, sales and marketing / CSO of ENLASO -- a key member of the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA). Lang shared some of his learnings from working with clients in America who had non-English-speaking markets, at home and abroad. (Remember that many U.S. companies have a significant Hispanic customer base, for example, which calls for a dual marketing approach.)
The following is a summary of Lang's tips.
Identifying new markets. Globalizing -- handling the business issues associated with launching a product globally -- starts with identifying new markets. You may have a product or service that is wildly popular in America, but will it fly in Brazil or China? It is essential to engage in preliminary market research to discover your wider opportunity. If you already have sales agents abroad, tap into their knowledge of the product, their customers, and your vertical for insights.
Localizing the brand presence. Once you are sure there is a good opportunity, consider how your brand positioning will work in a different culture. Lang cited the example of ENLASO's client Match.com. Mores about dating vary widely from culture to culture, so ENLASO used a lot of latitude to make a new presence for Match.com when rolling out the company's international sites.
A generic English site was created prior to the localized versions, removing English catchphrases and any comparisons of Match.com to its competitors, since this is not accepted advertising practice in some countries. Lang said that often an entirely new concept had to be created to make the localized sites as compelling as the original, yet fit the sensibilities of local users.
Match.com's website imagery changes from country to country. While the U.S. site may show couples looking fondly at each other; in Europe, where there is a very liberal attitude toward relationships, couples may be depicted kissing or in tight clinches. In Japan, where attitudes are more modest, the models do not look at or touch each other, but smile outward at the reader.
Strategies for global e-newsletters. As complicated as it is to run a major email program, the difficulty is multiplied by the number of languages your program has taken on. Think about this when setting up auto-responders, transactional notifications, and eCRM such as welcome streams, lifecycle and loyalty messaging. Your templates need to be internationalized, which is the technical process of generalizing a product (or template) so that it can handle multiple languages and cultural conventions without the need for redesign.
Lang shared his expertise in creating preference centers and tiered content for e-newsletters that will be read by users around the world. One size does not fit all in preference centers, where customers sign up to receive your news. The demographic options will vary according to the nature of your offering, but remember that attributes like hobbies and religion (if applicable) will need to be expanded. Examples: in Japan, sumo wrestling is a popular hobby, and in India, the list of ethnic and religious subgroups is quite long.
Once you have collected relevant information about your target audience, your e-newsletter can be divided into three main parts for maximum effect.
(1) Some neutral or generic content, applicable worldwide.
(2) Regional content, aimed at readers on specific continents, such as Europe or Asia.
(3) Local content pertinent to the individual country. This is where you would place localized deals and offers, event listings, business addresses or customer service contacts, etc. The content for this section can be created by your offices abroad, without having to go through a translation process.
The need for an expert partner when going global is clear. The smallest things, done incorrectly, can completely puzzle your users, damage your brand, and weaken sales. To learn more about qualified partners in e-business globalization, check out GALA at http://www.gala-global.org.