How localization fits into your market entry strategy

Every new year brings with it fresh optimism and new opportunities. You’ve set new goals for your business and are brimming over with ideas on how to achieve them. Undoubtedly, you want to grow. What ambitious company doesn’t want to grow? 

We’ve been thinking, writing, talking, and publishing a lot lately about growth – where to find it and how to prepare for it. But growth is such a big, broad term. It’ll mean something different to every company – be it growing market share or building a new product. The most important thing is to define what it means for you and your company.

Of all the growth strategies, we keep coming back to market expansion as the most accessible option for companies of any size. You’ve already developed a product or service that customers want, so the natural next step is offering it to more customers. If the road to expansion is one you’re set to travel, we recently wrote about how to build a market entry strategy to help you do so. Here, we’ll show you the important role that localization can play.

Why the success of market expansion hinges on localization

As Asana and other companies leading the way in localization have discovered: successful international expansion hinges on tying growth to the new languages in which they plan to make their product available. 

Expanding to a market that doesn’t share your language can make connecting with your new prospects and customers difficult. People prefer to do business in their own language. The evidence of this is overwhelming:

Localization can take place in myriad ways, but one thing is for sure: to build great multilingual customer experience, localization needs to be represented in higher-level strategic discussions.

Even if your company is a small organization, localization needs to have a seat at the table for it to be approached strategically. So, how do you do that and where does it fit into your market entry strategy?

Where does localization fit in your market entry strategy?

When done right, localization should be a feature of two phases of your market entry strategy. 

Market research

Before entering a new market, you need to understand it. All the research you did before you launched your product in your home market — product-market fit, focus groups, social media, market research, testing your idea — you’ll need to do for each of your new markets. 

Your market research process acts as a localization discovery phase. You learn everything you can about what matters to local consumers, including product specifics, cultural differences that may influence consumer behavior, and messaging. The information you gather here tells you what you need to do to connect locals with your brand or business. 

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Strategy development

Second, outline your localization implementation strategy within your market entry business plan. Be sure to include the languages that people speak and use to do business (these could be different), and list areas of cultural importance. 

Localization helps you avoid situations like using sales methods that don’t speak to local customs or perhaps being too direct in a market that prefers a soft sell. It also allows you to create highly relevant experiences or products that genuinely entice local customers and set you apart from other businesses.

Researching and preparing your localization process by the time you’re ready to do business in a new market is a critical part of your early success. This creates that meaningful presence when you finally open or launch. 

Global-ready growth: The Lokalise guide to unlocking international revenue

We’ll show you how to assemble all the pieces of your international expansion jigsaw, from ideation to planning and implementation.  Download

Then what?

Once you have your strategy locked in and you’ve made a commitment to localization, there’s hardly a feature of your customer-facing operations that won’t benefit from being localized. 

Marketing 

Marketing localization is all about taking existing physical and digital marketing content and creating a relatable experience for local audiences. The market demands it. For example, 76% of respondents in a study conducted by Forrester Consulting said that personalized content, tailored to their industry, role, and department, was “important” or “very important” for technology buying decisions. Your website, blog posts, ebooks, landing pages, and paid ads will all benefit from being localized but it’s not necessary to do it all at the same time.

For most companies, it’s best to start small and test new markets with localized messaging. We’d suggest doing a pilot campaign first. Localize an existing landing page and then run some localized PPC campaigns directed at the page. Then, consider localizing entire experiences based on the data. 

“It was clear that when some startups and scaleups began localizing their product, they saw a big uplift in business in other markets. But when you are a very small startup, you have to choose your battles.” 

Edward Cooper, Head of Crypto at Revolut.

Sales

Coupled with localization of your marketing materials, you’ll need to equip your sales team with all the tools they need to sell into new markets. This means, at the very least, localizing your existing sales collateral; all those decks, one-pagers, customer success stories, and demo videos. At the further end of the spectrum, you’ll want to explore hiring an in-country team with their finger on the pulse of the local scene.

Product development

Your product team will need to create room in their sprint cycles for localization. It should be part of their continuous delivery workflow, so it doesn’t slow down releases. By giving your new international users access to the latest version of your product at the same time as your current customers, you’ll ensure they’re always held in the same esteem. 

Our friends at Dogo App made the decision to localize their app from day zero. Not only because that would open up a wider market for the app, but also because they know that people appreciate the chance to use a product in their own language. Their app is now available in ten languages, has been downloaded two million times, and featured as Apple’s “App of the Day”.

“You don’t need a lot of customers in one country to start localizing. It’s enough if you have some customers in a lot of different countries. Altogether, they still make a big group of people.”

Tadas Žiemys, Co-Founder, Dogo App

The extent to which localization is incorporated into your market entry strategy will be different for every company. One thing is for sure though, it needs to feature. You’ll be leaving money on the table if it doesn’t. Speaking on the Inside Intercom podcast about lessons learned from achieving 2,475% revenue growth, Ed Fry, Head of Growth at Primer, shared that when it comes to international expansion and optimizing your product for a global audience:

“Making small incremental improvements can make dramatic increases in top-line revenue.”

Our advice: start small, experiment, learn, expand.

Global-ready growth: The Lokalise guide to unlocking international revenue

We’ll show you how to assemble all the pieces of your international expansion jigsaw, from ideation to planning and implementation.  Download

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