Think about your website. Now consider adding 5 new language versions to it. Let’s take Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and French.
Think about executing this plan. The back-end preparation will probably be taken care of by your IT department. The content will be prepared and manually perfected by professional marketing gurus.
Let's stop for a moment and think about translation. Which department of your organization comes to your mind first?
Is it marketing? Bingo!
During the last 15 years of working with international brands, we’ve often seen that the majority of companies allocate their localization efforts on the marketing teams. What they forget to do is to allocate the translation budget accordingly.
Related content: 7 Tips to Avoid Wasting Your Translation Budget
Consequently, many companies run localization projects in a way that doesn’t generate savings and is prone to errors.
The marketing teams often struggle with localization processes and the actual translation happens within the local marketing teams.
Additionally, non-centralized localization leads to inconsistencies and delays of the product launch.
Are you wondering whether your localization process is fully optimized?
Have you asked yourself what the differences are between translation delivered by a translation agency and translation carried out by your marketing team?
Knowing the facts is crucial for making the right decisions.
We have heard about some unfortunate decisions made regarding translation. We have also seen in one of our client’s reports a 50% increase in website traffic after translating their website into 5 new languages.
This article will show you the pros and cons of translation provided by a marketing team vs. professional translation agencies to help you avoid making bad localization decisions.
You may be cooperating with your local marketing team remotely with no local office. The local representatives are there for you to assist in the global expansion of your product.
You probably already know that your success in the new market depends largely on communication with the local buyers. It doesn't matter if your new potential buyers speak English or not. It is undoubtedly in your interest to provide them with content in their native language.
But is your marketing team the best choice when it comes to translation?
In order for you to be able to answer this question, we need to go through more detailed questions.
According to the Global Ambition: How B2B Software Companies Win and Lose in Europe report from the Frontline Ventures, half of the US companies selling in Europe do not have any marketing division located in this area even a year after entering the local market. And when they have a local marketing representative, that person is often a beginner without experience.
Is it possible that this person can have additional time for translation? Doubtful.
Marketers are paid for their marketing tasks. Asking them to do translation may sound like an optimal solution. But the translation carried out by the marketing team is never done for free. The time spent on translation is time not spent on their basic duties or developing new marketing skills.
People who do not translate for a living, simply do it much slower than experienced professionals. Translation require proper preparation and research. The translation needs to be checked, sometimes several times. In this scenario, marketing teams are often hustling between their regular duties and translation.
Related content: How to Reduce Turnaround Time for Content Translation
This may lead to cutting the focus on both responsibilities in half and therefore nothing is done with proper attention and quality. It can also lead to burnout and your marketing talent leaving the company.
Is your marketing team representative an expert in your software, hardware, or whatever unique product or service you sell?
Are they the best person to know exactly what your product's features are? Or, are they rather an expert in brand positioning, driving qualified traffic or organic and paid acquisition channels?
A good translator must be the subject matter expert of your industry and product. Also, depending on the content type, you need different linguists. To translate marketing content, you need a marketing translation expert, for technical documentation - a technical translator, etc.
When it comes to translating web content that is heavy in marketing or marketing campaigns, the choice of the marketer as a translator may sound logical.
Related content: 10 Signs That Indicate Bad Marketing Translation Services
But what about the translation of the product Instructions for Use (IFU)? Can this person still potentially be a good match? In some cases: maybe. This leads to the most adequate question that you should ask:
Does the marketer meet your requirements for translating your product or service?
If yes, that's fine!
Read on to double-check if your localization process is fully optimized with regard to the translation resources.
Localization companies use various tools enabling them to cut your localization cost. One of them is CAT tools (Computer Assisted Translation).
Related content: Top 10 Translation Tools in 2020: A Complete Review
CAT tool is translation software that helps to produce translation, but it does not translate on its own. It does not mean using computers or machine translation instead of human talent while localizing your content. CAT tools support the translation process, which is done solely by humans.
Thanks to translation software, you can save time by reusing already translated content. Translation software helps to prepare the content for translation. It also estimates how much time is needed for translation and allows budget calculations. The CAT tools have built-in quality assurance modules and allow integrations with various content repositories like, for example, your website.
Translation tools are very powerful in the hands of people who know how to use them. Naturally, it is not rocket science, everyone can learn the basics, but is it what you really want your marketing magicians to focus on?
This section focuses on professional translation providers in general. This article is not going to compare freelance translators and translation agencies.
