How to create a localization marketing strategy in 2023

Having a localization marketing strategy means having a plan on how to share your brand’s story with the international market.

5 November, 2022

8 min read

A survey conducted by Unbabel shows the positive impact marketing localization has had on businesses of various industries. 84% of respondents have confirmed that by localizing their content, they were able to see an extremely positive impact on revenue growth.

The research also shows that Machine Translation is on the rise, as 39% of respondents are actively using this method of translation to localize their content. Due to constant improvements to the quality of MT translations, marketers wordwide are now slowly adapting this method, without involving third party services.

Unbabel confirms the importance of localization marketing strategy just before 2023, as global marketing teams are exploring new ways to spread their brand’s story and reach customers across the globe.

What is a Localization Marketing Strategy?

A localization marketing strategy is essential if you want to position your brand’s story in the international market. The strategy refers to a long-term plan of how you can reach audiences in a specific region by taking into consideration cultural differences, language, buying habits and more.

This means that all of your marketing campaigns and assets should be created for the international market you are trying to expand to.

It’s important to note that localization does not equal translation, and there are numerous other things to take into consideration than just the language.

Even though the language is a very important part, you should also be mindful of:

  • Currency: If your product’s default pricing plan is in USD, you should adjust it to the market you’re trying to reach. For example, in Norway it is Norwegian krone, in France it is the euro.

  • Date format: The United States is one of the few countries that use ‘mm-dd-yyyy’ as the date format. In most countries, the day is written first, not the months. Some countries, such as Iran, write the year first and the day last.

  • Measurements: The United States, Liberia and Myanmar are the only countries that do not use the metric system. They use Imperial units as a system of measurement, while the majority of the countries wordwide use the metric system.

  • Local regulations: Before you create your marketing campaign, you need to learn everything about the regulations in the market you are expanding to. You do not want your great campaign to be blocked in a certain area just because you didn’t take the time to learn about the regulations before launching.

  • Communication channels: Let’s say you’re already advertising your product in the United States, and it’s going great on Facebook. Before you decide to replicate the exact same results in, let’s say France, you need to double check is Facebook used as much in that market. Will you get the same results with Facebook, or should you advertise on a different communication channel?

  • Design: When expanding to a different market, you need to adjust your design to that market. People worldwide have different shopping habits and preferences, based on that, they might be more inclined to purchase your product if you adjust the design of your marketing assets to their expectations.

  • Cultural differences: We’ve heard a lot of stories (and we’ll mention a few below) about brands translating content word for word, not thinking about how a certain phrase is said in a different country, whether that’s something that is considered offensive in that market or not. This could be a very expensive localization mistake you need to think of before launching your campaign.

A lot goes into a marketing strategy when expanding to a new market, and in order to do it right, you should be mindful of the things we mentioned above.

Before we go into the details on how to create a winning localization marketing strategy, let’s look at a great example of localization marketing - KFC in South Africa.

KFC dedicates a lot of time to their localization strategy, and thanks to it, they have seen worldwide success. During their localization journey, they’ve made some mistakes, with the most popular one being in China, when they translated their "Finger-lickin' Good!" slogan word-for-word. In China, it was literally translated to "Eat Your Fingers!”.

But, they have learned from their mistakes and are now seeing tremendous success in the international market.

They now really focus on the cultural differences and use them to their advantage. Earlier this year, they developed a series of Limited-Edition Karabo Poppy buckets for the South African market. Karabo Poppy is a local artist who designed these limited-edition buckets, and they encouraged people to share photos on social media using the hashtag #MadeForSharing and tag KFC SA, so they could win a bucket created by Karabo Poppy.

Needless to say, this campaign was a complete success, and a great example of a localization marketing strategy!

How to create a localization marketing strategy?

1. Research the market and hire an expert

Before you start planning your marketing activities, take some time to research the international market you want to advertise in. We have already mentioned that translation doesn’t equal localization, so in addition to finding a good translator, find everything your can about the cultural differences of the country you are expanding to.

Coca Cola does a great job at this. You probably remember the campaign they had with local names. So for example, in Spain, they had bottles that said “Share a Coke with Maria”, and there was also an option to create custom bottles. A great marketing strategy to successfully connect with your audience, regardless of the location. Who doesn’t like seeing their name on a Coca Cola bottle? And who wouldn’t want to share it on social media?

Take into consideration all of the things we mentioned above, currency, date formats, how phone numbers are written and more.

If you can, hire an expert from the country you’re expanding to, because they’ll know better than anyone how you can adjust your brand to the culture. They can share certain slogans with you that you can’t easily research online, and use this in your marketing strategy. Not only that, but they’ll also be able to tell you what is considered acceptable and what is offensive in their culture. This varies from country to country, so it’s great to have a local guide you through the process.

2. Optimize your website and social media

Organic traffic is by far one of the best acquisition channels out there, and every marketing department dedicates a lot of time to it. If you are localizing your website, you should think about SEO as well.

Of course you want your product to rank well in the country you’re expanding to. That’s why it’s important to do proper keyword research before you localize your content or start creating new content specific for that market.

It’s important to keep in mind that word-for-word translation isn’t always the best, and that different phrases might be used in a different country for the product you are offering. Working with a local can be of great help here, as well as consulting SEO tools to see how each keyword related to your product is ranking.

People spend a lot of time on social media, and your customer are probably on there as well. That’s why it’s crucial to localize your social media channels as well, so you can offer each market a unique experience of your product, and customer support.

3. Analyze your progress

And lastly, how do you know if something is working if you aren’t tracking it properly?

Before you start planning your marketing activities, decide what your goals are. Do you want to increase brand awareness, improve conversion, book more demos? Start with the goal and work your way down. Once you have your goals in place, decide what metrics you’ll be tracking and which tools you need in order to get them.

Analytics tools are great, and they’ll give you the data you need. But if you want to go a step further, and get real insight from your audience, run website surveys and ask them what they like and what they think you could do better. Run social media polls, set up email sequences and get the answers you are looking for.

Automate your marketing efforts

There’s a lot that goes into creating a localization marketing strategy, and once you have it in place, it takes a lot of work to execute on it.

In order to reduce manual workload, consider using localization tools, such as Translized, to automate your workflow. Working with a localization sofware has a lot of benefits, saving you time and money while making sure you’re getting top-quality content for your international audience.


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