Global Digital Marketing & Localization Certification

This is a paper presented by Kanae Standard, a recent graduate of the Global Digital Marketing and Localization Certification (GDMLC) program. This paper presents the work being produced by students of The Localization Institute’s Global Digital Marketing and Localization Certificate program. The contents of this Paper are presented to create discussion in the global marketing industry on this topic; the contents of this paper are not to be considered an adopted standard of any kind. This does not represent the official position of Brand2Global Conference, The Localization Institute, or the author’s organization.


Salesforce is one of the largest Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms in the world. The company operates globally and its offices are located in more than 20 countries and regions. Sales and Service Cloud, Salesforce’s largest product suite in terms of revenue, is fully localized into 17 languages. Consequently, they have the need to offer a global marketing website for potential customers ( as well as a support portal ( to serve its existing customers. This paper evaluates the two websites from a localization perspective.

First, I will examine the basic techniques that Salesforce uses for its global marketing effort. I will then analyze how they balance between standardization and localization of the content across multiple language websites. Finally, I will make recommendations for improvement.

Both and are easily searchable, which is critical for global digital marketing. When you search Salesforce, the official marketing website is the first website to come up in the Google search. The search result is the same when the term Salesforce or the localized name of Salesforce, セールスフォース, is searched using Yahoo Japan, the most popular search engine in Japan. The help portal is also easily searchable by entering Salesforce help in the search bar.

From an SEO perspective, the marketing site follows the best practice in terms of the title tag placement. The title tag for the English (United States) locale is as follows; The Customer Success Platform To Grow Your Business. Different title tags are used in different regional websites for optimal results. For example, the Salesforce UK’s title tag says CRM Software & Cloud Computing Solutions – Salesforce UK and France’s title tag is written in French: Logiciel CRM – Gestion de la Relation Client (GRC) – Salesforce France.

Both websites use the language negotiation technique to serve content in the right language. In other words, they are rendered in the language set by visitors’ browser preferences. In addition, Salesforce authenticates users when they access the help portal after logging into the Salesforce applications. Thus, visitors will see the portal site in the same language as the one they use for the products, which ensures a seamless experience between the products and the website.

While there is no global gateway page, the websites offer language selections in the bottom right corner where users can easily find in the case the display language is different from their preferred one. Since visitors’ location is important for the marketing site, its locale selection includes country or region names in addition to languages. Those selections are written in local languages, so that visitors can read them in the language that they understand. French and English language options are offered for Canada. It is also worth mentioning that the language and country or region selections are available in every page that visitors navigate to.

In regards to the strategy between standardization and localization, the help portal is more standardized than the marketing website. The only change you will see when you switch between languages is translation, the general format remains the same. Even the contact information on the homepage is a US toll free number across all languages. Standardized icons are used, including the dollar sign for the billing and invoicing section.

In contrast, some amount of localization is made for the marketing website in addition to translation. A noticeable change on the homepage is the background image that changes based on locales. For example, when you select Netherlands, a scenery with a water mill and tulips is displayed instead of a US national park image. Still, the Salesforce brand image with the blue corporate color is consistent across different regional websites.

Another notable localization is the customer story section. In the English (United States) website, American customers are featured with the US national park themed graphic in the background. When you select a different locale, customers in the given region are featured in the stories. They do not use the US national park theme for non-US locales including English (UK) and English (Australia).

Additionally, the marketing website offers consistent experience to visitors in terms of the language. For example, once you are in the Japanese website, the entire website stays as Japanese . On the other hand for the help portal, some of the content is only offered in English. As a result, it is possible that visitors unexpectedly come across English content while navigating the portal in a non-English language.

Level of effort spent on the regional marketing websites is determined based on the strategic importance of countries or regions. While Japanese, German, French, Dutch, Swedish, Italian, and Spanish (Spain) websites cover the latest product information and use corporate graphics on the homepage, Thai, English (Malaysia), Korean, and Chinese (China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) websites display only the software UI screenshot with no branded background and offer less product information. Spanish (Latin America) and Portuguese (Brazil) homepages offer something in between in terms of the amount of content and localization.

As described above, the marketing website offers more localized content and consistent experience than the help portal. This strategy makes sense as the marketing website is targeting potential customers and it is more important to have contents that resonate with them. For this reason, Salesforce should continue to offer localization when images or articles are not relevant to visitors outside of the US.

Since the help portal offers no localization other than translation, its contents should be as culturally neutral as possible. For example, they should avoid using the dollar icon as a representation of billing and invoicing. It would also be helpful to include a link to non-US contact information on the homepage besides the US toll free number. Another improvement that I would recommend is to mark the links to English pages as English only in order to manage user expectations. Salesforce can also consider offering machine translated content instead of displaying English to everyone. Currently, Salesforce’s help portal is only partially translated and only by human translators. Human translation is expensive and it would be cost-prohibitive to translate the whole help portal. Salesforce could provide more content in users’ preferred languages by combining machine translation with human translation.

In order to achieve best customer satisfaction within the budget, Salesforce needs to analyze demand and carefully decide which content to leave as English, use human translation, or use machine translation. Additionally, they should pursue a tiered approach for different languages. For example, Japanese users would require most content in Japanese with human translation because of the size of the market and general low English proficiency coupled with their high quality expectation. On the other hand, Spanish speakers may be satisfied if machine translated content is offered.

Finally, it is critical for the localization team and in-country resources to be involved in the upstream processes of global digital marketing effort. It requires thorough research and knowledge to determine which content is necessary to localize or translate to a given market as well as making sure that the source content is culturally neutral.

Overall Salesforce does well with localization. Both websites are easily searchable and the marketing website localizes region specific content as well as using different title tags for different regional websites. However, they should make the help portal more culturally neutral and consider using machine translation to better serve their expanding international customer base.

Author Bio: 

Kanae Standard is a product manager in Globalization at Salesforce. She is responsible for globalization of the Marketing Cloud suite of applications. She has also led teams to launch new software products in Japan and advised public company executives as a management consultant for Monitor/Deloitte.

Kanae holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management and has an extensive business background in the US and Japan.


Kanae is passionate about offering the best experience to an international audience, which led her to pursue the Global Digital Marketing and Localization Certification program.


Connect with Kanae
Twitter: @KanaStandard


Learn More 
If you are interested in learning more about the Global Digital Marketing and Localization Certification
please click here.  The program offers dual credentials, with a Certificate from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a Certification from The Localization Institute.


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