One linguist translates in average 3,000 words within 8 working hours. This applies to manuals, documentation, help or websites not too heavy with marketing. The same time is needed to translate about 2,500 words of marketing translation or websites heavy with marketing.
With regard to programming translation and UI, the number of translated words is even smaller. An average freelance translator needs about one working day to translate 2,000 words of software.
When it comes to translation companies, most of them work according to the industry standards like ISO 17100:2015. The standard defines translation service as consisting of the translation step followed by the revision stage. Revision is a bilingual examination of the original text against the translated text and correcting it if needed.
Related content: A Detailed Review of Professional Translation Services
This step is conducted by a separate linguist. An average daily reviser's capacity is about 6,000 words of documentation, manuals or websites not too heavy with marketing.
Respectively, it is 5,000 words of marketing and websites heavy with marketing and 4,000 words of software translation and UI.
Translation companies offer a number of different services supporting your localization efforts, like for example:
All these localization building blocks add up to and shape the time needed for your content to be ready for the local market.
Translation companies can organize the simultaneous work of multiple linguists in order to finish projects faster. They also use translation software which accelerates the work of translators.
Translation software enables easier and faster localization as well as provides help in maintaining translation quality. The main features of CATs are:
The use of CAT tools and especially the TM enables translation providers to reduce your translation cost. Everything that has been translated is immediately saved in the TM and can be easily reused at any time.
For example, if your text contains two sentences that only have a single different word, the TM will immediately recognize the already translated sentence and point to the only one difference that needs translation.
A 3-page document may require less than 4 hours of translation work if some parts of the content have already been translated and are stored in the TM. The very first file sent for translation consist of new words only - the so-called no match. No match means simply that there are no previously translated segments in the translation memory, the TM is empty.
Related content: Translation Memory in Use [video]
Every translated piece of the file is uploaded to the TM and will be waiting to be reused in other files. Every time your file needs a small update, only the new content will be translated. The TM is searched immediately in order to suggest possible translations whenever a similar sentence is approached by the linguist.
This leads to the conclusion that the more documents you assign for translation, the less you pay per page. The same applies to any other content because CAT tools can process various files, not only Word or PDF documents.
You don’t have a Translation Memory? It’s created every time you assign a document for translation. Your translation provider should have told you about that. The database collects all translations related to a project in one language pair. There are separate TMs for separate languages. The TM is connected to the translation project.
Most localization companies use at least one, basic CAT tool. It is common practice to use plenty of advanced translation tools.
Apart from CAT tools and Translation Memory, also remember about other solution that a translation agency will offer to speed up your content translation. Translation integration with your system is a solution that is worth considering. Reducing the amount of manual tasks, eliminating the e-mails sent back and forth and automated data exchange will significantly boost the translation of your content.
Let's start with the basics. If a bilingual person wants to professionally translate from English to Spanish, this person needs to be a native Spanish speaker. Being a native English speaker and knowing Spanish as a second language does not qualify a person to be a professional English - Spanish translator. Being native in Spanish and understanding English also does not qualify them to be a translator.
A professional translator, who meets ISO 17100:2015 standard requirements, is either a translation studies graduate, or has several years of documented experience as a professional translator.
A professional translation provider must be an expert in the subject matter. For example, a person who works on electronic device's IFU translation must be familiar with electronic devices. Consequently, to translate medical texts, the translator must have a good knowledge of medicine. But a surgery expert may not be the right person to translate dentistry texts.
Translation companies employ vendor management departments that focus on establishing long-term business relationships with translation experts for clients like you. They provide training, feedback and manage all the paperwork.
Cooperation with a professional translation company is more efficient than assigning translation tasks among your marketing team.
Translation companies start from evaluating the preparation of the product for localization. If any of the files require preparation, your team will receive professional engineering support.
The subsequent stages of the translation project are managed by a team of localization project managers.
Related content: 5 Benefits You Get From Working With a Translation Agency
Resources are allocated to the project based on ISO 17100:2015 requirements. The project is sent back but the translation company's services do not end with the delivery of the translated content. The feedback you give to the company will be carefully analyzed and used in this and subsequent projects.
No matter which solution you choose, the most important thing is whether it suits your localization needs and brings your message closer to your international audience.
Consider your options carefully in terms of the localization cost, potential savings you can have, any risks connected with each of your options, and make sure you choose the one that will not make you overspend on your translation.
Whatever seems to work for you, make sure you really benefit from it.