Make sure your audiences are getting content specific to their location.
By Richard Sine
Just when you thought you’d figured out how to customize your brand’s content to fit your audience’s psychographic, demo-graphic, behavioral, and even firmographic details (look it up), here’s your next trick: localization.
Only a few years ago, it seems, we all marveled at how a Vietnamese rice farmer could use the Web to “browse” the Louvre. But if we were looking for a local pizza shop, it was back to the Yellow Pages. Now that is changing, presenting huge new opportunities—and challenges—for marketers, especially for global brands.
In 2011, hotel operator Accor asked digital marketer EnVeritas Group to localize content for its Sofitel brand. First a team in London researched each property’s guest profiles and unique selling proposition through interviews and questionnaires to hotel staff. Then EnVeritas called on its network (2,000 writers strong), who stayed at the hotels.
EnVeritas created a style guide to ensure brand consistency, but the resulting sites were each written in the country’s home language to prevent mistranslations that would have turned off local audiences. Each property’s microsite was also optimized for search. Keyword research was localized because Brazilians, for example, don’t use the same terms that Americans do when searching for a Rio hotel.
“Consumers want to be spoken to in a voice they understand,” says Brice Bay, CEO of EnVeritas. “We’ve been building a content machine that allows us to leverage resources around the world. Large brands are becoming global publishers. They’re producing massive amounts of content. It’s hard to build that machine for a one-off process, and even huge marketing agencies aren’t good at it.”
Consumers are losing patience with content that isn’t in their language or vernacular, Bay says. And these days there’s hardly an excuse for not offering localized content. Every computer (or computer network) on the Internet carries an IP address that identifies its location, usually within a block or two, notes Michael Barber, president of interactive services for content markter McMurry. GPS-equipped smartphones can typically place their users within 100 feet.
The localization standard is increasingly set by Google Maps. Google Maps is the reason why you no longer need to search “pizza Boise” if you live in Boise. Just search for “pizza” and local results will pop up. To help clients get found, McMurry executes local search campaigns—creating a Google Places page, getting sites listed on other local websites, creating locally relevant content that uses the location’s name, and more.
McMurry also helps clients create customized local content. One client is a Texas hospital chain with several locations spread out over a radius of about 30 miles. Visit the chain’s site in a given town, and you will be delivered local-specific content such as nearby walking trails, healthy events, support groups, and house ads featuring a service from the nearest hospital in the chain.
McMurry is revving up to deliver apps that push localized content to smartphone users as well. For example, if you’ve downloaded the app from a restaurant chain and drive within 100 feet of a location, you’ll get pinged with notices of promotions at that location.
Meanwhile, McMurry’s popular and long-running Vim and Vigor print hospital magazine is also now localized online. Produced with hospitals around the country, each issue combines national content (such as celebrities describing their fitness regimens or battles with cancer) with localized content about the hospital. McMurry completes the strategy with a digital magazine that hospitals can carry on their own websites, as well as a “widget” they can place on their websites that hosts national content next to their calendars, calls to action, or other content.