Book – Localizing Apps

bookThough this book is written for translators to introduce them to the entire ecosystem of localization, it is very helpful for marketers who wants to understand this ecosystem, as localization is the habitat where all international marketing initiatives live.

The book explains Internationalization principles and it becomes very clear why not following them lead to very expensive changes.  Though Internationalization and Translation Memory seem to be known concepts, the need for a style guide in each language before the process starts was a new “check box” to check from my perspective.  And, as in purely English content, any SEO efforts would be more effective before the style guide locks certain concepts into requirements.

  • Part of the internationalization is also internationalization of the source language copy.  Though users take 20% – 30% more time to read text from an online source compared to the printed text and will most likely scan online copy, machine translation tools process the text in its entirety.
  • Controlled Language (CL) is a language restricted in some form has been used originally to avoid ambiguity by Caterpillar for the instruction manuals.  Controlled Language increases the accuracy of Machine Translation (MT), though other benefits were more difficult to quantify.
  • Companies typically have “translation guidelines” for their organization.  Sometimes, these guidelines are public, and sometimes they are considered intellectual property a company does not release.  When guidelines are public, they become widely used in the industry, and experienced translators are aware about the guidelines, what speed up their projects (the translators do not need to familiarize themselves with a new set of guidelines before starting a new project).
  • Translation Memory (TM) needs to be managed, otherwise, inconsistencies can creep up into the organization’s TM and productivity of translators can be affected.
  • Some of legal requirements can be part of Translation Guidelines.  For example, Microsoft warned translators that “absolute expressions leaving no room for exception or failure, like solves all issues, fully secure, at any time are a serious legal risk on the French, Canadian, and Belgian markets.”
  • Very interesting perspective on translation technology: “Without such systems translation process tend to be inefficient.  This does not mean, however, that using such system will guarantee smooth localization projects.  If a system is chosen for the wrong reasons or is deployed in a hasty manner without providing appropriate support to its users, its adoption and subsequent use may lead to inefficiencies.”
  • Machine Translation, when used correctly, can increase translation efficiency and consistency, when used incorrectly, can produce humorous results or life-threatening inaccurate translation.apps
  • Term “gisting” – process of extraction some high-level information from a piece of text.  Machine Translation might be used for gisting purpose; however, the amount of needed accuracy might be different for a person knowledgeable in the topic and a person who is new to the topic.
  • American and Japanese users believe that more graphics rather than fewer, make instructions easier to follow 🙂
  • The challenge of transreation (per Adobe): “The challenge here is the balance between giving more flexibility and freedom of expression to the regions and the use of productivity tools such as Translation Memory.  If we want to leverage the savings that TMs and other tools offer to localization (and we do), we can offer some flexibility in the target content but not as much as sometimes the regions would like to have.” 

Book – Alibaba’s World

bookVery insightful book – the author describes the creation of now major Chinese brand and growth of eCommerce in the country. Ups and downs of the economy and internal struggles and triumphs of the company is a treasure for ideas and examples.

Interesting perspective on the Chinese and American management style: Chinese style is compared with water, flowing through the most reasonable route, and American style described as rocks firmly taking their place.  Just one mention of Taoism, what probably influenced this management approach.

Though learning about a major player of global market is interesting in itself, a few points were particularly insightful:

  • Yahoo was the firs company to enter Chinese market – and the first company to realize that translation of its content were insufficient for success in the country.  Something else was needed, and global managers did not seem to be able to understand it.  Yahoo partnered with Alibaba, which was expected to run Yahoo China portal better.
  • eBay had a strong position in China, working with a local partner.  At one point, the international management expanded Western site to China, hoping that tried and tested approach would be successful.  The new minimalistic design common for Western sites and removal of localized features were perceived as “cold” by local customers, who promptly migrated to the local equivalent.   (Hm…  I was not understanding why my Chinese colleagues were saying “we like it busy” about their localized sites…  now it makes sense 🙂 )
  • AlibabaAlibaba (b-to-b original site) did not have any business model in the beginning, hoping that providing the platform where users can be successful in their business will eventually lead to a discovery of the best approach to make money.  The break-through was unexpected: as a merchant started to have success on the site, he or she immediately faced new competitors entering the category.  The merchants were asking for premium advertisement to differentiate their postings.  Another method, specific for local audience, was paid verification of the merchants.  As the trust was low, verified merchants had an advantage.
  • Another localized approach was adding chat functionality to Chinese equivalent of the eBay – as trust was low, individuals and small merchants could connect personally to discuss the transaction.
  • Alibaba used a unique method of payment to overcome cumbersome local banking system (and lack of trust) – the buyer sent the money to a financial institution, which would not pass the money to the seller until arrival of the product was verified.  This system was invented by eBay for Korean market, but previously abandoned.
  • Alibaba – and eCommerce platform – was founded and run not by an engineer, but by an English teacher.  For consumer websites, this approach might have an advantage.  If the founder could not understand a new feature suggested by the engineering team, the feature would probably not be helpful for an average user.

