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Persona profiling guide – why you need to know who you’re translating and localising your website for

Persona profiling guide - why you need to know who you're translating and localising your website for [Photo: aydinynr via iStock]
in Retail and Ecommerce

When it comes to translating and localising any website or brand, there are some considerations that you always need to take. However, before making any such decisions, it is vital that the first train of thought always errs towards the user. Persona research is one of the most important parts of any such process, as it allows brands to learn more about who their target audience is, and how best to reach out to them.

According to, one of the biggest benefits of persona research is that it brings an element of real-world thinking into decisions, making people think about why things need to be a particular way, and leaving brands with a more targeted, rounded and well-thought-out strategy at the end of it all.

But what are the main benefits for companies of doing persona research before localising and translating? Here, we take a look at just a few.

Tone and style of content

Before you translate any content, it’s important to know how people consume media in certain countries, and how they respond to it. There’s no use putting content onto a site that is designed to strike the awareness and interest stages of the buyer cycle, for instance, if you get the tone totally wrong and end up turning off buyers and potential site users from the get-go.

For example, in countries like Japan, humour and light-heartedness are at the absolute centre of culture, so trying to capture that irreverent tone when translating can help to connect a brand better with an audience, making them more likely to engage, interact and do business with it. But remember that it’s not the same everywhere.

While quirky humour may work in some countries, it won’t always fly. In the UK, for example, readers online tend more towards self-deprecating sarcasm, where American readers will prefer more serious guide pieces and informative content. It all comes down to knowing who you are translating for, and what they want from your content in tone and style, so that when you translate and localise, you know you’re hitting the nail on the head.

It’s important to know what matters

What makes people tick in different countries? It doesn’t all just come down to tone and style, but more the translation of a content strategy on site. In some countries, for example, news-led articles will be the best performers regarding attracting customers and leading them through the user journey, while others will value how-to guides and features more.

Doing your persona research will allow you to understand not only how people act, but also what they’re more likely to read and engage with in some countries, making your overall strategy much more successful.

Customs dictate how people act

When localising, it’s one of the most important things to know is how people behave. This dictates how you change your brand, website and online activities to meet their needs. There’s no use, for example in assuming that your social media presence as a brand needs to start and end with Facebook. Sure, the network may have more than 5.9 billion users worldwide at the moment, but there are countries where this means nothing.

In countries like Russia, for example, there are far more popular social mediums than Facebook. has 50 million daily users alone, and Odnoklassniki and MoiMir (akin to LinkedIn) both also rank above the Palo Alto giant. Facebook not being the major network in any  a trend that’s more common than people might think, with China, Japan and South Korea all also having social networks that challenge what we assume to be the norm in the west.

In other nations, social media doesn’t even have the sort of penetration we’d expect. For example, in Europe, we see more than 80 per cent of people are on social networks, but in Central and South East Asia, there’s a substantial drop-off, with less than half of the population using these sites.

And it’s not just social media, of course. It’s vital to know your audience so you know how and why people will interact with your brand when localising. One example of this is the site itself. Why spend millions on a fantastic top of the range desktop site if you’re headed to countries like South Korea, where mobile optimised sites and apps are far more likely to grab the attention and sales through these mediums are far more commonplace?

In the end, it all boils down to knowing your audience. Whether translating or simply localising a brand, the first step to take before making any changes is to know who the target is. Knowing how they work, how they think and how they act will help to make informed decisions that will shape your plan and give you a better, more rounded final translated and localised product.

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