translation for search engine marketing

A Smart Web Marketing Tool? Try Translation

The fuel for your search engine marketing

In the era of infinite information, human-to-human approach seems to become the most important sales-driving force. But implementing H2H marketing, which is a true paradigm shift, can be hard after many years of traditional models. The translation strategy lacks ‘a human touch’ in many B2 companies working with industries and technologies.

A customer-centric strategy might be the most misunderstood component of marketing communications. It requires to focus on the customers’ experience and to understand what they like and need. Meaningful communication—conversational, story-driven, and even humorous—is easier said than done.

A human is delivering the communication and another human is receiving. With corporate values set in stone, with a content workflow in place, it is hard to change the ecosystem. But you need trust to be successful both locally and abroad and not pure algorithms. And a bit of web visibility to ignite that trust. So make translations work for your SEM.

Content: the approach to be changed

At the recent Social Media Week conference in New York, brand marketers kept wondering if they spent too much money on the wrong content. A related challenge is a disproportional breakdown of what brands spend on content creation vs. content distribution.

Developing high-value content can be costly, but brands invest only 10% in creating content and 90% in its distribution.

“The problem is 90% of the impact comes from content creation, not distribution,” Noah Brier, co-founder and CEO of Percolate, said in a session called “The Spiralling Cost of Content.”

Translation fits in that trend, too.

More than a half of the top 10 million websites is in English. 73 percent of internet users don’t speak English, according to Internet World Stats (as of June 2016). That means only a quarter of web surfers use English, and the number is growing.

A lot of marketers see translation as a cost while it is a tool for content creation. Translation is not an extra cost but a major investment. Search engines still index English better than content in other languages. So a multilingual web strategy should be handled with care.

Why translation is good for your SEO

To make a website visible or boost its ranking in unpaid search results, the content should meet three criteria, all based on trust:

– Domain/website age
– Diverse incoming links
– Well-written content with keywords

While the domain age is out of one’s control, you can do your best to get healthy links pointing to your site. And you are able to create relevant content, which should be error-free, non-duplicated, and highly engaging.

By translating the most important pages you make your website better indexed. Engagement is the current standard for content effectiveness. Google favours the content which is useful for the search engine users.

For instance, blog posts continue to drive traffic and generate impressions up to 700 days after they go live, according to the study commissioned by IZEA.

The content should inspire, educate, entertain, and finally, it should convert. Unless the content is in a language internet users speak, they are unlikely to engage with it.

High-quality translated content becomes another step in your trust building and content engagement strategy aimed at current and potential customers from abroad.

What translation is good for your SEO

About five to ten years ago, organic traffic was associated mainly with keywords and keyword density. Now that Google is able to add close variations, synonyms and related searches of your keyword or phrase automatically, the focus has changed.

Highly relevant keywords related to the content your customers browse are still important. But a prerequisite for good ranks and search traffic is the content and it should be translated professionally.

It may sound funny but using the automatic translation like Google Translate is actually against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines saying: no automatically generated content including texts translated by an automated tool.

In addition to possible Google penalties, chances are high that visitors won’t linger on your web page too long if it’s mistranslated. And errors are definitely not adding to their trust.

Great technologies deserve great translation, human-oriented and carefully crafted. For today’s search engine marketing, quality excels quantity every single time.

Things a professional translation can do for your website:

  • 100% clear and accurate comprehension of public-facing content
  • Better ranking of pages aimed at local audiences
  • Better user experience resulting in shares, leads, and conversions
  • Gained visibility and trust for major markets abroad
  • Better supports of your local distributors

Use translated content to generate new leads, sell your products, build the brand, and divert traffic from your competitors.

A useful test is to ask, “Does this really help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” ElaN Languages decided to show it in its video where a chef is cooking a Japanese recipe as translated by humans vs. automated results.

Your website is your business card so careful phrasing does matter here. Otherwise, it would be inauthentic and ineffective for people not speaking English. Do you want your customers to eat plastic horses and giggle at some stunning mistakes while you claim to deliver state-of-the-art solutions? Show them you care.

Translation quality basics

Translation Quality 101

Part 1. Source materials for translation

During this year, I was reconsidering my translation workflows and procedures. The whole thing led to a series of posts on ensuring translation quality for my Russian blog.

Part 2. Terminology management. Part 3. Style guides.

Why do I have to care?

Demands related to translation quality will often vary even inside a company. People who work with translations need quality. People who pay translation invoices look for a bargain.

How can a company come to know that translations of its marketing materials are not up to the mark? The customers may say they are not. I wouldn’t call that situation a pleasant one, would you?

Customer service departments may act as another feedback channel. A poorly translated instruction may lead to more calls from end users. Besides, many companies tend to track user reaction. For them, social media, forums, and communities are a valuable information source.

Ways and methods to ensure translation quality have been summarised many times before. Look into terminology work, style guides, quality assurance software, translation memory usage.

But many customers completely ignore them to speed up the workflow or to ‘optimise costs’. To focus on technical issues paying less attention to the content is another extreme. For marketing materials, it’s unacceptable.

Can you guarantee a generally high quality of marketing translations? If yes, how do you ensure that? We’ll analyse the process step by step.

Pull up the quality of source materials

For a translated text to become an efficient part of a marketing campaign, one should take into consideration the audience and the scale, communication channels, campaign success criteria, etc.

But what’s the key factor? To my mind, it’s the quality of the texts planned for translation. To make an excellent product, the translator is to get an excellent material to work with. In translation, high-quality input is a prerequisite for high-quality output.

