Seven billion. According to most estimates, our global population currently stands at a little more than seven billion people. English is the third most widely spoken language, but it’s only the native language for about 5% of the world’s population. In fact, only about 30% of the world’s population speaks English with some degree of competency.
This reality may make the idea of extending into global markets seem daunting for marketers, but it’s worth the effort. Localizing your company’s marketing, product, and sales content can have a hugely positive impact on demand generation, company growth, brand recognition, and revenue creation. Indeed, according to a Forbes Insights survey, 33% of senior executives at companies with annual worldwide sales of +$500 million consider “expanding into global and new markets” as their top strategic priority.
How are these proclamations of global priorities transformed into actual results? Through the actions of marketers, like you, who serve on the front lines of global expansion!
By tapping into multilingual markets and engaging new groups of consumers, you’re on the cutting edge of demand generation. You’re spearheading a better, faster, approach to world domination (the nicest kind, of course), and will help grow global revenues. Regardless of where you are on the multilingual marketing learning curve, here are six steps to help you get started and capitalize on global marketing opportunities:
Step 1: Think Big and Plan Globally
You probably saw this one coming a mile away, but global marketing requires a global mindset! This may seem like an obvious a point, but you’d be surprised how often I see that deer-in-the-headlight expression when I ask global marketers for details about how they execute against their global strategy.
Implementing global delivery of marketing campaigns, programs, and messaging does come with its fair share of challenges, but it also offers the potential for huge gains that no global marketer can afford to ignore. And yet, developing a marketing strategy that is inherently global is less common than you might think.
Go-to-market activities must be justified by the revenue potential of each market, the degree to which competition exists in those countries, and the market demand data. To that end, it’s critical to conduct extensive market research to evaluate and prioritize which global markets to enter.
Having a global approach from day one will help your company capture more revenue using the least amount of resources by ensuring that:
- People and budgets are utilized most effectively and efficiently
- The right corporate and local stakeholders are involved from the start, and all in-country expertise is leveraged
- Pre-sales content is delivered in the required languages and formats to best position your products in each target market
- Your brand is communicated consistently across the globe
- Your culturally and linguistically diverse audience enjoys a uniform customer experience.
Some companies treat localization as an afterthought, tacking it at the end of the marketing content delivery process. Others who do think globally up front often don’t execute fully on a global strategy because they’re convinced they don’t have enough time or resources to do so. Either way, the failure to execute a marketing plan from a global perspective jeopardizes valuable opportunities to gain market share in international markets and often has business leaders throwing good money after bad.
Step 2: Allocate Resources for the Best Localization and Biggest Global Impact
Now that you’ve identified your target markets and formulated a strategy to conquer them, it’s time to determine the localization plan to best support your strategy. The goal is to localize all marketing materials into the languages that matter to your business. Not surprisingly, data shows that translating materials to reach multilingual audiences contributes significantly to the attainment of business goals. According to industry research firm Common Sense Advisory (CSA), Fortune 500 companies that translated communications to engage customers in their own language were nearly three times more likely to experience revenue increases. Moreover, another CSA study found that consumers are six times more likely to buy when they see localized marketing.
Localization goes well beyond word-for-word translation: it takes into account the nuances of regional audiences and customs to get the tone, phrases, and even images correct so that materials read naturally in each target audience’s own language, and do not convey unintended messages. Research and knowledge of your target market may reveal cultural differences and beliefs that can have a big impact on how marketing messages are perceived. Use professional translators that not only speak the language in the market, but also understand the subtleties of the region and culture, so that your messages truly resonate as intended with your entire global audience. Getting it right is vital—giving the wrong impression will jeopardize your entire global investment.
Step 3: It Takes a (Marketing) Village
When you’re implementing marketing campaigns and programs that reach beyond your company’s headquarters, it doesn’t always work to simply translate the exact same content used by your corporate teams. Instead, work with your teams cross-functionally and globally to ensure that you not only understand and incorporate the language nuances into your global campaigns, but that you also provide the right content. To do this, leverage your global teams’ unique skills and perspectives and find the right balance of centralization for your organization.
Also, make sure that your global marketing plan allows for regional teams to make adjustments to campaign materials to increase their effectiveness in the local market. At the same time, the localization process should allow teams to test, implement, and retest marketing materials so that they meet regional teams’ and customer needs.
Step 4: Use Your Secret Weapon: Translation Memory
There’s an extremely valuable secret weapon in your localization arsenal that’s so secret even you might not know about it. What is it? Your translation memory. It’s a database of a company’s previously translated words and phrases.
Our survey of 500 global marketers found that 80% were completely unaware of this valuable tool. By using a translation memory software solution, once you’ve translated a word or phrase, you will never have to pay or wait to have those words translated again.
You’re probably asking—how is it possible to know nothing about this tool? Chances are, unless you’re using a marketing globalization solution with a unified translation memory capability, your language service providers and translation vendors control it—and there are likely multiple versions of it if you’re using several vendors.
If you’re not in control of your own translation memory, you’re spending more time and money on translation projects than you need to, and aren’t ensuring global consistency of messaging across your global campaigns.
Step 5: Automate your Global Demand Creation #FTW
It’s time to start thinking about marketing globalization the same way you think about marketing automation—as a business process that can be optimized. Take a critical look at your organization to understand how marketing assets, pre-sales materials, and campaigns are created and delivered across your tools and technologies. Now is the time to optimize your global content operation just like you would any other business process.
For example, your marketing content moves through your content management system, web content management, and marketing automation technologies. To quickly and easily deliver all the localized materials your markets demand—and benefit from an efficient, cost-effective way to go after global opportunities—you don’t want to be stuck in copy-and-paste purgatory. Rather, you need a solution that integrates these critical technologies and lets them work together to help you execute against your goals. Use technology to your advantage and avoid old school manual processes and project management tools.
By eliminating inefficiencies in your local campaign creation process, you can create more local marketing campaigns. That means more MQLs, which means more opportunities, which means more revenue for your company.
Step 6. Capture More Global Revenue Faster
In an increasingly competitive global economy, companies are continually improving their marketing campaigns to stay ahead of the competition and engage consumers through multiple channels to generate leads and grow revenue. However, many companies fail to engage successfully in international markets because their global marketing strategy and localization processes haven’t been optimized to reflect new advances in technology to deliver those campaigns on a global scale.
Whether your objectives are to increase brand awareness, expand into new markets, or grow your existing ones, it all boils down to being able to deliver compelling, effective messages to the marketplace that engage global audiences. By integrating the localization process with your marketing automation and taking a new approach to the way global marketing is done, you can engage and sell to your target audiences better and faster than ever before.
Companies with global-minded marketers who leverage the best tools available to them and collaborate well with their global peers will be the ones who dominate their markets in the end. The world is waiting for you. Go for it!