COVID-19 has had a massive impact on consumer behaviour. From unprecedented growth for ecommerce and delivery to a shocking decline in brand loyalty, most of these shifts in spending patterns have been well-publicized and much discussed. But one trend that has slipped in under the radar is an emerging preference for localisation. One study of Fortune 500 companies found that those who localised their content doubled their odds of increasing profitability and were 125% more likely to see increases in share price year over year. The importance of adjusting your marketing approach to show sensitivity to local languages, customs, and buying patterns is almost self-evident. But the pandemic has made this strategy even more crucial to staying afloat as we enter a global recession. Let’s take a look at how you can pinpoint your marketing strategies to take advantage of this trend.
Six months ago, we were global citizens. International travel was a commonplace, visiting other regions of our countries was a weekly, or even daily occurrence, and we travelled freely around the cities and towns we lived in. COVID-19 changed all of that, closing borders, limiting mobility, and distancing us from everyone in our immediate families. Our lives have become hyper-localised, whether we like it or not.
Added to this is the fact that countries, regions, and cities have had dramatically different experiences with COVID-19. The reality of your average consumer in New York is now dramatically different to one in Melbourne, London, or Hong Kong, and a one-size fits-all approach to marketing content is no longer possible. Think of localising your content as an extension of personalisation. In order to reach the hearts and minds of consumers, you now need to be sensitive to the situation of every potential buyer.
While brands have been using localisation strategies for years, the pandemic has made genuine communication with your audience absolutely essential. Addressing people in their local vernacular, showing that you’re sensitive to the struggles their community is grappling with, and using images and appeals that are relevant to them will build a much deeper connection with your brand. Building this connection will encourage them to engage with your brand, opening lines of communication which will allow you to gather the data you need to offer them relevant and helpful content, which in turn will foster greater loyalty to your brand.
Some things can be done which are quite obvious. For instance, studies have shown that 60% of non-English speaking shoppers never make purchases from English language sites, and that 33% of international consumers are likely to abandon a purchase if it can only be made in US dollars. Other experts recommend using local sub-contractors for translation and marketing services. They’ll be aware of holidays, spending habits, taboos, and other factors crucial to success and failure. Just because the Chinese, French, or other language appearing on your website is technically correct doesn’t mean that it sounds natural and effectively conveys your message.
Technology can also be a huge help in putting localisation to work for you. Offering chatbots in the language internet users searched for your website can encourage a greater degree of interactions, which in turn will offer you precious information about what is motivating purchases in a region.
It will also be crucial to strike the right tone in your advertising and promotions. In a region that has been particularly hard-hit by the virus, and its economic after-shocks, it will be important to strike a somber tone, and ensure that you’re emphasising responsibility, health, safety, value, and your own brand’s efforts to help the community. In regions where local authorities have largely contained its spread, and local businesses have suffered less, a more optimistic and positive tone might be appreciated. In the current marketing landscape, you’ll want to be able to shift gears quickly, and develop nimble responses to customer feedback. As the second wave of infection looms, and millions simultaneously crave normalcy while fearing for loved ones, you’ll need to interact with local consumers to determine the most effective approaches.
As you pursue localisation, AI is one of the greatest resources available to you. As with every other aspect of life, the old rules no longer apply to marketing. Leveraging AI can offer you insight into consumer behaviour, and real-time feedback on how effective a campaign is. Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMS) can also help you to manage a massive array of content, matching regions and individual consumers with content that is timely and appropriate. As one marketing expert notes:
[Brands] need to speed the time from asset creation to delivery. As industries become more competitive and online content becomes more engaging, brands must ensure they can move as fast as the landscape around them. Both during the pandemic and beyond, it’s becoming more important than ever to quickly push relevant localized content to reach every consumer.
Another tool you need to invest in is Where To Buy technology. Many consumers are currently in the mood to wander around a shopping mall or big-box retail store, whether from an aversion to germs or a refusal to wear masks. Allowing your audience to streamline their shopping trips and grab the product they need right away is a must. And targeting ads for those searching for similar products with something which meets their needs and is available at a local retailer is certain to drive conversions. With many consumers seeking to support small businesses in these difficult times, Where To Buy is a valuable service.
COVID-19 has imperiled millions of lives, but it has also shown us the strength and resilience of our communities. We’re learning to value the neighbours and local businesses that we have taken for granted in the past. Localisation isn’t just an online strategy, it’s the direction our societies are headed. If you need help optimising your content for hyper-localisation, get in touch with Adimo today!