Localizing Content For B2B Brands
Think Global — Act Local
Ad buys on a global scale presents interesting opportunities and challenges for many of our brand partners. While many understand the importance of scaling their business outside of U.S. markets, it isn’t as easy as tossing your Google Ads copy into Google Translate and switching language targeting settings. Content and context are important criteria that marketers must keep in mind while building global media plans, and nowhere is this more relevant than the B2B space.
The shift to global advertising has been apparent for years. In fact, global ad spend was up 7.2% in 2018 according to Magna Advertising Forecasts, and countries like China, Russia, and India saw over a 12% increase in investment year over year. While brands are testing the waters and expanding their audiences, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t always work.
Just as dialects, cultures, and behaviors differ in regions outside of the U.S., business cultures can differ significantly depending on the region you are in. Tailoring your content to match a country or region’s native language may not be enough to pique your audience’s attention. Consider communication norms. For example, according to Business Insider, most European countries prefer a more direct form of communication (sometimes to the point of bluntness) while audiences in most APAC countries prefer indirect communication to help preserve relationships.
As B2B brands expand their presence from their local or regional markets, media buys become more complex and nuanced. B2B brands that are able to tailor their advertising to different sales regions can see sizable increases in cost efficiency.
I recently ran a campaign for a global tech company whose team wanted to test native localized content to see if better results could be gained by providing potential leads in Germany with content in their native language. Upon launch, we noticed softness in campaign results and were puzzled as to why we were seeing such low performance. After some digging, the team determined that while the ad copy and landing page had been translated, the form field that was collecting valuable lead information had not shifted to German. After adjusting language settings on the form fields, the team saw a 40% increase in conversions.
While translating assets can be helpful, cultural barriers are important to keep in mind when planning your campaigns. For example, while the U.S. and most western European countries use LinkedIn as their primary social platform for business knowledge sharing, business professionals in Germany primarily use Xing for this type of communication. Diversifying your media plans by including preferred regional advertising platforms can help you reach audiences that may not demonstrate the same behavior as clients closer to your brand’s HQ.
A one size fits all approach can also prove problematic while attempting to follow regulations that differ from region to region. While the United States generally practices a lax policy when it comes to data privacy, countries following GDPR guidelines will have more stringent regulations surrounding disclosure and consent as it pertains to digital media. Even at the country level, changes can exist within certain subsets of the region.
For example, CCPA regulations now require advertisers to adjust their approach for reaching users in California differently than they would elsewhere in the United States. Understanding how regulations differ between the regions you are advertising in will help keep your brand out of some hot water that can come with not complying.
There are many factors that go into building content for a global B2B strategy, but here are a few things to consider before you begin localizing your content strategy:
Start with your budgets in mind: If you have small budgets to work with, try small tests and measure your efforts incrementally over time.
Keep sales teams bandwidth in mind: It may be helpful to boost lead volume by tailoring your content natively in France, but if your team only has one SDR for the whole southern Europe region, that workload can become too much for one person to handle.
Consider your branding and brand tone of voice: Managing your brand presence globally can be daunting so consistency is key. A winning global advertising strategy balances adaptation to the needs of different markets and sales regions without sacrificing a brand’s image.
Turnaround times: Timelines for building native content are often longer than creating advertising material in your native country. Allow optimal time in your media plan for translation and strategizing local content topics.
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Combined with these best practices and a greater understanding of the specific region you want to target, your B2B company is sure to see phenomenal success outside your local markets.