Some criteria of a high-quality (i.e. efficient) marketing text:

  • It engages. If a text does not evoke interest, why read it? Marketing materials failing to resonate with your audience fail to convert and sell, too. It’s true for both technical press releases and hot vacation offers. At the same time, consumer preferences tend to differ from ideas offered by marketing teams.
  • It’s created for people. A message for a target audience and a demographic market? Or an open communication with your reader? The less your materials resemble advertising, the more convincing they are.
  • It’s short. An average reader now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Get rid of informational noise and do not try to sell everything at once. Shape and trim extras, and you will see the results.
  • It’s simple. Strange as it may sound, choose shorter words and sentences to make people believe you are an expert. “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well… Everything should be as simple as it can be, yet no simpler.” Albert Einstein
  • It’s useful. Prepare a product review. Offer best practices for optimising workflows. Show great results that your client get. Stick to facts.
  • It’s realistic. Avoid picturing a perfect company offering perfect products. Add a couple of small issues to make the material more real-world-like.

When the original leaves much to be desired, please, notify your translator in advance. Agree on how to deal with possible issues and how far the translator can go in adapting the text.

If you are not happy with the material offered for translation, chances are your audience wouldn’t be thrilled, either. Perhaps, it’s better to find some roundabouts: adaptation, reference translation, creating content locally, etc.

Take the translator into account

Well-managed translation workflow resembles a faultless, well-oiled mechanism. The problem is one seldom considers translation while creating content.

According to a recent report, 48% of US marketers had no budget at all for translation abroad. 59% of respondent lacked money allocated for reaching multilingual customers within the US. And only 15% of marketers said they were confident that their messages were resonating with international customers.

Long, intricate sentences, idioms and jargon are a good touch to a novel, but not to a news release. Add clichés to them, and your checklist of surefire translation killers is ready.

Misprints, vague phrases, inconsistent terms mean potential mistakes in future translations. Prepare for the second cycle of editing and proofreading (with additional time and budget).

If you plan to translate your marketing content, remember the following.

  • Stay away from abbreviations and jargon where possible
  • Make your writing clear and concise
  • Avoid ambiguity
  • Think globally as each language and culture have their own peculiarities

Track and provide feedback

The marketing translator is no less than a co-author of your materials. A text, which is clear, though poorly written, may be improved, but it takes time and effort.

Were the marketing tasks addressed efficiently before the translation took place? And after the translation? Sometimes, the analysis of a source text shows that the translator made their best. A perfect localised material is a teamwork result.

In case you doubt the translation quality, find an expert for a review and assessment.

  • Do not choose the translator of the text as a reviewer
  • Do not tell the reviewer who made the translation. What you need is an open-minded approach
  • Look into the translation workflow. Perhaps, it’s a failure of a supervising manager and not of a translator

Have you tried to get through with a tight budget and got an unacceptable result? Analyse and draw your conclusions.

Marketing texts, image collaterals, and legal documents are to be translated by experts. Otherwise, losses can be far greater than gains.

Translation terms

Translation Terms

A short guide for translation buyers

A translation cookbook for those who are unaware of such subtleties and details. By “translation” we mean both the process and its result.

Key terms related to the work of linguists and translators are listed here with some useful links. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The terms listed below are for general reference only. The list is being constantly updated with new terms and useful links. Feel free to add your ideas, remarks, terms or questions in the comments below or email me. The Russian version of the glossary can be found here.

Use Ctrl+F to search for specific terms.

ADAPTATION

Modifying the source text in order to produce the translation which conforms to the needs of a target language audience (pragmatic adaptation).

Marketing and media materials should be adapted if your purpose is to engage your audience and communicate your message.

Stylistic adaptation helps overcome cultural incompatibilities that stand in the way of communicating the meaning of the original. The translator takes into account stylistic preferences of the client, the target culture, and the tasks the translated text should fulfil.

See also Marketing translation.

AUTOMATED TRANSLATION

See Machine Translation.

BACK TRANSLATION

Translating a text that has already been translated into a foreign language back into the original language, preferably by an independent translator. Sometimes back translation can be used to observe conceptual and cultural correspondence and/or to compare original and translated texts (for example, in transcreation).

BRAND NAME EVALUATION

Analysis of brand names is used to assess a name or a tagline against social, sensory and/or legal criteria of a foreign market. Language and cultural differences may add an unexpected meaning to a well-intended name.

CHECKING (translation)

According to standard translation procedures, the person who translates checks the completed work for omissions, misprints, and errors (proofreads the text). The translator makes the necessary amendments to ensure that the meaning has been conveyed and service specifications are met. But even the best translator needs ‘the second pair of eyes’: an editor and/or a proofreader.

Numerous terms describing the checking process further complicate negotiation of the checking process between the translator and the translation buyer. Apparently, attention should be paid when discussing the checking and revision workflow.

The translation buyer should be clear about the final quality they expect and the services covered by the agreement: translation only (for further revision by in-house experts); translation and editing (the text ready for publication); translation, editing, and proofreading (the text ready for publication with final proofreading of the layout).

See also Editing, Proofreading, Post-Editing, Revision, Standards.

COMPETENCIES (of a translator)

A set of skills that makes it possible for a translator to achieve the most equivalent translation in relation to the original text.

ISO 17100:2015 defines the following professional competencies of translators:

– Translation competence. The ability to address the problems of language content comprehension and to render the target language content
– Linguistic and textual competence. The ability to understand the source and to apply this knowledge when producing translation
– Competence in research, information acquisition, and processing. The ability to efficiently acquire the additional linguistic and specialised knowledge
– Cultural competence. Ability to make use of information on the behavioural standards, up-to-date terminology, value systems, and locale for source and target language cultures
– Technical competence. The knowledge, abilities, and skills required to perform the technical tasks in the translation process
– Domain competence. The ability to understand content produced in the source language and to reproduce it in the target language using the appropriate style and terminology

COMPUTER-AIDED TRANSLATION

(Also computer-assisted translation, CAT) A form of translation in which a human translator uses computer software. (Not to be confused with automated machine translation.) CAT software is only a supplementary tool used to facilitate and support the translation process. CATs do not replace the translator but help them improve quality and efficiency by checking the consistency of terminology and style.

