In the first two installments of our Standardization vs. Customization: Striking the Right Balance series, we explored the differences between standardization and customization and key questions to ask. (Find Part One here. Find Part Two here.)
In this post, we’ll address other best practices for defining a hybrid standardization / customization approach for your global marketing strategy that creates an engaging global UX—in addition to providing SEO benefits and translation cost savings.
Choosing the Right Balance
As you move forward in determining how to present your content in the different markets you serve, keep these best practices in mind:
Country-level differentiation involves a high level of customization for your website and omnichannel content. It’s most appropriate when you’re offering wholly different products, pricing or campaigns for each country. This is full-fledged customization.
This means your content will be different from market to market, and your company will likely have a unique marketing strategy for each site. You might have different campaigns or blog posts with completely different key takeaways, for instance.
In this scenario, you must be able—at least up to a point—to make customizations based on local needs, such as local festivities, holidays and more. You’ll need a website localization solution that can simplify this complex process for you.
Language-level differentiation requires you to account for your customers’ languages and understand if their dialects are different. If they are, then you might need differentiated content—though you won’t need to create wholly different websites for each market.
Unlike full customization, this process requires subtle changes. For instance, in Spain, the verb for “refuse” is negar, but in Latin America, the preferred verb is rehusar. If your websites don’t account for these localization needs, customers will notice and either feel confused or offended.
More important, these linguistic changes should serve your SEO needs. You—or your website translation partner—must conduct market-specific keyword research that can be implemented to drive organic traffic. The site’s metadata—which is content often neglected by traditional translation services—should also be localized to improve your site’s search rankings.
Expertly localizing this hidden content doesn’t just help search engines locate and display your localized website. It also works within the unique pixel and character limits of regional search engines, so that the localized site “plays by the local rules” to further improve its ranking.
Beyond using linguistic localizations from country to country, you should also consider whether there are regional linguistic differences within a country worth customizing for.
Every language has unique wording or jargon that is based on regional dialects. These language nuances are more common in certain industries where specific products sold on-site might have different names, or their names might have different connotations, based on local lingo.
In these scenarios, you shouldn’t translate your content again and again for each dialect. Doing so takes more time, money, effort and expertise than you probably have in-house.
Instead, find a solution that can dramatically lower cost by easily repurposing translated content from online markets you’re already serving for your new same-language markets—and can accommodate the unique linguistic needs of each market.
Additional benefits often include rapid website launches (measured in days, not weeks or months), increased regional search rank and conversions, and reduced translation costs by at least 40%.
Tagging for Search Engines
When you are offering a site in a different language, it is always helpful to have search engine-friendly tagging. This means translating metadata that tells regional engines what language—and what version of that language—the site is published in. (For instance, Castilian Spanish versus Latin American Spanish.)
It’s also a best practice to implement a sitemap for your multilingual websites using hreflang tagging. This ensures that your localized website’s URLs are organized and automatically associated with URLs from your origin website. This provides a signal to Google that a better user experience exists for customers who speak a certain language, live in a particular location, or both.
These are tedious tasks to do initially and on an ongoing basis, but solutions exist that can do it easily and automatically.
Keeping a balance between standardizing and customizing your online and offline marketing content is achievable. Smart brands consider their needs and their target markets carefully and thoroughly, to find what’s right for their specific situations.
But even smarter brands find ways to do this that minimizes the need to increase team size and budgets and keeps things simple for themselves to implement changes.
It’s wise to use an experienced translation vendor that knows the ins and outs of helping companies strike the right balance for their online and offline marketing content in different markets. Look for a robust, simple to implement, turn-key technology solution. The best solutions make it easy to leverage additional strategies and nuances for getting this balance right.Last updated on October 28, 2020