Engulfed by an endless extent of content, global marketing teams are under pressure. They need to deliver on-brand content at speed and scale across more channels than ever before: Website copy, product listings, eBooks, paid ads, whitepapers, videos, and more.
And it doesn’t stop there: International brands must also adapt their marketing materials for foreign markets — across multiple languages and more target audiences — all without forfeiting turnaround times or the quality needed to convert customers.
To explore the balancing act facing marketing teams, we conducted a survey of more than 1,600 global marketers across eight countries to understand how they mastered the challenges of localizing content across different markets as their brand scales globally.
Key topics and trends we explored are:
- How do they keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for multilingual content across more and more channels?
- Can they get their content out to international markets fast enough?
- Are they getting the right quality to convert users?
- Are their processes and technologies set up to scale into additional languages and new markets?
- Is their investment in localization paying off, and what is the impact on the wider business goals
Our survey uncovered six pivotal trends about the future of content localization:
- Marketers are investing in translation and localization
- Marketers are embracing Machine Translation, and it’s delivering the quality they need
- Translation quality is the number one challenge for marketers
- Highly manual localization processes are affecting quality for marketers
- Localization is driving revenue growth and other business goals
- Companies in the early stages of Language Operations are seeing higher quality
Discover fresh global trends in marketing localization:
Download the full Global Trends in Marketing Localization 2023 Report
Here’s a sneak peek of two key trends from the survey.
N = 1,668
We surveyed marketers who are already translating content into a minimum of three languages, and from a wide range of marketing disciplines, including Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Brand and Creative, Social Media Demand Gen, Email, ABM, Field and PR & Communications.
These marketers work for organizations with at least 300 employees, and are spread across different levels of seniority, but a huge number share a strategic view across the business, notably C-Level (17%), Senior Manager / Leadership (22%), and Founder / Owner (8%).
Trend 1 defines Global Marketers’ localization strategy investment
It’s the right time to develop a Global Marketing Strategy: Unbabel discovered that 84% of respondents say that localizing content has had a moderately positive or extremely positive impact on revenue growth.
Now language is meeting business goals, it’s not surprising that global marketers are ramping up their localization efforts and investing in translating content into local languages for their target markets: 89% said they are planning on translating into additional languages within the next year, 13% of which plan to translate into nine or more.
Global marketing teams are letting their budgets do the talking — they’re investing in their localized marketing strategy: 75% of participants say their translation spend has been trending upwards or is roughly stable. Many are directing their localization services to top of the funnel (ToFu), brand awareness content such as paid ads (46%), email (41%), blogs, eBooks, landing pages / microsites (27%), and white papers (42%).
“Don’t approach localization as a one-off. Have a strategy for which markets require localization, and which elements are to be localized and then budget and plan accordingly.”
– Survey participant
Notably, localizing search engine optimization is also trending, and for a good reason. If you’re spending time and effort localizing your marketing materials, you need to localize your SEO so potential customers can find them. With this in mind, 41% say they’re localizing their SEO for all of their markets, while another 40% are localizing SEO for some markets they serve.
Localized marketing doesn’t end there, many are also adapting their imagery (48%), specific brand terminology (47%), and brand tone of voice (36%) for target markets.
The link between global marketers’ localization efforts and ROI is great for their global audiences and the top line. Global marketing teams are jumping on the gravy train and are embracing marketing translation and other localization projects for an increasing number of target languages, across various content channels and different markets.
But localization challenges only grow as they accelerate their marketing efforts and international growth as they scale. How are global marketers adapting their localization strategies to overcome these challenges?
Trend 2 unpacks Machine Translation and its output quality
Previously, global marketers may have used Machine Translation (MT) for its cost and time savings, yet those two benefits often came at the loss of quality of the MT content.
Undoubtedly, quality is key for any content which needs to convert customers, while meeting brand tone of voice and style guidelines. Our survey uncovers a major shift towards marketers adopting MT as part of their localization strategy, and that it’s delivering the quality they need. Why? Well, it’s likely due to:
- The monumental improvements in the quality of MT output
- The demand for translation and localization at scale to meet the brands’ international growth
39% of marketers said they are using Machine Translation as part of their localization strategy, 83% of which are confident in the quality of their translations.
The rise in quality, plus its speed and scale, explains MT’s growing popularity: Over the past five years, the Machine Translation global market has increased from a $450 million market in 2017 to a $1.1 billion market in 2022. This 124% overall increase grew steadily with a steady year-on-year increase.
This rise in MT adoption is found across organizations, small companies and large enterprises alike are leaning into MT. The percentage of companies using MT is distributed evenly across all organization sizes:
- 301-500 employees (38%)
- 501-1,000 employees (37%)
- 1,001-5,000 (41%)
- 5,000+ (40%)
However, our survey revealed that certain industries are adopting MT more than others: 49% of the manufacturing industry are harnessing the power of Machine Translation for their highly technical content. Close behind at 47%, the Software / Technology / Electronics and Retail (39%) industries are employing MT’s scalability to keep up with their high growth, diverse marketing campaigns, and consumer demands.
“The best thing you can do is make sure you have the right processes and tools for the job.”
– Survey participant
Localized marketing: More trends, challenges, and solutions
If diamonds are created under pressure, global marketing teams will soon be sparkling.
Global brands must deliver premium customer experiences in their native languages to compete in international markets. But it’s typically left to marketers to lead the advance on localization and translation management, adapting their brand for cultural differences and local audiences.
As the business scales across new markets, marketers are left scratching their heads: How do they deliver multilingual content at the right quality to convert customers across all their channels?
Luckily, the global marketers we surveyed have done a lot of the legwork for you in finding successful solutions.
Hear about their learnings and successes, read more pivotal trends, and discover the three pillars to scalable, quality multilingual customer experiences in our report, Global Trends in Marketing Localization 2023.