CAT software includes a comprehensive list of tools for:

– Spelling, grammar, formatting checks
– Terminology management
– Words and phrases lookup in databases and translation memory files
– Project management

See also Machine Translation, Translation Memory.

CONTENT CURATION (service)

The process of gathering and sorting information on the web relevant to a particular topic. The information is then arranged and translated if needed to present it in a meaningful way and publish online via corporate blogs, social media accounts, etc. Content curation services can be used both by businesses and end users.

COPYWRITING

Creating original written content for online or traditional printed media. Copies usually contain straightforward or hidden promotion and are used for persuasion in advertising as well as for raising brand awareness in marketing. Not to be confused with the copyright symbol ©.

CORPUS (monolingual)

A structured set of processed texts for checking occurrences or validating linguistic rules. 

Corpora examples:  

– National Russian Corpus: www.ruscorpora.ru
– Corpus of Contemporary American English: corpus.byu.edu/coca
– The British National Corpus: corpus.byu.edu/bnc 

Corpora are also used for creating collocations dictionaries: 

– Free Online Collocations Dictionary by ProWritingAidbit.ly/2EKXkDK 
– The English Collocations Dictionary Onlinewww.ozdic.com 

CORPUS (parallel)

An informational system for context search containing a collection of original electronic texts in two languages. Parallel corpora help to find the translation of words or phrases from Russian or into Russian (although no one guarantees you the accuracy). Some of the popular corpora:

– Linguee: linguee.ru
– Opus: opus.lingfil.uu.se
– Reverso: context.reverso.net
– Glosbe: glosbe.com
– MyMemory: mymemory.translated.net
– TAUS Data Cloud: data-app.taus.net

DESKTOP PUBLISHING (DTP, typesetting)

Creation of page layout from elements: translated and formatted text, headlines, tables, and images. Depending on the original document, DTP is usually carried out in page layout software such as Adobe InDesign or in other packages such as MS Word or PowerPoint. Translated text can expand by as much as 30%, so it is better to let the translator what final document is expected (exactly same layout, possibility to add pages, etc.)

EDITING

Revising and refining the translated text to make it match current language norms and rules as well as to ensure that it is suitable for the purpose.

The editor checks the accuracy and completeness of the translation, spelling, grammar, punctuation, terminology, register, style, and formatting.

Editing services in the source or target language not related with a translation include linguistic editing and specialist editing for technical or scientific texts.

See also Checking translation, Revision.

GLOSSARY (creation)

A list of specialised industry terms with definitions or explanations created for a customer or a project.

Glossaries can be used by both in-house and freelance translators to ensure terminology is used correctly and consistently.

INTERPRETATION

(Also interpreting, 1nt) Facilitating of oral communication between users of different languages.

The interpreter converts oral speech in a source language into oral speech in a target language either simultaneously, listening to the speaker and interpreting in real time, or consecutively when the speaker pauses after completing one or two sentences.

LITERAL TRANSLATION

(Also word-for-word translation). A translation that follows the form and the structure of the original text written in the source language.

As a result, the relationship between component parts of a sentence is lost, and the original meaning may become unintelligible.

LITERARY TRANSLATION

Translation of literary works: poetry, plays, novels, short stories, lyrics, etc.

Characteristics of the genre: an artistic image dominates in the text (means of emotional impact are primary, while information is secondary); stylistic nuances depend on who created the original piece, where and when. The purpose of literary translation is to decode and recreate artistic images and style being as equivalent as possible.

LOCALISATION

(Also L10n) Adaptation of a product, software, or document to language, culture and other demanding realities of a target market (locale).

Often: translation of UI, user guides, and additional software files from one language to another. In this case, localisation is a multi-level process requiring the collaboration of programmers, designers, and translators.

MACHINE TRANSLATION

(Also MT) Also automated translation. Translation of a text by specialised software, with no human involvement. MT systems provide different results for various languages performing sometimes better and sometimes worse.

Machine translation may be acceptable for certain tasks provided that creators of original texts stick to ‘primitivisation’ rules. Examples of MT applications include repeated sentences with a primitive structure, large volumes of not-so-important web content (user generated), etc.

See also Post editing.

MARKETING TRANSLATION (service)

Translation of promotional and advertising content: case studies, blog posts, brochures and media publications, newsletters, promo campaigns, etc. Marketing efforts are based on engagement and conveying the message. Obviously, the marketing translation should sound natural and persuasive, with the focus on the target audience and their current trends.

See also Adaptation, Transcreation.

NATIVE SPEAKER

A person who speaks a particular language as their mother tongue.

The native speaker:

  • Learned the language in their childhood
  • Is able to produce fluent, spontaneous discourse
  • Identifies with or is identified by a language community
  • Speaks without a foreign accent

ORIGINAL

A source text that is to be translated into another language.

POST-EDITING

Examination and correction of a machine-generated translation to achieve an acceptable result and ensure that it complies with the laws of grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

PROOFREADING (translation)

(1) The final pre-publication revision of a text after it was translated and edited. Or (2) checking of proofs before publishing (EN 15308).

Proofreading involves only one text in the target language and is meant to:

  • Eliminate grammar, spelling, syntax and punctuation mistakes and typos
  • Ensure style, terminology, formatting consistency
  • Ensure proper formatting and compliance with publishing standards.

See also Checking translation, Revision.

PURCHASE ORDER (for translation)

A buyer-generated document that authorises a purchase transaction. A purchase order sets forth the descriptions, prices, payment terms, delivery dates, other associated terms and conditions, and identifies a specific service provider. If no prior contract exists, then it is the acceptance of the order by the service provider that forms a contract between the buyer and the service provider.

