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How To Measure ROI On Translation Spend

How to measure ROI on translation spend

When you’re spending thousands – or even millions – of pounds on translation and localisation services, how can you calculate whether you’re not just receiving value for money, but the right service for maximising profitability?

Think it’s not possible? Think again.

I won’t go into the basics of ROI measurement (which this article explains very well), but instead I’ll explain how we support customers in measuring theirs for translation, specifically our e-commerce customers.

Localisation enterprises should always be tied very closely to a business’s overall strategy and budgeted accordingly. And that budgeting should go as far as translation for individual pages, channels and other marketing materials, just like you would for your regular marketing or advertising campaigns.

Here are some tips on how to measure return on each part, and more importantly, how to tweak your campaigns or strategy when return isn’t as high as you expect.

Content consumers

As soon as you start to think global, you’ll realise that your content can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, any time. And through measuring this access, you can calculate exactly how much your content is being consumed in each of your target markets.

Ensure you count views, shares, likes and interactions – if you’re interested in these. Don’t just assume that one content type or topic will attract the same level of interest in one culture as another, or that every culture is as naturally responsive as another. You may need a different message for each culture, and a professional creative translator could help with this, but only if it’s worth it. If one of your small markets isn’t responding as well as you’d like – would you rather spend money on fixing it, or invest where you’re getting more traction?

Where your multilingual content is working well, try mixing up the translation quality level you use to see if you get significantly more reach for more investment in quality. A little tweak here or there could make a big difference.

Turn interaction into spending

So you’ve got a relatively interested audience – but are they buying? And if not, why not? To turn “likers” into customers, they need to know your brand cares about them and offers what they need. Be engaging, reach out and respond. Encourage sharing through your normal techniques, for example voucher codes and referral offers.

Again, a variable approach to translating your interactions can yield different results, but in general you shouldn’t need to spend too much if you’re savvy. Machine translation, while not yielding perfect output, is great for gisting incomings and providing a foreign language version of basic outbound messages.

With an interested and engaged audience, and a whole host of new metrics through codes and bespoke links, it becomes easier to measure exactly where your sales are coming from, what is interesting your audience and where you still need to do some work.

Focus on channels to market

The bigger you get, the more channels to market you’ll probably have. But how do you know which of those is leading to the most conversions or biggest spenders? Do you want to apply a blanket translation process or quality level to each one?

Much like your content types and engagement, you’ll probably want to invest more in the channels that are giving you the biggest return – and your usual web analytics should be able to tell you that. Look at where you’re getting your revenue, and speak to your translation provider about how you can alter your spend to focus more on the profit-driving channels, and less on others.

Reduced time to market

As with a lot of business, being the first one to market can be a massive advantage, whether that’s with a unique product, or the same as what everyone else is selling. So speed becomes an important factor – do you go for broke without translating and hope for the best, use Machine Translation for a fast but potentially mediocre output, or get human translators involved?

Only you can decide. Does your brand rely on quality that needs human sensitivity to translate? Do your products require in-depth explanation or have complex specifications? How much difference will a day here or there make?

Thankfully, technological developments like Machine Translation (which can provide instant translations of as much text as you like) and our API (which enables direct platform-to-platform integration) minimise the amount of human contact involved in translation to streamline the process as much as possible.

Take control

You may feel that direct translation costs, and some associated costs (length of process, license fees, account management etc.) are out of your control – you just have to accept what you’re quoted.

However, with better technology, and a translation provider who is open and supportive, you can take much more control over exactly what your money goes. Translation technology can reduce errors through QA checks (which you can choose to enable), and provide discounts on terms in your translation memory. Efficient workflows can reduce the time your team spend on managing translation projects, while award-winning technology (like ours) can hugely increase efficiency, especially when you want to scale up your translation requirements without drastically extending your deadline.

Most importantly, you should be involved in choosing the translation level that’s right for you and your content, not just the first time, but for every project – based on the return you see from your foreign language content in every channel.

*Photo credits: hywards / Shutterstock.com

Christian Arno, Founder and President, Lingo24

Christian Arno is Founder and President of Lingo24. He started the company in 2001 after graduating from Oxford University with a degree in languages. He has won numerous awards including HSBC Business Thinking and International Trade Awards (2010), and TAUS Excellence Award (2012) for innovative technology. He contributes to leading industry publications and has been featured on the BBC, in the Financial Times and other media around the world.

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