Technology represents a significant part of the sell in the translation and localization industry. Price competition is fierce, and many language service providers (LSPs) differentiate themselves on their technical solutions. Here’s what marketers should know about translation software before signing up.
Conventional thinking in the translation and localization space almost always focuses on how to translate as much as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
To this end, many LSPs have pivoted to developing and selling software solutions to manage multilingual content, resources, and workflow – ultimately to reduce the cost of language and improve speed to market. And there are many great tools out there to facilitate that. Some examples include machine translation, translation memory, and a slew of global content management systems.
But when it comes to creating and scaling multilingual marketing content, there’s so much more to consider than just language. Here are three things marketers should know before signing up for translation and localization software solutions.
1. ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL TRANSLATION SOFTWARE HAS ITS LIMITATIONS
If you’re marketing to international audiences, efficient, high-volume translation will certainly help you achieve a multilingual presence. But it doesn’t necessarily create, reinforce, or develop your global brand.
Translating your website doesn’t guarantee that your website will be found via local search engines. It also doesn’t mean that local audiences will engage with your content.
Many translation software solutions assume a one-to-one relationship between source English content and target translated content. So the software may limit a brand’s ability to create customized in-market content or a locale-specific user experience.
That, in turn, can make it difficult to implement and evolve SEO, PPC, personalization, and other digital strategies that will help drive traffic and conversions in-market.
In marketing, authenticity and relevance to the target audience is key. The focus of a lot of localization software is on translating absolutely everything, whether it has value and relevance in-market or not. That can be unnecessarily costly in the short term and limit longer term, country-specific marketing strategies.
2. CHOOSE A LANGUAGE PROVIDER WITH LONG-TERM MARKETING STRATEGY IN MIND
The push toward technology in the translation industry has changed the business models and sales objectives for many language service providers. For businesses, translation and localization software offerings can become a big part of the decision-making process when selecting a localization partner.
And the reality for many companies is that they don’t have a beautifully synergistic relationship between internal technical and marketing stakeholders. Choosing an out-of-the-box software solution with minimal internal technical overhead can be appealing, especially when launching multilingual websites.
However, in marketing localization, making the wrong decision about software solutions can have significant consequences.
For localization software solutions offered on a SaaS basis, companies don’t necessarily have direct access to multilingual content in a useful or reusable format. They may be unable to customize systems and processes to their specific content creation needs. So creative linguistics, transcreation, and copywriting for certain types of content can be a challenge.
Companies may prefer to work with more than one language service provider. But they might find multi-vendor models difficult to implement. While there are some independent technical solutions out there, generally LSPs are interested in subscriptions to their own software. And they may be reluctant to use another LSP’s software or allow others into their own.
High-volume content solutions may seem quick and cost effective in the short term. However, the model may not scale well for your global marketing needs, preventing multilingual content from being truly engaging for your target audiences.
3. HUMAN TALENT IS KEY
One of the byproducts of a technology-first mentality is that in-country linguistic talent is often devalued in the process. This can result in poor quality content. So connection, meaning, and relevance are literally lost in translation.
While translation and localization software is critical to scaling multilingual content models, human talent is necessary for two critical purposes:
1) It ensures proper implementation of those tools for marketing content.
2) It provides the level of language quality needed to be locally relevant and engaging to your international audiences.
Balancing human linguistic and marketing talent with systems and processes designed to maximize their skills and set them up for success is key. This is true for the short term and as you optimize and promote multilingual content in achieving your KPIs for each market.
When it comes to marketing localization, making the wrong decision about software solutions can limit long-term growth. While software is critically important in scaling global content models, focusing too much on high-volume, low-cost translation can result in a sort of efficiency bias, often too early in a company’s international journey. Companies may find themselves locked into software that is highly effective in quickly publishing multilingual content but doesn’t necessarily allow for effective marketing strategy at the local level.
For marketing and creative, the key is to align the right people, processes, and systems to get results. Strategically managed, in-country talent supported by robust tailored processes and technology is essential to an effective global strategy.