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4 Things to consider as you begin your translation journey

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4 Things to Consider as You Begin Your Translation Journey - ©iStockphoto.com/alvarez

The corners of the globe have never been more accessible than they are now. Yet, language is still a major barrier to communication. When your business model is based on selling products, not having the ability to sell globally can be an impediment to growth. Only about a third of online visitors speak English and 72.4% prefer to buy in their own language, which means that if you aren’t localizing content into native languages you are missing a huge opportunity.

Contentserv is amidst a global sponsorship at GlobalLink NEXT, the world’s biggest translation show and a user conference for our partner Translations.com and their parent company, Transperfect. We began last week at GlobalLink Next in San Francisco and are presenting a keynote at their next show in Hong Kong on November 7 – “How companies can grow in a region by localizing their brand’s story.”  Translations.com is a premier translation management (TM) tool which integrates seamlessly with Contentserv’s Product Information Management (PIM) solution.

As the world continues to become more globalized, localization has become both easier and harder than ever. It’s easier to get content translated, either via a DIY means, such as Google Translate or a plethora of agencies with a handful of translators (the quality of the aforementioned we’ll discuss later). While content is easy to attain, the speed in which you can publish your content can put strategies on the backburner. Typically, it makes more sense to think about whether or not you should translate something rather than just do it because it can be done with ease.

As someone who went into the show without a background in the translation world, it was an eye-opening event. Translations were something that always seemed important on the other side of the world, where all those countries are, but in the U.S.? Well, at any rate, I learned that translation management is quite important, not only at the enterprise level, but at every level. It was obvious that if a company wants to grow, translations have to be on their radar.

If I were at a position at a company about to begin moving toward a global operation, these are the four things that would be front of mind…

Technical integrations

Architecture is always a fun subject. As much fun as it is though, there’s also a serious component to it, as all of your data and content are dependent on your various systems and how they interact with each other. A translation management system is an integral proponent to any global company that needs to have content translated and available to its subsidiaries around the world.

Foundational solutions, such as PIM, can easily connect to a translation management system that can streamline the translation process for all your product content to all sales channels. Integrations such as this are necessary to manage enterprise product content for global markets with minimal effort.

SEO friendliness

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is difficult enough in your native language. Start optimizing for different languages to support your sites around the globe and it adds a layer of complexity. After translations are said and done, and the management aspect is taken care of, the next step is to ensure that the content can be found.

This is where the intricacies of translations and localization begin to get complex beyond the technical portions. It takes local knowledge of keywords, URL structure and backend SEO to get the most out of your translated content.

Machine learning still needs a human eye

While translations are easier than ever to produce, the quality of them are a different story. Much like SEO, the nuances of language can make localization quite tricky. Machine Learning, the concept of computers analyzing data to learn, is a massive part of TM software, just as it is across the web.

Dialects of the same language change from country to country, and often region to region within the same countries. With the influx of machine learning, translation agencies have been able to start up with minimal staff, which means that while translation copy is in a “golden-era” the quality is not.

Artificial intelligence (AI) had a significant role at GlobalNext, many sessions were dedicated to the topic and in many that weren’t, the subject still came up. There is both excitement and apprehension about AI. In many cases the term AI is simply a synonym of ML and the term was interchanged. True AI is going to disrupt the translation business. The consensus is that AI will continue to work in concert with humans to speed up the process, but in the near future AI shouldn’t be trusted to produce quality content.

It all boils down to customer experience

If AI was a significant theme, the overarching theme was customer experience (CX). The reason that we produce content, after all, is to educate an audience to give them an opportunity to engage with you. The process of translation management is simply to localize content and give the same CX to people no matter where they are located in the world, or at least in the places that you deem important.

The customer journey begins with awareness, then education, purchase and continues on with brand advocacy. But, doing it well begins with a strategy that has your customer top of mind.