Localization strategy and the customer journey (premium)
This premium post is a recap of a presentation delivered by Sarah O’Keefe at Localization World Berlin on June 4, 2015. It describes how and why to align localization strategy to the customer journey.
The new buzzword in marketing is the customer journey. What does this mean for localization?
The customer journey describes the evolving relationship between a company and a customer. For instance, a simple customer journey might include the following stages:
- Prospect: conducts product research
- Buyer: purchases product
- Learner: needs help to figure out how to use the product
- User: uses the product
- Customer: owns the product, uses it occasionally
- Upgrader: needs new features or has worn out the product and needs a new one
- Repeat customer: buys the next version
The idea of the customer journey is replacing the sales and marketing funnel, in which the end state (the bottom of the funnel) is a purchase.
Instead, the customer journey acknowledges a more complex relationship with the customer.
In the traditional marketing funnel, content is critical before the “Buy” decision. After that, content is not important. In a customer journey, all stages are critical and consistency is important.
There is content required at each stage of the customer journey:
- Research: web site, marcomm, and white papers
- Buyer: e-commerce and proposals
- Learner: training
- User: documentation
- Customer: knowledge base, support
- Upgrader: what’s new
Unfortunately, delivering this content with consistency can be quite difficult because it is created in lots of different places in the organization.
The localization maturity model is helpful here. The original was developed by Common Sense Advisory, but I have created a slight variant:
Minimum viable localization is somewhere between level 1 and level 2 (between reactive and repeatable in the true maturity model). In most organizations, the localization maturity is different for different types of content. If you think about your content and map it against the customer journey, it probably looks something like the following:
Seen from the customer journey point of view, the problems are obvious. The prospect and buyer gets pretty good localized content, the learned gets something acceptable, and the user/customer gets the dregs. The company then attempts to redeem itself as the customer moves into the new buying cycle with better delivery for the upgrader/potential customer. This seems like a dangerous approach. A better strategy is to move all of the content into alignment at the same maturity level.
Consistency is critical. We recommend starting with the following:
- Consider using a single vendor to make consistency easier. At a minimum, avoid fragmented, siloed localization efforts.
- Work on voice and tone in source and target languages. Assess how they are different for different kinds of information.
- Implement consistent terminology.
For some localization service providers (LSP), the need for consistency presents a business opportunity. A customer might choose a single vendor to make consistent content delivery a little easier. For a specialist LSP, this could be a problem. For example, a company that focuses on transcreation of marketing content would not be well-positioned to take on technical training materials. A company that specializes in a particular industry, such as biotechnology, might be in a position to argue for more investment by their customers.
For localization buyers, here are some recommendations:
- Establish long-term vendor relationships. Commodity buying is not going to get you the quality you need to support a great customer journey.
- Make sure the translation memory is available, updated, and shared among all your vendors.
- Consider assigning LSPs by product rather than content type.
Localization strategy needs to change to support a customer journey. Here are some basic tips:
- Understand your (or your client’s) customer journey
- Understand localization requirements at each point in the journey
- Develop a strategy that addresses each requirement
- Ensure that you have terminology management, translation memory, and other assets in place across the enterprise
- Different parts of the customer journey need different approaches to voice and tone. Include those in your customer journey planning.
- Different locales may have different customer journeys. Align your translation priorities accordingly.
The customer journey is only as good as the weakest link in the content and localization chain.