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 content localization, enterprise businesses are always looking for new ways to make this traditionally painful process a little 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 identified were siloed operations, disjointed technology stacks, and lack of local insight. These obstacles are not easily overcome. However, cloud-based technology is a giant leap in the right direction.

Barrier #1: Siloed operations

Many businesses feel unprepared 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. They must make independent decisions on which to prioritize for their region. Centrally, the team has little insight into whether the quality of their content is impacted by localization.

Using a cloud-based translation management system (TMS) can break down these silos. With this type of software, translators can store their translations centrally, as dynamic linguistic assets, in the cloud. This enables different teams to use them across their projects, reusing multilingual content. This allows for real-time collaboration, saving time and money at local and global levels.

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 a tech stack, the more manual labor required to build out a workflow. It’s not only translations that have to be emailed back and forth, but also design updates to match those changes. All move through a variety of creative softwares, content management systems, workspaces, and translation tools as theyre 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. It is possible to configure content to automatically publish its translation at the end of the workflow to your website or CMS.

If a full integration isn’t possible, finding ways to increase automation anywhere in your workflow can still help. It can drastically reduce deployment time in addition to improving 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”. This sounds particularly like a slang word for prostitute in areas of southern China. To this day, it has inspired many jokes about the brand. This is avoidable with deeper local consultation. 

The steps to overcome the first two barriers should indirectly help in this case. By saving time and money on manual translation, you can direct those funds toward consulting local experts on cultural expectationsBMW use Cashmere Agency to help them understand the consumer segments their central team is less familiar with, for example.

A group of people sitting around a table in a meeting

In terms of identifying where local interests lie, cloud-based technology can help 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. Further to this, teams can use this data to edit existing and future content more meaningfully than through direct translation.

These insights can then be fed back up the chain to the central team. The team can then make more strategic decisions on what content is best suited for each 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. This is because the translator acts purely as quality control for their respective language(s).

In Turtl, the translated content is uploaded as a JSON file again. Here, a new version is automatically created in the target language. A final quality check makes any small tweaks to the design following the translation. This can include adjustments 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

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