Intro to Translation Services: A Strategic Guide

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Translation Services
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In this guide to translation services we aim to help prospective buyers develop a translation strategy. 

It’s important to note that the scope of this guide focuses on translation services, not interpretation services.

What Are Translation Services?

Translation services are used to produce multilingual versions of documents, websites, and multimedia content. Translators usually work at a computer and research terms as needed to ensure a precise copy of the source text in a foreign language.

In contrast, interpreting services are performed with live, spoken text by a language interpreter in the same room or over the phone to facilitate communication between two or more speakers of different languages.

For more comparisons between the two, see our post: What’s the Difference Between Translation and Interpretation?

Growing Your Business with Translations

Translation services enable businesses to build a global following and achieve brand resonance with multilingual consumers.

Whether you are exporting tangible goods or selling software as a service, your foreign revenue highly correlates with your ability to successfully explain and market your product in different languages and cultures.

And it’s not just abroad. Translations can open up domestic opportunities too.  According to the Center for Immigration Studies, almost half of the residents in America’s largest cities speak a foreign language. 

And while many US-based foreign-language speakers may already speak English, many of them will be more likely to buy if your content is available to them in their native tongue.

Both domestic and foreign multilingual markets offer opportunities for businesses to grow. Translation is the bridge to those opportunities.

Which Languages to Translate Into

You’ll achieve better efficiency and quicker returns by strategically prioritizing the languages that you target for translation.

If your analysis shows that you have a relatively large amount of website visitors from a country where English is not the dominant language, you could potentially increase conversions by translating your content for them.

For companies that have a new product for export without a significant global presence, it can help to consider the best languages for business.

A study done by Dr. Kai Chan of INSEAD used the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report to find a correlation between the world’s most competitive countries and the most influential languages.

What makes this list stand out is that it focuses on language profitability instead of language popularity, taking into consideration cultural, geographic, and diplomatic factors.

English, being the world’s lingua franca, is the most influential language. The five that follow are Chinese, French, Arabic, Spanish, and Russian.

For a more comprehensive list, here are the ten best languages for business and more information on the report.

Machine Translation vs. Human Translation

For companies that have a limited budget for translation, machine translation can be an enticing option.

Today’s AI technology is allowing us to do more, faster. However, as with all things human, there are cultural and linguistic nuances that can not be automated.

Therefore the place of machine translation today lies primarily in low quality-sensitive content or content that is mainly technical and repetitive.

For content that is representative of a brand’s voice and has the aim of increasing awareness and captivating new audiences, human translation and review is a must.

Moreover, while marketing translations can cost more per word, they also have the highest potential for impact higher return on investment when done by experts.

You can achieve great results by simply translating a brochure or landing page, allowing you to increase your reach with small upfront investment.

Machine translation vs. human translation will be eternally compared and debated. The bottom line is to consider where your content lies in terms of quality and your brand’s voice.

Choosing a Translation Company

Choosing the right translation partner is an important but frequently difficult decision since it requires expertise outside of the core competencies of most companies.

Although cost is often a primary driver for prospective buyers, focusing on rates alone can be risky, especially if the translation company’s processes are not up to par or the quality of translators cause the client’s brand and content to suffer.

Doing due diligence before choosing a partner will start you on the right foot. Hiring professional translation services will guaranty better, more consistent quality and ensure your translations are lean and scalable.

When shortlisting potential translation partners, it’s vital to assess their experience, services, technology as well as their process of project management, quality management, and vendor management.

Preparing Your Content for Translation

Preparing your content for translation before hiring translation services can save you substantial time and money.

You can achieve better results and quicker release times when you have consistent terminology, an established writing style, and a target persona in mind.

Being able to relay this information clearly to your translation service provider will set you up on a path to success. When translators better understand your brand, your audience, and your content objectives, your translations are more effective.

See our guide on preparing your content for translation to get the best practices and how you can use them to jumpstart your translation project and ensure faster turnaround times and a higher ROI.

Maximizing Your Translation Success

To continue to produce effective and engaging content in foreign languages, you need to know what is working and what needs improvement.

Instead of treating every translation as an isolated project, you can track your projects to enhance the scalability and efficiency of your translation program.

Gather feedback from both your translation partner and your foreign audiences, to see what is working and make improvements where necessary.

You can also leverage your previous projects to make future translations faster and cheaper while maintaining high quality.

Summing It Up

Translating your content can be daunting for first-time buyers. Having set objectives, an understanding of your foreign language audience, and finding a balance between quality, price, will help you in your search for the best translation services for you.

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