A rise in the demand for international products, teamed with the shift towards digital commerce and the growth of worldwide shipping, has removed the physical borders of global trade. Implementing a digital localization strategy is a key goal for enterprises looking to improve the effectiveness of their digital channels and improve the continuous customer journey, to maximize the economic potential of trade in the markets in which they operate.
However, it’s become increasingly challenging for organizations to manage the growing volume of digital content and touchpoints across multiple brands, markets and territories. Getting the right content to your audience at the right time and through the most relevant channels is becoming more complicated and time-consuming.
Often, the focus is to investigate the use of digital marketing technologies which automate the identification and distribution of relevant content to users in target markets. But many companies, particularly in the B2B sector, are not providing relevant content to their international customers and prospects throughout their customer journey – content that is 100% translated, relevant and sympathetic to the local market and culture.
Establishing a digital supply chain
It’s paramount that organizations develop an effective digital supply chain, where the people, processes and technology work together to enable teams to maximize the limited resources available to them.
For organizations that do not have dedicated teams with local market knowledge, or who operate a decentralized global digital function, understanding the differences that need to be made to create truly local online experiences can be daunting. But it’s important to start somewhere. By focusing on the three core pillars of People, Process and Technology, organizations can start to plot their roadmap to delivering continuous customer experiences.
People: Centralized, Decentralized or External?
There are three basic approaches to managing your global digital estate: Centralized; Decentralized and External. The most appropriate one for your organization depends on your business objectives and what you wish to achieve. For example: brand consistency; reducing operational costs; supporting scalability; minimizing compliance risk; supporting one unified solution versus multiple, disparate platforms.
Your chosen model should enable efficient content creation and management, brand consistency, and scaling of high quality, high-performance digital properties worldwide.
Assemble the Right Delivery Team
If you use an agency to deliver your digital solution, it is highly advisable to appoint one with specific expertise in designing, architecting, developing and delivering multi-site, multi-language solutions.
Do not underestimate the vast array of considerations, from designing to suit multiple languages, through to systems integration, geo-redundant hosting, content editor training and ongoing support.
Empower Your Content Managers
All of your global content managers must be fully-trained on your CMS selection, and be made aware of the new processes you are putting in place to manage the content creation and localization efforts.
It is best to deliver user training throughout the implementation process. This ensures your local market teams are involved, supportive and empowered to manage the sites going forward, as soon as they go live.
Process: Streamlining Content Management
Processes will be steered by whether you are operating a centralized, decentralized or external model. Key processes to consider include:
- Deployment and associated implementation tasks.
- Regulatory and compliance requirements, per market.
- Budget approval.
- KPI reporting.
- Optimization and testing.
- SEO and campaign integration.
- Sales processes.
- Service and support (internal and external).
- Campaign launch schedules.
- Infrastructure sustainability and procedure.
- Change management.
- Single customer view and marketing automation workflows.
You will need to consider your global content management workflows (create, translate, deliver), as these may well need to change. Will content be driven by a parent-child model (i.e. local content doesn’t exist until the corresponding English content does), or will your market teams have more freedom to create their own content? Who is required to provide approval before publishing? Will content be published automatically based on a set schedule, or will independent publishing cycles be allowed for autonomous country-based microsites?
Having these processes in place before you begin your localization initiative ensures that all of your stakeholders are aware of their responsibilities, and your delivery teams can operate efficiently. It also gives you a good place to start process improvement activities.
Technology: Enabling a Continuous Digital Experience
Technology enables all digital transformation initiatives. You must ensure that there is a good fit between your current business needs and your selected solutions.
A best-of-breed solution, like SDL Tridion DX, provides the functionality that business users require to manage content on a global scale, across multiple channels.
SDL Tridion DX brings together web experience management (SDL Tridion Sites), structured content management (SDL Tridion Docs), and language technology to power your digital customer experiences on a global scale, supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Its API-first approach enables you to expose content to any site, application or touchpoint, while also providing content authors the benefits of integrated in-context content creation.
SDL Tridion Sites is an excellent solution for multi-site, multi-lingual, multi-brand organizations. The flexible and modular architecture enables it to be integrated with existing back-end technology to leverage prior investments while enabling open front-end distribution to reach global customers.
In addition to the operational efficiencies it drives for global marketing teams, it also enables automated and scalable personalized content, using advancements in cognitive technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence. This enables brands to deliver a unified and continuous customer journey.
There is no denying that developing a localized, continuous customer journey is a huge undertaking for enterprise organizations. It requires investment, best-of-breed technology, robust planning and governance, and a digital team capable of managing your global digital estate for the long-term.
The results, however, are demonstrable – not only for revenue generation and customer engagement, but for operational efficiency too.
A critical success factor is to appoint an agency with suitable experience in managing global implementation projects. Dept specializes in working with enterprises and has designed, developed and rolled-out localized websites for global firms including GE Lighting, Yara International and Guinness World Records among many more.
Case Study: Multinational Sportswear Manufacturer
Dept worked with a sportswear manufacturer that created hundreds of campaign pages per year. Historically, 80% of campaigns were ‘Build and Burn’ based, as each required different creative approaches.
Each campaign was launched in multiple sites and languages using different technologies, integrations and analytic set ups. They were not hosted within the central IT infrastructure. Small changes took days or weeks through third-party agencies because campaign managers had no direct control over their content. Lack of standardization was slowing this organization down and causing a huge waste in time and effort. Each campaign was unaligned and wasn’t reusing investments made from the previous ones.
To solve the challenge, Dept developed a modular framework approach using SDL Tridion Sites. This framework contains a core, mobile-optimized, responsive HTML foundation, with key integrations to backend systems. Web analytics and tracking platforms are pre-configured, which is essential for reporting on ROI of individual campaigns.
Dept created a toolkit of over 30 reusable components that the client’s team could place and position on pages in a drag and drop interface. We introduced a functionality to upload themes for each site to customize the look, feel and animations used, making each site feel unique.
Dept’s solution meant that the marketing team could self-serve the creation of new campaign pages/sites with little or no input from IT or external agencies.
Hundreds of campaign pages have now been created using the modular framework, allowing the marketing teams to be self-sufficient, reducing time-to-market and saving millions of dollars in operational costs.
Dept is an international digital agency employing 1,000 experts across Europe and North America. Specializing in tackling complex problems for global enterprises using digital technology, Dept has been a leading SDL implementation partner for over a decade. Contact us today to find out how we can help you