Answering what impact language internationalization will have on revenue isn’t a simple mathematical formula–much of that will depend on the approach you take going in. Strictly focusing on revenue could result in you underestimating the scope of the project.
Effective internationalization is a tactical strategy that consists of far more than simply translating content and waiting to measure its impact. With an incremental approach and the right partners, language internationalization can exponentially increase revenue.
The Difference Between Language Internationalization and Localization
Language internationalization could open up an entirely new market for your product–the keyword being “could.” The process is very complex, and many underestimate the level of effort required and confuse it with localization. While there is some overlap, it’s a much bigger task than most think.
Internationalization is an overarching strategy that you use to enter new markets. It requires research, experimentation, and a plan that allows you to learn and iterate over time. This process isn’t a single market approach, nor does it target one specific component. It’s about making your entire ecosystem of content and offerings continue to work as you expand. It’s also an ongoing strategy, as it needs to incorporate maintenance and continuous updates as your content grows.
Localization is the boots-on-the-ground approach to a specific market. It covers how you will address your content ecosystem and make your product ready for a chosen region. It’s simply a smaller branch that stems from your internationalization strategy. As a result, if your overarching program is not established, the localization process will struggle as well.
We’ve seen instances where neither of these key components was addressed. A company simply identified a new target market, printed off all their content as an XML file, sent it off for translation, reuploaded it to WordPress, and waited for the sales to roll in.
But those sales never came because the chosen process didn’t speak to the new consumer market, nor did it target the right audiences. If you’re going to succeed with internationalization, you need to start with a tactical strategy that helps you manage costs.
Maximizing Revenue in the Internationalization Process
Internationalization can be a considerable revenue driver but can have high upfront costs. Without realistic expectations of expenditures, the ROI will suffer. It’s similar to opening a business in the US where you need to look at your audience, their needs, and the reactions you receive to your content. You’ll also have to evaluate the impact on your SEO, how you’ll approach A/B testing, and the overall marketing strategy.
When it comes to budget, you should use your existing US expenditures as a guide. For example, if you need a marketing person, look up the cost of an entry-level one in the US and then convert it to the currency of potential markets. Make that a line item in your budget for internationalization. The key is not to oversimplify the costs, otherwise you’ll face scope creep that will cut into your ROI.
An incremental approach built on a process established by someone with robust internationalization services is best. They can help you develop your translation strategy and then slowly begin to roll out to one market at a time. Keep track of the updates needed and the reactions from your consumer base so you have the flexibility to change course if a plan isn’t working. It’s a method of iterating, learning, and redeveloping that will help guide your strategy. Over time, this process will become much easier as you’ve worked out the issues in early market rollouts and have discovered the best methods to use going forward.
Technology will be important in this process and leveraging a localization management platform that combines workflow management with business analytics software can be invaluable. It should integrate with your content management system so you can easily track your results. Ideally, you want a program to provide the data and empirical evidence you need to make better business decisions later. Granular level reporting is imperative here because you could compare the readership and response on owner manuals in Japan to something completely unrelated, like a marketing page on a Spanish website. Through this comparison, you may find that you’re spending too much money translating technical content with low readership when you could instead focus on an area with greater opportunity.
Above all, language internationalization needs to be scalable. As you grow into new markets, you can correct course as needed and control your overall spending. With a measured, flexible approach, you can monitor the ROI and reconsider your methods when it becomes negative. It’s plans like these that make language internationalization an excellent driver of revenue.