Expanding into a new international market is always complicated. It’s even more complicated when that market uses a different language. Utilize our five tips to make perfect document translation a much simpler project.
1. Research Your Target Market
Always go into document translation with some knowledge of the new market.
First of all, market research into promising new international markets helps ensure that there is actually potential for growth.
You don’t want to waste your time and resources targeting a market where you won’t pick up any traction.
Oftentimes, even just a little cursory research into potential markets—start by looking at your competitors—will give you a good idea of your chances of success.
At the same time, research into the new market will help give you an idea of what appeals to that market.
Even just a basic understanding of the cultural and linguistic differences goes a long way towards crafting effective marketing content to create the desired brand image.
2. Use a Translation Agency
As a small startup, it can be tempting to use automated machine translation.
A human translator is far more effective than even the best automated translation tools.
For example, Google Translate continues to rank as the most widely used online translation tool.
According to a blog post by Google, more than half a billion people around the world use Google Translate.
The popularity of this tool, especially the amount of people that rely on it in day-to-day life, has led to major improvements and updates over the years—but it’s still a far cry from a human translator.
Although automated translation tools can give you a good idea of what your content will look like in a different language, they’re far from error free.
In fact, aside from spelling and grammatical errors, most translation tools fail to focus on readability. Your translated document will likely be confusing to read in the new language.
A translation agency that uses human translators not only does away with errors while simultaneously improving readability, but also gets your brand message across exactly how you want.
3. Find the Right Professional Translator
Not all human translators are created equal.
The most important trait to look for is knowledge of the language. Your professional translator must be a native speaker.
Although it’s tempting to hire a translator that simply has a lot of skill and experience using a second language at a high level, it’s essential to select one that knows the language intimately.
Known as the native speaker principle, or other tongue principle, hiring a native speaker is fundamental to perfect document translation, according to the American Translators Association.
The translator you select should also have specific knowledge of the country or geographic region you’re targeting.
They must be familiar with the small differences in the language for that specific region. For example, Spanish in Spain is much different than Spanish in Mexico. In fact, the language even varies widely from region to region within each country itself.
On top of this, knowledge of the country’s people and culture will help the translator ensure that your message is in line with their values, so you don’t accidentally offend your new audience.
Finally, if at all possible, it’s important to find a translator that’s familiar with your industry, especially if the document deals with specialized subject matter.
4. Write for Translation
You could hire someone to write content in a different language from scratch.
However, most startups are better off writing their own content in English (or whatever their native language) and then hiring a translator.
This gives you far more control over your brand message. It enables you to write exactly what you want and make sure this carries over into your multilingual marketing efforts.
The catch is that you must write this content differently than normal. You must write for translation.
This largely boils down to simple, clear writing. Make the content as straightforward as possible to ensure high document translation quality.
Avoid using clever wordplay. Avoid using complex words (here is BBC’s list of words that don’t translate). Avoid using metaphors or synonyms.
All of these things translate poorly. For example, a popular saying in English in the United States often makes absolutely no sense translated to Mandarin in China.
The University of Montana’s guide to simple sentences is a great starting point to learn how to write for perfect document translation.
5. Tie All the Pieces Together
After you’ve written the original content and had it translated, it’s time to tie all the pieces together.
Don’t just publish the content and expect it to take off all on its own. You must combine your new translated documents with multilingual SEO for the best results.
Multilingual SEO is the key to getting newly translated online content in front of your target audience in new international markets.
Don’t Skimp on a Quality Document Translation Service
There is a lot to consider when it comes to document translation. The most important thing you can do to maintain a solid brand image and accurately get your message across in new international markets is to hire a skilled professional translation service.