To understand the difference between localisation and translation, let’s start by defining translation: it is an act through which the content of a text is transferred from the source language into the target language (Foster, 1958).
Let’s add some clarity with an example: if you have a text in English and you want it in Spanish, English would be the source language and Spanish would be the target language. So far, so good.
How Do Localisation and Translation Relate and Differ?
We use translation when the source and target texts need to match exactly and literally. It may be the case of an instruction manual, an e-mail, an informed consent form, etc. Basically, we are speaking of a very literal rendering of the source message into the target language. Have you recently bought a new electronic device? The manual it came with has probably been translated into your language.
Localisation, on the other hand, involves translation but also goes one step further because involves translating the source content in such a way that it takes into account the target culture’s preferences, habits, and characteristics. In other words, the content is adapted for local consumption. The purpose is to make it resonate with the target audience and to endow it with a local feel.
Such adaptation might involve changing colours, jokes, cultural references, names, etc. Therefore, we frequently use localisation for evocative content aimed at eliciting an emotional response in the reader. It is the case of websites, blog posts, hotel descriptions, literature, etc.
Spanish Dialects: A Great Example of Why Localisation Is Necessary
While there are really good examples of impeccable localisation (like the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign we describe in this article), the various regional dialects within the Spanish language (both European and Latin American) highlight how complex it is to make a text sound local to each particular region.
Here are a few examples of how Spanish differs across the world:
- 1) In the Caribbean, there’s a tendency to not use subject-verb inversion in questions (“¿qué tú dices?, ¿cómo tú estás?“).
- 2) In Chile and parts of Argentina, the direct object tends to be duplicated if it’s animate and determined (“la vi a tu hermana“).
- 3) In Venezuela and Panama, the construction ‘para’+subject+infinitive #verb tends to be used where other regions prefer ‘para’+subordinate clause (“para yo poder venir“).
- 4) In the #Andes region, the preposition “en” tends to precede #adverbials of place (“en aquí, en su delante“).
- 5) In the Basque country, the direct object is very often placed before the verb and other complements (“trabajo mucho tiene”, “flores compra para su mamá“).
- 6) In Paraguay, due to the contact with the guaraní language, the redundant use of the possessive pronoun is very common (“su casa de Juan“).
- 7) Also in Paraguay, the formula ‘todo’+’ya’ is used to emphasise the fact that something has concluded (“ya trabajé todo ya“).
- 8) Also in Paraguay, double negation is usual (“nadie no vino”).
- 9) Also in Paraguay, the subjuctive mood is used for conditional clauses (“si tuviera plata, comprara esa casa“).
- 10) In several countries of Latin America, as well as in Spain and the Basque country, the opposite of point 9 tends to happen – the conditional is used in place of the subjuctive in conditional clauses (“si tendría plata, compraría esa casa“).
- 11) In Peru, due to contact with quechua (or so is thought), there’s an extended use of diminutives (“callandito, corriendito, ahisito, acasito, estito, unito“).
- 12) Also in Peru, the sequence demonstrative+possessive is frequent (“esos mis hijos“).
- 13) In US Spanish, the ‘n’ in the imperative of the 1st person plural is often expressed in the pronoun after the verb (dénmelo > “démenlo“).
- 14) In US Spanish, due to contact with English, ‘estar’+the Spanish gerund is used to express an action in the present (“estoy oyendo“).
- 15) In US Spanish, due to contact with English, the Spanish gerund is frequently used as an adjective (“las compañeras enseñando español“).
- 16) Also in the USA, the Spanish gerund tends to be nominalised (“lo que hace es comparando precios“).
- 17) Also in the US, ‘qué’ is usually employed in questions (“¿qué te llamas? ¿qué es tu dirección?“)
Got It. But How Does Localisation Differ from Transcreation?
Localisation adapts content for local consumption to make it resonate with the target audience at an emotional level. The goal of transcreation, on the other hand, is not just tweaking cultural references to give the translated text a local feel but involves creating a new text from scratch that will maintain the original intent, style, and tone of the original. That’s why transcreation is common for marketing collateral such as slogans or ads.
You can read more about the differences between language services here.
Localisation for SaaS Businesses
In the industry of Software as a Service, a successful global marketing strategy relies on effective localisation.
The ability to market to new audiences has brought new opportunities to software brands around the globe, but success goes way beyond just promoting their product internationally. It’s a whole process of planning, developing, adapting, and raising awareness about it, all the while sounding local and acting global. Talk about challenging!
It’s been proven that being able to communicate in our own native language is what drives buying decisions. So much so, that 9 out of 10 people will ignore your product if they don’t perceive as local to their region.
While localising your SaaS or FinTech product into all 7,117 languages of the world is just impossible, 90% of the world’s sales potential can be accessed by localising your content into English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese & Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean (and their local variants).
What Type of Content Should Be Localised?
You need to choose the types of content you will localise based on which of them have the potential to generate the most engagement among your leads. In general most brands choose the below:
Blog posts are a highly valuable source of insights that help your brand build trust with your customers by providing useful information. They foster brand loyalty and brand awareness; the more posts you make, the more opportunities you have to keep your brand top of mind in your target market. This is true for all markets you are trying to crack, so it only makes sense to have your blog posts localise.
Just as when you commission a copywriter with a blog from scratch and you ask for it to be SEO-friendly, so you should proceed when translating them into other languages. Some articles might be better suited for your foreign audiences than others, and the only way to determine it is by researching what they are searching for and how you can help answer their questions.
You may have heard that “email marketing is dead.” Hell it is! Consumers prefer emails (most probably because it is permission based) and that’s a fact across the globe. In fact, one study from Marketing Sherpa reports that 72% of consumers prefer to receive promotional messages through email.
Email provides a professional and direct medium that allows businesses to reach out to their leads and customers. As such, localising your email marketing campaigns really is a no-brainer.
Regardless of the language they are written in, landing pages are an indispensable part of marketing for lead generation. They lead customers to a specific product, service, or offer, and encourage them to take action. This is your opportunity to create conversions and build your customer base… in every market.
Consequently, landing pages will become an increasingly important part of your localisation strategy. Nifty Marketing gathered data from the highest-performing landing pages across five industries and found that 80% of them employ localisation strategies. For example, they are all optimised around one localised keyword (yeap, SEO again), 77% of them contain a local address and phone number, 49% include a local photo, and 21% embed a Google Map to help visitors find a location.
Some examples of landing page localisation include: targeting offers based on a visitor’s location; localising images to represent the target market; providing local business reviews via a 3rd party website; adjusting prices and pricing format based on a visitor’s country; creating offers around local events and holidays; etc.
Need a SaaS Localisation Professional?
You’ve come to the right place. Get in touch with us today so we can start crafting the most appropriate and effective localisation campaign for your business.