Localization in Go-To-Market Strategy: A Gap Analysis

Complete this gap analysis to assess whether or not your brand is fully prepared to enter the global marketplace.
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A Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy is a tactical action plan that outlines how a company will sell its products or services to customers. It’s essentially a roadmap that defines the steps, processes, and resources required to introduce a new product or service to the market and make it available to consumers. The goal of a GTM strategy is to ensure that a product or service meets the needs of the target audience and achieves maximum market penetration and profitability.

That’s where localization comes in. Localization refers to the process of adapting a product, service, content, or application to meet the linguistic, cultural, and other requirements of a specific target market or locale.

There is a longstanding assumption that enough people feel comfortable using English online, especially when buying high tech or expensive products…Our 2020 findings show that if a company chooses to not localize the buying experience, they risk losing 40% or more of the total addressable market—the consumers that prefer selecting and buying products at local-language sites. While they may want the products or experiences on the English-language site, most would rather think, act, and buy in their own language.

The goal of localization is to make the product or content feel as natural and intuitive to the target audience as possible, ensuring that it resonates with local users and effectively meets their needs.

However, for brands planning a market expansion, it’s easy to miss steps that can make or break your launch. Use this checklist to assess your strategy and identify any gaps. If you can confidently move through this list, you’re likely on the right track for effective market expansion. If you’re surprised by many of the points below, you may want to invest more deeply in the research and localization process before you move forward.

1. Have you talked to a vendor about localizing your website?

Localized websites enhance customer experience. By presenting content in the user’s preferred language and incorporating familiar images and symbols, interactions become more intuitive and engaging.

A study by CSA Research titled “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy – B2C” found that 40% of consumers will not purchase from websites in languages other than their own. Furthermore, nationality significantly influences the demand for local-language content in online shopping. For example, 57% of consumers in Germany exclusively buy from local-language websites while six other national samples exhibited over 50% preference for localized content.

Working with a Language Service Provider (LSP) to localize your website can ensure cultural sensitivity, maintain brand consistency across regions, and optimize content for local search engines. It’s important to recognize that the initial LSP you encounter might not be the optimal choice to localize your go-to-market strategy. Therefore, it is important to connect with multiple vendors to achieve a broader perspective. You can consider several questions:

  • What products need to be localized?
  • What markets are you expanding into?
  • Are you expanding internally to accommodate the product/market expansion?
  • Is all content that requires translation in the appropriate format?
  • Are you aligned on all key messaging in the original language/market?
  • Have you expanded into new markets before? What did you learn?
  • What are your budget and timeline constraints, if any?


2. Have you implemented price and payment terms that cater to your target market?

Can your customers view pricing in their native currency and pay using avenues or platforms they’re familiar with? Payment methods and platforms can vary widely by country, so ensure you have options that the new market will recognize and trust.

According to a survey, 43% of e-commerce merchants lost revenue in 2020 because they could not offer local payment methods in countries where they saw a surge in demand. For a go-to-market strategy, this underscores the significance of aligning with local payment preferences. For instance, while Mastercard and Visa dominate in the United States, they aren’t directly available in China. Conversely, Alipay and WeChat Pay are essential in China but less prevalent in the US. Therefore, for brands operating across diverse markets, offering payment options recognized and trusted by each specific market is crucial.


3. Have you ensured that products will be compatible with the hardware of your target market?

If you’re planning to sell a physical product in a new region, make sure it will function as intended in your target market. For example, if you took a product that needed electricity from the US market to the UK market, you’d need to equip the product with the UK electrical plug. Make sure your products work within the setup that consumers will be most familiar with. This is referred to as product internationalization. It is the process of designing a product or service in a way that can be easily adapted or localized to various markets.


4. Have you checked that your product is in compliance with all laws of your target market?

Laws and product regulations differ by region, so double-check that you comply with all national, regional, and local regulations in your target market.

For example, when expanding from the US to Canada, websites and packaging are required to support both English and French translations. Since Canada is the #1 purchaser of US exports, many businesses will run into this requirement in their expansion plans.

In the European Union (EU), many products also need a “CE mark,” which indicates that the product is “deemed to meet EU safety, health, and environmental protection regulations.”

Regardless of where the product is manufactured, if it’s going to be marketed in the EU and falls into a category for which regulations exist, the CE mark and associated documentation are required.

In some EU countries, the product’s technical documentation (containing specific references to the CE mark requirements) also needs to be available to consumers in every official language of the country where it’s sold.

Localizing your products to comply with local laws and language requirements is essential to avoid legal issues and ensure customer satisfaction. Google had to pay a fine of $2.7 billion for violating antitrust laws in the European Union.


5. Have you prepared your website, app, and any other customer-facing channels for increased traffic?

Your current website and existing tech infrastructure are probably optimized to handle a consistent, albeit variable, flow of traffic. Although you might experience occasional spikes in activity, the infrastructure is designed to manage these within acceptable limits. However, when you embark on a market expansion, introducing your brand to new audiences and potentially larger user bases, the dynamics change significantly. The influx of new users can place unprecedented demands on your website, app, and other consumer-facing platforms.

This surge in traffic can lead to performance issues, slow loading times, and even system crashes if not adequately prepared for. It’s imperative to collaborate closely with your technology team during this phase. They would need to evaluate the current system’s capacity, optimize where necessary, and potentially scale up resources to accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic and usage. By proactively addressing these technical considerations, you can ensure a smooth and positive user experience during the critical phase of market expansion.


6. Have you educated your marketing team members on competitors in the local market?

Entrusting the localization process solely to your dedicated localization team can be a strategic misstep. While these experts excel in language nuances and cultural adaptations, they don’t possess the unique insights and perspectives that your marketing team can provide. Even if an external vendor manages the primary translation tasks, the marketing team must delve into the intricacies of the new market. Understanding the market dynamics, your brand’s positioning within it, and the key competitors is invaluable. Such insights not only enhance the quality of the localized content but also foster a deeper cultural resonance with the target audience. By familiarizing themselves with the competitive landscape, your marketing team can identify gaps, pinpoint unique selling propositions, and refine the localization strategy further.


Reach Global Audiences with a Strong Go-to-Market Strategy

A solid go-to-market strategy is your compass in the business journey, steering you toward success and longevity. This checklist emphasizes the importance of considering local nuances, adapting to audience preferences, ensuring product compatibility, meeting legal requirements, and fortifying your tech setup. However, amid all these considerations, never lose sight of your customers. Their needs and preferences should remain at the forefront of your strategy. As you navigate the ever-changing business landscape, may this checklist be your reliable guide, ensuring your efforts resonate effectively and stand the test of time.