Global Marketing: content quality vs efficiency debate

Balancing budgets vs efficiency in global marketingMarta is a Senior Regional Marketing Manager at Healthsoft, Inc. She’s joined the company just 2 months ago, working out of the German office in Munich. Marta is now responsible for a growing number of diverse lead generation & nurturing programs, incl. content marketing and social media. While the DACH region is generally treated as a well-established market for Healthsoft (contrary to those “new frontiers” in Asia that she heard somebody mention on the last Global Marketing call), the company’s sales in the region have started to plummet during the last quarter. So their VP Marketing has decided to strengthen the local team in order to help combat this decline – that’s how she was brought on board.

One of the first things Marta decides to do when she arrives is a content audit – so that she would know exactly what marketing assets are already available to her. After a lot of digging, she finds out that, out of all the marketing content that the US HQ has commissioned over the years, only 65% is available in German. The rest is not localized at all! And the worst part: one of the most successful Healthsoft’s global campaigns of all times was never launched in the DACH region. The exact messaging was deemed highly inappropriate under German healthcare regulations – but an alternative punchline was not found on time, and then they never got back to this idea…

Moreover, from her peers in the Munich office, she’s heard a number of rumors about “low quality German content” and “our marketing friends in other EU countries have the same type of issues“. Marta takes a quick look at the most recent German language collateral and web pages created before her arrival, and doesn’t find anything that really catches her eye. So she decides to arrange a call with Erin, the Director of Localization at Healthsoft, and find out her view of the situation.

What she learns is eye-opening. Healthsoft’s previous Regional Marketer for Germany/DACH, Hans, was extremely uncooperative when working with Erin’s team. He would escalate to his management every minor issue he was able to find in the translated collateral – so over time the relationship between the two teams (working together on the same goal!) has deteriorated to a point where they would avoid each other (and mutual projects) by all means possible. Even if it meant skipping or postponing localization of key marketing assets!

Marta is determined to make the collaboration between Marketing and Localization work again. She understands that Erin’s team is a key partner, and so aligning their needs and processes is indispensable. If only they could agree on how they approach the quality of their German content and how to budget their funding in the most efficient way to achieve that required level of quality…

After a brainstorming session, here is how they formulate their common problems to be solved:

  • How to shift the focus of global marketing messaging from a US-centric perspective to a more local one, while sticking to the same general theme and NOT creating each piece from scratch?
    • Marta is thinking whether implementing localized personas could be a good idea, but is a bit cautious about how to maintain and disseminate this information quickly & efficiently.
  • How do we define which content quality attributes are really important for German marketing copy and its audience in the region, and which are less key?
    • The idea of a style guide pops up, since Erin mentions they already have something like it in place for a few other key geographies. It might be possible to reuse some of it for German/DACH.
    • Marta is surprised to learn that Healthsoft’s Global Marketing doesn’t have any global style guide yet, despite heavily leaning upon decentralized content authoring teams and not using any Enterprise Content Management Systems.
  • After we define the key requirements, how can we efficiently evaluate localized content in terms of adherence to these requirements?
    • Marta & Erin are sure that having a local marketing specialist manually review 100% of the translated copy (as Healthsoft used to do in the past – and still does for some regions) to find ANY types of quality issues and make a big fuss about them (like Hans used to do) might not be the best way. Especially given the limited time frame they have for each campaign, and the opportunity cost that this effort implies.
    • Perhaps each requirement is best verified at different stages in the global content supply chain, using the optimal method for each? Can they push some QA work to HQ, and some QA work to their translation partners, while still being able to audit whether those have been validated for each piece of content?
  • Once localized content is published, how can we check that our hypothesis about the quality attributes we picked were actually true? Is our content truly effective (that is, do our readers actually do what we want them to do after reading it), and do we have the data to prove it?
    • This is where Marta and Erin argue a bit about the terminology to use. But in the end, they conclude that Marta’s “effectiveness” is pretty much a substitute for Erin’s “quality” in this regard.
    • Both quality and effectiveness seem to be just slightly different levels of abstraction they use to describe whether the team has done a good job on creating a piece of content that delights local prospects and partners, as well as helps the company meet its business KPI targets.
  • Knowing the translation isn’t the only way to get to locally effective content (and often, not the best way), how do we allocate our global marketing budget between local creative agency spending, parallel multilingual copywriting, transcreation, and regular marketing translations?
    • The goal is pretty clear: create and evolve a strong local brand with global roots to execute on the company’s business objectives around global marketing.
    • Can efficiency/quality metrics and the insights they generate actually guide us towards the right decisions on the process to follow for each piece of content and ultimately achieve that goal?