When preparing a purchase order for translation services, make sure the following options were discussed and agreed:

– Translation aim and purpose: subject area and the type of a text, target audience
– Translation requirements: source text volume (number of words / symbols / standard pages), target language including regional variation, delivery format
– Process steps included: translation, editing or revision, proofreading or all the mentioned options for publication ready quality
– Payment details including payment method and terms

Some optional elements of a translation purchase order can be found in the Template.

REFERENCE MATERIALS

Materials covering the subject area in question, both in source and target languages: glossaries, style guides, term bases, previous versions of source documents or similar translated documents (including translation memory files), website links.

More often than not, companies choose different terminology for their technical documents and for marketing and reference materials. If the translator is aware of such subtleties, it makes life a lot easier both for the translator and for the reviser/reviewer.

REVISION

1) Self-checking: the translator’s own review processes following the draft translation (e.g. proofreading, spellchecking, terminology verification, finding inaccuracies and inconsistencies).

2) According to EN 15308:

  • Examining a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose
  • Comparing the source and target texts
  • Recommending corrective measures

EN 15308 introduced two terms: reviser and reviewer. The reviser, who works with two languages, examines a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose, compares the source and target texts, and recommends corrective measures (or corrects the errors).

The reviewer, who has domain competence, carries out a monolingual review to assess the suitability of the final translation for the agreed purpose.

A whole bunch of tasks can be implied when referring to revision or reviewing depending on a real-life workflow, though, from assessing translation quality to correcting grammatical and stylistic errors.

See also Checking translation.

STANDARD PAGE

One standard page corresponds to approx. 1650 characters with spaces (30 lines x 55 characters) or approx. 210 words (30 x 7).

STANDARDS (in the translation industry)

Reference documents describing criteria, methods, processes, practices, and terms related to translation and translation services.

  • In May 2015, ISO 17000:2015 International Standard (Translation services – Requirements for translation services) was published. In fact, it replaced the European EN 15038 translation-services standard, which went into effect on August 1, 2006, and had no further updates.
  • ISO 12616:2002. Translation-oriented terminography
  • ISO 2384 2384:1977. Documentation – Presentation of translations
  • Programmes and plans for ISO standards covering translation, interpreting and related technology.
  • A complete list of international standards that can be considered applicable to the language industry at large is maintained by GALA.

A list of Russian standards, norms, and reference documents applicable to translation can be found in a publication by the Translation Union of Russia (in Russian).

STYLE GUIDE

A list of defined requirements that reflects the expectations and preferences of a translation customer. A style guide may include recommendations on term usage, preferable style and tone, non-translated words and phrases, etc. More on style guides here.

SUMMARY TRANSLATION

A concise and accurate translation of the text containing the essential content, main facts and figures, from 30% to 50% of the original text size.

An ideal variant for content curation and/or for situations where the turnaround time is very short. You can use summaries of newspaper articles, press releases, and other published materials for corporate blogs and news feeds.

TECHNICAL TRANSLATION (service)

Translation of texts which relate to scientific and technological areas: white papers, patents, technical guides, etc. Characteristics of the genre: information as the main aspect of the text (means of emotional impact are almost absent); the vocabulary with numerous terms, general scientific and technical phrases; highly formalised syntax.

Examples of technical translation fields include medicine, legal, banking and finance, IT, etc.

TRANSLATION TEST

One of the tools used to evaluate the translator’s skills. Depending on the agreement between the contractor and the translator, a test translation can be paid or free. In most cases, tests should not be longer than a few hundred words (100–300 words).

TRANSCREATION

(translation + creation) Creative adaptation of an original message, mainly for advertising and marketing materials—mass media publications, promo campaigns and advertising.

Transcreation is meant to recreate a text/message for a given target audience, while attempting to engage the audience in the same way the original text does. Transcreators successfully combine translation and copywriting skills.

TRANSCRIPTION (service)

Converting speech into a written or electronic text document.

Transcription can be combined with translation (after the text was transcribed or in real time).

TRANSLATION

(Also xl8) Conveying meaning or meanings of a text from one language to another as accurately and fully as possible.

For some useful facts about the translation for translation buyers, feel free to study a guide created by American Translators Association.

TRANSLATION MEMORY

(Also TM) A database file that stores previously made translations as segments, which can be sentences, paragraphs or sentence-like units.

TRANSLATION RATES

Prices for translation depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Source volume
  • Difficulty of the text
  • Formatting and file types (a PowerPoint presentation, a scanned PDF file, etc)
  • Delivery date
  • Special/additional requirements if any

URGENT TRANSLATION

A project that is meant to be done mainly during a weekend or requires the translation of more than 2000 words per day.

VOLUME (of translation)

One of the key factors defining the price tag for a translation project and turnaround time.

Translation is usually charged per word of source or target text, per line (25 lines per page) or per standard page (250 words). The standard page in Russia corresponds to 1,800 characters with spaces.

Microsoft Word automatically counts the number of words in your document and displays them on the status bar. If you don’t see the word count in the status bar, right-click the status bar and click Word Count. However, this option does not always provide 100% accurate result.

To get the accurate statistics for documents including non-Word formats, try FineCount (free version available) or request a project statistics report from the translator’s CAT tool.

translated collateral

Translation and Your Marketing Strategy

Haunted castles of translated collateral

The efficiency of traditional marketing has dropped dramatically. A very low response rate (less than 1%) is considered reasonable for certain marketing channels.

Customers bombarded by advertising have mastered the art of ignoring the noise while companies paying for media placement have accepted ad blindness as unavoidable.

