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17Feb

Bad Translation? Audit Your Content

Are you suffering from poor translations, complex processes, or content mysteries to solve?

If you’ve ever heard someone tell you that, “The translation is bad!” and yet nobody is able to articulate why, you’re not alone. You have checked the quality that your linguists deliver – all is good. You and your LSPs set up a localization quality assessment (LQA) process and rigorously measure spelling errors, typos, and other errors: you can confidently state that the translation is, in fact, highly accurate. Yet the in-country teams still report poor-quality translation. This is a common phenomenon for any organization that produces global content. 

You need a way to find the root causes of complaints that the translation is missing its target, then take action and measure results.

Are your team and your language partners buckling under a proliferation of translation workflows and a multitude of translation memories?

We see this time and again in enterprises with mature localization processes. A wasteful complexity of processes, TMs, glossaries, and style guides that are either too granular – with different versions for every group of projects – or too generic, with only top-level brand information. You want to simplify the process, but everyone claims their content is special. You need a way to identify and group terminology, style guides, and workflows – with data that shows what is, and is not, truly unique.

You need a content audit.
 

A content audit will categorize, quantify, and evaluate your customer experience

All of these situations – and a whole lot more – can be addressed through a content audit: a structured approach to analyzing your target audience(s) and the content your company delivers to them. It’s an essential component in your toolkit for content and language strategy. Don’t confuse an audit with an inventory: the inventory only measures “how much” – you need more than stock-taking to deliver actionable, strategic plans to meet your goals.

Many organizations that attempt content audits give up because they find the task overwhelming. Given the ever-multiplying volume of information that the world is producing, it might seem an impossible task (“The Calculus of Translation”). But with some well-defined goals and boundaries – and a process that involves more than a simple stock-taking of existing content – your audit will deliver much more meaningful data.
 
Consider your content audit like a construction project:
 

  • Define what you want to achieve: you need measurable goals for a specific purpose.
     
  • Set the boundaries: size, scope, and budget all play a part. Define a scope that provides a representative sample of content – and beware of scope creep.
     
  • Gather your tools: you will need access to your company’s marketing personas, a means to execute a content inventory, and depending on the goals of the audit, a review of your current content and/or translation processes.
     
  • Understand how the content is used. Work with others in the organization to expand on the personas and customer journeys. Where possible, observe consumers in action rather than relying on the opinions of internal teams.
     
  • Test the process: use a small subset of content to estimate the length of time required for the content inventory part of the audit.
     
  • Measure twice, cut once: only start the inventory and audit when you are certain the process is ready. 
     
  • Plan regular maintenance: you can use the same process to verify that the new content strategy still applies for the next year.

A well-executed content audit will enable you to drive your global content strategy, simplify translation processes, and ensure that your global content is the right fit for the person who will consume it. It will help tailor your marketing personas for customers around the globe. It can show you where you are producing too much or too little content, or where video or images would yield better results than words. And it will reveal the real reason that translated content is “bad” – a reason that likely has nothing to do with translation, and everything to do with content strategy, market appropriateness, writing style, or even product availability. Don’t you think you should find out?
 

About the Author

Alison Toon

Alison Toon

Senior Analyst

Focuses on translation management systems, plus helping CSA Research’s clients gain insights into the technologies, pricing, and business processes key to executive buy-in

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