Interesting approach to management: Alibaba tried an all-star management team brought together with fantastic resumes.  This approach did not work, as the team could not actually work together. The all-start team was dismantled, and local team had to be brought back as people on the team could actually cooperate.  Managers who knew Chinese and understood the culture were more successful in the company compared to industry specialists.

IMUG – The Global Content Experience

adobeVery interesting perspective – a combination of business, marketing, digital marketing, and localization.  Very common issues and reasonable (though very hard to do) approach to a solution.

As online audience expanding, “long tail” languages are pushing down top 10 languages used online.  Companies typically approach languages in tiers – Tier 1, are the top languages used online, Tier 2 is the next “collection” of languages, based on their use, and Tier 3 is remaining languages that are not used as widely.

However, the economic impact from localizing in different languages is not reflected by the entire online audience, but depends on online GDP, which particular language can access.

Interesting: companies “segment” content targeted to each language tier based on economic benefit.  While the website in English (or the language of primary market) contains all available information, localized portion in Tier 1 languages (or specific languages in target markets), can include only portion of this content, and content translated into Tier 2 languages might be limited to a much smaller portion of English content.

English + Tier 1 languages represent 76% of the online population, but they can allow the company to access 81% of online GDP.  It is not surprising to see tiered translation approach.


Budgets should reflect this economic opportunity; more content is justified for Tier 1 languages in general, but each industry has its own “localization profile” where some languages might make sense to include for one industry and not for another.  I can think about the example of Russia, which is an excellent market for some manufacturing companies (as the county will find resources to upgrade its refineries), but may not be a good market for consumer online products.

Companies with high R&D investment are more likely to localize marketing content, as they are more likely to be compelled to enter international markets to recoup their R&D investment.  In this case international revenue can be more “profitable” as R&D investment has already been made.

Recently, number and extent of languages provided on major websites increased.

Marketers are required to create Integrated campaigns that include multiple channels and multiple languages.  The industry is struggling to find a successful approach to integrated campaigns.  Should all campaigns be integrated?  Local marketing teams might not like, or simply ignore, anything required by “corporate.”  (True!!  I experienced the situation from both sides 😉 )

Ideally, a portion of marketing campaigns is integrated, and a portion of campaigns is local.  The ability to execute integrated campaigns gives a company competitive advantage.

Interesting: the flow for the marketing campaigns mentioned by Ben Sargent, was very specific

Assets > Languages > Channels

It makes sense, though in many situations (at least in my experience), the entire campaign is built in English, where the channels are considered only in the aspect of US (or English-speaking countries), and then, the entire campaign is “localized.”  However, the channels are already “built in” into the campaign structure, and localization of channels is not considered.  At that point colleagues from Asia typically ask what was done in mobile and social, which was not included in North America efforts as there is not that much opportunity in the particular industry/channel.  Colleagues from Europe do not mind the social, but notice that localization of whitepaper for UK was not in the budget…  because it happenned to be English.  Placing localization within the campaign creation would avoid this issue.


Digital Marketing Silos

Marketing team members needed for an integrated campaign typically belong to different silos – this is necessary to maintain the practice and manage the personal, as only Paid Search silo would be able to evaluate new candidates and assure that the team has an opportunity and resources to maintain their qualification.  Digital marketing silos also created a situation when marketers are not as aware about organizational workflow in complex environments, such as integrated campaign.  However, all silo representatives need to come together starting from the planning stages of the global initiative.  Localization specialists need to be involved at this point also, to correctly evaluate opportunity, define needed resources, and later execute the campaign.

