Content Marketing Is Dead
Content Marketing Is Dead Podcast
More than Translation: Content Localization in SaaS

More than Translation: Content Localization in SaaS

Conversation with Markus Seebauer

It’s easy to default to English as the primary—and maybe the only—language you do business in when you’re targeting North America and Western Europe. But SaaS businesses more often than not serve customers globally.

And if they fail to serve different languages and cultures properly, they’re missing out on significant revenue. 

The usual reasons we see companies delay—or refuse to invest in—localization are financial and the fear of what it takes to do it right. While the work of localization can look daunting or complex, setting the right structure and working with the right partners can make the process easier than you imagine and much more profitable.

To learn about the topic of localization and its effect on content strategy, I talked with Markus Seebauer, managing director of Gateway Translations. Listen to the full episode for insights into the strategy behind localization, choosing the right time, how global marketing changes affect localization, and more.

Below you’ll find the 3 main highlights from the interview.

About the Guest

Markus Seebauer is a managing director of Gateway Translations, a provider of technical translations. This German-born digital nomad has been in the translation and localization business for over 10 years. He guides strategic aspects to identify the right markets, consults on translation technology (vendor-independent), and creates translation workflows that scale a process and provide translations into 45 languages with his team.

1. When should a business start thinking about localization?

The answer often lies in your analytics, says Markus. In his 10+ years experience of working with devtools and software companies for technical audiences, the stages of companies reaching out tended to differ, but there have always been some common denominators.

With technical audiences like these, it’s very likely the majority of the audience already has an intermediate grasp of English. That means they will likely be able to find their way around your tool, once they convert.

But will they find you persuasive enough to convert? There are two sources of truth for that.

  1. Analytics

You can easily check that in the analytics. If you already have a considerable amount of traffic from, let’s say, Latin America, but they spend noticeably less time compared to the US-based audience, it probably makes sense to analyze the content and see how it can be adjusted for the Latin American audience.

  1. Your sales team

Your sales team is in direct contact with your most chatty prospects. At this point, they probably already have insights into what are the common challenges preventing leads from certain regions to convert (Anything from legal regulations to payment methods in localized currencies).

According to Markus: “When companies already have internal marketing teams or local distributors [...] there’s already a lot of knowledge that just needs to be collected in a systematic way.” Paired with the insights found in the analytics, they are then able to prioritize goals and the next steps.

2. Localization = Translation + Cultural Match

To successfully localize your online presence, it’s not enough to just hire a good translator.

Successfully localization lies at the cross-section of translation and cultural match. A speaker of Spanish won’t necessarily do a good job on localization for a Mexican-based business, as they would for a Spanish one.

A good analogy would be to consider the differences between British English and American English usage. While it is one and the same language at the core, the cultural differences affected various aspects of it:

  • The use of idioms

  • Differences in the vocabulary

  • Changes in spelling

Those are just the linguistic differences. When you add to it the cultural differences, and the different practice of conducting business, it becomes more apparent how localization is a much broader approach compared to translation

To match culturally with the region you’re trying to grow in, Markus advises to consider:

  • How people communicate

  • How trust is built

  • How open people are

  • What adjacent country are they more culturally influenced by.

Markus draws a parallel between Mexico and Chile. Mexico, due to its proximity to US, is far more influenced by US cultural references and products. The same can’t be said for Chile, whose exposure to US is far less present.

“In some markets, it’s a benefit to be perceived as a foreign company. And in some markets, it’s better to look more local,” says Markus.

3. Building and training a localization team

So how do you build a team that can do it all? When looking for new potential team members, Markus values hiring subject matter experts with a knack for writing.

“You can’t just hire a translation service and expect them to get it right.”

Having these 2 combined in one person, already makes the rest of the training distinctively easier.

They often look for candidates with experience in technical writing, developer tools, and a working knowledge of coding.

“You can’t just hire a translation service and expect them to get it right.”

The team at Gateway Translations provides localization services in 45 languages, and is continuously being trained in tools and workflows with regard to:

  • Tone of voice

  • Translation tools

  • Glossaries

  • QA

  • Working with AI outputs (compared to translating from scratch)

There is a noticeable shift in enterprise tools building more human brands. The tone of voice for a majority of them went from professional to more casual and easygoing, creating a shade somewhere between formal and informal writing.

Markus says that a good localizer should know how to adjust to it, and not purely translate word for word.

The next step in your growth

Markus’ advice is to start thinking about it sooner rather than later. Even if it’s still not in your budget, SaaS businesses should keep localization in their peripheral vision, rather than sleep on it.

Mid-market businesses with PMF tend to be a good fit for localization content. They already have a proven business model and can leverage the changes in their funnel based on different regions for optimal results.

In cases like these, the next logical step would be to do a localization audit. According to Markus: “We can help with localization audits so companies understand where they are in terms of the quality of their content, international SEO practices, consistency in terminology, and the whole funnel.”

If you wish to talk to Markus or his team more about localization practices, you can reach out through the website or LinkedIn.

Content Marketing Is Dead
Content Marketing Is Dead Podcast
Interviews about the future of content and brand marketing.