Hard Data to Support Global Growth
Are you making a case to add new languages, expand the number of content types, or launch a full-blown, enterprise-wide globalization strategy? CSA Research has been very busy this year analyzing and publishing hard data to enable you to position your initiatives as investment proposals to support global growth.
As you present your strategic plan, budget, or ROI argument, focus on "investing in" - not "funding" or "paying for." Here are a few examples of how our data can support you: 1) translation spend as a percentage of total revenue; 2) average international revenue per localization employee; 3) tolerance for lower-quality localized content; and 4) mixed-language sites.
1. Remember This Number: 0.2%
Regardless of industry or target market, your company only allots a minuscule amount of resources for translation and localization. We have the data to prove it. Since 2010, the percentage of total revenue spent on language services in all of our datasets has never surpassed 1% - and it usually comes in way under. Not a single firm in our latest survey of 90 global companies can muster more than 0.2%.
2. Localization Teams Average US$2.5 Billion in International Revenue per Employee
In our recent Localization Maturity Model research, we found that 142 participants helped to drive an average of US$2.5 billion in revenue per employee on localization teams of one to 10 employees. Of course, localizers can’t claim responsibility for all of this revenue – it’s also driven by brand strength, the investment in local infrastructure, and so on. However, when the right subset of products, programs, websites, and mobile apps aren’t adapted and localized appropriately, companies stand to lose a good portion of their international revenue. Very few, if any, staff in product/service development, marketing, or customer care can claim the same level of return on investment.
And yet, even with these strong ROI numbers and growing requirements for mobile apps and social media interactions, support for translation and interpreting remains too often on the cost side of the balance sheet. Our research not only disputes this mistaken assignment of language on the debit side, but also demonstrates the sizable contribution that multilingual content creators make to the financial health of their organizations.
3. People Prefer Lower-Quality Content in Their Language Versus None
An issue that many wrestle with year after year is how much content and code to localize and whether some markets may tolerate lower levels of linguistic quality in place of no translated material. About half of the respondents in one of our recent datasets favor lower-quality content in their language over none.
Let’s consider Millennials and their preference for consuming information in their mother tongue, even if the content isn’t perfect. We surveyed 3,002 consumers in 10 non-English-speaking countries. When viewed by country and generation, Millennials from Spain are the most accepting of lower-quality content, while Indonesians are the least tolerant. Japanese- and French-speakers, often flagged as having the most fastidious requirements for language quality, are only slightly less forgiving than the Spaniards.
4. It's Not All or Nothing - Partial Translation May Work More Frequently Than You Think
Companies often ask us whether they can dispense with localizing an entire website, instead, focusing their efforts on translating only portions of it. To gauge the reaction to such mixed-language solutions, we surveyed consumers about options that include navigation and buttons in their own language, with the content itself in English. We also asked if that approach is problematic for them.
Exactly half of respondents across all ages prefer that at least the navigation elements and some content appear in their language, with another 17% strongly sharing that view. Millennials are somewhat less likely than other age groups to accept partial localization. But the takeaway is still that mixing languages on a website doesn't bother international buyers as much as you may have assumed.
Whether you're focused on strategic planning, budgeting, or an ROI business case, remember the magic words: "invest in" - not "fund" or "pay for." Seize every chance to position your initiatives as investment options that require relatively very small budget allocations for sizable opportunities - or even enormous potential returns - in local markets and global growth.
Note: This post has been updated to clarify the international revenue data per employee and better reflect the content of the full report.
About the Author
Director of Buyers Service
Focuses on global digital transformation, enterprise globalization, localization maturity, social media, global product development, crowdsourcing, transcreation, and internationalization
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