Support Local! 5 Reasons Your Small Business Should Localize Its Website

May 17, 2023

Attracting new customers is vital to the growth of your small business. To appeal to these potential clients, you need a frictionless experience that will draw them in and keep them coming back. This process gets easier with a localized website.

Creating content designed specifically for your target markets will improve your ability to find and keep customers. You'll grow your reach and boost your revenues. However, this strategy also comes with costs and challenges.

As such, it's important to understand the details involved in localization efforts. In this article, you'll learn the basics involved in this endeavor and get the information you need to decide whether website localization is a good fit for your startup.

What is website localization?

Business has become increasingly globalized. Even smaller organizations can easily expand their reach to customers overseas. Meanwhile, targeting markets even within the U.S. becomes a smoother experience when you can connect more directly with distinct communities.

Website localization allows this to happen. The process involves translating your content for a local audience. This way, you build a closer relationship with your target market by communicating directly with them.

However, localization goes beyond merely switching languages. The goal is to reformulate your approach to fit your chosen market. This includes optimizing each of the following:

  • Language
  • Formatting
  • Design
  • Culture

What are the benefits of website localization?

With growing internet access and the democratization of global commerce, the overall market has become more diverse. For instance, in 2001, a business only needed to master 13 languages to reach 90% of worldwide customers. Now, that figure has grown to nearly 48.

At the same time, global competition is no longer just the domain of large conglomerates. One study from USForex found that more than half of small businesses (58%) have international customers. That stat points to the fact that your startup can become an important player outside your home market.

Meanwhile, localization doesn't just help when approaching an international clientele. It can also help when approaching regional markets or targeting specific communities.

For instance, one data set indicated that more than 67 million Americans speak a language other than English at home. That includes 44% of California and a majority of the residents of Los Angeles. Localization can help when approaching these lucrative markets as well.

With these figures in mind, here are some of the benefits you can receive by following a localization strategy:

Expand your reach

Website localization lets you broaden your appeal. This puts you in contact with potential customers who would have been lost to you otherwise. At the same time, you have the tools necessary to make a closer connection to this expanded population.

Improve engagement

Building a connection with customers gets easier with a localized website. You'll encourage more communication by operating in your audience's first language and in their cultural context. As a result, you'll see an increase in engagement, which should result in improved sales conversion rates.

Building a connection with customers gets easier with a localized website. You'll encourage more communication by operating in your audience's first language and in their cultural context.

Enhance your brand

When you think of McDonald's, you probably think of hamburgers — two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, etc. Except ... that's not what you'll find in India. McDonald's locations in the country (all 160 of them) don't serve beef. That's because about 80% of India's population is Hindu — a religion that views cows as sacred.

That's an example of localizing a brand. After all, a brand is all about connecting with potential customers. This gets easier when the elements of your presentation closely match the expectations of your intended audience. Localization makes this possible.

Take advantage of SEO benefits

Appear higher in searches conducted by your target audience. By fine-tuning your content to these local markets, you'll match search terms better. This will increase visibility and let potential customers find your offerings.

Increase sales

The factors listed above have a multiplying effect. They converge on your P/L statements as improved revenue. One expert from consumer products company, VF, estimated that localization can often increase sales by 40%-50% in those areas. While your results will depend on particular circumstances, the process has significant potential to boost your growth prospects.

One expert from consumer products company, VF, estimated that localization can often increase sales by 40%-50% in those areas.

How to localize your website

Localization comes in multiple forms. You can take a limited approach by developing microsites. These presentations act as offshoots of your current content. They provide some information in a localized form, but only the basic elements.

This strategy has the benefit of providing a more controlled entry into the localization strategy. You can receive some of the benefits with less cost and less commitment. However, your connection to the market is more constrained, leading to reduced potential upside.

Microsites make sense for smaller local markets or for an early entry into the process. You can learn from these experiments and start building the infrastructure necessary for a more intense effort.

To fully connect with a local market, you need to move further. This involves complete website localization. In this process, you will translate a wider selection (if not all) of the elements and functions of your online presence.

Here are some of the steps required to create your localization strategy:

  • Define your localization strategy: This step involves researching your options and developing a detailed plan.
  • Understand your target market: Take a deep dive into your chosen region, learning everything you can and drawing from the expertise of knowledgeable partners.
  • Analyze the content to be localized: Figure out which elements of your website require localization and make a plan to translate them.
  • Translate and localize content: Here, you'll implement the process of preparing the new website, creating translated versions of selected items and new content directed towards your local market.
  • Double check your final product: QA represents an important step in the process. Have expert contributors go over every aspect of the localized content to make sure there are no errors or misunderstandings.
  • Make your localized website live: Don't ignore the technical aspects of your new website. This includes considerations like SEO. Optimize aspects like your URLs and provide the best user experience possible.

Tips for effective localization

Now you've seen the basic process involved in localization. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind that will help you get the most out of your investment. Here are some tips to maximize the value of your localization effort:

Choose your markets carefully

Website localization requires a significant investment. As a result, you want to research the situation prior to making a final decision. Learn as much as possible about your potential markets and make sure that the ROI for the endeavor makes sense for your small business.

Find knowledgeable partners

Your efforts will be helped by a deep understanding of your target market. You might have that knowledge in-house already. However, if you don't, it's important to find partners with a close connection to your desired audience. You can get this through third-party providers or through contract and freelance contributors.

Don't forget multimedia elements

Translation shouldn't stop at the text on your website. Look at the other elements you display as well. Do your images, branding, and videos speak to the local market as well? If not, take steps to update these too.

This process should include ancillary elements as well. Consider setting up a social media presence in the local market as well. This will further drive engagement and provide an even closer connection with your target audience.

Include cultural elements

Look to make a cultural match as well. This includes topics like taking time zones and holidays into account. As you deliver new content to your website, ensure that it matches the schedules and expectations of your intended audience.

Have an ongoing content strategy

Your new localized website will need to stay current. This involves updating as you add products or change pricing. At the same time, you might want to consider other regular updates, like blog posts or social media tie-ins.

Track performance and make updates

Your localized website will provide a great source of data. Use this information to fine-tune your offerings. Stay responsive to the local market and update your website as necessary.

Branch out with a localized website

Localizing your website can lead to significant benefits. It can help you increase sales, boost customer engagement, and improve your SEO. Ultimately, this will broaden your customer base and lead to higher revenue.

However, getting the most out of these efforts requires a thoughtful process and a dedicated effort. You'll need a well-consider plan and sufficient investment to maximize the value of your localized website. Use the information provided here to help get you started.