Content Strategy

How to adapt your content for local audiences

Posted by Susan Joly on Oct 25, 2017 10:27:57 AM

International Money.jpgDeveloping content that’s sensitive to the diverse needs of an international audience can be challenging. In the global marketplace, you’ll often need to adapt your content for readers in a specific country or region—based on linguistic, cultural, political, and technical differences—not to mention legal requirements in your target market.

With localization, you aren’t just translating—you’re tailoring your content to effectively communicate with people in a specific locale. How do you adapt content to meet the needs of your target audience and increase your global impact—beyond mere translation?

Guidelines for adapting content for a local market

Here are a few important points to consider:

  • Comply with regulations and legal requirements for the target location—for example, privacy, data collection, online safety, accessibility, and others.
  • To reduce localization costs, track content changes in your original—or source—content. This way, instead of retranslating all the content, you retranslate only what you’ve updated. Automatic translation tools use translation memory to show what changed.
  • To help reduce translation errors, write globalized content from the start, so that it’s compatible with these tools.
  • Create and maintain a style guide. Begin with your source content, and then adapt the style guide for other locales.
  • Identify key terminology, and update as needed. By doing this, you help make translation easier and more consistent. You also save time and money later.
  • Don’t assume that your readers understand US English symbols, idioms, or other language nuances. Adapt these references accordingly—for example, certain hand gestures in one culture can be offensive in others.
  • Include proper names that are relevant in the local culture.
  • Use culturally appropriate images. For example, attitudes about animals, gender relationships, flags, and colors can vary among countries and regions.
  • If you’re localizing videos, investigate accents and dialects and how people perceive them in the target country or region.
  • Consider differences in alphabetical sort order. In certain markets, A to Z won’t translate. Some languages don’t have these letters or have additional ones. Some European languages, like Danish, have letters after Z.

Adapting your content for local audiences goes beyond translating the words. Sensitivity to the needs of local markets helps expand your global impact and increase readership.

 See also: Writing for a global audience: The world is knocking