ReachLocal: Using Localization to Help Connect With European Customers

How can quality localization help SMBs enter, sustain and grow their businesses internationally? In this four-part blog series, sponsored by SDL, we interview SMBs to learn why international markets are key to their growth goals, and how centralized language localization services help them improve engagement, sales and retention in overseas markets. In Part 3, we talk with Viviana Plasil, Head of Marketing DACH and BENELUX  in Europe, to learn about localization is helping the company to expand beyond its U.S. roots and grow its business in Europe.

Laurie:   Thanks, Viviana, for talking to me about this topic. Can you start with brief overview of ReachLocal and your role in the company?

Viviana:   Of course. ReachLocal was founded in the U.S. in 2003, with a mission to provide small and medium businesses with easy to use digital marketing services, such as web presence, lead conversion, online and mobile advertising and analytics. In 2011, the company decided to launch in Europe, with headquarters in Amsterdam. We currently have about 150 employees serving Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium.  In August 2016 ReachLocal joined forces with Gannett Inc. and is since then an independent subsidiary of one of the largest media companies in the US.

Laurie:   How important is Europe to ReachLocal’s growth objectives?

Viviana:  Very important. Right now we’re in these four countries, with our main priority to raise brand awareness and grow in these markets. So it’s critical for us to build our brand and to establish ReachLocal’s expertise in digital marketing in these countries. We are also evaluating opportunities to enter other countries in the future as well.

Laurie:   What role does working in native languages play in your overall marketing strategy?

Viviana: It’s critical. We chose to localize everything in German for Germany and Austria, and in Dutch for the Netherlands and Belgium, because these are the native languages in these countries. So our website, marketing materials, terms and conditions, we localize all of this so that customers see that we understand their language and culture and are relevant for them.

Laurie:  When did you start localizing for these countries?

Viviana:   From the beginning on when we entered the European markets.  But at the beginning we had different  translation agencies which we’d been working with for a few years. But we weren’t very satisfied with them because we found that they did not translate in German and Dutch in natural language that a native-speaker would use. Additionally it was hard to work with different suppliers for different departments because for localization it is also important to capture the company’s corporate language which is difficult to maintain using different agencies. So end of last year we started to examine other options.

Laurie:  How did you get started with SDL?

Viviana:     I met one of the sales representative during a digital marketing trade fair. We agreed to get translated a test document. As we got satisfactory results for the trial I chose SDL and haven’t used another translation agency since.

Laurie:  How was your experience getting up and running with SDL’s service?

Viviana:  It only took a couple of days, it was very easy. We set it up in November last year…our SDL account manager set up our account. I had a few issues with login at first, but they straightened that out quickly and then it worked fine. Then I had a demo session with the account manager, and she walked me through the dashboard, where you manage everything, and she answered my questions.

Laurie: Who’s using the system now, and what types of things are you getting translated?

Viviana: There are five of us that have accounts, but others in the company can go to the account holders and request translations from them. We use SDL to translate marketing material and our website, as I mentioned, and also for internal and legal documents. For instance, when we launch new products, we always have marketing and sales related materials like product sheets, presentations and such. We’ve recently started translating our terms and conditions on our website, too.

Laurie:  Now that you’ve been using it awhile, how is it working for you?

Viviana:  It’s very easy to upload documents and we get back quotes quickly, usually within a day, without having to do emails and phone calls. That’s great, it’s very clear and saves me a lot of time but, it’s still important to have an account manager in addition to the platform. If I have any questions, or special or urgent requests, I can speak with her directly. So I’m happy that the system is easy to use but that I also have a good personal connection with the account manager. I would definitely give SDL a high score because it’s quick, efficient and much better than other methods I’ve used to get translations done.

Laurie: Can you quantify how localization is helping ReachLocal?

Viviana:  I don’t think we have any statistics on it, but we are very satisfied with the translations. We’ve seen a huge improvement in the translation quality on our website, which helps a lot in engaging with prospects. I also know that SDL helped us do the terms and conditions translations much quicker than if we hadn’t been working with them. And for me personally, it cuts down the amount of time I need to spend from about 30 minutes per project to 15.

Laurie: Looking ahead, should ReachLocal decide to enter other European countries, how likely would you be to continue to work with SDL?

Viviana:  We are very satisfied with them overall, so at this point, yes, I think we would work with them to help us remove localization barriers in other countries as needed.

Laurie:  Thanks, Viviana, for discussing your views on localization with me.