Within the context of business, localisation is the process of adapting elements of an operation to better suit unique regional needs and expectations. If you want to corner the market in a particular area, for instance, you can tweak your strategy to focus on local advertising. Most companies, though, never put any time or effort into localisation. Why? Because they view it as a matter for big businesses to consider: an arduous task only worth pursuing at the top end.
In truth, that view is fundamentally flawed. Localisation is actually something that businesses of all sizes can — and should — view as a worthwhile investment. And in this post, we’re going to set out the main reasons why it’s a valuable prospect.
Overseas shipping is highly accessible
Companies of all sizes can branch out into overseas markets these days. A key part of this is due to the strong increases in online-only businesses complemented by the emergence of hyper-convenient shipping systems.
Through utilising warehousing services such as Amazon’s FBA and numerous courier services that are supported by all mainstream ecommerce platforms, and offer in-depth real-time tracking metrics, even solopreneurs can sell their wares overseas without needing to invest in infrastructure. And while there are downsides to selling overseas (handling returns is rather complicated, for instance), the advantages far exceed them considering how much revenue you can accrue by opening up your business to additional markets.
If you’re in a position to sell overseas, you have a clear motivation to put time into localisation. The focus is likely to pay off and enable you to put some of the profits into redoubling your efforts and refining your marketing strategy in your new markets to generate further amounts of revenue.
Much of the process can be automated
The internet age offers so many wonders, and one of the most potent is the process of automation. Each passing year brings remarkable new tools that can take the challenge and tedium out of vital tasks. Given that, it should come as no surprise that website localisation — or at least most of it — can be handled on your behalf through a convenient service.
Such a service can handle the four steps of website localisation: translating the content of your business website with relative ease; updating your images to be culturally appropriate; adapting your design for different audiences (e.g. allowing for text expansion); and deploying a multilingual SEO strategy. You’ll still need to be involved, and you’ll surely have tasks to do along the way, but you won’t need to spend time doing everything manually or liaising with freelancers.
Yes, using an automation service to achieve a high standard will surely cost you, but consider this: the smaller the business, the smaller the website. If there isn’t much content on your website, you won’t end up with an excessive bill. And if you’ve prepared an amount of content that belies the small state of your business, you can choose to focus on the most important pages and leave the rest for later. You don’t have to do it all, as we’ll expand upon next.
There’s no set level you need to reach
What can easily discourage business owners from trying to implement elements of localisation is that they see it as a fixed proposition defined by the standards of leading brands. They’ll look at how dominant companies like Amazon cater to different locations, acknowledge that they can’t compete, and opt to forgo trying in the first place. This is a big mistake.
Localisation efforts don’t need to be comprehensive. They don’t even need to be extensive. Something as simple as taking the time to introduce some regional terms for a page targeting that region can make a big difference. Another thing to consider is how complex language can limit the potential of your content. Functional minimalism should remain your goal: if you can take a tricky idea and make it simpler, your copy will have much broader appeal.
And if you can’t (or don’t want to) translate your website into ten alternative languages, you can try just one. So even if you don’t think that localisation is something to invest in completely, you can still give it a try. Dabble, see how you find it, and decide your long-term approach accordingly. You may well discover that it pays off so well that it’s easy to justify allocating a significant budget to it.
Localisation isn’t actually a high-end pursuit only for massive brands with the power to spread throughout the world. It’s also a worthwhile option for SMEs that have the potential to sell in multiple locations and scale up their growth.