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The tools, translation resources, and technologies are out there to make it fast and easy for everyone, from SMEs to Fortune 500s, to monetize global markets.

And yet, only 48 percent of the Fortune 500 have translated their websites out of English, and spend less than one percent of their R&D budget on localization, says Stewart Rogers, director of marketing technology at VentureBeat.

The market is out there, Rogers says. The support is out there. It all comes down to doing it well, and doing it right.

That’s why we brought together expert panelists Pam Webber, CMO of 99 Designs, and Diego Lomanto, CMO of Talent, Inc., to talk about the essential steps marketing pros need to take to build an international message — and ways to avoid disaster.

Here are some of the most important points they touched on.

Language: Beyond translation

Research shows that 70 percent of Internet users aren’t native English speakers. But more importantly, 75 percent of Internet users don’t make important purchasing decisions unless the product description is in a language that they speak.

It goes far beyond running your web page through Google Translate and calling it a day.

“Most of the time, we spend a lot of our thinking in terms of going global and localizing on the big questions — the product names, the markets we’re going after — trying to avoid huge mistakes,” Lomanto says. “If you don’t use the right terms, the right phrases, if you’re using the wrong colors, if you’re using something that doesn’t just resonate and click, you’re going to kill your conversion rates.”

Your message has to look, feel, and sound like the market you’re going to — otherwise it’ll feel like an interloper coming in and trying to sell something that isn’t meant for them.

But it’s the smallest pieces of the puzzle that can trip you up. “Getting the nuances in regard to how your customers speak and how to market to your customers is really crucial here,” he notes. It’s not just the dialects, language, and the words; it’s the cultural understanding as well.

“It’s hard to make a connection with a customer when you’re not even speaking their language,” Webber says — understanding not just what they’re saying, but why they’re saying it, and why particular messages resonate, and why some images can’t or won’t.

And while you may not necessarily anger or turn off potential customers, you just may not be connecting with them enough for them to want to transact with you.

“It may not even be apparent to them what’s wrong,” Lomanto says, “but they’ll feel it’s wrong.”

Local talent is essential

“If you are committed to making an impact in a market in which you aren’t a native speaker, or you or anyone on staff doesn’t have a good amount of that cultural background,” Webber says, “having a local expert is very, very important in order to get it right.”

It comes down to preparation, Rogers says. It’s about building the right relationships to support this. Sometimes that means building your own relationships with people that are local.

“You’ve got to have people who know how to get on the phone, write emails, get on LinkedIn and find people who are in other parts of the world,” Rogers says. “Get someone who is talented and knows how to make connections with people. It’s business development. Partner with localized entities that know the consumer and their buying intentions and motivations.”

Pulling it all together: Optimization as the secret weapon

As Rogers notes, VB Insight research shows that across 3000+ conversion optimization tool users, the average ROI is over 220 percent.

“It works. It’s a great tool, a great way to increase business,” he emphasizes. So ensuring conversion optimization tools are in place to understand whether local campaigns are resonating is essential.

Webb agrees. “Be mindful of your value proposition in a market, how it may be different, and how you may need to adjust the marketing techniques that you use in order to effectively address that market,” she says. “That can be a lot of work, and it can be resource-intensive. Resources are a challenge and you have to make the right decisions — but you have to optimize against the market.”

For more crucial details on how to do localization right, from technology tips to personalization essentials, access the webinar on demand.

Access the webinar for free right here.

In this webinar, you’ll learn how to:

  • Think globally when creating campaigns
  • Find partners or acquisition targets in other nations
  • Increase sales, customer engagement, and brand loyalty through translation and localization
  • Gather, use, and analyze the right global metrics
  • Use localized storytelling to create regional brand ambassadors


Stewart Rogers, Director of marketing technology, VentureBeat
Pam Webber, CMO, 99 Designs
Diego Lomanto, CMO, Talent Inc.


Wendy Schuchart, Analyst, VentureBeat