Many large enterprises now find their most prolific growth in international markets. According to their 2018 annual reports, McDonald’s, General Electric, Nike, and Accenture all derived more revenue from outside of the United States than from within. In addition, Internet World Stats indicates that over 74% of people who are online do not speak English. So whether you sell products online, in-store, or offer services, doing business in the global theater is no longer optional—and it doesn’t happen without speaking your customers’ languages.
According to the Globalization & Localization Association (GALA), localization is a $46 billion industry and is continually growing. Three of the most important trends in localization revolve around artificial intelligence (AI), multilingual customer support, and video.
Let’s explore each one more closely and uncover what they mean.
AI In Translation
AI is taking just about every industry by storm. This isn’t a new phenomenon; whether thoughts of Skynet from “The Terminator” or visions of retinal scanning from “Minority Report” cross your mind, we’ve all heard of and seen flavors of AI for years now.
In translation, AI serves a variety of purposes. One of the more common use cases we’ve seen is leveraging AI to help a machine translation engine learn how a person prefers to communicate so the output requires less and less editing over time.
The use of AI to enhance machine translation can help corporations cut their costs and turnaround times in a number of ways. With properly trained AI and clean data, organizations can optimize spend and prioritize areas that require a human touch for global messaging. They also can reach more markets and a broader audience without increasing their budgets. In addition, businesses now have a viable solution for translating “long-tail” content, such as product reviews, social media comments, and other user-generated content, that was previously cost-prohibitive to offer in other languages.
Multilingual Customer Support
Localizing a website does not immediately make a business global. Companies that sell a product or service (which most do) are intimately aware of the fact that keeping their current customers happy and growing their businesses with them costs significantly less than acquiring new customers. For an organization to truly be considered global, it must have a strategy for handling customer support on a global scale.
Customer support isn’t entirely digital—there’s a journey to it. For example, the touch points in customer support are different than during the presale process. The journey often includes an online knowledge base or community, real-time chat functionality, ticketing systems, call centers, and social media. In each market, the mix of touch points will vary, and understanding the correct balance is critical.
Companies expanding into global markets are discovering (often the hard way) that getting international customer support right is often the difference between success or failure. Pay attention to these intricacies and have a plan for addressing them. Otherwise, your investment in translating your marketing and digital experiences will quickly become a sunk cost.
Video Is The New King
In the translation world, we’ve observed a massive shift in how content is delivered. User manuals have become instructional videos. Most brands have their own video channels because video on demand is now the standard in most homes around the globe.
Traditionally, video has been costly to localize. In essence, video boils down to three options: Subtitling is the cheapest (relatively speaking). Voiceover is more expensive. And the most expensive option is to reshoot the video in-language.
The good news is that the popularity of video as a content channel has spawned new technologies that allow organizations to automate much of the work involved with producing videos in other languages. Whether it involves crowdsourcing engineering or leveraging virtual studios and AI to scale localization, video is finally becoming affordable to translate.
Also of note: Video calls for a dynamic strategy—how an organization will use it, where it will be used, and who will see it—tailored for each market being targeted to ensure success.
Marketers no longer have the luxury of focusing on a single market. Their organizations’ markets are global, and customers fall within multiple segments. Those who factor in these three trends, and continue looking for new ones, will stay ahead of their competitors and continue to grow around the world.