Five Tips for Getting the Best Translation for Your Business

It’s no longer enough to sell in just one language. Marketers are now tasked with creating media from the ground up that caters to audiences worldwide—the 1.3 billion people who use simplified Chinese, for example, or the 160 million who speak Indonesian.

Fortunately, there are options when it comes to translation; marketers can choose to hire a real professional person or outsource it to trusted third parties. But every avenue comes with risk.

Here are the top five tips for getting the best translation for your business.

1) Don’t Try to Do It All: Automate the Process

Marketers often fall into one of two categories: those who want to do everything themselves, and those looking to outsource as much as possible. In some cases, these two motives both occupy space in an overworked marketer’s brain. Brand control is essential, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. When it comes to translation, however, the key is balance. Outsourced translation software has evolved to include the benefit of both machine and human conversion, along with the ability to track changes in real time. But this kind of technological footwork doesn’t absolve marketers of the need for oversight across every bit of official communication that appears on websites, mobile apps, or e-mails. Full ownership combined with the right tech infrastructure allows marketers to get the best of both worlds: content that can be tweaked on demand and is never out of reach.

2) Provide Enough Guidance to Translators

When translating to another language, there’s always the question: how much direction is needed to ensure quality? Some marketers assume that because the final product will be in a language that includes grammar and style rules very different from their native tongue, too much guidance about brand voice may be counterproductive. On the contrary, languages have a host of subtle meanings informed by word choice and placement, and without visibility into the tone of translation, it is possible to miss crucial brand elements in your pursuit of accuracy. There are a host of funny examples floating around about companies that opted for speed over specificity and got a memorable result—just not the one they wanted. Your best bet? Find translation services that allow you to create a style guide and glossary; this is effectively a reference sheet for translators to minimize error and maximize brand alignment.

3) Own Your Translation Assets

It’s short and simple: keep your multilingual translation assets safe. This means making sure you always have access to the files—typically in TMX format—that are used to store translations. The big benefits? First, you’ve got the data on-hand if you choose to part ways with a translation provider. In addition, this content is rightfully yours and should never be owned by any software or service vendor. Finally, these files can often be repurposed across media channels, meaning you should only pay for completed files rather than multiple, identical assets.

4) Go Faster, but Not with Machine Translation

Much has been said about the rise of real-time machine translation, but there’s a still a large disconnect between the way people speak and write and the way machines interpret this information. They just can’t get the nuances of language, neither can they fathom context. Workflow automation tools, on the other hand, allow you to speed up processes without compromising the integrity of the translation.

5) Save Time on Internationalization, Too

For many marketers, the prospect of a multilingual application or website is terrifying; they’ve heard horror stories about six-month turnaroud times and customers still dissatisfied that their materials don’t seem “quite right.” Through what are known as translation proxy tools, however, it’s possible to cut down development time by removing the need to copy and paste files to “internationalize” a website. Instead, changes are made on an as-needed basis by internal and offsite translators, allowing you to stride boldly forward into new markets with your market penetration strategy. And really, there’s no other choice—apps and websites are effectively global from the moment they launch, so marketers can’t afford to hesitate.

Image source: BigStock

Translation projects taking too long? Use these tips to fast-track your website translations and reduce costs.


About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is a freelance technology writer with a passion for telling great stories about unique brands. For the past five years, he's covered everything from cloud computing to home automation and IT security. He speaks some French, is fluent in Ancient Greek and a master of Canadian English — and yes, colour needs a 'u'.