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Lionbridge Technologies Executive Interview

Sergio Restrepo, Vice President, Global Digital Marketing Services, Lionbridge Technologies

How to Integrate Cultural Awareness into Your Digital Strategy

Answers provided by Sergio Restrepo, Vice President, Global Digital Marketing Services, Lionbridge   

Q: Why is it important for brands to be culturally sensitive when building their digital customer engagement programs?  

It’s no secret that today’s consumers demand personalized customer experiences. In fact, 78 percent of U.S. internet users claim that receiving personally relevant content from a brand increases their purchase intent according to Marketing Insider Group. This means that organizations can no longer take a one-size-fits-all approach to customer engagement, especially brands that have a diverse and globally dispersed customer base. Instead, they need to develop customer engagement programs that are adaptable and will resonate with customers in different markets. This requires deep persona understanding as well as knowledge of cultural norms, phrases and imagery that are most appropriate for a particular region or locale.  

Q: What barriers prevent organizations from achieving this?  

One of the major barriers we see in developing global customer engagement programs is securing organization-wide buy-in. While marketing teams often view personalization as a business necessity, the executive suite may consider localization programs a “nice-to-have” add-on. This misalignment of expectations can stall localized marketing efforts and result in one-note campaigns that fall flat with local audiences. Another common barrier is organizational design. Some companies and marketing departments are highly centralized and are not accustomed to rolling campaigns out at the local level. Other companies are highly dispersed and operate as distinct geographic groups that don’t always align in terms of brand messaging and priorities. The perfect balance of these two approaches is empowering marketing teams to create campaigns that have global consistency and local relevancy. Many organizations work with partners that specialize in designing and executing global customer experience strategies to accomplish this at scale.   

Q: What are some best practices organizations should take into consideration to personalize digital interactions?  

Producing culturally relevant content starts with language. Studies show that when customers are presented with content in their native language, they are more likely to engage and ultimately make a purchase. Organizations need to communicate with customers in their native language if they want to achieve a personal connection at the local level.   

It’s important to know you don’t have to localize all of your customer-facing content overnight. Instead, companies should understand the types of content their customers consume the most across markets, and prioritize localization efforts to align with geographic preferences. Your website might be most popular with customers in Japan, but in Spain, customers are more receptive to video content. Or maybe your mobile app is highly popular in the U.S. but is barely used by customers in China. The best localization programs are strategic and start with an understanding of the customer journey and touch points that matter most locally. These programs can easily be tested and refined based on performance to deliver the maximum impact.   

Q: What role does data play in helping brands deliver consistent experiences to customers around the world?  

Data plays a critical role in understanding the types of content and touch points that resonate best with customers around the world. Marketers have access to more customer data than ever that can help design campaigns. But even more importantly, data can be analyzed in real-time to quickly see what’s working, what’s not and make adjustments that lead to better engagement. We are seeing market leaders migrate to centralized solutions in the marketing technology space to regain governance over their customer data and be more agile in delivering engaging content. By piloting new technologies and investing in new partnerships, brands will be able to shorten content cycle times and uncover new opportunities to engage with customers faster and in a more personalized way.  

Q: Can you share examples of companies that are doing multicultural digital marketing well today?  

We’re seeing more and more brands move away from colorblind marketing and wake up to the fact that they need to target their campaigns and messages for diverse global audiences. One brand in particular that has done this incredibly well is Nike. Nike takes a big idea that drives its campaigns and creates the same level of excitement and emotion in local markets. They do this by mixing global sports figures with local personalities who resonate better with local audiences – while driving a consistent message of endurance. People want to see familiar faces and feel incredibly connected to their local athletes. Nike has found a way to tap into these emotions and create global campaigns that make a big impact at the local level.