How to create a successful localization strategy

How to create a successful localization strategy

Localization strategies help your brand transcend geographic, linguistic, and cultural barriers to appeal to specific local markets.

How to create a successful localization strategy

Localization strategies help your brand transcend geographic, linguistic, and cultural barriers to appeal to specific local markets.

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Webflow Team
Webflow Team
Webflow Team
Webflow Team

Tailor your website for global markets with localization strategies that adapt to different languages, cultures, and markets.

Expanding your business into new geographical areas presents an opportunity to connect with diverse audiences. Each of these markets comes with its own set of cultural nuances, and grasping these subtleties is crucial for global expansion. A localization strategy helps you achieve this, enabling you to navigate these cultural landscapes effectively.

Localization goes beyond mere translation — it’s about adapting your digital presence to align with the cultural nuances, preferences, and expectations of different markets, ensuring your global brand resonates on a personal level. This approach transforms your website into a globally welcoming space, inviting and engaging new audiences around the world while retaining your brand’s essence.

Differences between localization, internationalization, and translation

Before we dive into what defines localization, we’ll have to look at the closely related processes of internationalization and translation. All three of these processes, taken together, contribute to a successful globalization strategy that empowers your business to transcend geographical and cultural boundaries.

Let’s delve into these strategies, examining their differences and synergies in delivering content effectively to users — no matter where they are.

Internationalization (i18n)

Internationalization is a crucial preparatory step in making your website adaptable for various global markets. It involves creating a “primary” version of your site to simplify translating for different languages, serving up different content depending on location, and displaying text in different directions depending on the language.

At its core, internationalization is about creating a flexible website architecture that can accommodate multiple languages, setting up distinct URL structures for each regional site version, and translating legal texts as required by different regions. It also involves incorporating multilingual search engine optimization (SEO) practices to ensure your site ranks well in different countries and selecting a content management system (CMS) capable of handling various regional requirements.

Internationalization aims to create a versatile blueprint for your website that seamlessly adapts different languages, date formats, currencies, and region-specific content. For example, if you’re planning different greetings for each regional site, internationalization means using a placeholder such as {{greeting}} in your site template, which you can dynamically replace with region-specific greetings like “Welcome!” for English-speaking audiences or “Selamat datang” for Indonesian visitors.

Localization (l10n)

Localization involves adapting your website or digital content to meet the specific cultural and regional preferences of different markets. While translation is a key component, localization goes much deeper than simply converting text from one language to another — it includes aligning visuals, product information, and overall brand messaging to reflect the unique cultural nuances of each locale. For example, you might adjust your website’s images and color schemes to align with local aesthetics or modify the layout to accommodate languages that have higher character counts.

A practical example of localization in action is a consulting firm that offers financial advisory services. In countries with differing fiscal year-end dates, the firm can tailor its homepage to highlight tax preparation services ahead of the local tax season. In the United States, emphasizing such services would be most relevant from January–April, aligning with the U.S. tax filing period. If your website targets customers in Australia, where the fiscal year ends on June 30th, promoting services would be more effective around May–July.


Translation is pivotal in the broader scope of internationalization and localization, making content linguistically and culturally appropriate for diverse audiences. Here’s how it integrates with these processes:

  • Internationalization. In this context, translation involves converting basic elements like legal text, disclaimers, and product descriptions into different languages, ensuring it complies with regional linguistic standards and legal regulations.
  • Localization. Within localization, translation extends beyond word-for-word conversion — it dives into cultural nuances, idiomatic expressions, and local contexts to create content that resonates with regional audiences. For example, a marketing slogan may be clever and catchy in English but might lose its impact or even become offensive when directly translated into another language. 

