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Global Trends in Marketing Localization for 2023 [Sponsored]

Global trends in marketing localizationGlobal marketers are being swept by an endless tsunami of content shared across more channels than ever: website copy, product listings, e-books, paid promotions, white papers, videos, and more. The pressure to deliver on-brand content at speed and scale has never been higher.

On top of meeting this increased demand, international brands face the additional challenges of translating those assets into multiple languages and adapting them for multiple targeted audiences – all without sacrificing turnaround times or the quality needed to engage and convert customers.

With this in mind, Unbabel surveyed over 1,600 global marketers across eight countries to understand how they overcome the challenges of localizing content across cultures and scaling their business success internationally.

Key topics and trends we explored are:

  • How do global brands keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for multilingual content across more and more channels?
  • Can they get their content out to international markets fast enough?
  • Are they achieving the right quality to convert users?
  • Are their processes and technologies set up to scale into additional languages and new markets?
  • Is their investment in localization paying off, and how does that impact their broader business goals?

Our survey uncovered six pivotal trends about the future of content localization:

  • Marketers are investing in translation and localization
  • Marketers are embracing machine translation, and it’s delivering the quality they need
  • Translation quality is the number one challenge for marketers
  • Highly manual localization processes are affecting quality for marketers
  • Localization is driving revenue growth and other business goals
  • Companies in the early stages of Language Operations are seeing higher-quality results.

Enjoy a sneak peek below of two key trends revealed in our survey:

Overview and audience breakdown

Fielding dates: July 12 and August 1, 2022

N = 1,668

Countries targeted: Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States.

Criteria: Marketers who are:

  • Already translating content into a minimum of three languages, and from a wide range of marketing disciplines, including Content, Digital, Brand and Creative, Demand Gen, Email, ABM, Field, and PR & Communications
  • Working for organizations with a minimum of 300 employees
  • Organizations were spread across a variety of levels of seniority, notably C-Level (17%), Senior Manager / Leadership (22%), and Founder / Owner (8%).

1. Marketers are investing in translation and localization

It’s a good time to be a global marketer: Unbabel discovered that 84% of respondents say that localizing content has had a moderately positive or extremely positive impact on revenue growth.

It’s a good time to be a global marketer: 84% of survey respondents say that localizing content has had a moderately positive or extremely positive impact on revenue growth, according to @Unbabel. #sponsored Share on X

It should come as no surprise that they’re investing more in language to meet business goals: 89% said they plan to translate into additional languages within the next year13% of which plan to translate into nine or more.

And they’re not just reporting it – global marketers are putting their money where their mouth is: 75% of participants say their translation spend has been trending upwards or is roughly stable. Many are investing their efforts in top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) content such as paid ads (46%), email (41%), blogs, eBooks, and white papers (42%).

75% of global marketers surveyed by @Unbabel say translation spend is trending upwards or is stable, and there's a higher emphasis on more localized ToFu content. #sponsored Share on X

In particular, a strong trend toward localizing SEO is also emerging: 41% say they’re localizing SEO for all their markets, while another 40% are localizing SEO for some markets they serve. Why? Well, there’s little point in creating engaging content if customers can’t find it.

One survey participant offered this advice: “Don’t approach localization as a one-off. Have a strategy for which markets require localization and which elements are to be localized. And then budget and plan accordingly.”

In addition, we learned that many are also adapting their imagery (48%), specific brand terminology (47%), and brand tone of voice (36%) for other markets.

With the findings demonstrating a clear correlation between localization and ROI, it’s not surprising that global marketers are planning to translate into more languages and are launching a wider variety of content across more channels and markets.

But what approaches are they using to overcome these challenges and accelerate their international growth as they scale?

2. Global marketers are embracing machine translation, and it’s delivering the quality they need

Machine translation (MT) has traditionally delivered cost and time savings. Yet, in the past, those two benefits often came at the expense of quality.

As we know, quality is key for marketing content, which needs to convert customers while meeting style guidelines. Our survey findings support a major shift toward marketers embracing MT as part of their localization strategy and that it’s delivering the quality they need.

This shift is likely driven by two things:

  • Huge improvements in the quality of MT output now make it viable for more creative marketing content
  • The need to find approaches that work as brands look to scale into new markets and languages

Thirty-nine percent of marketers said they are using machine translation as part of their localization strategy. And 83% of those who use machine translation are confident in the quality of their translations.

39% of marketers said they use machine translation as part of their localization strategy, and 83% of those are confident in the quality of their translations, shows @Unbabel's research. #sponsored Share on X

The machine translation global market increased by 124% over the past five years – from a $450 million market in 2017 to a $1.1 billion market in 2022, with steady year-over-year growth. This rise in quality, as well as MT’s ability to deliver content at speed and scale, explains its growing momentum among marketers.

And it’s not just large enterprises that are investing in MT technology. We found the percentage of companies using MT is distributed evenly across all organization sizes.

  • 301-500 employees (38%)
  • 501-1,000 employees (37%)
  • 1,001-5,000 (41%)
  • 5,000+ (40%)

Certain industries are leaning into MT tools more than others. For example, our survey revealed that the manufacturing industry is a top adopter, with 49% harnessing its power for highly technical content. Following closely on manufacturing’s heels, 47% of respondents from the software/technology/electronics and retail industries employ MT’s scalability to keep up with their high growth and consumer demands.

A survey participant offered this advice: The best thing you can do is make sure you have the right processes and tools for the job.”

Localization challenges, opportunities, and low-hanging fruit

The pressure is on, and global brands must deliver first-class multilingual experiences to compete in international markets. It often falls on marketers to lead the advance, adapting their brand for new audiences or valued customers.

And the challenges can quickly multiply for marketers as their business expands into new markets, leading to one pressing question: How do they deliver multilingual content at the right quality to convert customers across all their channels?

The good news, there is a solution, and the global marketers we surveyed are paving the way with their learnings and successes.

Unpack more pivotal trends and the three pillars of quality multilingual experiences at scale by downloading our report, Global Trends in Marketing Localization 2023.

About Unbabel

Unbabel removes the language barrier by scaling customer service operations, reducing cost, and managing growth to create world-class customer experiences.

The company’s Language Operations platform blends advanced artificial intelligence with humans in the loop for fast, efficient, high-quality translations that get smarter over time. Unbabel helps enterprises grow into new global markets and builds customer trust by creating more consistent, high-quality multilingual customer experiences across marketing and customer service.

Based in San Francisco, Calif., Unbabel works with leading brands such as, Nestlé, Panasonic, Patagonia, and UPS, to communicate effortlessly with customers around the world, no matter what language they speak.