What is glocal marketing? How agencies can use glocalization to reach new customers.
Updated: Oct 31
Go to a McDonald’s in Montreal, and you’ll see poutine on the menu. Go to one in India, and you can order Chicken Maharaja, a beef-free version of the Big Mac. Similarly, Starbucks sells green tea frappuccinos in China and dulce de leche lattes in Argentina.
These are classic examples of glocal marketing, a strategy used by international brands to adapt their marketing for the local cultures they do business with.
The internet takes glocal marketing to another level. Today, companies can reach customers all over the world, without building physical locations in the vein of Mcdonald’s and Starbucks. We’re no longer limited to our surroundings.
Here at Wix, we operate in 190 countries, so it’s critical for us to maintain brand cohesion across these vastly different cultures, while also speaking their languages. For instance, in German, Wix means something rather… raunchy… check out how we leaned into the cultural context to successfully make waves in the Deutsche market.
You don't have to be McDonald's to implement glocal marketing. Now is a great time for freelancers and agencies to increase their global reach, too. Keep reading to learn how to translate your agency’s success to other parts of the world.
But first, what does glocal mean in marketing?
Let’s take a step back and define glocal marketing.
Glocal marketing and localized marketing can be used interchangeably to mean essentially the same thing: modifying campaigns according to the cultural needs of specific global audiences. The term “localized marketing” is more commonly used, but as more and more businesses are starting to think globally, the term “glocal marketing” has become increasingly popular.
Be careful not to confuse “localized” marketing with “local” marketing, which is a marketing strategy based on a given radius of the physical location(s) of a business. Local marketing is isn’t based in cultural contexts, merely vicinity.
Is a glocal marketing plan right for you?
Glocal marketing isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a reminder to companies that do business internationally that it takes in-depth understanding and a thoughtfully realized localization strategy to ensure your brand resonates with global audiences. Agencies and freelancers can tap into the potential for global growth with the following uniquely “glocal”—rather than just global—marketing best practices.
Invest in geocultural research
Use data to inform every step of your glocal marketing process The more research you invest in upfront to drive insights, the more impactful your marketing will be.
Which countries should you target? In your SEO tool, analyze which countries drive the most traffic to your site already, and look at the language report in Google Analytics to determine the languages most popularly spoken by your users.
Once you’ve settled on a new country or set of countries, consider partnering with a localization company for an audit of each market. Initial research should include buyer behavior reports, market size and technology assessments. Not only do you need to know the local language and currency, but you’ll need to understand customer behaviors and expectations, cultural norms and nuances, and technology and marketing trends.
Remember, glocalization isn’t just about language
Perhaps one of the biggest setbacks to global businesses is the mistaken belief that localization is simply a matter of translating content. Glocal marketing isn’t just about language; it’s about culture, and each culture contains its own set of established norms and preferences.
For example, when translating videos, different cultures have their own preferred modes of media formatting—subtitles versus dubbing versus voiceover, as the localization experts at Nimdzi point out.
As you adapt to the needs of local audiences, you’ll need to make sure your branding translates, both literally and figuratively. More obvious adaptations include updates to imagery and translation of your positioning of text, but with customer experience more emphasized than ever, you may need to evolve your offerings and your processes to suit the needs of your global audiences. To do so, hire employees from the countries you’re targeting, as these nuances would prove very difficult for an outsider to identify.
As you glocalize your agency’s client experience for different markets, consider modifying the following, depending on the needs of your local audiences:
Tone of voice and other nuances in your messaging
Technology and project management software preferences
Social media platforms and strategies
Online checkout experience
Customer service experience
The takeaway: Be willing to be flexible, but make sure your brand doesn’t get lost in translation. Empower your local marketing and delivery teams to act independently but within the context of your brand architecture and core values. Don’t bend your brand so much that it loses its identity. While you adapt to the needs of your local audiences, your customer experience should still reflect who you are as a company.
Gain glocal visibility with international SEO
International SEO is a set of best practices for improving your search visibility in other countries or among people who speak different languages. By optimizing your content for international SEO with certain signals on your site, you can ensure users around the world see your content.
Three steps for implementing international SEO:
1. Determine what international content you’ll provide: Will you provide an alternate site experience translated for the user’s language, or will you send them to a specific URL based on the user’s country of choice? Wix Multillingual bakes the full power of advanced translation directly into your website..
2. Set up an SEO-friendly URL structure: Your URL structure helps Google determine which website pages to show users in different countries, a very important part of glocalizing your content. You can either set up a whole website for each country you’re targeting or add a subdirectory structure on your existing site. Here’s a guide for optimizing your SEO settings for multilingual sites.
3. Implementing other geotargeting signals: Optimize your content for other international user preferences, such as devices and other popular global search engines such as Baidu in China. You can also set up a converter on your site to display prices in the viewer's local currency. Addresses and phone numbers for local offices, if you have them, can also help with rankings.
Structure your team for quality assurance
In order to ensure quality glocal marketing practices, it’s important to have the right team in place, whether you’re using internal or external resources or a combination of both. This will humanize your glocal marketing content.
Global businesses have a growing number of robust localization technologies to choose from these days, which are useful for translating content. For example, neural machine translation (NMT) uses an artificial neural network to translate up to tens of thousands of words in minutes, and automated speech recognition software can produce a same-language text script of audio and video files rapidly. But remember, machines have their limitations. A human touch is necessary to ensure your brand’s messaging, positioning and customer experience meet the needs of local markets.
In particular, hire a fluent language specialist to conduct quality control on all translated content to ensure your brand and longtail keywords don’t get lost in translation, which can be detrimental to your international SEO rankings and reader trust. Human QA personnel will ensure:
Tone and style are on-brand and speak to local cultural preferences
Your translated content doesn’t leave out relevant SEO keywords tailored to your target market
Get started on your glocal marketing plan
With unprecedented digital growth and exciting developments in localization technology, the future is bright for brands who want to go global. Just make sure you follow these glocal marketing tips above to ensure your glocalization strategy has maximum impact.