shutterstock_93399937.jpg Eighty-six percent of marketers intend to look for ways to better localize their marketing content, according to a recent survey by the CMO Council. Other findings of the survey reveal the importance that marketers place on localized marketing and demonstrate that more work is needed to make localized marketing effective.

The findings showed:

  • 49% of survey respondents said that localized marketing is essential to business growth and profitability.
  • 41% of respondents said they devote 30% or more of their marketing budget to field or localized marketing and merchandising programs.
  • Nearly 50% of respondents said that they are underperforming or need new strategic thinking and capability development in the area of localized marketing.

The need to make marketing messages and materials more relevant is the driving force behind the widespread interest in localized marketing. As the CMO Council noted,

Despite the homogenization of markets, media channels, and brand experiences globally, localization of messages, images, creative executions, offers, deals, and interactions is still critical to marketing effectiveness and customer relationship building across many business categories.”

Prospects and customers now have easy access to a wealth of online information, and they are choosing when and how they will obtain information about potential purchases. That, combined with the ever-increasing amount of marketing and advertising clutter in the environment, makes potential buyers less receptive to generic marketing messages and materials.

In these circumstances, relevance becomes an essential element of effective marketing, and localizing marketing messages and materials is a proven way to increase relevance.

Global enterprises face particularly complex challenges in delivering relevant, localized marketing content. In addition to basic translation, global marketers must provide content that uses the right currency and includes images and other features that are appropriate geographically and culturally.

Key Requirements for Content Localization

There are two key requirements for executing an effective content localization program. First, marketers must know what marketing messages will be relevant and appealing to the local target audience. In other words, effective localization must begin with a clear understanding of local markets and local buyers. This was the challenge to effective localization most frequently identified in the CMO Council survey, cited by 30 percent of respondents.

The second core requirement for effective localization is a set of technology tools that a) allow corporate marketers to maintain control of the brand while simultaneously enabling significant content customization by local marketers, and b) make content localization scalable and cost effective.

Despite the critical role that technology plays in marketing content localization, only 30 percent of respondents to the CMO Council survey said they had embraced local marketing automation platforms and tools.

Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents said they are currently evaluating such tools, so the use of content localization is poised to grow significantly.

Customizing marketing messages and materials for specific audiences has traditionally forced marketers to make an unattractive trade-off between losing control of brand messaging and brand presentation, and incurring excessive costs. Fortunately, marketers now have access to technology tools that can render this trade-off unnecessary. In fact, a comprehensive marketing technologies platform will support two distinctive and complementary approaches to content localization.

Self-Directed Localization

Self-directed localization provides the greatest degree of flexibility to local marketers. When this approach is used, corporate marketers provide local marketers access to brand-compliant marketing assets (logos, images, etc.) and allow the local marketers to develop localized materials using those assets.

Corporate marketers can also provide high-level templates to guide the development of materials. Self-directed localization is appropriate when:

  • Local entities (national/regional offices, etc.) have significant marketing resources and expertise.
  • Corporate marketers cannot predetermine the customization options that will be effective.

The key technology enabler of self-directed localization is the digital asset management capabilities of a marketing platform. DAM solutions enable corporate marketers to provide easy and controlled access to approved marketing assets. And, if a company requires approval of localized materials, a DAM solution can streamline the approval process.

Menu-Driven Localization

Menu-driven localization provides less, but still significant, flexibility for content localization. When this approach is used, corporate marketers provide local marketers (and other authorized users) access to templates of marketing materials such as marketing collateral documents, promotional items and point-of-sale materials. These templates identify which components of the item can be modified, and most importantly, they provide a menu of customization options.

With this approach, local marketers and other users can localize/customize marketing materials, but only in certain predetermined ways.

Menu-driven localization is appropriate when:

  • Local users (salespeople, sales channel partners, etc.) do not have extensive marketing resources or expertise.
  • Corporate marketers can predetermine what customization options will likely be effective.

The primary technology tool for supporting menu-driven localization is the marketing asset management/web-to-print capabilities of a marketing technology suite.

Many companies (especially large enterprises) need both approaches to realize the full potential of content localization, and a marketing technology platform will provide all of the required technological capabilities.

Title image courtesy of Fotografiche (Shutterstock).

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