Happy New Year! (Belated, I know, sorry, but I’ve been really busy.) I hope you‘ve transitioned well into the new year. (Don’t forget to put 2018 when you’re writing the date!)
Phew! You might say the annual seasonal shopping frenzy has finally settled down. Or maybe it’s just starting in your segment?
Maybe you’ve decided to expand your business globally and enter new markets in Europe. If, for example, you’re thinking of selling through European online marketplaces such as the European websites of Amazon, you may want to start by looking for advice on how to reach out to your new customer base.
To give you some idea of what’s involved, and for some clever and proven ideas, check out this article by David Barry in the Payoneer blog on “The 3 biggest mistakes that hurt your sales on Amazon Europe”: https://blog.payoneer.com/e-sellers/industry-tips-sellers/3-mistakes-hurt-sales-amazon-europe/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=cams&utm_campaign=Monthly_NL_January2018_complete
There are some nice hints in that blogpost on how not to waste time or money getting your product listings ready for Amazon Europe. For tips on getting the best out of your translation budget, read the paragraphs under “Mistake #3”. It’s sad (and somewhat strange) that the author thinks that to “hire a freelancer online” to translate listings would be a mistake. Ignore that bit and read the sensible hints that follow.
As any self-respecting translator worth his money will tell you, it’s essential that:
1. Your listings and sales copy are localised and adapted to the target audience and the cultural setting of your chosen market;
2. The translator performs proper keyword research to ensure that only keyword translations relevant to the target market make it onto your final list of essential, high-frequency and semantically related terms.
Because, as the author warns, “Failure to do keyword research in the local language is one of the biggest reasons why sellers struggle when moving to Amazon’s non-English speaking marketplaces.” And if your audience has never heard of Daisy Duke, well, then you’ll have to provide some explanation as to what makes your shorts so special and covetable.
Okay, so, you’ve been warned. But what about the next step? And how do you go about finding a freelance translator or translation agency familiar with these requirements?
It’s simple, really. Here are my tips for how to get your money’s worth of quality product listing translations:
1. As with any business-related process, there ought to be built-in quality control mechanisms. Check for those. Large translation services providers, for instance, rely on a wide network of (freelance) experts, databases and control mechanisms to ensure their output is homogeneous and meets specific quality criteria. Smaller outfits, such as one-person businesses and self-employed freelancers, usually integrate small-scale quality control mechanisms into their workflow. If you are in doubt about the capabilities of your chosen translation services provider, contact the person in charge (in person, by phone or by email – oh dear, that’s an “online” technology, isn’t it?) and ask about quality control and options for localising your content.
2. No doubt you’ve been told to look for a “native speaker” of your target language. To be honest, I don’t really know what that means. (Well, I do, but for the sake of argument let’s assume I don’t.) Naturally, you would want to go for someone who was raised and schooled in an immersion setting, i.e. speaking the language (as a first or second language, for example) from morning till nightfall, but what if that person later moved to another country? Would a lack of exposure to contemporary cultural and linguistic developments in that language not make translation more difficult? Well, it might. Or it might not. Because it all depends on whether that person is a “translator” or not. Translation isn’t about telling you what something means. Anyone can do that. Probably even some machines. (Well, sort of.) Translation is three parts research and one part finding equivalent and appropriate expressions. And making the target language text sound good, of course. So, if you’ve included a fair bit of colloquialisms (like “brewski”) or technical jargon (“slip torque”) or something isn’t used the same way everywhere (like a “throw pillow”) or what linguists call a “false friend” (an English “commission” can be a German “Kommission” but also a “Provision” etc.; an “icon” is rarely an “Ikone”), your professional language services provider will know what to do.
3. Machines aren’t infallible. It’s tempting to save money, I know, by plonking that short product description into one of those oh-so-inviting boxes in your browser and – hey presto! – out comes a translation. Yes and no. (Emphatically no, most of the time.) Because, you see, machines need databases to refer back to. They are the wizards of words only in as far as they can go to a partition (or whatever those spaces are called – I’ll look it up, I promise!) and pick out a predetermined match! Therefore, if you are intent on saving money and time by using automated translation, get your text checked!
4. Avoid propagating mistakes. Check out the competition by all means, but don’t copy everything that you see. A client of mine once told me that is how they built their website: they looked at other sites and copied what they liked. Quite frankly, judging by the strange terms they picked up, they really should have “copied” a dictionary or encyclopaedia for a change! I’m not saying that you shouldn’t let your chosen translator loose on the web; on the contrary, your competitors are out there and that is also where your translator should look for inspiration. Do make sure, however, that your sales copy and product specifications are given the real and honest attention they deserve.
I think I’ve said enough for today. I hope you’ve found this useful. And if you would like to discuss the matter further, feel free to contact me. Happy 2018! May your business thrive!