How does this work in your Global Marketing projects, do you find any challenges that are familiar? How do you address them? Let us know in the comments.

Content Quality in the eye of a Language Service Provider

sorts of olives are a bit like sorts of quality for multilingual content - you never know which's good for you until you try

Sorts of olives are a bit like sorts of quality

Last week, we’ve looked at how the world of multilingual content quality might look like for frustrated localization managers. Let’s now switch gears and hop across the fence to their trusted translation partners, Language Service Providers (LSPs), who are often downstream from localization managers in a typical global content supply chain.

Enter Lisa. She’s a translation quality manager working at TransMe, a regional translation & localization vendor that has been lucky enough to win Healthsoft (and Erin) as an account earlier this year, and now working on localization of Healthsoft’s new product line into 7 languages. Lisa has been with TransMe for 4 years now, having previously worked as a Quality Analyst at a customer service department of a large e-commerce multinational. With her small team of 2, she is responsible for language quality on all the TransMe’s accounts and personally oversees strategic ones, like Healthsoft.

Last week, Lisa had a call with Erin and her localization vendor manager, and knows that Healthsoft’s regional marketing team in France is recently quite a bit unhappy with TransMe’s French translations they are reviewing. So she’s not particularly surprised when her fellow Project Manager calls on her for help with a quality escalation that just came in this morning from Healthsoft.

Of course, client reviewer’s feedback is all in French, and – how inconvenient! – Lisa doesn’t speak any French herself. Pretty much the only French word she knows, from god knows where, is “merde“, and boy it’s all over the comments in the reviewed file that she’s just opened! And they are in bright red, too… Deep inside, Lisa starts bracing for an unpleasant shock. Despite many years in this role, she’s still sensitive about her team’s hard work getting smashed to pieces.

But a job’s a job. So Lisa contacts her favorite French linguist, Jean-Luc, with a request to categorize all the edits – and back-translate all comments, even the M-word – coming from Healthsoft’ in-house marketing reviewer. While waiting for his response, Lisa shudders, remembering their previous attempt to get Healthsoft’s French marketing folks actually write the feedback in English and assign types and severities to each change as they go (her ears still hurt from the shouting she’s heard on that call). Jean-Luc’s estimate is 3 hours of work that need to be paid out of the project budget, so Lisa gets an OK from the PM first. Now she has to wait (and let account management handle the angry client).

Next morning, Lisa’s got all the data she needs in her mailbox, neatly categorized according to her in-house model for Marketing content quality built with MQM. And what does she see? Almost 90% of angry comments actually relate to a single reason – the French version of the email campaign that was being reviewed is mentioning a Healthsoft product which is NOT going to be available in France at all, and this alone has got the French reviewer pissed. But now it’s Lisa’s turn to be seriously angry. All this fuss, and it’s not even related to language whatsoever? What does it have to do with our translation and TransMe at all? Couldn’t they have told us about it in advance?!

Little does Mission Lisa now that a few months before, a huge battle took cheap nfl jerseys place between Healthsoft’s Country Manager for France and the Healthsoft’s  corporate HQ in the US in order to decide whether to launch this product in France or not. HQ won, the product was cut, and the entire French sales & marketing team is now extra sensitive to anything related with this incident. So when enraged Lisa contacts Erin to explain things and clear TransMe’s name, Erin just shrugs her off.

“Marketing knows better”, Erin says. “That’s what content quality means to them. It’s a critical issue whether you like it or not. Me and you are professionals, we need gli to deal with this.”

