If you are designing or refining your content strategy you must consider the way customers are discovering and buying your products or services. You have to identify each and every digital or physical touchpoint. as well as expected individual actions and reactions. From that perspective, the digital globalization age has raised the bar in terms of management complexity and transaction speed. Local customers have access to virtual marketplaces wherever they are in the world and whenever they want it. Moreover, they can choose from a variety of offerings in the most convenient fashion for them, knowing that alternative or competitive options may be just a few clicks away.

To stand out from the online crowd you have to pave the way to their decision and their purchase with a compelling and experience-driven value proposition from the moment they search for information to when they have completed a purchase. That is the name of the game to acquire and retain volatile customers across international markets. You have to walk in their shoes from a linguistic, cultural, and functional standpoint to catch their attention and keep them engaged at all times. Ensuring content effectiveness in every country is easier said than done. Yet there are some major best practices to bear in mind to avoid costly and irreversible faux pas. Let’s focus on some major phases of customer journeys to start setting a robust stage for smooth customer journeys internationally.

Information Stage — In the beginning, most customers are searching for specific products and services or basically trying to find out what is new and appealing on digital platforms and ecosystems. It is during this first step that you should reach out to them. It is also the first opportunity to leverage the winning combination of localization and content optimization for search engines and general accessibility. While SEO efforts enable you to make your content quickly findable and impactful, in-depth localization amplifies its immediate attractiveness. This applies to content that is published on a public site, an e-commerce platform or a handy application. 

For example, when you optimize a product description at the level of sentences or terms you need to make it appear quickly based on business issues or anticipated questions reflecting why customers should buy your product. On top of that, you must ensure that sentences or words are also meaningful in the customer language and according to his/her standards. So when your content is optimized in French or Spanish your team or supplier has to use the syntax, vocabulary, and terminology that customers are familiar with in Canada, France, Spain or Mexico to name just a few possibilities. Content analytics and local market insights definitely help you get there. Linguists and language analysts give the final effectiveness touch.

The Comparison Stage — Once local customers find your content they must be positively impressed, and keep this in mind as they are likely to compare your products with other ones. Localization comes in to play to help differentiate your content and make it truly memorable. These effectiveness criteria are equally important to make sure that local customers ask fewer questions or, even better, that they find answers in the localized content itself. Creative localization, hyper localization, and transcreation keep your content sticky, most of all when it is mostly narrative and descriptive. 

Benchmarking and analyzing content from global or local competitors according to your effectiveness indicators create key insights about how to increase the resonance of your localized content. For example, you can first look at e-commerce platforms in China to find out how products and services are positioned and highlighted for that market. The collected information can then become the baseline for your own localization efforts to go beyond usual storytelling or standard descriptions. It could also pinpoint where locally engaging content should be added to adopt a storyselling approach driven by writers and localizers. Special attention must be paid to localized and global branding components such as taglines, logos, and icons. On the one hand they must be embedded in local minds and memories to make a difference. On the other hand they have to remain in line with global messages and values you want to convey with your products. Therefore your localization experts or your in-country colleagues should assist you with the pros and cons —  and the scope — of adaptations. 

The Share Stage — Addressing this stage has grown in importance with the incremental amount of user-generated content on social media and other digital channels. Many local customers are now used to commenting on your products to ask for recommendations or rate your products directly. They are also eager to share digital assets with relatives and friends, ranging from pictures to videos and case studies. This means that your localized content should be portable and modular so that it can enhance user-generated content as needed. Effective localization needs to get the balance between global information and local relevance right for such assets. Localization teams sometimes have to make local content more shareable when source content is too massive or not appropriate. It may be a matter of removing and adding some content in addition to adapting it. For instance, it is sensible to remove bottles of wine in pictures of a kitchen for Middle East markets where the promotion of alcohol is prohibited. Otherwise, local customers may share your pictures with negative or destructive remarks. 

In the same vein, you have to emphasize some characteristics or features of a product which generate positive feelings. You can think about the description of a car highlighting primarily safety and robustness for German customers whereas it can put the laser focus on style and personalization for Italian customers. Here again, content analytics combined with local market insights guide you about preferences and dependencies that make content more or less locally shearable. 

Stay tuned for Part 2. Learn more from Bruno Herrmann during his workshop at the Digital Experience Conference