Market players assure that they keep searching for customised ways to spread a word about their offerings and to increase brand awareness. They try to use a wide range of strategies to become closer to their consumers and to engage them. A quarter-inch hole instead of a quarter-inch drill, you know.

A couple of years ago Dell announced massive translation budget cuts. Now, the person responsible for the translation of corporate marketing collateral tells about ‘a polished global message that meets business objectives’. (A highly recommended reading for translators who are still under a delusion that globalised companies are interested in high-quality content or translations.)

If you take a look at Dell’s marketing materials translated into Russian, you’ll see that:

принтеры помогают предприятиям максимизировать эффективность работы и производительность

Could we call it the right balance of quality, velocity, and cost? Hardly. New translations may cost twice as less. Lacking engagement from the target audience, they are worth nothing. You could consider them worth reading only if it’s your job to read them (it would better be a well-paid job, too).

Such translated collateral could possibly enjoy certain interest and engagement: from a marketing team preparing praising reports on doing everything at scale. Or from professional forums where translators discuss the ways things should not be done.

Companies keep complaining that translation service providers do not care about their image ignoring their demands and requirements. Are they actually doing anything to protect their own brands? Do they take translation processes seriously?

They do have a bunch of pressing issues to take care of, from investments into a concept, to content curation, to legal attendance, to content printing / publication.

But the crucial stage is the one that either makes it or breaks it. The latter means time, costs, and efforts were wasted up the line. Does it really matter how much the company has invested in content, design, or printing if the translated collateral resembles a haunted castle? We see an impressive outline void of life or sense.

Too many translation industry players (or LSPs) are unable to turn words into their client’s positive image focusing at optimization and automation. They make their living not on quality and creativity but on sheer volumes.

Part of the Power that would always wish Good…

It looks like business marketing is in serious trouble. Here is a viewpoint with meaningful figures: 80% of executives think their companies deliver a superior experience for customers, only 8% of those customers agree with them.

Many insist that the time has come to be fascinating and interesting, clear and relevant. But nothing changes in press releases and collateral. It’s much easier to continue the usual marketing talk about value-added and industry transforming products than to offer real-world facts and figures.

Technology and product reviews work much better when you are eager to make a difference with your audience and to offer them relevant information. But for the majority of marketers, plain language and simplicity are terra incognita.

Dropping translation for good is not an option. After studying the most visited websites for 8 years, CSA Research concluded that companies offering materials in different languages are in general more successful than the ones that do not care about localisation.

If the company ignores marketing translation, customers might think that it cannot afford the process. Meanwhile, a bad translation emphasises problems with the copy, which is usually far from being perfect. Translators do know a trick or two to avoid that, but sometimes even an experienced translator won’t save the day.

Let’s see how to get translations that work for small and medium companies. We speak about the market players who are interested not in translating at scale, but in translating efficiently in order to make a good return on their marketing investments.

Light at the end of the press release?

What can you do to get high-quality translated collateral without stretching your marketing budget too much?

Set your priorities. Choose materials that are really important for translation or publication.

If the price for complete website localisation seems too high for you, make it a dozen of pages provided they are flawless. The localised variant should be ok with you, with online visitors, and with SEOs (which is not always the same thing).

If a user guide or a press release contains info about realities not relevant for the target country, skip the info or give an abridged variant.

Outline your goals. Good translations help to sell; bad translations have a negative effect on your sales.

When planning marketing budgets, considerable costs are assigned to design, copy, and placement. Too often, translations are overlooked or financed from leftovers.

The eye-pleasing ‘cover’ should contain the content worth of your local customer’s attention. Make sure your budgets make it possible.

Be closer to a real world. If the customer does not believe you, they would hardly buy anything from you. Do you consider it reasonable to invest in translation that does not resonate with your target audience?

The less your content feels like marketing talk, the more persuasive it is. Try translating product reviews, white papers, and case studies instead of marketing copies.

Facts and figures backed by trustworthy sources are your real world.

Adapt collaterals. You cannot translate a marketing copy ‘as is’. Marketing translations need a creative touch.

Ideally, the text is recreated for a given target audience. To serve marketing purposes, the translation needs to flow well and mean well in the target language. Not every English copy is a good fit for the Russian-speaking audience.

Create locally. Your dealers or distributors can create some marketing content locally instead of translating non-relevant news.

Geographically targeted news is more likely to trigger a positive reaction: local installations, case studies, market share growth, customer service news and updates, etc. Look for content, which adds value to your customers’ workflows.

Below you will find three key components for shaping out an efficient translation process.

1 Requirements and demands

For translations at scale, consider preparing your own style guide (take a look at a style guide the European Commission Directorate General for Translation uses) and/or a glossary.

Focus on requirements, issues, and terms relevant to your business or industry; avoid general advice. If you face the same errors and translation challenges regularly, be sure to add them to your style guide.

2 Targeted marketing

The choice of preferable language and style for your marketing copies depends on the target audience. A corporation addressing the market or one human talking to another? Industry-specific terms or descriptions that are clear to everyone?

To answer these questions, you need to identify your target audience: professionals, hobbyists, decision-makers, etc. The basic demographic variables for the marketing industry are age, education, sex, buying / customer preferences.

3 Linguists

Not every translator is able to cope with stylistic nuances and adaptation. Look for translators with experience in marketing and copywriting. Be realistic about in-house translations.

A translator specialising in marketing communications: a) knows a lot about your industry and your target audience; b) has excellent translation skills; c) has excelling copywriting skills.

When cooperating with a professional translator, you get a reliable partner. One project after another, “your translator” gets to learn more about your demands, your products, and your customers. The quality of translations you receive goes even higher affecting your marketing ROI positively.

Translator’s Dream Client

Translator’s Dream Client

Afterthoughts on a Facebook discussion

Depending on the target audience and current business plans, every freelancer has a unique picture of ‘the dream client’.

