It is not uncommon that the team responsible for the translation of a product user interface – perhaps a centralized localization department or a product development team – have limited or no interaction with the marketing department responsible for the translation of promotional material relating to that product.
Although the skill set and style used to translate different content types vary considerably, there is a strong argument to support the shared use of terminology, subject matter expertise, tools and processes among all translation parties. Building a centralized localization program will optimize the user experience and customer journey for global audiences, increase consistency, and improve quality. Efficiency gains will speed up time to market and reduce cost.
In 2014, a global U.S. listed organization in the IT infrastructure and security sector approached Vistatec with a challenge they were facing.
The customer's marketing team had raised concerns about the cost and time required to deliver localized content. To complicate matters, feedback from the local marketing offices across Europe, Asia and Latin America had indicated inconsistences between product and marketing translations for some key terms and concepts.
What could Vistatec do to help resolve the situation?
Vistatec was already established as a long-term translation services provider to this customer, producing over 7 million words of output per annum, translating exclusively in the areas of user interface and documentation.
Vistatec engaged with the customer and completed a short discovery to help understand the root cause of the issues.
There were three different types of Marketing content involved:
- Field Marketing
Campaign content was translated by a marketing agency, using no established translation methodology, tools or workflow. Translation work was performed separate from the actual assets, meaning that costly staff (at the marketing agencies) were copying translated content into source files to produce final output. This process was labor intensive, slow and highly error prone.
Field Marketing content was translated by a number of small single language translation providers, using rudimentary process, with no awareness of the translation support assets (translation memories, reference material, terminology and glossary content) or workflows developed by Vistatec for the translation of user interface and documentation content. There was no collaboration with the Campaign or Web translation teams.
Similarly, Web content was translated by a different set of single language translation providers, using slightly more sophisticated process, but again with no awareness of the translation assets or workflows already in place.
Effectively, each group was operating as a silo – separate from the product localization, and separate from each other.
Vistatec created a 10-step solution that took into account the highly visible nature of the content and brand value, and at the same time strove for efficiency and consistency. The steps included:
1. Vistatec engaged with the customer's marketing team to better understand the talent and expertise required to work on this high value content. Crucial to this was ascertaining an exact understanding of what it was that the marketing team wanted to achieve with their content and brand strategy. All stakeholders agreed that the translation management of marketing content should rest with the customer's centralized localization team. The budget for the work would reside with the marketing team, and the cost would be charged back internally.
2. A Vistatec in-house team specializing in the translation of marketing, digital marketing, SEO & SEM was set up and introduced to the customer. This team comprised project management, supply chain management, production staff and language coordinators.
- A language talent matching process was undertaken to ensure that appropriate subject matter expertise was identified, tested and on boarded.
Note: Vistatec was able to make existing key single language suppliers who had worked directly for the customer's marketing team a part of the new centralized solution. These suppliers had many years of valuable experience. It was beneficial for both the customer and Vistatec to retain the talent.
4. The marketing translation teams were trained on tools and process, and introduced to appropriate reference materials, terminology and glossary content. They also engaged actively with the product translation teams so that specific product knowledge could be shared. This is now regular process, and the teams collaborate actively on all translation work.
Review & translation memories
5. A language quality analysis of the most recent marketing content was undertaken to identify specific areas for review or rework going forward. Also, translation memories were created (where none existed) or collected from the single language vendors and merged into overall master translation memories per language across all marketing areas.
6. A specific quality process – tailored to the highly visible nature of the content and brand messaging – was created. While the customer's local marketing teams would always have the opportunity to review translated content before publishing, this may not always be possible due to time constraints or conflicting workload requirements. To secure consistent quality, Vistatec performs its own review of a pre-agreed amount of content using marketing specific quality scoring via a highly qualified marketing team with a stringent follow-up process if any areas of concern are detected during review.
Service level agreement
7. A service level agreement (SLA) was introduced, driven by a set of KPI data to ensure that quality was tracked and reported, time lines adhered to and cost data regularly reported in a specific manner.
Collaboration & revision
8. During the early phases of the setup, intensive training took place with the newly engaged and re-engaged translation teams. The training focused on brand awareness, product knowledge, and a detailed understanding of established product terminology, preferred language usage, required style and tone of voice to ensure the successful localization of all campaigns, field marketing and web based content. Vistatec also encourages collaboration between all language teams, and, when possible and appropriate, with local customer marketing personnel.
9. There was an initial 30-60-90 day "check-in" plan in place with customer stakeholders to address any questions or issues. Business reviews then reverted to a more standard quarterly meeting schedule.
Customer feedback process
10. Three months on, customer feedback from the field and from stakeholders was very encouraging. This trend continues, and the program is now in its second year. The customer has reported a much higher effectiveness of global content-based marketing campaigns.
In addition to the introduction of consistency and quality standards never achieved before, there were three additional wins.
For the 4.2 million words of marketing content across 12 languages translated in the first year after the introduction of the program, the following tangible successes can be reported:
- Turnaround times for delivery of translated marketing content were improved by 50%.
- The introduction of translation memory management enabled 25% content re-use contributing to a significantly improved ROI and overall consistency of global content output.
- The new program facilitated direct cost savings of approximately 30%. Indirect cost savings on reduced overhead for the customer's marketing teams have not been specifically reported, but anecdotal evidence suggests double digit percentage savings.
This case study demonstrates that there is considerable merit in centralizing the translation of all content relating to a product or service under a single turnkey solution in terms of improving a customer's ability to be effective in global markets.
Success relies on the ability of the partner chosen to understand the diverse nature of the different content components and match each with the appropriate process and expertise. In addition, the partner needs to understand what can be leveraged and shared across all components to generate improved quality, consistency and time to market while reducing overall cost.
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