How Retailers Can Use Localization to Optimize Global Marketing Campaigns
It's not news that there's a big global market for retailers to tap. Any business that has an online presence is aware that there are huge sales opportunities abroad, from Brazil to China, Germany to India, Japan to France. The real challenge is connecting with these foreign audiences.
The internet has flattened competition for retailers, big and small, and that means you have to build a personal connection with each shopper rather than compete for their wallets based on price. As competition in e-commerce continues to grow, global marketing campaigns have to become more tactical and focused.
Increasingly, going global actually means going very, very local. When you're launching a campaign in a new country, for example, it's no longer enough to just translate the copy on the offers and products. You have to think about how each product will be received in each country and create a localized purchasing experience that makes shoppers feel comfortable and engaged as they make their decisions.
Global marketing campaigns can help brands break into new markets, but only if they localize content well before any major launch. Here's how retailers can do that:
1. A truly localized website: Many retailers think they can get away with using Google Translate to connect with prospects in other countries. However, anyone who has actually used the tool recreationally knows that depending on it for professional translation is a big risk.
Translation can make or break a global marketing campaign. You can spend all the money you want on advertising, but if visitors to your website can't understand it, they won't go through with a purchase.
Shopping cart abandonment rates spike as soon as consumers feel confused or wary of a website. A quarter of shoppers will abandon a cart if the website navigation is too complicated. Not only that, three-quarters of shoppers prefer to buy products in their native language.
A localized website helps with search engine optimization by building the site with translated keywords, too. For example, if a Russian shopper is trying to find a backpack, it's important to note whether the direct translation might approximate more toward "bag" than backpack. And if it's "bag," a site needs to take into account all the varieties of that "bag" as well.
This doesn't just help shoppers understand what they're buying, it helps boost search engine rankings for keywords in your target market. So a Russian shopper who uses Google to look for a backpack may find your website first if you've translated appropriately.
2. A seamless shopping experience: To really optimize global marketing campaigns with localization, retailers have to focus on the customer experience when it comes to finding and purchasing the products they want. A marketing campaign can get them there, but a localized, seamless shopping experience helps guarantee that shoppers will convert.
Even in the U.S., e-commerce sites often put up unnecessary barriers that discourage shoppers. Research shows that the No. 1 reason that people abandon their shopping carts is that they're presented with unexpected costs.
If you're trying to build a localized experience, ensure that shoppers can pay with their native currencies and that they know all the shipping and handling fees up front. Otherwise, there's a big risk they'll see some unexpected costs and decide not to go through with the transaction.
The checkout process should be transparent and seamless from start to finish. From website to product page to billing information, make sure that each step is localized and takes into account the additional fees and wait times for international shipping.
3. Localized emails: Email marketing campaigns that are built for other markets need to be localized to offer the best return. Compelling subject lines are more or less the No. 1 reason that people open emails — especially if they offer great deals. Make sure that the copy of each email offer, from the subject line to the product description, is accurately localized.
By offering an email sign-up form on your website for special offers, you can also ask subscribers for their country of residence and preferred language. That way, it's possible to customize and segment email campaigns accordingly.
Don't forget to review any legislation that might affect how you can get in touch with your subscribers. While the email laws in the U.S. are relatively liberal, countries in the European Union (EU) can be much more stringent about when you can contact someone with an email marketing message.
Savings and Solutions for a Global World
You have a localized website that effectively engages people and boosts SEO through well-translated keywords. You've thought carefully about the way shoppers are browsing and purchasing items. You've also taken the time to create email campaigns that are localized to suit customers’ native languages.
Now you have to face the biggest problem of all: getting shoppers to your site and convincing them that the offer they find is the best deal for them.
Nearly two-thirds of shopping carts are abandoned online. If you've gotten to the point where international shoppers have started putting items in their carts, it's a matter of creating enough engaging content — and especially offers — to get them to convert.
This is where retailers have to think extremely local. What makes a customer in Germany press the "buy" button? What kinds of offers can catch the eye of a customer in Brazil? A lot of the time, this comes down to thinking about strategic offers and creating eye-catching campaigns that stand apart from the rest. But to do that, you first need to understand the local culture and language.
A one-size-fits-all global marketing campaign can only go so far when there are so many other competitors vying for customers. Unless you have a product that consumers can literally buy nowhere else in the world, they're likely to compare and contrast your website with the competition.
This is where proactive planning has to come in. Once you've established a framework that you're sure will provide a great shopping experience for customers in Moscow, Mumbai and Maryland, it's time to sit down with your marketing team and come up with a plan that helps the business reach out to each of those audiences.
Ian Henderson is the chief technology officer at Rubric, a global language service provider.