A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on how to decide whether to translate marketing content. For each piece of content, the decision should be based on a set of predetermined factors.
If a company decides to translate a given set of content, the next step is determining how to go about it. Unfortunately, many companies take a one-size-fits-all approach to translation and end up with either an unnecessarily big invoice or a poor-quality product.
To optimize translation, use a three-tier model based on the content’s purpose: to forge an emotional connection with a buyer, influence a buyer or inform an audience.
Content to create emotional connection. When seeking to emotionally connect your message with an audience (e.g. through headlines, campaign themes or taglines) consider using local/regional agencies that can be creative and aligned in the target audience’s language. Word-for-word translations rarely capture the humor, irony or local colloquialisms that are effective in attracting a target audience. This type of content is typically the smallest segment.
Content to influence. If the goal of the content asset is to influence your target audience (e.g. demand creation emails, landing pages), use a central translation partner with a strong process for local vetting. Local creative agencies, which are typically more expensive, are not necessary, because message consistency is most important for this type of content.
Content to inform. If the content is built to inform a target audience (e.g. product documentation), opt for a central translation partner with translation memory to leverage the long shelf life and high word repetition that are frequently found in this type of content. If there is a very large amount of content to translate or a large number of authors, using an editor to eliminate inconsistencies before translation can increase the effectiveness of translation memory, thereby reducing time and cost of the translation. This type of content is typically the largest volume of content that requires translation.