Are you thinking of ways to reach your target audience effectively? One of the things you can do is to localize your content. If you haven’t applied this strategy yet, you’re missing out on many good opportunities. But first, what is content localization, and when should you apply it?
By definition, it's the process of adapting your product or content to a specific audience. The very first application of localization dates back to the 1980s when Sun Microsystems, an American company that sold computers and software, ventured into Asia and Australia. They did it by hiring in-house teams of language engineers and translators who built international support into their products.
As you can see, this concept isn’t new at all. But if you were to look at websites these days, you can tell many marketers haven’t applied it to their content marketing strategy yet. Why? Because some marketers assume that a blog in the native language will not attract advertisers.
Ikhwan Nazri, CEO of Amanz Media, shared that the type of language used became one of their challenges. During the first two years, they struggled to find advertisers because they delivered their content in the Malay language. But they remained true to their mission, which is “to make the information available to everyone in a language that they are familiar with.”
They pressed hard and were able to significantly grow their traffic to their client’s needs. “When your traffic is big enough, or enticing enough, you will be on the client’s radar,” he said. And that is regardless of whether your blog is in English or not.
When you’re tapping into the Malaysian market, like what Amanz Media did, knowing how to speak the local language is one of the best ways to reach your audience.
1. Localization and User Engagement
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees localization as the ultimate form of personalization. He believes the secret to increasing user engagement goes beyond communicating in a language your target audience can understand. It involves using references relevant to their cultures, such as music, images, and popular social networks.
More than increasing engagement, localization comes with a few more benefits, such as expanding your market and giving your brand an edge.
Can localized content really outperform English ones? Yes. In today’s digital age, more and more consumers are seeking out brands that localize their content. A research done by Appia revealed 86% of localized campaigns did better than English campaigns. They achieved it not just in terms of conversion rate but also in click-through rate and the number of times the link was viewed.
The question is, how are you going to apply it in your content marketing strategy? Here’s how to create engaging content for your target audience with localization in mind:
2. Choose the right language
The majority of Malaysian blogs are written in English. Malaysians speak good English, so you will not have a problem communicating your message with them. Malaysia ranked 30th out of 100 countries in the 2020 EF English Proficiency Index, making them one of the few Asian countries with high proficiency in English.
Image Source: EF English Proficiency Index
But if you’re starting a blog, that does not mean you should put all your efforts into writing English content for Malaysians. In fact, many Malaysian bloggers choose to write in their mother tongue instead of the universal language.
Check out Nisa Kay, Faizal Fredley, and Ariff Shah. Their blog posts are in the Malay language. The same goes for Sensasi Selebrity, Bubbly Notes, and Red Mummy’s blogs. These websites are some of the top blogs in Malaysia. All of them already have thousands of followers on social media.
When you have a blog in Malay, it does not mean it will be challenging to get followers. On the other hand, if you have a blog in English, it’s not guaranteed to automatically attract advertisers. English may be the default language of the web, but it’s not always the best choice for every blog.
3. Know about cultural relevance
Like what Zuckerberg said, localization is more than just rendering English words into the Malay equivalent. Localization for Malaysian customers will be a lot more comprehensive than translating because it involves knowing more about their diverse culture.
In marketing, we often focus on getting the audience’s demographics - their age, race, gender, ethnicity, and education, among others. But one thing that often gets left out is how the information we have is going to be relevant to our audience’s culture.
Malaysia’s culture is dominated by religion so expect that it’s going to be different from European countries. For example, handshaking is an appropriate form of greeting in North America and Europe, but in an Islamic country like Malaysia, shaking hands will be more common among men than between men and women. This is based on their belief that physical contact is not allowed between opposite sexes except between spouses and close family members.
It’s just one of the few things you may want to know about Malaysia. You can learn more about Malaysian traditions and values by researching online. But the best way to get to know more about their culture is to experience Malaysia firsthand. It allows you to discover what the locals do in their everyday lives, the stories they have to tell, and their beliefs.
4. Team up with local translation experts
A good example of this is when Shutterstock published their annual creative report in 20 languages. They worked with internal reviewers to ensure the outsourced translations will be easy to understand for their target audience and in line with their brand voice.
And just like what Shutterstock did, you can consult with local translation experts to make sure your articles do not sound too technical, as if a robot wrote them. An expert in the Malaysian language gives your blog post a human touch and a sense of authenticity.
In Malaysia, there are several local translation companies that can help you translate your website content into the Malay language. When looking for translators, it’s important to look for a native Malaysian speaker who’s also proficient in the English language. This is to ensure that the translated document will be accurate and sound consistent with your brand’s voice.
Localization, when done right, can be your best tool to reach the right audience. If you’re struggling to get more engagement from your English content for Malaysians, this may be the right time to apply it.
To be able to use it in your content marketing strategy, consider getting the help of expert linguists and local copywriters.