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Talking sense: Adapting a growing business to different languages and markets

Mia Čomić is Content Marketing Lead at Lokalise, a localization and translation software tool.

Your native language profoundly shapes the way you think. That’s true for the big things (time and space)... and the not-so-big things (what are you going to have for lunch?).

Over the past few years, Pleo has taken its business spending solution to six markets and five different languages: English, Danish, German, Swedish and Spanish.

And they’ve had help from our product (and people) at Lokalise.

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The help has seen Pleo make an immediate impact in those markets and get noticed. (Really noticed.)

So I’m taking over the Pleo blog today because I wanted to find out more about how it’s happened – and offer some advice from other Lokalise users on translating and transcreating copy across languages.

Why (good) localisation matters

1. The right words build trust

As the fintech industry evolves, customers expect more from scale-ups like Pleo. That’s a good thing! 

Mastering localisation helps start-ups and scale-ups to meet one obvious expectation:

When it comes to customers’ money, trust is vital.

The Pleo brand and product team shared one concern that a lot of our customers talk about: All it takes is one confusing or incorrect bit of text for a customer’s trust in your product to take a serious hit. 

These days, people are more willing to try exciting new digital solutions to age-old problems like business expenses… but once you’ve got their curiosity, you don’t want to let them down.

And even outside of product, localising your content (blog posts, PDFs, help centre articles) helps a customer to see that you appreciate their unique challenges and opportunities. You’re not just reusing the same content for everyone, you’ve sat down to figure out what they need to know.

Top tip: This is what we call the Goldilocks issue of fintech localisation. It’s essentially about the need to localize your content just right so that it is both understandable and presented in such a way that it resonates with your target audience. The tricky part? You also need to preserve your brand voice.

Key takeaways here:

  • Invest in market research and sociolinguistic research by partnering with local stakeholders.

  • Work backwards from the customer to understand their unique perspective and needs (this includes analyzing the cultural context, nuance, general values and expectations of different societies).

  • Improve fundamentals in your localisation process (document style guides, minimize puns and idioms, have tone of voice guardians for each market, and try to avoid cultural references that might not resonate with the market).

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2. Paying more than lip service to differences

Another reason localisation is key for Pleo is that each of their markets boast so many unique elements: the laws, the governing bodies, the terminology. 

And don’t forget those all-important accounting tools – DATEV is a huge player in Germany, while in Sweden it’s Fortnox that leads the way. And in the UK, Xero is so vital for so many businesses that use Pleo.

To cover all of those aspects thoroughly, it helps to be confident of your copy in the local language. That needs the creative input of your copywriters, for sure, but a tool that helps them track changes and implement them easily is vital.

Top tip: For successful localization in fintech, you need a lot of legal resources, efficient cross-team collaboration, and in most cases - support from external partners and local intelligence.

Key takeaways here:

  • Rely on third-parties with proven success in helping fintech companies with global expansions (this will save you a lot of time and leave room to provide the best service for each locale).

  • Work with specialized LSPs or skilled translators (remember - fintech localization is not just a matter of improving customer experience, but a crucial element ensuring the company is doing business in accordance with the law).

  • Ensure copywriters have enough context by providing sufficient content briefs and information about the purpose of the content.


3. A unique product 

As Pleo has grown, they’ve identified things that are real game changers for certain countries – whether it be a new integration or an essential feature.

Developing those features (like Per Diem in Germany and Sweden, for example) is one thing, but promoting them is just as important.

Building something for a Danish audience, but marketing it in English is OK in the early stages of a business… but with a talented translation team and a tool like Lokalise, there’s the potential to do better.

Top tip: Product localisation goes way beyond just translating your app into different languages. You need to ensure your product is geo-fit and adapted to the unique needs of your global customers.

Key takeaways:

  • Don’t make assumptions about what your global customers need, but do actual market research to know how you can adjust the product to help them solve their specific pain points (especially in fintech, customer needs can vary because of different regulations).
  • Make sure you have top i18n professionals working on adjusting the product’s UI and UX for different markets.

  • There’s an interesting study by Accenture about the global finance consumers. It included more than 47,000 respondents across 28 markets to identify four global personas of the financial consumer: Pioneers, Pragmatics, Skeptics, and Traditionalists. Definitely worth a read.

It all comes down to customer experience

There’s a certain level of intimacy and familiarity that comes with using apps or reading content in your language. 

Enabling that for your users means setting a solid foundation for wonderful customer relationships. (Which is definitely something that I’ve heard matters to Pleo!)

Still not convinced? Well, recent CSA research shows that 76% of customers across 29 countries prefer purchasing products with information in their language.

Lokalise has been a great tool in helping Pleo to ensure that they’ve been really thorough in spotting any potential issues and taking care of rogue text before it can cause any problems.

Like many start-ups, Pleo’s translation work started out with the best of intentions but was naturally a little bit scrappy.

A solution like Lokalise brings some order to an overwhelming and chaotic process – and we're excited to see where Pleo goes next.

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