How To Create an Effective Translation Strategy For Localization

Understanding Localization and Translation Strategy

If you want to make a splash in new markets, you have to take the time to create a complimentary and comprehensive translation strategy that’s primed for your localization process. We know—this can feel overwhelming—but it is possible to do it in a strategic and simplified way. 

Plus, you’ll see the full-circle implications when your business begins to boost its profits. 72.4% of global consumers prefer to shop in their own language. By preemptively giving them what they’re looking for, you’re reducing some pretty major barriers to purchase—directly impacting your ability to earn. 

While your localization steps allow you to tailor the content to match the expectations of the market, your translation strategy is what will carry it all into your “end zone.” You’ll be able to align well with your current profitability goals and objectives, break through your target markets and integrate the translation step as a seamless section of your localization workflow. 

Nope, it’s not too good to be true! 

Read on to see how you can make this a reality for your business and offer—starting today. We’ll be covering key parts of your translation strategy, the steps needed to create a strategy and tips to help simplify your process with OneSky

Must-Haves for an Effective Translation Strategy

Clear goals and objectives

Any helpful business step starts with a single task: Defining what success looks like in your context. Consider sitting down and collaborating with your team to clearly define a few key elements of your translation strategy, including: 

  • Outcomes 
  • Success metrics 
  • Specific, micro goals (such as those around quality, accuracy and consistency) 

While you might approach this process in the context of your own company standards, it can be helpful to consider cultural and client implications in this process as well. 

For example: While you know that the translation process generally involves translating from English to a secondary target language that’s used in a new market, you might consider more culturally correct translation methods and cultural differences in dialect-based meaning as you go. 

This can give you a more accurate translation that stems from your source text, boosting your stylistic accuracy without compromising your messaging. This allows your audience to better align with your brand nearly instantly, possibly having large implications on your bottom line. 

Resource allocation and selection

Your translation strategy can be made more powerful when you are able to determine exactly what resources are needed to bring your vision to life. Translated text that converts requires far more than professional translators—although, they can be a big help!

You’ll need to outline the translation process step-by-step, preemptively determining areas where you’ll have to leverage excess resources. You’ll also want to consider collaborating with your team to prevent any areas from being overlooked. 

There are three main translation methods to consider as you do this, including: 

  • In-house translation: While some corporations are able to do this seamlessly due to their robust community and pre-installed processes, this isn’t a reality for most small and mid-sized businesses. 
  • Freelance translation: This can be cost- and time-effective. However, many might find that freelance translators have inconsistent translation techniques, inefficiencies in accomplishing translation task items and might disrupt the meaning of the message—albeit unintentionally! Human error can occur (and might be exacerbated) without the supportive framework that a boutique service can bring to the table. 
  • Boutique agency translation services: These are often run by professional human translators, who specialize in certain foreign language options and dialects. Their point of view and process is often the most competitive, as they routinely engage with translation practice and translation procedures that empower them to provide industry-leading translation services. They are also more likely to have the support system needed to deliver consistently—every time. 

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Establishing style guides and glossaries

Once you determine how you’ll accomplish the word-for-word translation process, it’s time to figure out how you’ll want the content presented. While the concept of translation is simple, you’ll want to set forward a style guide that clearly defines company preferences for tone, style consistency, format and terminology used. 

As you do this, bear in mind that your source language may have preferences that are inherent in the literal translation—and you can also consider the range of translation problems that can occur if this wasn’t taken into account. Your translator can weigh in on this, acting as the expert in translation studies you need to feel confident about your decision. 

You might find that a style guide only applies to a certain type of target text. If that’s you, don’t be alarmed. This is normal. Simply expand the guide to cover all of the types of content you’ll be creating, and flex as you need to throughout the process to perfect your tone and flow. 

Quality assurance and review processes

Decision-making is hard—especially when you’re under the pressure of a looming launch that could make or break your bottom line. That’s where many might find value in establishing a quality review team. These experts can evaluate your content against the professional translation theory-informed opinion of your translator, ensuring that the direct translation is as correct and nuanced as possible. 

