The Content Localization Gap
Bridging The Gulf Between Tech Buyer Expectations And Vendor Content
B2B buyers increasingly expect contextual content tailored to their unique circumstances, which means an ongoing challenge for B2B technology marketers is crafting engaging content that appeals to customers across different touchpoints.
However, most technology vendor content falls short of these expectations. In our recent study, 60% of buyers stated that vendors give them too much content, and most said the content they receive is useless. It’s clear that most vendor content is currently not tailored to the needs of buyers.
In Forrester Consulting’s 2018 study of over 600 global technology decision makers, 76% of respondents said that personalized content, tailored to their industry, role, and department, was “important” or “very important” for technology buying decisions. The rise of account-based marketing (ABM) highlights just some of firms’ major efforts to act on the imperative of personalization.
For firms with a global customer base, a critical aspect of this personalization challenge is producing content that appeals to numerous and varied geographical markets. In our study, 64% of technology buyers said they valued localized content — i.e., content tailored to their country or geography — when making technology purchases (see Figure 1). Yet only 26% of marketers prioritized improving content localization last year. Global technology vendors must have the right strategies in place for localization or risk alienating or underserving significant groups of prospects and customers.
This is no easy task. Translating all content for local markets might be perceived as an easy win, but this is a common pitfall that firms must avoid, as it rarely achieves desired objectives. Content designed for the home market or specific industries may translate poorly for other markets. By failing to address market-specific nuances in their content, brands may end up alienating regional audiences.
Effectively localized content can not only boost the top of the funnel, it can (and should) provide sales teams with additional fuel in the latter stages of the customer life cycle, as well as support channel partners. In our study, 61% of respondents stated that during the buying process, they value sales reps who can continue the conversation started with the company’s marketing messages and content.
To achieve effective content localization, technology marketers must:
- Localize strategically, not tactically. Localization is often a later-stage tactic of global content campaigns or, in some cases, an afterthought at the end of the campaign. This leads to poor results, since one-size-fits-all content is unlikely to support firms’ varied objectives and sales targets in different geographical markets. To avoid this, localization must be considered early in any content development strategy. This means shortlisting target markets for localized content at the conception stage of a global content campaign, as well as developing regionally nuanced campaigns that go beyond translation add-ons.
- Identify local market themes to shape messaging. Blanket messaging is another common pitfall when it comes to content plans. Content must focus on the hot topics and pain points in the specific region or country for it to appeal to buyers in different regions. Crafting messages that appeal to regional markets can only be done by first researching and understanding the thematic nuances in each market. For example, the differing pace of cloud adoption in the European and Asia Pacific markets means that firms in these regions will have very different points of interest and questions that cannot be answered through generic content on the cloud.
- Tailor to the local buyer journey. Content consumption habits are hugely varied across regions in terms of preferences in both formats and channels. For example, in our study, 60% of APAC respondents stated that they were very likely to engage with infographics, compared to a similar proportion in EMEA (58%) but much greater than in North America (47%) (see Figure 2). Tech vendors must not only understand the unique format preferences in different regions but also the most effective channels through which to distribute content.
- Strengthen cooperation between central and local marketing teams. An informed strategy is important, but success is ultimately determined by the quality of execution. A top-down approach, with central marketing teams delivering messaging and planning distribution, will suffer without the local market expertise and reach offered by regional marketers. Closer cooperation between central and local marketing teams in all stages of content development is therefore critical to effective localization. A starting point is creating cross-regional teams on content campaigns, and longer-term transformation can be achieved through redesigning team hierarchies and budgetary decision-making processes.
- Leverage expertise of content specialists. Local marketers who have worked up the ranks from direct marketing, product management, or sales might lack the specialist skills required to develop engaging content. This internal gap in skills does not have to hinder content localization efforts: Tech marketers should engage with trusted strategic partners that can bring a global reach of expertise and experience, as well as credibility that can be leveraged in their target markets.
The need to deliver personalized, localized content to prospects and customers is clear. By embedding localization at the core of content strategy, tech marketers can capture mindshare and market share at a local level.