You’re just about to clock off for the evening when an email lands in your inbox. It’s the budget approval you’ve been chasing for more than a week to kickstart the French translation of your company website. At this point, you probably won’t meet the originally planned deadline, the final quality might not be up to scratch, and you’ll have to take a raincheck on your tennis court booking… Personally, this is a situation I’ve found myself in before – and you might well be reading this blog post for the very same reason.
To avoid this kind of setback (and ideally keep honing that backhand a couple of times a week), it’s important to show your boss that you need a dedicated localisation budget. When I say ‘you’, what I really mean is the organisation you’re part of. You have to encourage a move away from a money talks perspective, where your management might feel you are trying to squander their budget, towards a ROI talks mindset, with the decision-makers seeing localisation as an investment that will benefit the entire company.
Budget discussions are probably over by now, and you might have failed to secure your share of the money for the coming months. Fear not – the ball is still in your court. But don’t be tempted to just go in unprepared, smash the ball as hard as you can and hope you score. You need to get more tactical and come up with a game plan.
Whether your translation needs are mainly internal (such as responding to RFPs in local languages to win contracts and enter new markets more rapidly) or end-user oriented (e.g. focused on a product, website or app), it’s a no-brainer that providing quality content enhances client satisfaction and expands your customer base. To ensure your international business successfully converts and retains local customers, you therefore need to provide tailored content that appeals to them. I’m willing to bet my racket that you’re familiar with this concept of user experience customisation, but seeing as I only have the one, I’ll just provide some stats to back up my point instead.
Studies have demonstrated that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy products from websites in their native language (CSA Research). What’s more, around 40% of internet users stated they would never buy from websites that were not in their native language (CSA Research). And even when they are highly proficient in English, 65% of non-native English speakers prefer content in their native tongue (CSA Research). I’m an English-to-French translator myself and I feel the same way. No umpire ruling needed here, these shots are in.
Given its growing importance, localisation shouldn’t just be an afterthought. If you want to go global, you need to think local from the start. Localisation needs to be planned for and integrated upstream of your content strategy so that it can be regarded as an investment – and no longer as an additional cost geared solely towards upsetting management’s plans and preventing the budget from being met.
We all know what time is worth, and having a clear overview of the budget available will free up a fair bit of your time. I know only too well how frustrating it can be to be bounced around from one manager to another, arguing about what the right cost centre would be, whether this or that department should bear the costs, or whether in fact it’s more of a service line issue.
With a localisation budget set in stone upfront, you can bid farewell to delays in the approval process and say hello to a new-found flexibility that will allow you to focus on other aspects of your job, such as ensuring that the quality of your translated content is in line with your expectations.
Quality and consistency
Although time is ultimately money, it is first and foremost quality. Time means you can strengthen the relationship with your language service provider (LSP) of choice, which will undeniably result in better translations.
Right now, you might well work with various translation agencies to compensate for the fact that you generally have urgent requests that sometimes can’t be taken care of by your go-to provider. In fact, according to an industry survey conducted in 2019, one of the biggest challenges translators face is “dealing with speed pressure”. Having a dedicated localisation budget gives you more time to communicate, resolve terminology issues and share important resources with your translation provider – such as glossaries and style guides – that will ensure consistency across the board in multilingual projects. You can also line up a team with your preferred linguists and make sure the quality lives up to your standards.
From a financial point of view, with fewer last-minute requests to process and more time to plan, the LSP you’ve chosen to work with now has more time to do their job. As a result, they won’t charge you rush fees and will also be able to implement and support different tools and processes (CAT tools, translation management software, machine translation workflows, etc.) that will reduce costs over time. According to Jack Welde from Smartling, the right software can help you shorten your translation cycle and cut costs by 90% (of course, that’s only true for certain types of workflows that likely involve a great deal of machine translation).
That said, you still need to convert those benefits into ROI for your business. You might well be aware of the perks associated with having a clear overview of your localisation budget and know how to get your point across. Nonetheless, there is nothing like facts and figures to secure buy-in from the management team.
Want a couple of winning shots? Well, in terms of outreach, research shows that translating your content into the top 10 languages allows you to reach 80% of the online purchasing power worldwide. More importantly, businesses that invest in translation are said to be 1.5 times more likely to observe an increase in revenue (Localize).
To wrap things up, I’d like to end on a practical note. Here are a few steps you can follow to achieve the highly sought-after results outlined above:
1. Assess past localisation spend and requests
- Why is your company translating content? And what makes the current processes less than ideal?
- Assess what has been done over the past year (go back a few years if you can) and obtain clarity about the amount the company has spent on localisation initiatives.
- It would also be interesting to find out what these initiatives yielded in terms of revenue.
2. Find out what’s in the pipeline for the coming year
- Are any product launches planned? Are you revamping your website? Are there plans to respond to any RFPs that need to be submitted in a local language?
- Try to get an understanding of what’s in the pipeline for the year to come, then estimate the costs to determine the revenue potential.
3. Estimate the volume of content to be localised
- What would be the estimated costs with the current way of working, without a dedicated budget?
- Remember to take into account rush fees, potential rework due to quality issues, and the ratio of missed opportunities based on the assessment of the previous year(s).
4. Compare your estimate with what you can expect from having a dedicated budget
- It’s best practice to consider several LSPs.
- Get different quotes exploring various localisation workflows based on your needs (internal, external, marketing, etc).
- Translation agencies are in a better position to meet you halfway budget-wise and guide you towards the best workflows if they have visibility of the volume and type of content they can expect.
Factor in any avoidable missed opportunities or localisation performance issues that led to less-than-planned yield.
5. Book a tennis court for Friday
- I hope you smashed it but, in any event, you deserve to blow off some steam after all that number crunching 😉