Now it’s back to Lisa again. After venting off and reflecting for a squeezed while, the following questions come to her mind:

  • How can we make sure that we’re spending our Quality Assurance budget to check those aspects of translated content quality that really matter for our client? Not the things we believe to matter, not the things we know we can check for – but the things that are known and proven to move the needle for our client, decrease their quality risks, and increase their satisfaction (and consequently boost their retention and lifetime value for TransMe)
  • How can we help the client clearly define and document the requirements for each type of content they translate? (if wholesale nfl jerseys not for each individual piece of content, that is.) This will enable us to communicate the task clearly throughout our entire translation process, have a single source of truth for any conflict situations, as well as Challenges trace any content quality evaluation actions (and content quality issues) back to those requirements.
  • How can we help our client save money and time on the entire content quality assurance process? For instance, can we make sure that each requirement is verified once and only once throughout the whole day translation supply chain in the most efficient place and method? E.g. in the Healthsoft French case, can this wrong content about the wholesale nfl jerseys product that has been dropped be removed already at the authoring or localization handoff stage? (or at least on the publishing stage, before it gets to review?)

Pondering those for a whole, Lisa knows that it’s not going to be easy – but it’s strategically important, and so she is highly determined to push this project for completion (and hopefully, improve TransMe’s relations with Healthsoft while at that – her CEO was very eloquent in her speech about this being the most important win of the year, and Lisa definitely doesn’t want to disappoint her).

Has any of you had a recent experience similar to the one that Lisa’s had – being accused of violating rules that you didn’t even realize to exist? Please share in the comments.

Hi, my name is Erin and I struggle with global content quality every day

An Irish heritage lady hard at working managing localization for a global companyLast time, I’ve promised you a story. Everyone loves a (quality) story, don’t we? So, meet Erin. She is a Director of Localization at Healthysoft Inc., an established medium-sized tech company developing & marketing world-leading software solutions for hospital patient records management across the world, and today she’s seriously frustrated.

Erin just had a meeting with her boss, a Senior Vice President, and he told her that the company is now focusing heavily on improving profitability, due to rather disappointing results in Q3 and an overall downward trend during the entire FY2015 to date. Serious cost cutting is drodze going on all over the organization, and budget for her localization programs is going to be slashed by 20% for FY2016.

Still, her SVP makes it very clear, company’s global expansion is going to continue. Two new geos, Indonesia and UAE, have been committed for next year already on the last board meeting. Erin’d better find a way to deliver all the required multilingual content despite the budget cuts, he says.

Oh, and this time we’re not getting away with just the marketing collateral, like the last time with Brazilian Portuguese. Regional distributors were very clear on the last week’s call that there’s NO WAY they can sell this type of advanced technology in their geos without localized software, technical documentation, as well as ao support & training content. BTW, I’d suggest you take a look at your ROI per language – perhaps you can find places where you can squeeze things a bit without too much impact?

Not an easy challenge, by any means. After doing some preliminary research on the Internet, Erin decides to get her extended global team (both in-house colleagues and her translation partners) together on a call for a brainstorm. She knows that bringing down the globalization investment will very likely have an impact on the quality of her global content – and she cares too much about her international end users (customers & and prospects who will this content) and her company’s reputation to simply allow it to sink.

So she brings in lots of people: writers of the original (English) marketing & tech content, translation project managers on the Localization Service Provider side, in-country reviewers for translated collaterals, translators themselves, and even folks who test the localized software. To no surprise, they all start arguing about quality and what it actually means.

“Quality is when there are no cosmetic & functional bugs left worth Getting fixing”, says the senior SQA engineer. “No, quality is when there into are no commas missing”, says the regional marketing manager who’s reviewing Catalan. “You both are wrong, quality is when we have accurately conveyed the intended meaning”, says the translator for Estonian. Technical writer is sure that quality is when the user can complete her task correctly after reading the instructions. For marketing copywriter, quality is when her reader has clicked that big shiny “Tell me more” button and converted into a hot sizzling lead which has lead to a sale on the next day. And the discussion goes on and on and on…

