Don’t Just Personalize Customer Experiences, Localize Them

Aug 04, 2015 11:07 AM  By

Every brand knows that broad, blanketed marketing messages are no longer effective. Personalized customer experience is becoming more vital than ever to an organization’s success, yet only 1% of businesses are providing excellent customer experiences according to Forrester’s latest report on the topic. While marketers understand the importance of personalization, many still continue to miss the mark.

Traditional marketing campaigns are no longer relevant to consumers who expect content to be tailored for their unique preferences, wants and needs. For marketers, this means they must personalize every customer interaction to enhance its chances of success. Success, in this case, is customers’ commitment and loyalty to the brand – their interest, engagement and ultimately their wallets. Achieving this requires a careful balance over time with the right type and amount of communication to avoid coming off as “spammy.” To personalize experiences, brands must go beyond basic relevance, such as knowing the consumers’ gender, age and location.

Understand the Importance of Dialect

With global organizations’ customer bases becoming increasingly diverse, it’s important to keep language and culture in mind. Just because a customer lives in a certain area doesn’t necessarily mean that person speaks the local language. For example, the Hispanic market is the fastest-growing consumer group in the U.S., but content that is written in Spanish won’t always resonate with the Hispanic market. With social media being an increasingly prominent channel for consumer engagement, the role of language and translation is important here as well. Facebook, for example, provides the option for ads targeted at U.S. Hispanics to be either Spanish-dominant, bilingual or English-dominant. The social platform understands this need, as 66%  of the Hispanic population wants to see culturally relevant content.

Earlier this year, Target even launched an advertising campaign specifically focusing on the words and phrases in Spanish that have no real English translation. With this, the retailer demonstrated the complexity of proper language translation and the difficulty that exists to ensure accurate content across languages and cultures.

Don’t Downplay Cultural Nuances

Speaking of culture, although a phrase may be translated into the correct language, there are still countless cultural nuances to consider. For example, Black Friday – arguably the biggest day in retail in the U.S. – would have zero impact to an audience in Western Europe. As millions of Americans wait in endless lines to score the best deals the day after Thanksgiving, content and advertising campaigns would be wasted in other countries, as Black Friday isn’t widely adopted. Cultural nuances can of course take the form of various phrases that can mean something positive in one country and something negative in another, such as the slang word “sick.”  Understanding that culture and language don’t always equate to the same thing is the first step to ensuring an audience’s needs are being properly understood and met.

Consider Industry-Specific Phrases and Jargon

To further personalize communications, brands must also take into account industry-specific language.  Take for example the term investigator. To most people, a detective is what comes to mind. However, in the life sciences industry, this would refer to a clinical trials investigator, which is of course something entirely different. Each industry has its own unique phrases and without the right translation experts who have deep domain knowledge, tools for controlling terminology consistently and industry specific machine translation engines, these industry-specific phrases could be completely mis-communicated. The same goes for jargon, such as millennial phrases like “FOMO” (fear of missing out). If brands are looking to engage with a specific industry or age market, the accuracy of the message depends on accurate and personalized translations.

To properly engage the right demographic in the right way, it’s important to ensure that language and cultural needs are effectively met. With consumer interactions varying across web content, mobile apps, emails, live customer support chats and more, each communication will require a different level of translation. For this reason, brands must be armed with the right tools and be flexible in how they translate each individual message for each channel, industry and audience. While there are an abundance of contextual clues customers leave behind for brands to collect – including IP address, name and shopping habits – language, location and culture should be added to the list to further personalize each experience. Before earning a customer’s loyalty, organizations must go back to basics. By getting these preferences right, marketers can prove that they know their audience and are listening. It’s one critical piece to the brand commitment puzzle.

Kirsty Waller is the VP of Marketing and Language Solutions for SDL