This post on translator’s dream clients was originally published in Russian following a discussion, which took place in a Facebook group.

Actually, it was an attempt to make a list of features and options a freelancing translator would be happy to see in current and potential customers.

Take it or leave it, if you like. Adapt and use to your best interest.

As differentiated as preferences can be, every freelancer is able to name at least some valuable attributes of potential clients. Ideally, this first stage should be followed by figuring out a more considered approach. But even many seasoned translators do not know what they are searching for. In fact, they would be glad to take any project if proposed.

You may say ‘the dream client’ concept sounds somewhat vague and artificial. But your own checklist can be really helpful in avoiding problem clients who turn out to be not cash but problem generators wasting your time and energy.

Unlike office-bound workers, the freelancer is able to choose people for potential cooperation (to a greater or lesser extent.)  A pool of good—and great—clients is a key to enjoying your everyday tasks, continuous professional development and mental health.

I divided into several categories all features and criteria of ‘the dream client’ mentioned during the discussion. It’s up to you to decide, which of them is of the utmost importance and which will be the last to consider.

FINANCE

  • Good rates. No numbers here as a hot discussion considering ‘reasonable’ and ‘trash’ rates is not our topic.
  • Special rates for rush jobs / overnight work / weekend projects, etc.
  • Regular and accurate payments. Mega bonus: you do not need to calculate and double check your output and invoices.
  • Flexible payment variants. At least several additional options added to a standard bank transfer.
  • Bank expenses covered by the client.

EFFICIENCY

  • Most projects cover one specialization area.
  • Originals ready for translation. ‘No’ to poorly scanned PDFs.
  • Convenient software for handling translations; no strange planning / management systems.
  • Official procedures reduced to a minimum: extra paperwork takes time, and time is money.
  • High quality glossaries if any offered.
  • Proper feedback based on the translation provided.

COMMUNICATIONS AND PR

  • The client has formulated reachable goals; translation priorities and tasks are articulated clearly.
  • Competent contact persons. (Nearly) the same team of project managers.
  • Proper support during the translation process: sample translations if any, clear instructions, reference materials, etc.
  • Emails as a default communication method. Phones are for emergency situations only.
  • Quick replies. Meaningful answers to your questions.
  • You name added to the published translation.

FLEXIBILITY

  • Regular predictable projects leaving you enough time for other clients.
  • Reasonable rates for most projects.
  • Possibility to discuss terms of your agreement.
  • Possibility to put off delivery date in some cases.
  • Possibility to reject a job from time to time.
  • Possibility to regulate your workload (often / less often; large / small projects)

Basically, these are the fundamentals to consider. Feel free to apply your own priorities and accents, add or leave out some points taking into account your preferences and goals. And off we go in search of our ‘dream translation client’.

* * *

If you need more points and ideas to draw your Red Carpet Client, try a great presentation of Marta Stelmaszak (Traduemprende translation conference in Madrid). ‘The Ideal Customer Avatar’ section starts from 56:00.

hiring a marketing translator

Hiring a Marketing Translator

Most important points

Prices

No size fits all when it comes to marketing communications and translations. Each project is unique. Sometimes, straight translation is your best choice. Certain tasks require transcreation and adaptation. Even copywriting may come in handy.

The first step is to be clear on what we’re dealing with. Is your project highly technical or creative? Is it general info, a marketing brochure, or a web copy?

My fees start at 80 Euro per 1000 words. But if you ask for a price offer without sending your project for estimation, the final figure may appear to be higher. Moreover, some jobs are charged by hour (not less than X hours and no more than Y) or by complete project.

To get a final cost breakdown, the translator needs to have a look at the document to:

  • See if the subject suits his or her expertise
  • Count total words
  • Consider file format and software needed
  • Consider delivery time
  • Consider special requirements (if any)

All documents will be treated as confidential, even if you choose another service provider.

Deadlines

No freelancer signs on a project without a deadline. Sometimes, translators can set their own deadlines. Other times the work is time sensitive, so the deadline is set by the client. But be realistic. How long did it take to produce the original?

On average, I translate from 1.500 to 2.500 words per day. A technically challenging text may take additional time, if some background research is required. Projects with special formatting including presentations take longer, too.

If your project is broken up into phases, a deadline is assigned to each phase. In case the scope of work changes, the deadline is also subject to change, and vice versa.

I will do my best to meet your needs, but I believe that rush negatively affects quality of work. I don’t like compromising on quality, so the minimum deadline is 24 hours.

Get involved

If you are ready to spend some time and prepare reference materials, chances are high that you will get exactly what you need. Previously created or localized brochures on the same subject, style guides and glossaries, product photos are more than welcome.

To choose appropriate vocabulary and text style, the translator needs to know as much as possible about the context: what the document is, who created it, what are the purposes and the audience. You need different writing styles to make web site content, catalogue descriptions, or media publications work effectively.

In case you cannot offer any background information or reference materials, that’s not a problem. I have years of experience in my specialisations backed by strong research skills. Any vague terminology will be discussed with you to find best possible solutions.

Single Point of Contact

A lifesaver both for the translator and the client. Limiting project communication to one person, whether you are a soloprenuer or a manager in a big firm, you avoid confusion and double work, save time and energy for all parties involved.

An inquisitive translator is actually good for your project. Some technical details can only be cleared by an in-house expert. May be your company uses different terminology for its in-house technical documentation as opposed to marketing materials? Then we’d better discuss your preferences with a person in charge of translation project.

Ideally, the result is examined by a single well educated person, native in a target language and familiar to your business and technologies. If you plan to have several reviewers, they’d better have clear criteria for correcting ‘mistakes.’ Too often, drawbacks and errors in a final translated version appear after reviews on the client’s side.