Why localization matters for global businesses

Localization in business adapts digital content, brand visuals, and product offerings to suit diverse audiences, making brands globally and locally appealing. Key benefits of localization include: 

  • Facilitating market entry. A localization business strategy tailors the customer experience to align with local customs, helping businesses enter and thrive in new markets. For example, a software company might offer special discounts during local festivals or holidays, directly appealing to the regional audience. 
  • Improving user engagement. Localization increases user engagement by providing high-quality, relevant content tailored to regional customers’ needs and pain points. Research indicates that localized content receives 12 times more engagement, demonstrating the impact of using local currencies, date formats, and cultural references. This approach reduces friction for users, encouraging them to explore your website more thoroughly and engage more deeply with your brand.
  • Boosting conversion rates and return on investment (ROI). By aligning product promotions with local events, weather patterns, and cultural preferences, localization strategies help businesses achieve a stronger connection with potential customers, leading to increased sales and a higher ROI.
  • Ensuring legal compliance. A robust localization strategy ensures local data privacy, consumer rights, and compliance with marketing standards. Doing so mitigates legal risks and builds trust with the local audience, demonstrating respect and adherence to their regulatory environments.
Unlock worldwide scale

Learn how Webflow Localization can help you customize your site for a global audience and drive business growth in this free webinar.

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Unlock worldwide scale

Learn how Webflow Localization can help you customize your site for a global audience and drive business growth in this free webinar.

Watch now
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When should you create a localization strategy?

Creating a global localization strategy is a big decision, requiring a comprehensive assessment of your business’s readiness and objectives. Here’s what you need to consider.

Where and why are you expanding?

Clearly define the regions or markets you intend to target and articulate the purpose behind your expansion. This might be tapping into emerging markets or consolidating your presence in existing ones. Either way, a clear understanding of your expansion goals sets the foundation for an effective localization strategy because it directs subsequent decisions and resource allocations.

For instance, if you’re expanding into Southeast Asia (SEA) to penetrate a burgeoning market, keep this purpose in mind to align localization efforts to your larger business goals as you allocate resources, decide on translation tactics, and set the stage for marketing campaigns.

Who is your target market?

You’ll need to identify your target audience to figure out how to tailor your content to resonate with them authentically. You’ll want to consider demographics, cultural nuances, and linguistic preferences.

Returning to the previous example, let’s say your website promotes health and wellness services that resonate with SEA customers for varied reasons. For instance, your market research shows that Indonesian customers appreciate wellness practices that align with religious beliefs, such as yoga and meditation sessions designed to fit local cultural norms. On the other hand, the emphasis in Vietnam might be on outdoor fitness activities that offer increased sun protection.

Understanding where you’re expanding and what appeals to each market guides further decisions, like which languages to prioritize, how to allocate your image resources, and how to direct further market research.

What's the scope of your work?

Clearly define the scope of your localization efforts so you can figure out what resources to allocate and align all team members to a focused, strategic approach. This includes determining what elements of your business need localization — whether it's your website, marketing materials, product information, legal terms, or FAQs. 

If you’re bringing your North American website into international markets like Australia or the Middle East, for example, you likely won’t need to do much translation to adapt to the local culture for the Australian site, though you may need to consider local climate patterns. At the same time, you may need to allocate cultural translation and sensitivity resources for your Middle Eastern site. Understanding your scope helps you allocate your resources where they’re most needed.

Five steps to kickstart localizing your website

Implementing localization isn’t just a technical process for your developers and engineers. You’ll need a thorough understanding of the market and build a specific project plan before you translate a single word.

Check out these five crucial steps for effective website localization.

1. Conduct market research

Begin by gaining deep insights into your target market and understanding the cultural differences, linguistic, and consumer behavior characteristics of each region you’re expanding into. Employ methods like engaging local experts, customer surveys, SEO keyword research, and competitor analysis to determine the relevance and potential of your website or products in these global markets.

2. Create an execution plan

Leveraging the insights from your market research, craft a detailed project plan that outlines how you’ll allocate resources and prioritize different aspects of the localization process. 

