Lucy Xu

How to Localize & Expand Globally on a Startup Budget

To stay ahead of your competition and capture your global audiences early on, localization is the secret weapon that your startup can utilize. Localization is the important lever that can be pulled to drive sales from new international markets, to propel you into a global scaling strategy. After you’ve made the key decision to invest in localization and identified which content to localize first, the next step to building your global brand presence is understanding how to do it on a startup budget.

When it comes to translation and localization methods, there is a wide selection of technology options that you can evaluate to best fit your budget and needs. Depending on your specific business needs, a different combination of methods may help you optimize your localization efforts. Whether your startup has invested in localization before or is taking its first steps into the translation management world, here’s a breakdown of the top ways to translate your content — and the advantages and considerations of each.

In-House Localization

This is great for teams that already have team members who speak the target members of the selected international markets. Additionally, this works great for those startups that already have a bit of global presence to tap into — so you can tap local staff to help localize the content. While the advantages of this are that it is convenient and economical, it is also important to keep in mind quality and professionalism considerations (i.e., speaking a language and being able to translate it for professional purposes are independent skill sets).

Outsourced Translations

While there are many agencies with seasoned translators for hire, this solution may be a bit pricey for startups still testing out the return on a localization investment. The advantages here are that freelancers are a popular and highly accessible option as various sites and marketplaces equip anyone with internet access to be able to find translators. At the same time, keep in mind quality control and brand consistency by creating resources like glossary and style guides.

Crowdsourced Translations

A highly effective yet still relatively uncommon approach, crowdsourcing translations is a popular option amongst innovative companies. The pros here are many — it’s a great way to not only get quality translations, but also engage with your community of users in a unique and meaningful way. With crowdsourced translations, companies like Waze and Trello have tapped into their communities of passionate users eager to help translate the product into their local language.

Machine Translations

Though this method may sound the most technical out of all the others on this list, do not be fooled — with great technology comes great accuracy and dependability. The advantage here comes with the fact that it is a strong technology. Machine Translation solutions are the most recent leg of localization technology development, and have helped companies of all sizes (and global expansion stages) to be able to translate their content in real time. With this option, you give up more manual control of the content, so just make sure to have the QA you need in place to ensure quality and brand consistency.

For a more in-depth look at how you can best optimize and leverage localization for your startup, check out our Localization for Startups infographic series to get a better understanding of the localization landscape, what markets and languages are most popular when it comes to global expansion, and how to get started with localization on startup budget.

If you’re ready to start testing out localization for your startup, sign up for our 15-day free trial to get started and go global.

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