Editing & Proofreading

By default, the translator performs a basic check for consistent layout, typos and grammatical errors. If you plan to receive a document ready for publication—printing or upload— be sure to inform the translator. In that case you need an editing service.

Editing includes correction of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and sentence structure errors, checking the text layout as well as graph/table/image layout, and checking for style and pitch. In publishing, it’s typically understood that a document after editing still needs to be proofread. The proofreader reviews spelling and punctuation errors, looks for typos.

For editing and proofreading I charge per hour: fees start at 20€ per hour. If you’re still not sure whether you need an editing or proofreading service, just contact me for a consultation.

Payment & Invoicing

Currently I am based in Kyiv but I deal with customers from all over the world accepting payment via Paypal, Payoneer, Moneybookers, bank transfers, or cheques. Quotes in EUR and USD. A payment schedule and a grace period depend on the project and are discussed individually.

A project order

After the above mentioned points have been clarified, a project order is issued (a legal offer to buy translation services).

A project order includes:

  • Outsourcer’s and service provider’s details
  • The name of the file(s) included in the project
  • Source and target languages
  • Project volume: characters / words / lines / pages or hours devoted to the service
  • Original source file format and project delivery / target format
  • Delivery deadline: date and time (including time zone)
  • Software required (if any)
  • Rate: per source or target character / word / line / page or per hour
  • Rate total and currency
  • Primary payment method
  • Payment deadline: the date and time limit for the outsourcer’s payment
  • Further terms and conditions for the project and the business relationship (e.g. non-disclosure agreement)
  • Additional information / requirements: useful URL(s), formatting guidelines, etc.

Services agreement

American Translators Association offers a sample of Translation Services Agreement with a comprehensive outline of contract clauses, terms, and conditions; includes compensation and payment, delivery, quality assurance, ownership of translation, confidentiality, non-inducement/non-solicitation, indemnification, dispute resolution.

Time to learn color basics

Print Hi-Tech: November

Combining printing, digital, and marketing

I’m finally launching my monthly ‘Hi Tech’ section about most interesting case studies combining printing, digital technologies and marketing.

I hope you’ll enjoy the convergence of printing and digital technologies as much as I do.

Time to learn color basics

Color is one of the most influential elements for marketers and designers. Printing professionals know color properties perfectly. But for most of us terms ‘value’, ‘intensity’, ‘hue’ are rather vague.

The Munsell Color system widely used when educating the future professionals is available for anyone now. The educational project ‘An Interactive Color Theory Simulation’ is a free interactive learning tool presenting a few Munsell color charts in a randomized order. Try to find the correct order of color chips and naturally learn the meaning of value and intensity. This is an excellent way to experience the colors while consciously thinking about color properties.

You can also learn the basic color theory here, try to work with a color wheel, and identify some color schemes. Have fun and enjoy colors responsibly!

Time to learn color basics

The sky is the limit

Iggesund Paperboard created 22,000 covers for its corporate magazine Inspire. Adding a name or a serial number to the issue about digital printing and its possibilities was too easy. So, each magazine received a unique cover, with its own colour image and varnish pattern. Covers were also marked with the time code of their frames.

First, the editorial team prepared a 16-minute film. After that, each frame was used for creating a cover. A Stockholm digital printer received 1.4 TB of raw data to be processed into layouts. Final amount of data processed grew to between 3.5 and 4 TB. It took 27 hours of active printing time to complete the project.

Combining printing, digital and marketing

‘Blended Reality’ is here

HP offers to blend the digital world with the physical world we live in. You’ve probably heard of ‘virtual reality,’ when a gadget makes you feel like you’ve entered a completely new world. Maybe you’ve heard of ‘augmented reality,’ when you run an app on your smartphone, hold it up to the sky and read about the constellations you see.

But ‘blended reality’ is something different. The term was used five years ago by futurist think tank Institute For The Future: a sort of tech-enabled sixth sense to interface with computers.

Available from November, a first-of-its-kind Immersive Computing platform, Sprout PC, replaces a keyboard and mouse with touchscreen, scanner and other features that let you easily transform physical objects into your digital world. Moreover, you can combine it with a 3D printer to manufacturer things instantly (expected 2016).

Bonus: Made in Ukraine

Kwambio has launched a closed beta version of its platform (first 100 subscribers) preparing to offer designers and consumers alike an interactive experience and to change the worlds of 3D printing and online purchasing.

Founded in 2013 by Volodymyr Usov and Dmitriy Krivoshey, the New York based startup made its way to the IDCEE conference in Kyiv, where audiences were invited to create different products in real-time; to customize, personalize, and print items.

Available design templates were prepared together with Ivan Zhurba, a Ukrainian designer. Later, well-known designers and artists are going to open their stores on Kwambio. Its five main sections include: fashion, design, gadgets, décor, arts. No modeling skills are needed. For now, 3D printing services are free. Later, customers will be asked to pay a ‘per print’ fee.

language of marketing materials

Writing Plain is Worth it

Some points about the language of marketing materials

Getting bored with the repeated marketing nonsense when looking through similar press releases and marketing copies? Try the all-new Marketing Bullshit Bingo by translatorsanonymous.

I guess you know the principle. Whenever you see one of the buzzwords on your table, check it off and call out “Bingo!”

As soon as you have a row of five in any direction, you can stand up and shout “BULLSHIT!!!” The work involved in creating the text in front of you (including yours if you are in the supply chain) is pretty much a waste of time.

tumblr_inline_n2f7oaFkri1rzgpge

If this Bingo version does not blind you, feel free to make your own ‘industry-specific’ variant.

You can use:

  • advanced
  • high-performance
  • full-featured
  • scalable
  • integrated
  • optimize
  • leading edge

Please do not forget to include:

  • productivity
  • enable
  • robust
  • leverage

And be sure to add ‘innovative’ and ‘original’. Most companies and most products claim to be innovative. I guess most are not.

