At this point, it’s safe to say that the Internet has brought us together in a more immediate and intimate way than most could have predicted even as recently as a decade ago. This is especially true when it comes to business, where even the smallest organizations out there can now operate on a global scale thanks to the power of social media, how easy it is to publish content and more.
But at the same time, if you are going after that global audience, it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone speaks the same “language” that you do – both literally and figuratively. Yes, this means that not everyone speaks English – but to really create the type of content that resonates with as many people as possible, you need to go a fair bit deeper than that. You need to acknowledge that not everyone has experienced the same culture that you have. Not everyone understands the same references that you do. Not everyone has the same priorities that your current target audience has.
This is why, wherever you go hunting for a translation service to help take your message to other countries, you need to find someone who will do more than just plug your content into “Google Translate” and call it a day. You need to find a true collaborator who believes in your message every bit as much as you do and who is willing to not just make sure that the job gets done, but to make sure it gets done properly.
Thankfully, getting to this point isn’t necessarily difficult – but it will require you to keep a few basic things in mind.
Finding a Translation Service: What You Need to Know
One of the most important things to look for in a translation service involves finding a provider who is willing to offer you a single point of contact to discuss everything you’re going to need and what you’re trying to accomplish moving forward. It doesn’t matter whether this is by phone or by email – you need someone who is willing to take the time to learn as much about your business and your message as possible, all so that they can fully understand how to best present it to new audiences in the future.
In no uncertain terms: any company that just wants to take whatever you give them and provide a translated version WITHOUT any type of discussion is not worth your time, money or energy. From the beginning of this process, you should feel like you’re a part of a true collaboration in every sense of the term.
Case in point: blog posts. Yes, you used a site like Respona to research all of the topics that your audience members care about. You did an incredible amount of research to make sure that you’ll wind up with a piece that will resonate. But what worked well in one country isn’t necessarily going to “land” the same way in another because of the major cultural differences in play.
You need a translation service who is willing to come in and tell you that “X, Y and Z” portions of your blog post simply don’t make sense given the market you’re trying to communicate with. You need a partner willing to tell you why that is the case, and what you can potentially do to change up your messaging to make things better to that end. Anyone who is simply going to provide you with 1:1 translation services probably isn’t going to go into this level of detail, which is why you need a partner willing to step up and really dive deep into what you’re trying to accomplish.
Along the same lines, you absolutely need to make sure that whatever translation service you choose has experience working in your particular industry. This is doubly true if yours is a fairly niche industry, or is very specific in some way. Any translators that are working on your content are going to need to be intimately familiar with things like regulatory requirements, for example. They can’t just parrot the technical language you provide to them – they really need to understand what it all means and how it all comes together.
Unfortunately, some translation agencies aren’t just going to come right out and admit that “no, we’ve never done any work in your industry before.” At that point, you’ll find out far too late that you have a problem on your hands. Instead, you need to come right out and ask people if they have the experience and ask for writing samples to back up those claims. Make them show you the success they’ve had with other companies in your field to back up their claims about what they’re capable of doing for you.
You should also look for a firm that has experience in all of the various forms of content that you’ll be creating – not just text-based documents like blog posts and white papers. When you sit down with a tool to create social media graphics, the reach of that content absolutely doesn’t have to be limited to exclusively the United States. Sites like Facebook and Twitter give you access to billions of combined users around the world – it would be shame to cut yourself off to only a small portion of that audience just because the translation service you’ve selected can only work with text.
Therefore, regardless of what your plan for marketing to a particular region happens to be, you’ll want to go out of your way to make sure that your translation service partner has the resources to stand by your side every step of the way.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that the translation service for your business has the types of quality controls in place necessary to guarantee a perfect translation every time, absolutely no exceptions. Unfortunately, some firms still just plug whatever you provide them into translation software, give you whatever it returns and call it a day. This type of translation technology has certainly come a long way in the last decade in particular, but it’s not a silver bullet and should never, ever be treated as such.
Any firm that you select should use technology as well as a large pool of diverse human translators, working in tandem with one another. Those translators should be able to take whatever machine translation provides them and not just check it for errors, but really make it sing. Those translators should be properly certified by an organization like the Association of Translation Companies, also known as the ATC for short. This is particularly true if the content you’ll be providing them with is sensitive in nature.
In the end, when it comes to selecting the right translation service for your business, remember that the old saying of “you get what you pay for” really does apply. It’s not too difficult to go online and find a company that makes a lot of bold claims who is charging next to nothing… but “nothing” is about what you’ll end up with.
However, if you follow the best practices outlined above, you’ll find the right partner to help take your message globally in the right way, for the right audience, at exactly the right time.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.