They won’t do this alone, of course. This will be a multilingual, collaborative experience with many members of your production team. However, the QA team will act as the final decision-making group that dictates what gets published and ensures that everything is working as it should. They’ll also be able to conduct ongoing linguistic and functional testing to avoid issues down the line. 

Ongoing review is your brand’s most powerful weapon throughout your season of growth and expansion. While many hold fast to methodology to guide their steps, it’s not always the right thing to do. A review process allows you to pivot in the moment and defy the process if needed—possibly scoring you the opportunity for larger-scale gains and sustainability in your market. 

Collaboration and feedback mechanisms 

Beyond your QA team, collaboration from experts in local strategies and available feedback channels will be your most valuable asset. English translation to a different language requires extensive scrutiny due to the vast range of grammatical differences that can exist between languages. Some of the most notable include common translation languages; such as Arabic and Spanish.

Keeping these lines of communication open can feel difficult or overwhelming—especially if you have a vision. However, acting as a receptor, in this case, can only serve you. You’ll benefit from a customer-adjacent opinion that can directly inform (and preemptively perfect) your next move. We know it sounds too good to be true…but it’s not. 

How to Create a Strong Translation Strategy

There is no perfect translation strategy. However, there are steps you can take to try to anticipate every possible outcome. We’ve summarized tips to help you create a strong translation strategy below—no machine learning or algorithm required.

1. Prioritize the right content for translation.

When you approach the “production” phase of your growth cycle, it can often feel like there’s no modulation of the content. It’s a literal free translation free-for-all! That being said, you can take control—choosing to identify and prioritize the highest value content you can produce that will require localization. We’ll be honest, domestication isn’t often enough for most pieces of content. Each piece will likely (inevitably) need a separate, holistic and aligned localization strategy before moving into the actual translation phase. 

While we do acknowledge the importance of prioritization and strategy above, we also want to urge you not to be afraid of flipping the script. For example: If you’re expanding from New York to Mexico, you wouldn’t want to only focus there if you were also planning an expansion into Denmark. 

2. Adapt the content for cultural and linguistic nuances.

Famous translation expert Lawrence Venuti had the right idea by warning against foreignization: A phenomenon that can occur when something that has marginal implication in a foreign language is used anyway—without any accountability to cultural sensitivity, empathy, idioms, or local preferences. Besides being a poor localization strategy, this can border on offensive—possibly compromising your brand image in the long run. 

Working with a human translator to customize your content for each dialect, nation, and audience is an expense, but it will pay back on itself in no time. You can limit liability, seamlessly amplify your brand, and have a better overall outcome as a result. 

3. Leverage technology for efficiency and consistency.

While we never recommend using tech for pure translation and production, there is a time and a place when it can help. Translation management tools (such as OneSky’s product) can completely revolutionize your process—keeping you in your most efficient flow yet. You can automate, delegate, and dominate, moving from one goal to the next in a seamless stream of production. 

You’ll also see a more consistent and accurate translation of the end product as well, due to the many touch points each product will see prior to publication. 

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4. Continuous evaluation and optimization.

We said it before and we’ll say it again—constant evaluation and optimization is a core element of a quality translation and localization strategy. Beyond your touchpoints as you produce, you’ll want to keep your ear to the ground; for many, this looks like constant monitoring of metrics and user feedback. 

Using this, you’ll want to apply the feedback you’ve gotten, refining your translation strategy based on what you now know. Rinse and repeat—you’ll wind up with an autonomous, refined, and efficient translation system for each subsequent growth season. 

Incorporate OneSky into Your Translation Strategy

Translation and localization strategies can be difficult to create (and even more difficult to refine!) However, you’ll more easily find success when you’re able to effectively pivot, collaborate, and iterate—leaving you with your highest quality of work yet. 

That’s where a translation management system comes in. When you’re able to access your content in a centralized, convenient, and user-friendly location, you’ll remain lithe and efficient. OneSky’s TMS does it all, connecting you to human translators who can carry your project to its next phase of development in a clean, effective, and brand-unique way. 

For more information and to get started today, please connect with us online. We look forward to supporting you!

Mandy Fong

Head of Sales, OneSky

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