Throughout the last few years, localization has become an increasingly common buzzword within the translation industry. So, how does it differ from translation?
Localization is the process of modifying content to make it suitable for use in a new region. Translation, on the other hand, is a literal translation of the source material into the target language. Localization combines content translation with cultural adaptation. Localization is viewed by some as more art than science because different cultures interpret information uniquely. Your message will be carefully crafted and a localization team will ensure that it reaches the target audience exactly as intended.
Analyzing Market Demands
The number of internet users worldwide reached 3 billion in 2014 and corporations have been trying to reach as much of this ever-growing population as possible. The first step for any localization strategy is knowing where your audience and their demands are located. Figuring where to start in your analytics can be daunting, considering there is a sea of different data metrics available and the fact that you are probably already receiving traffic from a wide range of different regions. A good rule of thumb is to start with countries that make up at least 5% of your website traffic.
Mobile First Mindset
If your company has mobile applications, having those materials localized for potential target regions is a good way of seeing if your message has traction on a smaller scale before committing more resources to a more thorough localization. See this article for more in-depth tactics to help you assess viable regional demands and decide which languages provide optimal regional market penetration. Once a realistic market demand has been established, you can calculate how in-depth your commitment should be to localizing resources such as landing pages, marketing materials, social media content and support information services access.
Now that you know the regions you plan to target, you can save a tremendous amount of time and money by preparing your content for localization. This stage helps ensure that your content goes through the least number of edits before it reaches your Language Service Provider’s (LSP) localization team. This step includes keeping your writing clear, simple and concise. Make sure that the writing is also free of idioms, metaphors, puns, and pop culture references. If your content meets these guidelines, you can avoid wasted resources by sidestepping unnecessary edits and the inevitable need for clarification.
Limiting text in graphics and placing text into an editable layer will further streamline the process by removing the need for a graphic designer. Readying visuals for different markets can also be a daunting challenge because there are so many different variables to consider, from the significance of color and of icons, to something as mundane as being able to show women in images. The safest strategy is to consult with your LSP before creating images meant for different regions. The time you invest in this step will be worth its weight in gold, simply by avoiding cumbersome, resource-intensive delays later on.
Understand LSP's Software Toolbox
When working with an LSP, it’s important to discuss the different softwares being utilized in order to ensure maximum compatibility and value. There are many different types of translation software available, but some of the most important ones are as follows.
Translation Memory Software
Most companies employ multiple LSPs for translations so it’s crucial that the LSP utilize independent Translation Management Systems (TMS) to maintain consistency across related materials. The TMS store segments of text and their translations over time, so the more content you translate, the more time and money you save. This software is a huge help when it comes to translating large volumes of materials in a short amount of time.
Translation Management Systems are critical for this process and can be viewed as the equivalent of marketing automation (MA) software. TMS software is arguably becoming the standard as MA software is becoming increasingly critical to running marketing campaigns in one language! This software becomes a necessity once you are running a marketing campaign on different platforms and in multiple languages and countries. Keeping up with industry software is challenging, but a simple outline of the production cycle can give you an idea of the kinds of software to look for when working with an LSP.
Machine translations are Internet based, and they attempt to automatically translate written material from one language to the other without the use of a human translator. Since the quality of machine translations is widely unreliable, it is best applied in cases where mistranslation will not be an issue. For example, if you wanted to gain a general understanding of a text, you could use it. For more information, check out the post, “How Does Machine Translation Compare With Human Translation?”
Localization is only one part of a multifaceted globalization plan. Considering the breakneck pace of marketing trends, software development and the language service industry as a whole, you can rest assured that as soon as the proverbial ink sets on your localization strategy, it will be time to re-evaluate it. But if you have a basic understanding of the industry’s core process and procedures, many aspects should only need revisiting. The localization process can be both daunting and exciting, especially at a time with so many ways to reach and engage customers all around the globe.
Finally, all of the information gleaned from new regions will serve as additional fuel for your company’s global marketing machine.
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Last Updated January-15th-2019