Running a content marketing campaign across multiple language versions of your content takes preparation. An effective international content marketing strategy for your business includes more than just planning. A step-by-step strategy for globalizing your content helps you cross linguistic borders so you can profit more from your content in multiple languages. We’ll consider the various options available for translating content efficiently to develop international content marketing strategy — professional language services agencies, freelance translators, machine translation options — and evaluating which resources are best for which situations.
What are the benefits of content localization and translation services?
According to stats from stock photo giant Shutterstock, 80% of marketing decision-makers in the US and western Europe believe localization is needed before entering a new market. Not surprising: localized content has been shown to generate 6x more engagement than unlocalized posts. On the cost side, it’s a simple calculation: localizing existing content is less expensive than creating original content by a factor of 2 or 3.
What is content localization? Localization includes translation, but localizing content means also adapting number and date formats, changing currency and measurement units, and considering varying cultural preferences in different locations. When you’re trying to broaden your audience and open a new market, localization matters.
For which locations do you need localized content? That is a strategic consideration: localization strategy helps you determine in which order you localize content for various markets. Let’s say, for example, you have an Israeli tech company. It’s a no-brainer to translate Hebrew to English but then which language comes next? Arabic? Spanish? German? Chinese? It will depend on what you are selling. And if you’re a foreign company marketing to Israel, you may find it natural to translate English to Hebrew, but what about Arabic, the language of one in five Israelis? And did you consider the need to support the right to left characters in your interface design and the smaller number of characters in the average word in a Chinese or Hebrew translation? Those are among considerations in language localization strategy and implementation. You need help!
Where do you get help for translation and localization services?
Content localization is more complex than it might appear at first. But never fear: a whole industry has arisen to assist you in localizing your content, especially your digital assets. These localizing services are the bread and butter of a localization company. Traditionally, these companies started by providing professional translation services and then added on the capability to make the required technical modifications needed to localize a website or software application.
You’ll want to seek out a localization company with broad experience across multiple languages. Some translation and localization service agencies focus on a single language pair or even a specific pair direction: German-to-English localization, for example. Within that, there is even further refinement possible: after all, there are significant differences between American, British and Australian English. Other agencies support dozens or more languages with a global translation team. A good translation and localization agency understands local distinctions and has mother-tongue speakers with cultural and linguistic knowledge to make critical distinctions.
This is particularly important when marketing technology. News and research are critical to follow. But you don’t need to do it for yourself. A good localization agency will provide marketing research at no extra cost. Your job is to vet the localization agencies which will “go the extra mile” for you – a phrase that itself may require localization!
How do you find the translation or localization company that’s right for you?
Typically you should solicit proposals from 3 to 5 top agencies. A proposal is free and with no obligation. Expect a response within minutes and a detailed proposal and timetable in a day after you’ve answered basic questions about your project. (Provide your website or application name, and the locations you seek to target: the agency will then ask you the questions they need to answer to give you a price and delivery time.) Typically, pricing is based on the number of words in your document, site or application, the complexity of localization and the number of locations you target.
Pay attention to the way the agency relates to you. Do they bring a strategic orientation? Do they give your project personal, professional attention? Another consideration is a quality guarantee. Reputable localization companies guarantee their work for months, agreeing to correct any errors that may be found after delivery.
What’s it like to work with a translation or localization services company?
A localization agency should serve as a one-stop-shop for everything related to localizing your offline and online content. That starts with translation in every language you need — make sure in advance your chosen agency supports all the languages you will require! – but also technical expertise to adapt your digital assets to each locality.
Typically, you will have a dedicated account management liaison who will interface with the translators and localizers, ensuring your specifications are fulfilled and your deadlines met. You should not need to chase the translators themselves. Your localizations will be delivered without interaction with those who did them.
Work with freelancers and machines for translation or localization services?
This “opacity” can be disconcerting to some marketing managers, who are accustomed to direct access. That access may be negotiable but it’s not the usual process. A best practice we suggest is to seek out a less expensive freelancer with the linguistic knowledge you need to serve as a kind of auditor for the agency’s work. Find them in freelance marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can use online translation services like Google Translate or Microsoft Translator to check the work of your agency. But don’t give in to the temptation of using machine translation in place of a human linguist. Translation algorithms have much improved in recent years, but they still have a long way to go before they can match the quality of a top human translator. That’s especially true for complex marketing or creative writing or even marketing news content.
Allied with a professional localization agency, assisted by freelance resources and online translation tools, you’ll be well-positioned to take advantage of multilingual content marketing to go global with your localized content assets. Bon voyage!