To kick off your localization efforts, you might start by working on low-hanging fruit like translating text to the local language. Then, for the second phase of your project, you may implement cultural-specific “translations” like idioms, metaphors, and images or building localized experiences. This process helps you decide when and how to focus your efforts, optimizing your resource spending.

3. Prepare your site with internationalization

Internationalization lays the groundwork for localization since it creates a flexible site architecture with language or content-specific placeholders that empower you to implement localization. This step is crucial for enabling smooth and efficient localization, ensuring your site can adapt to different cultural contexts without extensive redesigns.

4. Leverage automation 

Use tools for localization, like Webflow, a visual development platform with native localization features, to streamline your efforts. Automating tasks like translation and content adaptation reduces manual labor and minimizes errors. This approach frees your team to focus on creating higher-impact content, like providing culturally sensitive “translations” for specific regions. But it’s crucial to recognize that automation alone can’t capture the nuanced cultural and linguistic subtleties necessary for truly effective localization. 

To ensure the highest quality and culturally appropriate content, incorporate native speaker reviews into your automation process. Native speakers bring an invaluable perspective, identifying and correcting potential inaccuracies that automated systems might miss. This step is critical in avoiding common automated translation pitfalls, such as cultural insensitivities and linguistic errors, which risk undermining your brand’s professionalism and disconnecting you from your audience.

5. Test before launching

Before going live with your localized website, conduct exhausting testing. This step ensures that each localized website functions seamlessly to offer a positive user experience and doesn’t make any culturally insensitive gaffs. For instance, before launching a Spanish version of your website, conduct thorough user testing to verify that translated content, links, and functionalities work as intended.

Measuring the success of your localization strategy

After executing your localization strategy, you must monitor it to ensure it meets your business goals, resonates with your target audiences, and effectively informs future decisions. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential for this assessment, providing valuable insights into your localization efforts. Some tools, like Webflow, enable you to visualize your website’s performance

Here are some KPIs worth measuring to better track your localization efforts.

Translation and localization speed

In the era of immediate gratification, quick adaptation is key. Your audience’s attention span is finite, so once you announce you’re ready to break into a new market, you’ll need to have your localized site ready to go.

One way to measure this KPI is to monitor how long it takes to translate and adapt content for new markets, aiming for efficiency without sacrificing quality. Timely localization captures audience attention when interest is high, reducing user frustration and boosting engagement. 

Cost of translation and localization

Careful monitoring of translation and localization costs helps maintain a sustainable strategy, and this KPI tracks expenses to optimize your resource allocation. To measure this, you might evaluate the cost-effectiveness of translation services, considering factors like the number of languages and the complexity of content.

Content accuracy

Accurate content localization are crucial for brand identity consistency and avoiding cultural missteps. To measure this KPI, implement a feedback mechanism for linguistic validation and user testing to evaluate the accuracy and appropriateness of localized content. Regular quality checks help you maintain a high standard and avoid potential linguistic pitfalls.

Post-project ROI

Assessing ROI after localization provides insights into its impact on your business goals. To gauge your success, you might evaluate how localization efforts contribute to increased market penetration, customer engagement, or revenue generation in the targeted regions. Understanding this impact helps you decide whether to expand localization efforts to other areas or focus more your international marketing strategy on existing regions.

Unlock global success with a localization strategy

Localization is the key to global growth and customer satisfaction in local markets. With Webflow, a visual development platform, you can create carefully tailored online experiences based on user language or region. Imagine delivering a personalized website experience to a user in Tokyo while also catering to a user in Mexico. With our native localization solution, Webflow goes beyond traditional website builders to help you navigate the complexities of a global audience and transcend geographical boundaries with a multilingual website.

Explore our comprehensive resources to learn more about internationalization and localization, and take your first step toward crafting a truly global brand presence with Webflow Enterprise.

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Last Updated
February 15, 2024
Build with Webflow

Webflow Enterprise gives your teams the power to build, ship, and manage sites collaboratively at scale.

Contact sales
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