SimulTrans Localization Blog: SimulTips

Save vs. Splurge: How to Cut Costs in Your Localization Strategy

[fa icon="calendar"] November 10, 2015 / by Lorna Franklin

cost efficient translation


Many people cringe at the thought of investing in localization because of just that… the investment. 

However, with a strategic mindset towards localization and a constant drive to make things more efficient, your global expansion will become faster, simpler and more successful.

Here are some cost cutting steps which will really pay off in any localization strategy.


Reduce the amount of content you send for translation

It sounds obvious but,  we're all busy, so it’s no surprise that adding in another step before sending content for translation is the last thing on your mind. It's much easier to send full pieces of content for translation once they are completed in English, but if you plan what really needs translated and discard the non-necessary content from translation, the costs savings will add up in the long run. 

By cutting down just 1,000 words per month from translation, depending on your word rate, you could save up to  €3,000 per year in unnecessary content. Which brings me on to my next point...


Try transcreation, or copywriting

One way to invest the money you have saved could be to go beyond just translation, and really make content "pop" in your target market. Transcreation or copywriting may incur a higher word rate, but think about it... if you make a conscious effort to stop sending every piece of content for translation, and invest only in those fewer key pieces, you will end up with highly targeted and exceptionally well localized golden nuggets, that will really resonate with your audience.

Technically you may not save on cost by choosing this approach, but with a bit of trial and error, these little golden nuggets could generate two or three times more return on investment than simple translation; leaving you with better content, which generates more revenue, and makes your company look great in eyes of your consumer... Can't argue with that. 


Make sure your text is translation ready

If I didn't win you over with the golden nuggets, another simple way to save money in your localization strategy is by making sure that the source content is optimized for translation in the first place. By avoiding lengthy sentences, colloquialisms, jargon, or messages that have been specifically crafted for your domestic audience, translation will be smoother, and will cut out costly back and forth. 

Every hour that you save on project management or review time will make a huge impact in your overall localization budget, allowing that little extra room for increased investment elsewhere. 


Don’t be so quick to request third party reviews

Many people request a review by a third party translator before delivery. While this is fine if budget isn't an issue, it can quickly become a safety net to make sure the blame doesn't fall on you if the translation isn't the way it should be.

Before you request a third party review, it’s important to determine if it is really needed or if it’s just adding up on unnecessary costs because you want to be extra sure that the quality will meet your expectations. The fact is, you shouldn't have to worry about quality, and if you do, something is likely to be wrong, either with your approach to localization or your translation provider.

Here are a few instances where a third party review may be necessary, otherwise it could possibly be avoided, provided you send high quality source content:

  • This particular type of content has never been translated before
  • You are translating for a target market very different to your own (i.e. Asia) and need feedback from several native speakers
  • Your source content contains a lot of humor and colloquialisms which need to translate well with the target audience
  • You are translating a large volume of content which is intended for an end user e.g. websites, software UI
  • Your product or service is still in the pilot stage for a certain market, and your global brand has not yet been developed

Remember, translation reviews aren't designed to point out errors, they are simply to make sure that a translation is optimised for your target audience.


Take the time to send source files

This is one area where costs can really add up. The next time you think about sending content for translation, it is important to know what happens when a file is received by your translation provider. Essentially, a file needs to be "dismantled"... the text is imported into a translation tool, translated in segments, and then put back together after translation during QA and desktop publishing.  In order to do this without wasting time and money, providing your translation company with the source files used to create the document will avoid heavy text extraction and desktop publishing costs. 

When are source files usually necessary?

  • If your file is in PDF format, the original file will be needed, such as an MS Word file (if the source was created in Word), Adobe InDesign or Illustrator source files 
  • If you require video localization where you will need voice over, subtitling or translation of on screen text, all source files including fonts, links and background music will be needed.


Don't forget graphic text

Just like sending source files, it's essential to make sure all graphic text is editable and that all necessary source material is provided in order to avoid those costly text extraction costs. 

** Tip ** If you have a lot of graphics to be translated but the text is not editable, consider copying any text into a word table and have your design team incorporate the translated text back into the images.


Swap text for images

When designing your brochures, white papers, e-books, manuals etc. a great way to save on translation costs is to replace large blocks of text with universal images and a smaller amount of text. Not only will this cut down on translation costs, but will increase the visual appeal of your content. As highlighted in my point above though, make sure all graphic text is editable before sending it off for translation.


Efficient terminology management

Have you ever heard that if you tidy up as you go along you won't ever have a messy room again?

Well, ensuring strict maintenance of your style guides, glossaries, and doing a regular translation memory clean up will work wonders in cutting down money spent on reviews, queries and project management. 

Things always seem more complicated than they are, so don't keep putting it off; a simple review of your style guide and glossary before each product update, and a little look at the terms stored in your translation memory once or twice a year should do the trick. This way, you clear out any terms that are no longer in line with your brand, avoiding hefty review stages when projects are complete. There is no point in having a large translation memory to cut down on quote costs, only to spend money fixing every translation. 

 You know what they say... tidy translation memory, tidy mind!


100% matches

I haven't included this point to suggest that 100% matches never need to be reviewed... because they do. Contrary to popular believe, it is important to think logically about this rather than decide that because something shows up as a 100% match, it can simply be discarded from translation... because it has already been translated before, right?

This should be decided on a case by case basis. Depending on the type of content you are translating, reviewing 100% matches could potentially be avoided in the following cases:

  • If you are translating highly technical information that is unlikely to change context e.g. updates to user manuals or technical documentation
  • If you are translating updates to software, where all previous versions have been translated before

Any of you involved in website localization, marketing, e-learning or medical content, I'm afraid this is a cost which you probably won't be able to escape... until machines become as linguistically intelligent as humans that is.   


Buy in bulk

This may not apply to everyone, but a really simple way to save on project management costs and minimum hourly rates is to send as much content for translation at the same time. A common theme with larger companies is the silo culture between departments. Each department looks after their own projects which are sent for translation by each person in charge of a particular project. The problem? You could be spending a lot more on minimum hourly rates and project management than you would if you had a large project to be translated. 

** Tip ** Try delegating translation to one person who can create a calendar of all content that is to be sent for translation and when. This way, batches of content can be sent at once, which saves on time and costs. If this isn't feasible, try simply coordinating with other departments on a monthly or quarterly basis to plan and batch as many translations as possible in one go. 


Be careful with word rates

Negotiation regarding rates is standard practice in keeping translation costs down, however do keep an eye on how cheap you whittle your rates down to. Although you will be paying a lower cost for translation, you still need to bear in mind that a person has to work for rates even lower than what you are paying.

Regardless of the volume of translation work that you do, if you’re expecting impeccable quality, you should expect to pay that little bit more for a highly skilled translator… as they don’t tend to come cheap.


Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?

It is pretty simple in fact. As you'll see, cutting costs in translation isn't about making huge changes that will have a direct impact on the cost of each quote, and it doesn't always come down to how much you pay per word. With a combination of small steps and best practices, saving money on translation costs is about the little changes that make a big difference. 




Topics: Translation Best Practices

Lorna Franklin

Written by Lorna Franklin

In 2009, Lorna's love for languages inspired her to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Intercultural studies with French and Spanish, in Dublin City University (DCU). During her degree, she spent a year living in Granada, Spain which truly re-enforced her passion for the Spanish language and culture.