Localization is a goldilocks kind of business when done right. You need to localize just enough content but not too much. You need to localize quickly but not rush the process. When companies find those perfect sweet spots of what, when, and how to localize, they’re able to see real results and reap a much higher ROI.
If you’re new to the localization industry, it might be difficult to visualize how a great localization strategy might look. We recommend learning from what other companies have already done. The following localization strategy examples show how you can introduce chaos into your localization process—or how you can optimize for smooth and rapid globalization.
Examples of Ineffective Localization Strategy
Let’s say your company gets a jaw-dropping opportunity to expand into another country. Of course, you want to jump in immediately with translation and localization and internationalization and really take advantage of the moment.
It’s true. You do need to get moving. But that doesn’t mean you should rush into localization before you’re ready. Here are a couple of examples of why that’s a bad idea:
Example 1: Rushing to Translation
Many companies start the localization process before their product, website, or marketing content is actually finished. Picture this. An ecommerce company called Jump the Gun is thrilled to launch their website in other markets, so they’re working with a really aggressive deadline. They hire a language services provider to start translating content. The only problem is, their new international site hasn’t been fully built yet. Instead of simply exporting a single .xml file and having the entire site translated, now they’re manually copy-pasting text back and forth as new pages get added.
Jump the Gun wanted to move fast—but now their launch has been delayed by a month’s worth of loose ends. They would have saved time (and money) by completing the site first and then localizing through automated export and import routines that maintain the integrity of their completed site structure.
Example 2: Waiting ‘til the Last Second
The opposite situation is also overwhelmingly common. Many companies don’t think they’ll ever need translation services—until suddenly they do. Let’s say American company Yesterday’s News is developing an Android application. Out of the blue, they discover a bidding opportunity in Canada and they’re suddenly faced with the need to localize their software in French. They want a quick quote for how much it will cost to localize their app. And they want it done yesterday.
The truth is, Yesterday’s News should have thought about going global a long time ago. Their marketing manager didn’t know that an app needs to be optimized for international markets before it can be translated. Engineers from Yesterday’s News need to spend hours externalizing strings from their code base to prepare for multilingual versions. And this has to happen before any localization firm can prepare an accurate quote. In the end, the company is stuck at the gate, wasting precious business days and risking the loss of this opportunity.
Localization Strategy Examples to Emulate
On the other hand, if you’re willing to take a step back and think strategically about localization, you can save time, money, and tears. We’d be willing to bet that you get to market faster than you would by trying to rush the process. Here’s how that might look:
Example 1: Setting Appropriate Flag Drops
A major tech enterprise is working on a full-scale elearning suite with a ton of multimedia content, and they want it translated into 15 different languages. While developers work tirelessly to get the learning management system optimized, this company called Right the First Time has already secured a partnership with a high-tech localization expert. They communicate closely with their partner right up to the final moment when the development is complete. Because they have been coordinating with their partner all along, the CMS integration they need to automate movement of content into and back from the translation workflow is already in place at the moment from day 1.
This company met with success because they were prepared to get moving with localization at the opportune moment. But they also had another advantage: their localization manager knew that multimedia localization (including graphics, videos, and voiceovers) is significantly more complex than software or website localization. By hiring the right team, they were prepared to meet an international launch date that was reasonable and achievable.
Example 2: Investing in Continuous Localization
The previous example is just one of many ways to localize effectively. With an ideal strategy, localization doesn’t just have to happen at the end of the development process. It’s entirely possible to pair localization with agile development if you have the right tools. In the language services industry, we call this model “continuous localization.” It’s an ideal strategy for software developers who plan to have a fast release cadence and for those who want to see their UI in other languages as quickly as possible.
If you hire the top localization services, you’ll be able to put in place custom CLI integrations to run routines on your schedule and your terms. You submit strings to an automated localization platform. The AI will insert content directly from your translation memory and assign human translators to work behind the scenes on the final localized version. It’s a seamless process that lets you localize in time with your agile development cycle. As soon as each piece of your content is complete, you can see it in other languages and push it live across the world, joining the ranks of companies like Right the First Time and Already Ready.
The Big Takeaway
Localization is a complex process full of potential pitfalls. But by comparing all four localization strategy examples, we’ve derived a solid list of DOs and DON’Ts that will help smooth your journey toward a fully globalized product.
One final “DO”: Choose a localization partner that can work closely with you to develop a cohesive and viable localization strategy from the very beginning. And make sure whichever vendor you choose has the tools and experience to exceed your expectations. With the right team backing you, you can avoid all the common localization mistakes and take your product to international audiences quickly and effectively.
Bureau Works is a localization company dedicated to helping eager startups take their products and services around the globe. All of the localization strategy examples above come from our own portfolio of clients—and no matter where they started, you better believe we helped each of those companies create a localization process that actually works. Need that kind of guidance in your life? Contact our team.