Translation is often an invisible art. When it's at its best, consumers never know they're experiencing translated or localized content.
Delivering such authentic and resonant results is often more difficult than most professionals expect. The challenge in communicating the same information from one language to another does not end with finding equivalent words; that’s just the beginning. Great translations represent layer upon layer of fluency, nuance and boundless creativity.
This attention to detail is especially important when replicating a brand’s voice and personality in new global markets—particularly online.
With website translation, it's not enough to merely "talk the talk." These days, international customers deserve-and demand!-content that's just as confidently communicated, artful and alluring as what a company's English-speaking shoppers experience on its flagship-market English site.
This quality demands a balance of passion and practicality: an unparalleled respect for a brand’s voice and products, combined with a deep understanding of languages, cultures and consumer preferences.
We've found that this combination leads to far more than satisfying, engaging (and accurate) translations. It also generates more website traffic, conversions and revenue.
How is this achieved? To learn more, we sat down with two MotionPoint employees: Juan V. Ayala Millán, our Site Redesign Manager (and a Spanish linguist himself), and Blas Giffuni, the director of our Global Growth team.
Firstly, it's important to understand the value of "brand-perfect" translations. This high-quality content requires time and skill to achieve. Not every translator can provide these results-and for some content, it's not even especially appropriate.
"In an ideal world, every translator considers brand tone, local dialect and cultural authenticity as they work," Juan explains. "But due to the variables caused by business needs, a translator must choose what to focus on. For instance, translations on most e-commerce sites have sections with a basic mission: to make the product descriptions understandable, so people can buy. There may not be much need to invest more time and creativity into those translations."
But these same e-commerce sites-and indeed, sites in other industries-may feature sections with more artfully-written text, such as promotional copy. For this brand-sensitive content, a more meticulous brand-centric approach may be required, Juan says. This requires a different kind of thinking.
"This can be a far more creative and challenging place," he says. "In reality, a translator is not really seeing words, but rather ideas and concepts that must be transferred into another paradigm-a language with its own rhythm, rules and resources. Crafting translated text requires professionals who can see beyond words, and are capable of creating this form of 'linguistic alchemy.'"
The final result? Text that is just as resonant in global markets as it is in a company's primary market. This content delights. It persuades. "Think of it as a kind of 'pied piper,' engaging users and urging them on to website sections, or actions, that benefit the company," Juan says. "And it does so, all with the precise verbiage that best represents the brand in that international market."
For more than 15 years, MotionPoint has translated and optimized online and offline content for hundreds of brand-sensitive companies in dozens of global markets. Time and again, we've seen how resonant translations made a measurable-and profitable-difference for companies in global markets.
Here are two examples:
We were delighted when an industry-leading quick service restaurant chain engaged us to translate its U.S.-based English website, to better serve its Spanish-speaking consumers. However, it insisted on these translations having a "formal" tone-not the most ideal choice, considering the playful, family-centric voice it used on its English site.
We advised the company to shift its Spanish-site voice from formal to informal-a process that affects every conjugated verb, among many other factors-to create a consistent, consumer-friendly brand experience between the two websites. The company agreed, and timed this tonal change to an upcoming website redesign. This was a great decision, Blas says.
"But what does it exactly mean when we say the tone changed from formal to informal?" Blas asks. "You might consider it the difference between 'more polite' and 'less polite,' but it's more than that, when taken to a full website experience. It's the difference between alienating your audience and forming a relationship with them. This is especially true for Hispanics, who are accustomed to having very cordial and respectful relationships, even with strangers."
When the redesigned website debuted, so did MotionPoint's revised translations, featuring a friendlier tone. Three months later, the significant improvements in user experience (and conversions) were clear:
"This indicated several things to us," Blas explains. "Firstly, it drove home the lesson that, when appropriate, translated content should be crafted to reach audiences on a personal level. Companies must understand their audiences in new markets, and how their products will be perceived there."
Secondly, Blas says, it illustrated the importance of acknowledging cultural relevancies and preferences. "A website translation solution should be capable of adapting to these changes through offering localized content-messaging that's relevant to these local consumers," he says.
MotionPoint observed another meaningful change in on-site engagement and conversion when our translators helped an international airline communicate its promotional offers, in a more authentic way, to South Korean travelers.
We noticed that the company's Korean site wasn't engaging with customers as effectively as we'd expected. After some linguistic sleuthing, we spotted the disconnect. It was on a very specific part of the Korean site's homepage.
The site’s prominently-displayed “hero” promotions—which showcased flight deals, frequent flyer perks and more—were the source. The translations were absolutely accurate, but lacked a kind of verve expected from locals. The translations felt like translations … not like they’d been written by a native.
Indeed, Korean airline websites often feature more text and detail on their high-profile "hero" content than sites in other international markets. While "less is more" might be a good practice for copywriting in other markets, Korean consumers have different expectations. Longer descriptions of products and services are expected here.
Armed with this nuanced understanding of Korean language and culture, we set forth to “transcend translation” and craft detailed, authentic messaging.
The site's performance improved dramatically. "Hero" promotion click-throughs increased by an average of 15%. Checkouts increased by an average of 44%.
The highest impact came from editing promotional copy to include high-interest destinations. For instance, an image touting service to Seattle was improved with additional information relevant to Korean customers. Assuming that Korean residents would be interested in flights to North America (and not just Seattle), we edited the text to include the U.S. and Canada. The result? A 30% jump in clicks and 69% increase in checkouts.
"Crafting culturally-resonant, localized content made all the difference," Blas says. "Thanks to our ability to provide accurate, authentic translations, we created a natural and memorable experience for these Korean customers."
The difference between good translations and great "brand-perfect" translations can be affected by several factors, Juan says. This includes cost, quality, speed and skill.
But the most important factor often hails from within translators themselves, Juan says.
“Just as in any profession, passion is the key differentiator between mediocrity and excellence,” he explains. “Since language is as dynamic as the human mind, there often isn’t ‘one single way’ to say something. These nuances are worth discussing, and exploring.
"That's where I see MotionPoint's translation team excel," he concludes. "They fully embrace this basic, but greatly valuable, secret: a love for the richness of languages."
Chris Hutchins helps produce MotionPoint's marketing and sales materials.
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