It is an enduring paradox that as the world gets bigger and bigger, it is also getting smaller and more connected. More organizations want local websites with multilingual properties — and for good reason. Falling short of providing a great digital experience to every client, user, or customer, regardless of where they live or the language they speak, is more than a disservice to the members of those respective target audiences. It is also a disservice to the organization and its potential.
Delivering personalized content is at the heart of establishing and fostering a meaningful, lasting connection with website visitors in their local language. But what are the best ways for organizations to achieve this critically important objective? That was the focus of an informative and insightful Sitecore Symposium 2022 breakout session, “Go global or go home: Building multilingual websites using Content Hub and Personalize,” delivered by Megan Mueller Jensen, Senior Solutions Architect at Perficient, and Husnain Agha, VP of Web Strategy and Platform at Infor.
Infor is a multinational company headquartered in New York City, providing industry-specific, enterprise software licensed for use on-premises or as-a-service. The organization’s vision is “we succeed only when our customers succeed.”
In order to support its clients’ complex and dynamic needs, Infor scrutinized its digital presence and web properties — starting with its flagship corporate site Infor.com — and concluded that it needed more scalability, agility, and speed. Instead of performing a re-design or a re-brand, Infor decided to upgrade its systems and go with a content lifecycle management solution that was more robust, powerful, and scalable.
Infor identified five core challenges that it wanted its new content lifecycle management solution to address:
- A/B testing: There was no efficient way to test content page versions across 20+ websites.
- Maintain and scale globally: Regional sites were not up to date.
- Targeting or personalization: Content delivery was not based on previous interactions or data points.
- Translations: There was no solid content translation process, and it took an excessive amount of time to get content out in various markets.
- SEO: Regular and relevant content was not localized, negatively impacting the company’s search rankings across multiple geographic areas.
After an extensive evaluation process, Husnain and his team determined that Sitecore Content Hub and Sitecore Personalize checked all these must-have boxes.
Getting buy-in from C-suite
Next, Husnain and his team had to present their proposal to C-suite leadership and get their buy-in. Their pitch focused on anticipated improvements and gains in three core areas — time to value, time to market, and increased technology options.
- Time to value is about increased business impact demonstrated by a stable and robust CMS, higher performance, personalized experiences, functional and efficient A/B testing, higher search rankings (driven by better SEO) — ultimately leading to higher engagement and conversions.
- Time-to-market is about increased operational efficiency demonstrated by quality-assured content publishing, content replication, translations, code deployment, and faster web builds — ultimately leading to higher overall productivity.
- Increased technology options is demonstrated by deeper capabilities, the ability to add Sitecore’s commerce connector down the road, social channel integrations, and account-based personalization — ultimately ensuring future-proofing.
Setting and measuring KPIs and Success factors
As part of the overall assessment, calculation, and estimation of anticipated ROI, Husnain and his team also linked business outcomes to success measures:
(SAO >> SQL >> Win)
(Keeping regional sites content up to date)
(Expedites new market launch)
(Local language content)
(Total number of views repeated)
(URL CTR is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click)
(The average amount of time users spent viewing a specified page)
(count of successful form submission)
Content Hub: Taxonomy structures
Mueller Jensen spearheaded the implementation of Content Hub in the Infor environment and discovered some interesting ways that taxonomy structures can be modified to achieve different goals and objectives. For example, modifying taxonomies can:
- Make it easier for worldwide teams to find and organize assets according to global parts of a website.
- Reinforce governance (e.g., ensure the photos and other images displayed are socially and culturally appropriate for a country or region).
- Strengthen security by determining who can access, update, and download specific assets.
- Make training more efficient.
Streamlined approval workflows
In addition, Infor is using Content Hub to create approval workflows for internal design and brand teams. In the past, the Infor design team was obligated to manually create five different files to support different sizes in the same images.
Now with Content Hub, instead of manual resizing of all assets, they are resized as needed. This makes the process substantially more efficient. Transformations are utilized for responsive resizing.
Using marketing resource management (MRM)
Once the new Infor.com website goes live (which at the time of this writing is expected to happen within the coming weeks), the organizations plans to take advantage of Content Hub’s built-in MRM component, which helps efficiently provide project management for internationally distributed teams within the same platform.
As Megan noted during the session: “With MRM, teams have an interface in their language, which makes it easier for them to use. At the same time, everyone is planning and collaborating and working efficiently within the actual tool when the work is being done, and they're not going between the bunches of different tools trying to work together. So, it's a really nice, efficient way to manage teams that may be living and working all around the world.”
Ready to leverage Sitecore Personalize
Also at the upcoming launch of Infor’s new site, Perficient will deploy, customize, and optimize Sitecore Personalize within the environment. The session highlighted some valuable and practical best practices for organizations that want to accelerate their time-to-value when implementing Personalize using web templates, offers with decision models, and decision models with machine translation.
Best practices for using web templates:
- Create a separate experience for each language
- Page targeting can be based on language code in the page URL, i.e., Infor.com/ca-en or Infor.com/ca-fr
- Developer will build an audience template to target users of specific locale/language
- Marketer will use that audience template in experiences
Best practices for offers with decision models:
- Create one offer template
- Use that offer template to build one offer for each language, translating the heading, content, CTA, and even using a different image per locale
- You would then have one English offer, one Spanish offer, one French offer, etc.
- Use a decision model to determine which offer will be shown to which visitor to make sure they see the experience in the correct language
Best practices for decision models with machine translation:
- Build a decision model with a programmable decision to determine the correct language and leverage a data system such as Azure Translate to translate text
- The output of that decision model will be shown in your experience or experiment variant
- This is more scalable because you’re creating a single experience for all languages and controlling the text within Sitecore
- The risk is in automated machine translation; make sure you proofread!
Translation is one of the easier parts of a multilingual website. There are a variety of plug-ins, connectors, third-party vendors that help organizations move through this process. In addition, there are companies that will “scrape” all the HTML from a site and send back all text (including SEO metadata).
Human and machine translation working together
Human beings — and not machines — should review content before it is published on a site. This is especially important on high-priority/high-traffic pages, and a requirement for content such as:
- Financial transactions
- Medical information
- Legal/privacy content
- Culturally or emotionally sensitive content
As Megan advised: “Even if [reviewing] takes a little more time and money, it is definitely worth it — nobody wants to be featured in the news for the wrong reasons.”
The session also highlighted some valuable best practices for international SEO:
- Use words and terms that are common and familiar to local searchers (e.g., a “cookie” in the US, is a “biscuit” in the UK).
- Conduct keyword research in each country, and filter organize these lists in terms of high-, medium-, and low-value keywords.
- Translate all tags individually and manually.
- Translate and enter titles, headlines, and subject-matter descriptions manually (if there is no other option).
- Double check the H1 tags to make sure they are relevant (at least to highest traffic pages)
- In the end, submit XML sitemaps to global search engines.
Additional factors to consider
The session wrapped up with a look at key factors that organizations need to keep in mind when building a global, multi-level website, such as:
- Cultural inclusion
- Content strategy & localization
- UX best practices
- Accessibility strategies & standards
- Site search
- Currency, measurements, dates, address formats
- Global privacy laws
- Managing global teams
Dan Olson is a Sr. Copywriter at Sitecore. Connect with him on LinkedIn.