Corporate translation for mobile apps, business documents, and websites ensures you expand your global reach or cater more efficiently to the global customers you may already have. There’s a large amount of evidence on the ROI (return on investment) of translation, but here’s a directly measurable one: a manufacturing company’s e-commerce website saw a conversion boost just hours after its multilingual sites were launched.
Types of Corporate Translation Services
Companies primarily translate content in four ways. They are:
- Human, professional translators: This is, by far, the most common way to translate websites, mobile apps, and documents. It is common for the simple reason that it ensures the highest quality. Professional translators are knowledgeable in both the source and target languages and are familiar with translation tools that speed up the process and improve quality. Translators with subject matter expertise are highly sought after by companies in the finance, legal, manufacturing, and life sciences domains.
- Bilingual employees as translators: Sometimes, companies new to translation think their bilingual employees can be used for translation. This thinking is flawed for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the employee will be required to devote time for translation at the cost of their core responsibilities. Not a good use of your resources. Secondly, they may not be familiar with using translation software, thus you may miss out on savings from using past translations, quality improvement over time, and speed.
- Machine translation (MT): The most popular machine translation option is Google Translate, which is an online engine with free usage at lower volumes, and also one that you should avoid using for most enterprise translation needs. Quality is far from desirable with free engines, but even the paid ones fall short of reaching a minimum level of quality with most language combinations. This is because machines cannot take into account the context, which is crucial to interpreting language. MT can be used in some limited cases, where most content is repetitive or specific to a limited knowledge domain.
- Crowdsourced translation: Companies like Facebook and Twitter and others who have an engaged community of users have used crowdsourced translation to their benefit. But it doesn’t work for every company, for the simple reason that every company doesn’t have such a global and dedicated fan following. Also, crowdsourced translation is wrongly thought to be a cheap or even free option. It’s not. It also requires considerable investment in project management and crowd motivation.
Buying translation can be as diverse as the types of translation themselves. Here are four common ways companies purchase translation:
- Request for Proposal (RFP): Companies are familiar with using RFPs to recruit vendors for a number of products or services they require. But RFPs to find translation vendor/s need to reflect your specific needs for translation. Else, you may be wading through a lot of unnecessary information from a number of language service providers (LSPs). RFPs may not be the best approach for companies new to localization. An awareness of the language service industry’s common practices is required to craft the RFP, else your lack of experience may show. It’s also a slower method.
- Word of mouth: In any business, this is obviously the best way to find a good provider — get a referral from someone who has been there before you. Network with your peers at industry events and talk to them about their own translation experiences and why they prefer to work with a particular vendor or not. This information may be hard to come by in highly regulated industries, where confidentiality is very important.
- Business listings: If a vendor’s proximity to you is important, you may look for them in the online or print directory listings for your city, country, or region, as applicable. If you’re lucky enough, you may find one in your own neighborhood. But this may be a process of trial and error, until you locate the perfect provider.
- Your own research: Although this is time-consuming, researching vendors does assure you of first-hand information. Use relevant keywords to look online for the provider that suits your requirements. When you have shortlisted a few, take a close look at their websites. First off, do they provide any language options on their own website? The savvy ones will and a look at their translated content should be enough proof of the pudding. Also look up the industries they work for, their clients, any indication of the number of employees, geographies covered, and any other niche that may be applicable to you. For instance, you may be looking for a company that specializes in game localization in Chinese.
At Smartling, a leading provider of corporate translation software, we have another, easier way for you to find the best localization services. We hand-select your providers from our trusted network of partners. The translation specialists we prefer are known for their quality, reliability, and professionalism.
Deciding on a Translation Agency
Even after you have nailed down the translation method and made a short list of probable candidates, you still have the task of choosing one or more vendors, as required. Again, knowing your own requirements well will help you make the right decision. If it’s only a single language you’re going to translate into, freelancers or single language vendors (SLVs) may be better than larger translation agencies or multi-language vendors (MLVs). You might want to work with SLVs in each country or region where you operate, or you may just want to entrust all translation to an MLV. Choices abound.
However, choosing the translation provider is still only part of the story.