With businesses going global, their success depends on how they are able to cater to their international consumers. Scrap the idea that English is the language of business. You’ll be catering to different consumer bases that speak different languages, and the cost of localization can add up.
You have to speak to your specific target consumers in their own language. This means you have to translate all your marketing and product materials into other languages. In language services industry terms, this is properly called localization.
Localization is a long-term commitment from any company that wishes to enter the global market. It is a continuing investment that goes together with a company’s growth. The cost of localization is significant, yet the ROI is even greater and the cost of not localizing can be potentially catastrophic.
Most business owners today realize the true value and worth of localization, for without it, it is not possible to survive in the international business arena. Let us say that the true cost of localization, then, goes beyond its monetary value.
Cost of Localization – Development
Localization is a long-term process. To make it more effective, it is best that localization is included in your globalization plans. This means that you should plan to localize from the start, which is more economical and will save on the cost of localization.
Budgeting for localization considers several aspects. The first thing you should do is to hire a professional localization services provider. They can help you with your technical audit.
This will ensure that your website, your apps, and your products to be localized are already built in a manner that supports content that can be adapted to new locales and languages.
This process is called internationalization or i18n. Your design team and the localization team can collect all the content and elements that will be changed when localizing.
Localization is still possible even if your product is not internationalized, however, the cost of localization will be higher and the development phase of the localization will be longer.
The development team will have to internationalize your code base. This involves copying the code base and going through all its functions and files in order to locate and replace every string of content or element that should be localized.
It might sound time-consuming, but this process will greatly reduce the cost of localization as you expand into further target markets and countries.
Cost of Localization – Localization
It is increasingly important for companies of all sizes to decrease their cost of localization and gain new consumers. On the other hand, they recognize the value of localization and want every marketing content they create to be localized in order to drive demand from the markets they are developing.
In practice, the cost of localization varies with the language to be used, the type of text, file format, percentage of repeat in a particular content, graphics to be captured or translated, engineering efforts needed and a variety of other elements.
Top of funnel efforts are enhanced by localized content. Any touch point that you plan to develop and provide for your multilingual markets, such as landing pages e-books, emails, blogs, white papers, news and web content must all be localized.
This should be done using your target market’s language, cultural references, local jargon, accepted colors and images, and the manner in which they write names, addresses, time, numerals and dates. The more complex the language, the higher the cost of localization.
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Localization is More Than Translation
It is important that localization be done by the main office to ensure the correct translation, especially of technical terms, brand names, slogans and messages.
Localization should not be left to local teams. You have probably read some of the stories about the ramifications lack of research and understanding of local culture have brought upon international brands such as Nike, Pepsi and Gerber. See to it that consistency is established by providing high quality translations.
For translating content, the cost of localization is usually computed by calculating the total number of words of all the files to be translated, multiplied by the cost/word charged by the localization services provider.
Multiply the product by the number of languages you require to get an approximation of the dollar budget. You have to take note that charges for translation vary also on the languages your content will be translated into because there are languages that are more difficult to translate than others.
Marketers should also realize that the cost of localization can include hidden costs, which is the reason why it is important to include localization in the planning stage of going global. Let’s take a look:
- You’ll encounter lost productivity if your team has to manage the development process with outdated workflows and tools. See to it that you appoint a localization development team and an experienced localization services provider who are adept in using modern technology to facilitate workflows and processes.
- You can experience delayed rollouts in local markets if you fail to plan to localize content 2 to 3 months before your local launch date.
- It will take longer to realize revenue if your localized materials do not reach your regional teams on time. Each day that your product or offering is not available in the market you’re losing revenue opportunities.
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Ways to Facilitate Localization
Although localization requires that you translate all information that will be accessed by local consumers, if you are on a tight budget, you do not need to translate everything at once. This will give your greater control over the cost of localization and what you spend.
Be selective with the content that needs immediate translation, as this is a way to save time that will allow you to speak to your consumers effectively. Again, it helps if you have research data to back you up, a dedicated development team that works fast and efficiently and a knowledgeable, resourceful and experienced professional localization provider.
Choose the Right Localization Provider
The cost of localization is dependent on choosing the right localization provider. Your choice depends on the extent of localization your business requires.
At the high end of the spectrum, you have enterprise-level translation providers that have professional and credentialed translators, in most cases with employment contracts. The average charge from these agencies is around $0.20 per word.
At the lower end are small agencies. They employ native speakers who may not have many credentials but still are experienced to handle specific language pairs.
Average charge from such firms is around $0.08 per word. There are also translation agencies that are specialized in particular fields, such as gaming, law, health, food, art and more. Each of them offers their services at varying price ranges, depending on the project.
If you are new to translation and localization, it can be difficult to make the right choice of translation agency. To help you choose, answer these questions:
- How unique or difficult is your content requiring localization? If your content is highly specific, it is better to find an agency whose translators are accredited.
- Your brand messages are delivered in what tone? If your brand uses a persuasive or emotional style of writing, you should work with translators who are highly skilled in the language pair and understand your brand/product deeply.
- Do you have multilingual staff to act as localization reviewers? Your employees are very familiar with your product. Your multilingual staff can check the localization efforts to support the services provided by the translation agency you’ve hired.
Cost of Localization Platform
A localization platform streamlines the entire localization process and helps you keep on top of the cost of localization. It is an investment that is worth looking into because it provides savings in the long run.
Not all companies pay for this localization tool. However, employing one can help minimize translation errors and improve the quality of the translation. It automates the process of extracting content that should be translated, which, when done manually could take hours or days, depending on the quantity of the content for collection.
The traditional method of localization involves extracting content for translation, which can take hours or days depending on how much content needs to be collected.
The content is later transferred to a central document before it is sent to the translators. The translators will work on the content before sending the translation to the developers so they can upload the new text.
A localization platform provides you with a single place for content storage, enabling the developer and translation teams to collaborate and facilitate the localization process. The working team can have open discussions and share additional context to ensure that they are on the same page.
Some localization platforms also allow storing a database of past translations, ensuring that the translators consistently use the same terms. On the other hand, it saves you money because you will only pay once for the translation of specific words.
There is also a glossary functionality in localization platforms, to ensure consistency of translation and minimize inaccuracy in the translation of industry-specific terms.
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Cost of QA Review
It is critical for the localization output to be reviewed to check its quality. If is it not included in the localization cost, the review process will be charged a one-time fee. A quality assurance (QA) review is recommended to ensure that the content is properly localized.
It would be of tremendous help if you can do an in-country review. If the content passes, then you have the confidence to publish it.
The cost of localization depends on the individual project. Aside from the items mentioned above, you have to factor in the costs for updates that depend also on the percentage of translation required.
Updates should be reviewed as well. It is difficult to ascertain the actual cost of localization, but when properly done, you are assured of increased revenues, brand awareness and consumer loyalty.