Now, Erin didn’t spend her 10 years in the industry for nothing. She’s aware of the TAUS DQF model, and her team has even been toying around with those ideas for a couple of months by now – so she does have some hypotheses on which parts of her quality assurance workflows for which types of content she might be able to wholesale NFL jerseys optimize. Can they try Machine Translation with Post-Editing on learning & training content? Can they use self-certification for her translation partners? So far, she’s got more questions than answers, though:

  • How does she know which steps in her quality assurance process generate the most value-add, and which simply waste money? How much money exactly? Which steps are safe to skip or downsize, and which are critically important? Which steps can be replaced with cheaper, more efficient steps that achieve the same goal? Which steps are being used only in is very specific circumstances, but deserve to be replicated across content types and languages?
  • How can she be sure that when she downsizes one part of her multilingual content quality assurance approach, her internal customers (say, regional marketing managers) aren’t going to be mad at her because THEIR business KPIs (for instance, global campaign conversion rates) start going down from poor quality content?
  • How can she demonstrate that all her investments into global content quality are indeed bringing positive ROI, e.g. by increasing revenue and/or Customer Satisfaction for her company? She’s been very good at throwing Linguistic Error Typology metrics at her translation partners (and having them push wholesale jerseys each other), but now she’s having a hard time to show to the management team that these type of metrics are actually connected to something meaningful, and are not just a localization industry obsession.
  • How can she help her translation partners, her in-country reviewers, and her localization testers align to a common understanding and metrics of quality for each piece of content & type of project, and spend their efforts wholesale MLB jerseys on cheap nfl jerseys things that really move the needle for the company and the readers, instead of arguing & wasting cheap jerseys their efforts on trivialities that end users won’t ever notice?

By now, Erin knows for sure that Q4 is going to be a HUGE stretch for her if she really wants Sonneborn to get that promotion that she was hoping for. Or to keep her job at all, if things go really bad…


Now, does this sounds familiar to any of you? If you’ve been feeling a little bit like Erin lately, please share your story in the comments section – will be glad to discuss your perspectives!

Multilingual Content Quality, squeezed into one limerick

Note the bilingual signs in English and Gaelic

Limerick city

I long wanted to start this blog from a story. And the story from a (crude) limerick.


(OK, so I’ve just made up the limerick bit. But the story about the story is a The true story! :))


Anyway, here it goes:

There was once a lady from Townsend

Who managed multilingual content

She spent company’s money,

But it wasn’t that funny

Since her ROI went down by 10 percent.

And this is what our blog is essentially going to be about.





OK, now to explain this in a bit more detail:

  • What’s so special about getting your content right in a multilingual setting when compared to just producing content (of any sort) in cheap jerseys one language only? Will What does “right content” or “high-quality content” actually mean in a global scenario? (hint: everyone typically wholesale jerseys China has a different opinion about that.)
  • Why do companies large and small spend money on what they believe to be high-quality multilingual content, why so much, and where does this money actually go? (hint: it might not always make sense to spend it like that)
  • Where does the universe of translation quality management meet real-life business situations that call for increased conversion rates from global digital marketing campaigns, higher ROI, more satisfaction and longer retention of customers, while being given the same or smaller budgets? (hint: looks like in many organizations, these 2 never meet.)
  • How does the typical content supply chain for multilingual content in a typical global organization look like, and Cheap why does it, due to its inherent complexities, often turn high-quality multilingual content into a cheap jerseys very fuzzy, fragmented, and hard-to-achieve goal? (hint: it doesn’t HAVE to be this way.)

In other words, what the heck is multilingual content quality, why should we care, why does it seem broken, and how can we fix things & make it useful?

(The answer to the last question is, of course, “by taking a customer-centric, holistic, end-to-end, lean, transparent, dynamic, data-driven approach“, but we’ll get to every last buzzword of that. Eventually. I promise :))

Stay tuned for the story, which is coming up soon.

Note: in this blog, we’re going wholesale jerseys to be using the term “content” to mean all sorts of things that prospects, customers, readers, and users are interacting with as part of their journey towards (hopefully not away from!) your organization: Marketing, Communications/PR, Legal, Technical Publications, Software UI, Multimedia, Training & eLearning, etc.