Translating the same ready-made phrases again and again, I keep wondering why they do it. Why are they investing in rubbish wasting money for writing, translation, publication, analyzing feedback (if any)?

2

They speak about the increasing popularity of plain language and clear writing. But nothing changes in the language of marketing materials and press releases. It is much easier to offer a new piece of ‘value-added’ and ‘industry transforming’ stuff instead of presenting facts and being specific.

Building a connection with your prospects is far better than simply offering them the information. But can we speak about a connection if the company handles its press releases as disposable messages targeted only at media editors? There is a strong need to understand how your materials can be meaningful and helpful to your target audience.

Steve Jobs once said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Killing buzzwords forces you to speak human-to-human, to be simple in a fresh way and to become more flexible. All bad marketing copies are alike. Every good marketing copy is good in its own way. If you seek to be heard, you should think out of the box.

3

If your marketing materials aren’t translated, international markets assume that your company cannot afford it. But when translated, buzzwords become even more hollow and meaningless. Translators do have a couple of tricks to avoid it, but in some cases even creative translation is helpless.

We lose trust from our readers when we use the same clichès and jargon again and again. These words are too general and vague to create a feeling of something worthy. And your local dealers are perfectly aware of the fact.

The Russian written language is sensitive to repetitions and clichés. You need a very experienced translator to transcreate buzzwords into something more meaningful for your target audience. If not, too much of the work is pointless.

The audience does not read buzzwords. They are being scanned and ignored. And if the company’s marketing copy is buzzwords all along, you can be sure it will be ignored, too. Even a perfect translator won’t help. Garbage in, garbage out.

From press releases and brochures to open days and exhibition booths, be more flexible and talk to your customers instead of announcing ‘innovations’ with ‘enhanced interoperability’. Stop recycling the same phrases and ideas. Especially if you are trying to grow your presence in countries with languages other than English.

5 golden rules of marketing translations

Marketing Translations Guide

5 Golden Rules

Marketing texts are all about engagement.

You put together thoughtful sentences and catchy phrases to invoke positive feelings of your readers. You try to create music from words, technical texts in rhyme.

But the result of your efforts might vanish after your materials have been translated for international markets. Words mean little if the message behind them is lost in translation.

Many consumers associate quality of high-tech products and services with the quality of the company’s marketing materials—brochures, product presentations, press releases, websites.

Translation quality is an important decision if you want to capitalize on the rapidly growing Russian-speaking markets.

1. Don’t rely on free/cheap resources

Translation costs are a fraction of investments required for entering a new market or a new industry segment. You may think that you will be saving money, but you will lose in the end.

How much attention do you pay to your marketing strategy? How much do you invest in producing marketing materials? The translation may add to your marketing efforts or ruin them.

If you really want to be effective, you need to follow a content strategy in order to get the results you are looking for. And your most important, mission-critical content is to be handled by professional translators.

2. Stay away from ‘casual’ translations

Half-hearted efforts will waste your money. Moreover, the result can turn offensive for your target audience. A badly translated or confusing copy in an inexpressive language means a possibility of a subconscious negative impulse associated with your company.

Marketing translations require adapting a message to another language while maintaining its style and tone. When compared to usual straight translations, they are much closer to the so-called ‘transcreation’ and sometimes even to copywriting.

Marketing materials are to be recreated for a given target audience instead of just translating existing content. The main task of translation here is to fulfill marketing objectives.

3. Find an expert

Much depends on who owns the marketing budget. If the marketing budget is owned by a local subsidiary, the translation will probably happen locally.

In any case, you need to put the right partner on your side who will help to reach and engage your target audience. And they will bring you a much higher return on your investment.

When speaking about marketing materials for technical companies, the need for niche experts becomes obvious. Every segment of marketing communications has its own nuances. ‘The one size fits all’ concept is outdated.

Your translator / translating company should be familiar with industry-specific terms, concepts, trends. High-quality translation is the second clear criterion.

4. Be open to adapt

The main task of marketing translation is to get the message across by engaging the reader. And sometimes, it means the original should be translated freely.

Russian-speaking readers of technical marketing texts can boast immunity to clichés and buzzwords. You cannot expect a translator to use the usual straight approach when translating words like advanced, value, leverage, optimize, integrated, smart, enjoy, manage, etc.

Don’t look for missing words when evaluating a marketing translation. Look for missing ideas and messages.

If you are committed to a content strategy meaning credible, trustworthy, transparent content that enhances the organization’s strategic goals, you should be open to embrace and adapt.

5. Engage your local offices or dealers

Please do not forget that it is your local office that will work with localized marketing materials. A proper in-country review definitely adds value by refining industry-specific terms and notions. Especially, when we are talking about B2B products and technologies.

An ideal person for an independent evaluation is not ‘a university lecturer’ or ‘a highly skilled linguist’. Rather it should be a reviewer who is knowledgeable about your product and marketing, understands both the source and target language, has the time and desire to contribute to a positive outcome.

Sounds next to impossible, I know. But delivering a perfect marketing translation has always been a challenging quest. And a rewarding one.

Translator's Blog

Welcome to translator’s blog

Welcome to Just Translate It, my new Virtual Office. This is a blog by a freelance translator specialising in marketing translations for technical companies.

In 2012, I launched my Russian website with a blog for sharing ideas, information and experiences relevant to translation with my fellow colleagues.

The English version is supposed to be more client-oriented discussing translation issues related to industries I work with: marketing, printing & converting, IT & digital, 3D & additive manufacturing.

For now, it looks like a real challenge to me, but after having published my first guest post in English I thought I’d better give it a try.

Hope you’ll like it here.

 

Best regards,

Olesya Zaytseva