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Why localization without personalization misses the mark? (P.1)

The stakes are high. Getting content wrong means missing out on new revenue streams worth $1.7 trillion to $3 trillion, according to an estimate by McKinsey & Company analysts.

When you make it inconvenient for consumers to find the information they need, they’re likely to turn to a web search engine or a virtual assistant for help. While searches sometimes lead to the information consumers require, they don’t usually yield the results consumers expect. And they don’t always find you or your content. Instead, consumers may discover content published by competitors. Consumers want convenience. When they need to ask a question, they want you to provide them a relevant answer quickly; most often on-demand.

Why personalize technical documentation?

Some companies focus their initial efforts on implementing basic personalization tactics like greeting you by name or recognizing your birthday. But the management consultants at Boston Consulting Group say that organizations providing more advanced personalization capabilities realize four times the revenue boost from their efforts compared to organizations with rudimentary personalization capabilities.

Personalization is the process of providing relevant content to consumers based on one or more factors: who they are, where they are, when, why and how they access content, and what devices they use to consume it.

Personalization involves tailoring content so that it aligns with the preferences, interests and characteristics of individual consumers. Localized technical documentation experiences may address fundamental needs — like presenting content in the preferred language of a specific region or group of people — and still fail to serve those who consume it. Personalization increases the utility and relevance of localized technical documentation and allows us to focus our efforts on delivering hyper-relevant content experiences at scale.


Figure 1: Localization

Figure 1: Percentage of customers who say they’ll switch brands in response to poor customer experience. Data from Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report.

Building connections, driving sales

Personalization plays a significant role in purchase decision making according to 86% of consumers. 45% of shoppers are more likely to purchase products from vendors that provide personalized product content recommendations. Of those consumers, 56% say they are more likely to make repeat purchases with brands that provide personalized experiences.

Technical documentation is mistakenly thought of as post-sale content, part of the information we provide to consumers only after they purchase a product or service. But that’s changing as sales leaders begin to recognize that documentation can both satisfy existing customers and attract and convert prospects, turning them into purchasers.

Personalized content can influence consumer decisions and dramatically impact what consumers think about your brand. Research indicates that organizations that personalize call to action (CTA) messages, for instance, enjoy higher conversion rates than companies that don’t invest in personalized CTAs.

Hubspot product marketing manager Jeffrey Vocell examined more than 330,000 CTAs and discovered that personalized CTAs convert 202% better than CTAs that are not personalized.

What kind of content do consumers prefer?

Claiming that you value your customers doesn’t work if you have no idea what type of content your customers desire. While personalization is becoming the de facto experience consumers expect, there’s considerable room for improvement in implementation. As consumer expectations for exceptional experiences rise, patience for — and tolerance of — mediocre content encounters is waning.

According to Gartner, only 12% of consumers feel like current personalization efforts meet their expectations.

Consumers are more likely to spend more than they had planned in response to personalized product recommendations and offers, according to Gartner’s ebook Maximize the Impact of Personalization.

Consumers around the globe value personalized content differently

Of consumers across the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and Brazil, 75% use search engines to locate answers to their customer service questions. And 90% of those consumers expect every organization to offer 24/7 online self-service.

Positive customer experiences are significant factors in deciding to remain loyal to a product or service, according to 59% of all consumers.

The Microsoft State of Global Customer Service Report found that while consumers in different parts of the world have a great deal in common, they also exhibit substantial differences in both behavior and expectations when it comes to personalized content.

For instance, 69% of US consumers are loyal to brands that provide exceptional experiences, while 90% of Brazilians say they’ll switch brands in response to poor customer experience. Only 30% of Japanese consumers feel similarly (Figure 1).

Developing the capability to personalize and localize technical documentation can ensure you meet changing consumer expectations.

Netflix combines localization and personalization tactics to address cultural differences (variances in local content requirements) as well as taking into account the needs, wants and desires of individual customers. Doing so may help explain why the company is growing by leaps and bounds globally.

Localization is about producing an “aha” moment in any language, culture or medium. Personalization is the process of ensuring the “aha” moments are relevant to a particular individual in your target audience.

“A content strategy that doesn’t lead to an ‘aha’ falls flat,” says James V. Romano, CEO of enterprise language solutions provider Prisma International. “Localization-driven personalization strategies are capable of producing meaningful content experiences for an audience, creating ‘ahas’ at the individual level in Anchorage, Andorra and Anhui.” You can’t deliver exceptional customer experiences with content — experiences that produce “aha” moments — if you’re unwilling to personalize the experience.

Content personalization and localization require commitment, continual improvement and resources. A thoughtful implementation allows you to deliver on both promises to users, and promises to the organization, regarding conversion rate improvements (leading to increased sales), improved customer engagement and loyalty (leading to fewer customer support calls and increased profits), support center call deflection (fewer calls to your support center) and better employee engagement and enthusiasm (happier staff).

“Localization without personalization fails to provide the types of personalized experiences that consumers increasingly expect,” says Romano.

The tsunami of information available to consumers is a double-edged sword. When you do not personalize content, you shift the burden of discovery to consumers. You must not limit your recommendations to content associated with past purchasing or browsing behavior, either. Consider why consumers prefer one type of content over another. Then, do your best to provide that content to those who need it in accordance with their preferences.

(to be continued)

Scott Abel.

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