Strategic Localization Investment: How to Assess Localization Opportunities Beforehand and Estimate ROI

Translation and Localization

There are many factors an organization needs to assess when deciding whether and how to enter a new geography: local consumer behavior and preferences, availability of viable payment methods, and internet penetration. Each individual market can vary greatly and lack of proper due diligence at an early stage may result in failure, and consequent missed ROI.

Presenting a business case for localization and getting the go-ahead from business executives and decision-makers is a major undertaking. Showing return on investment is a key factor, as well as conducting proper research about the target market and becoming proficient at the target language.

What are some of the steps to take in order to assess web localization preparedness? And what are some best practices for estimating costs and returns in order to obtain executive buy-in for localization?

1. Careful Assessment of Potential Markets and Competitors in the Target Markets

First of all, you need to carefully assess potential local markets, as well as your competitors’ performance in the chosen target markets. Google Market Finder is a great resource, which assesses the attractiveness of international markets for a given product/field. It relies on a vast amount of search and AdWords data available to Google, and it translates selected keywords using Google Translate. It then ranks countries based on the local monthly searches per keyword selected, combined with the current recommended bid. In this assessment phase, it is important to look for the most relevant and up-to-date keywords for a given target market, rather than a direct translation. This will ensure the best possible assessment results.

Moreover, you can calculate potential traffic from markets using tools such as, which gives you locale-specific amount of traffic for your vertical industry. This way you can easily find out who your potential competitors are, identify emerging trends, and understand consumer preferences. Another useful resource is SEMrush, which helps you understand the amount of traffic (both organic and paid) your competitors attract in a given market, using local search engines. For instance, if you are a home design company and are assessing your potential competitors in the Italian market, SEMrush will give you the amount of traffic your competitor Dalani performs on

Finally, Google Keyword Planner and are alternative resources to uncover some valuable yet less popular keywords in your selected markets. This can also help you enter a new market, assuming that other companies have entered before you and already dominate the market with some top organic keywords. As always, trying to attract organic traffic will be a cheaper option compared with paid keywords, which drive the cost per click up.

2. Calculate ROI: Easier Said than Done

There are many performance indicators and metrics that you can use to measure costs and returns of a localized website as opposed to a non-localized website.

Localization Costs:

Based on Volume – Localization costs are largely based on volume of content that you need translated and localized, so your company needs to carefully assess which content needs to be translated for which target locales.

Translation Fees – external and internal. Whether an organization outsources the localization work or decides to use an international resource, there are costs associated with it. Generally, if it is outsourced the cost is calculated on a per-word basis, plus a project management fee (usually a percentage of total cost). A discount can be negotiated for content repetition and high volumes of work. If it is done using internal resources, salaries and hourly rates are good metrics to estimate total costs of the translation.

Cat Tools, Translation Memories, and Glossaries – It is important to use a CAT (Computer Aided Translation) tool and a Translation Memory (TM). Translation memories hold previously translated strings that translators can promptly reuse. This avoids extra costs and also helps ensure a more consistent translation. Translation glossaries are helpful with reducing costs also. Preparing a translation glossary of terms will make it easier for translators to accept the suggested term from the glossary and move ahead more quickly.


 Page Views: Track page views of your localized website.

App Downloads: Compare the number of app downloads from a specific local market before and after creating a localized app.

Consumer Growth and Retention: A growing customer base is of course an excellent measurement of localization returns, but consumer retention is just as important to a business’s long-term success. Keeping track of returning customers after localization is also a good ROI indicator.

Conversion Rates: Calculate conversion rates for your localized website. A website conversion rate is typically expressed as a percentage of average success events against average number of visits. In other words it is the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action (most likely buy a product/service.) For instance, if 100 people visit your localized site and 10 people purchase the product/service your website conversion rate is 10 percent.

Social Media Engagement: Measure engagement through keeping track of content and website shares, as well as mentions of your brand on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Obviously, retweets are more powerful because they can reach consumers beyond one’s own following, and also the more followers a person has, the more powerful the share.


Localization decisions need to take into consideration a variety of factors, including careful due diligence of potential target markets and assessment of the existing competition in those locales. Being equipped with the right numbers and metrics is extremely important to support your localization strategic decisions. Estimating costs and returns with clear performance indicators is helpful to assess the overall localization ROI, and it is essential when trying to convince executive to give the go-ahead for localization practices.

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