How To Know If Your Localization Vendor Is Getting It Right

You’ve made the choice to hire an outside vendor to translate and localize your site for a new market. Maybe you read our article on the two biggest costs of in-house localization and realized it made more sense to pay an outside localization team. Or maybe you just don’t have anyone on staff who speaks Chinese. Regardless, we think you made the right choice. Now you just have to make sure you are spending your money on the right localization partner.

Here are three important clues to ensure your localization and translation vendor offers more than just a great sales pitch.

Negative Feedback

If you are getting a steady stream of negative feedback about your products from customers in a new foreign market, you might have a problem. Negative comments and feedback are hard for any business to avoid completely but if they are continuous and focused in a new market, it might be due to a localization issue.

Maybe the packaging or marketing translation doesn’t accurately describe your product. Or it’s possible that your brand message hasn’t been appropriately adapted and localized to target the correct group of consumers.

Here’s a possible example: Let’s say you sell curtains and although they block out some light, they don’t completely black out the room. If you do a strict translation of ‘light blocking’ your customer might buy them thinking they block all light and assume that they are blackout or room darkening curtains. A translated product description that doesn’t accurately describe your products in the way commonly used in your target market or, even worse, overpromises your product can lead to unhappy customers and tons of costs in returns.

Always pay attention to customer feedback especially when you move into a new market. If you notice a steady stream of complaints, schedule a call with your localization vendor. The source of the problem might not be a strict translation error but a broader localization problem. You need a partner who will help you get it right from the start.

Market Suggestions

Ideally you want a localization vendor who is a partner in growing your business. How do you know if you have found a partner who will help you grow? They suggest new marketing angles and ideas specific to the different international markets you are targeting.

New markets mean more than just new languages. They mean dealing with and understanding a new culture that in some cases may be drastically different from yours. The best translation vendors do more than just translate your marketing materials word-for-word. They localize your content completely and when appropriate help you transcreate your entire brand message. A technically correct translation may make sense linguistically to new international customers but not compel them to connect with your brand and make a purchase. Or, a technically correct translation may make you a laughing stock in your target market.

If you have a vendor who suggests new ways to market your product to your new target market, it’s a good sign. It means that they understand the importance of localization and that they have experience reaching customers in these markets and know what works.

New opportunities

A good localization vendor should do more than understand your new market, they should be able to anticipate new opportunities and changes within that market. For example, they should know upcoming holidays and events that might increase sales or attract more customers. They should know when and how to boost your marketing campaigns to take advantage of increased consumer spending.

This ability to anticipate the market is not only the sign of a vendor who knows what they are doing but also a sign of one who is a committed partner to helping you grow and succeed.

You need more than a translator, you need a guide. A guide to every aspect of this new market’s culture and economy is a must to breaking into a new foreign market and effectively growing your business. Don’t spend money on a localization vendor who isn’t committed to helping you with more than just word-for-word translation. Find a partner who will help you connect with and sell your brand to customers in any market you decide to enter.

We’d love to hear your experiences with localization firms and what criteria you use in selecting a partner.