3 barriers to overcome for smoother content localization

Estimated reading time
5 minutes
21st October 2020
Author: Kit McKay
Posted in: Content operations, Content production, Distribution & promotion

When it comes to localizing content, enterprise businesses are always looking for new ways to make this traditionally painful process that little bit smoother. With half of enterprises translating content into ten or more languages and dialects, it’s easy to see why.

Forrester conducted research on 150 companies and found that a whopping 92 percent face challenges with localization. Three of the top challenges were identified as siloed operations, disjointed tech stacks, and lack of local insight. These barriers are not easily overcome, but cloud-based technology is a giant leap in the right direction.

Barrier #1: Siloed operations

Many businesses feel that they’re not set up for success when it comes to carrying out localized content marketing. Respondents cited a lack of standardization for translation processes and a lack of centralized budget as two top reasons for this in the Forrester study.

Often, the central team produces content and passes it along to their respective field marketers, product developers, customer support divisions, and other business units. These teams then use their own content management system and manage translation independently.

Working in silos like this is inefficient and costly. These isolated projects unnecessarily duplicate the cost of translation and eat into multiple budgets. The local teams receive content with little to no context and must make independent decisions on which to prioritize for their region. And the central team has limited oversight into whether the quality of their content has been impacted by localization.

These silos can be broken down through the use of a cloud-based translation management system (TMS). With this type of software, translators can store their translations as dynamic linguistic assets in the cloud. These assets are stored centrally so that different teams can use them across their projects, reusing multilingual content. This allows for real-time collaboration, saving time and money at the local and global level.

Barrier #2: Disjointed tech stacks

The siloed operations discussed above give rise to another barrier – a disjointed tech stack. 62 percent of enterprises reported having five or more content repositories (36 percent have ten or more). Combine that with the fact that less than a third of enterprises who use a TMS can integrate it with their content management system (CMS) and things start to get messy.

The more fragmented the tech stack is, the more manual labor is required to build out a workflow. Not only do translations need to be emailed back and forth, but also design updates to match those changes, all moving through various creative softwares, content management systems, workspaces, and translation tools as they’re shared between teams.

These manual processes make agile content marketing virtually impossible. By the time a piece is ready for launch, it’s already out of date. Not to mention the potential security risks of having all that information and data passing between so many hands.

To combat this barrier, you want to make your various technologies as compatible as possible. In an ideal world, you’d set up an integration between your CMS and TMS. A cloud-based TMS that’s integrated with a CMS allows you to set up customized workflows, giving you the tools you need to automate the localization process. As each piece of content completes its workflow, it can be configured to automatically publish the translation to your website or CMS.

If a full integration like this isn’t possible, finding ways to increase automation anywhere in your workflow can drastically reduce deployment time and improve your ability to enter new markets quickly.

Barrier #3: Lack of local insight

About a third of companies feel that a lack of understanding of customer needs at the local level stands in the way of their ability to successfully translate content. This highlights the important distinction between translation and localization. Localization is adapting content for local consumption and should match the user’s cultural expectations. 

This is something even the most successful brands have failed to do at times. For example, Peugeot’s name in Chinese is “Biaozhi” which sounds particularly like a slang word for prostitute in areas of southern China, inspiring many jokes about the brand to this day. This all could have been avoided with deeper local consultation.

The steps to overcome the first two barriers should indirectly help in this case. If you’re spending less of your time and budget on manual translation, those funds could be redirected to consulting local experts on cultural expectations and sensitivities. BMW use Cashmere Agency to help them understand the consumer segments their central team is less familiar with, for example.

Shot of a group of businesspeople sitting together in a meeting

But in terms of identifying where local interests lie, it’s cloud-based technology that helps combat this barrier. Creating content in the cloud, rather than in offline formats like the PDF, allows you to measure its performance through reader engagement data.

This would allow local teams to tailor the content given to them by the central team on an ongoing basis. They could respond to live performance metrics that reveal local interests and pain points and edit existing and future content off the back of that data in a much more meaningful way than direct translation.

These insights can then be fed back up the chain to the central team who can make more strategic decisions on which content is best suited to each local region.

How Cisco uses Turtl to make content localization easier

As mentioned at the start of this article, overcoming these barriers is no small task. But at Turtl, we play our part in helping large enterprises streamline their localization process.

One of our customers, Cisco, creates a piece of content in a primary language with Turtl’s editor. They then save the copy as a JSON file and feed it into their translation management system, XTM Cloud. This TMS automates the translation process, drastically reducing manual labor as the translator purely acts as quality control for their respective language(s).

The translated copy is saved as a JSON file again and uploaded back into Turtl where a new version of the original content is automatically created in the target language. A final quality check is carried out to make any small tweaks to the design following the translation, including adjusting for cultural expectations. And that’s it. With minimal effort, they’ve created a document fit for their local market. It even collects in-depth reader data for future local iteration.

“As soon as you’ve created a PDF, it becomes redundant as content becomes out of date so quickly, especially when you start localizing,” explains Cisco’s Faith Wheller, Director of Segment, Brand, and Advocacy Marketing EMEA. “Turtl drastically cuts down production times by weeks, if not months, for a much more agile approach.”

Learn more about Turtl and other ways we help enterprises here