Whether you are regularly translating materials for a variety of markets or you only provide product and asset localization occasionally, it’s important to measure the effectiveness of your translation workflow. Here are four ways you can measure the cost and efficiency of your localization efforts.
1) Measure each translation method against its Q/A error rate. At Glyph, we use a six-step process to manage translation projects. Whether we use creative adaptation (transcreation) or straight up machine translation, every piece of work goes through extensive QA and testing before being deployed. One way to measure the effectiveness of your translation workflow is to track the error/fix rates against the type of translation you are performing. While all content is not created equal – and it is advisable to spend less on less important content – it is hugely important that you seek and maintain the highest baseline quality no matter the translation method you employ. High error rates that can come with cheaper translation methods often negate any cost savings.
2) Rigorously compare conversion rates for landers across markets. Most firms develop a content marketing and SEO strategy for a single market and then export that strategy as part of their larger translation program. It’s certainly true that one size does not fit all in an international marketing program, but it is very worthwhile to take your domestic landers and success metrics as the baseline used to measure the effectiveness of foreign campaigns. Variations in response rates can point to either ineffective translations or important differences in the attitudes and perceptions of your target market. Having quantitative data to compare makes uncovering these issues that much easier. It is also one way to sell management on the need for a focused keyword adaptation program for international SEO. (Of course, identifying these differences ahead of time is the most effective strategy. That’s why we offer a dedicated SEO adaptation service.)
3) Regularly compare highest non-branded keywords that produce traffic to your domestic and multinational landers. This comparison is very similar to comparing the relative effectiveness of your organic landing pages. In this case, you will want to look at which terms are producing the most traffic to your site as you deploy web based content as well as new packaging, signage, and advertising. Ideally, your top 25 terms will show strong similarities across markets. If you are seeing large differences in the distribution of traffic (for example, in Canada, your top 5 terms generate 65% of your traffic while in Argentina, the top 12 terms generate that much), then you have identified either a profound difference in market behavior or found a weakness in your overall localization program that is preventing your message from getting across as clearly as you’d like. The key is to gather the data and know where to start digging. Differences in market behavior can be exploited by market-smart transcreation teams.
4) Compare translation costs as share of marketing costs by market. Many clients resist this measure because the localization and translation efforts are often tied very closely to production and home office budgets. The goal here is not to play bean counter though – rather it can help you understand the true return on your translation investment from market to market and can also help you get a better handle on which elements of your total asset catalog are producing the best results. Additionally, if you are seeing strong sales and margins on content that has required a higher level of touch and cost than you find ideal (because it is highly specialized or not amenable to machine translation), then this can point to other opportunities in other markets where a bigger investment in creative adaptation might offer equally strong returns on investment.
No matter how you choose to measure the effectiveness of your translation workflow, it’s important that you do something. Just comparing “words in to words out” gives you very little insight into the overall effectiveness of your program.
We would love to hear about how you go about measuring and improving your translation process.