When Pampers first began selling its diapers in Japan, sales flopped miserably. It wasn’t because the Japanese don’t use diapers. It was because Japanese consumers were confused by the packaging, which was an image of a stork delivering a baby. Because the story of babies being delivered by storks doesn’t exist in Japanese culture, consumers found the image concerning rather than cute, as American parents do.


Localizing international marketing for each area you target is a must, not just to avoid poor sales. Failing to localize can result in a huge waste of time, effort and money, while running the risk of irreparably harming brand reputation by inadvertently offending an entire region. Continue reading to learn best practices for localizing international marketing.

What is Localization?

Localization is the practice of adapting your marketing to align with the consumer needs and culture of a given region. It’s the exact opposite of using a one-size-fits-all marketing message, and goes far beyond simply translating your existing text into a different language.

Word-for-word translations don’t always make sense in a different language, thanks to idioms, associations and nuances that don’t translate at all from one culture to another. Localization, also known as adaptation strategy, takes cultural diversities into account so you can create an inbound strategy that speaks directly to those in your targeted region.

Developing a Localization Strategy

A number of tips can help you develop a localization strategy that works with your international marketing efforts.

1. Adapt to Local Markets

Create a brand vision and mission that inspires people across the world – and translates well into various cultures. Having a core mission that to which every culture can relate makes it easier to fine-tune specific messages for each culture.

Johnny Walker achieved this with a campaign that touched on the universal desire to advance in life. The campaign slogan of “Keep Walking,” was localized across more than 100 countries, using culturally relevant quotes to speak to consumers in each region. The Laozi quote that says “A journey of a thousand miles begins with single step,” for instance, was used in markets such as China. The campaign endured for 13 years, boosting sales by 94 percent and making Johnny Walker a brand recognized across the globe.

2. Take Note of Local Regulations

Take heed of the national and local regulations and laws that apply to your industry. You may need to make some changes to how your service or product is marketed, or include specific language on your product packaging.

3. Streamline Feedback

Even if your product has to travel through a vast supply chain of partners to end up on local shelves across the world, make sure feedback from local sales and consumers returns to you quickly.

Establish a streamlined way to keep tabs on consumer reactions in various regions. This allows you to quickly pinpoint successes in a given region, and then adapt those successful marketing messages or methods for use in other markets across the world.

4. Analyze Reporting by Region

Rather than clumping all your international marketing into a single heap, take the time to analyze results in each region. This gives you a much more in-depth view of what’s working, and where, as well as areas that may not be clicking with your message.

5. Centralize Marketing Processes for Optimal Efficiency

Whether you’re marketing with blog posts, landing pages or other assets, make sure each element has a standard you can use across the board. Providing templates and other standardized elements that serve as the framework for your global marketing program ensures you marketing process is centralized. This makes it more efficient and less prone to discrepancies or errors.

7. Use the Same Technology and Systems across the Globe

Keeping your technology and systems consistent across the globe can likewise increase efficiency while decreasing the risk of confusion and errors. HubSpot is a prime example of a platform that can be used across the globe, thanks to its slate of international marketing features and tools.

8. Geo-Targeting with HubSpot

Several HubSpot international marketing features make it easier for you to target specific markets based on geographical location. These include:

  • Smart content by country: Smart content can be targetable to a viewer’s IP country.
  • Send emails by time zone: Set the time zone to the desired region, then schedule marketing emails accordingly.
  • Include different language options: HubSpot accounts can be set to six different language options. The platform also integrates with a number of different translation connector services, which translate content and then send it back to the platform.
  • Customize timestamp format: Accounts settings can be adapted to accommodate 19 different date and number formats.

Localizing international marketing is an essential component in your overall inbound strategy. With these tips and help from HubSpot international marketing tools, you’ll have a solid base from which to move forward and delight the world with your brand.