Practitioners describe their organization, process, and technology as being in a state of constant flux. New capability requirements include moving campaign coordination to the strategy and planning levels, and adding localization expertise to campaign management teams.

Digital Campaign Management and Localization

Organizational approaches to localization management:

  • Campaigns are silo-specific (large organizations, each silo might have its own translation vendor)
  • Localization vendor serves as a collection point (company cannot consolidate)
  • Shared Services (the translation function is located within the organization and shared by internal users)
  • Digital teams bring translation managers on their staff
  • BEST: Inclusive campaign team (campaign team includes representatives of different silos and localization people from the beginning of the project and strategy discussions)


The joke that “Americans do not understand the world…” is not correct.  People in the world don’t understand the world…  Understanding localization needs requires the skill, expertise and experience that localization professionals bring to the table.

New (for me) concept is simultaneous copy creation.

This approach does not provide a source string, but explains what a certain function does, and the local writer “creates” the copy in the target language.  This approach is the next level of “transcreation,” where the local writer does not translate the copy, but writes local version using the provided string to understand the topic.

Placing localization (and other digital function representatives) on the campaign team is not a reporting issue.  All team members can still report to their functional groups, but be on the global campaign team to plan and execute particular campaign.

Ha – based on the attempts I experienced, this approach creates more meetings, but reduces re-work, as team members are more aware about the project development throughout the organization. 🙂

Marketo Users Group – Marketing Above the Noise and OpenPrise

bookThis was my very first visit to San Mateo Marketo Users Group – and I am looking forward to the future events.  The event was enlightening in several ways, and getting back with an author-signed copy of a marketing book I am planning to read was a treat 🙂

Linda Popky gave us a few reason to ponder our “marketing life” and steered curiosity for her new book Marketing Above the Noise.

Linda started her presentation from a story about a musician who wrote a piece of music that was significantly different from other pieces presented at a concert.  He won the attention of the tired audience.  We, as marketers, are always facing a “tired audience,” and we need to elevate our marketing “above the noise” to reach these prospects.

differentAh, how often in many meetings on different jobs I could hear: “all companies in our [industry, category, etc.] do x, we should do the same.”  No, we should do something different just to avoid confusion with the rest of [industry, category, etc.].  Purple Cow came to mind too, together with a multitude of marketing classics.  And these conversations continue to happen around the industry 🙂

One interesting point was Linda’s emphasis on the organizational alignment.  We have been talking for years about Sales and Marketing, and then, Marketing and IT came to focus, as the industry changed, and the best way to catch a marketer’s eye became “No IT involvement required!” message (ah, still works on me 🙂 ).  Two more parts that need to be considered – Management and Product.  Without the alignment, marketing can not succeed.


Linda also emphasized bringing marketing metrics closer to business need.  She brought an good example – how to measure success of customer community for the business.  The measurement of the activity of community may not be as effective, but connection of the community activity to the increase in purchasing would be.  I guess, we can always ask ourselves: is it possible to increase the metric with the detriment (or luck of benefit) to the business?  If the question is “yes,” the metric may not be a right one.  The classic examples are website traffic and bounce rate – it is possible to increase/reduce the metric with no benefit (or even detriment) for the business.

I will read the book!  🙂

openpriseThe event was sponsored by a very interesting company – OpenPrise.  The company helps Marketing and Sales to manage data (without relying on IT or knowledge of the code…  that message makes every marketer smile 😉  ).  The company did not particularly targeted Marketo users, but discovered that majority of their customers have a typical combination of Marketo+SFDC in their Marketing Stack.

NoITThe company has a free option (which I will investigate at the next data load time 🙂 ), and clearly target business users, who need to clean or manipulate data.  Ha – even if you have the entire BI department in the large organization…  that department may not quite be available for your data project in my experience.

OpenPrise example of the data “before and after” is very delicious!  The food that the attendees of the users group enjoyed was also provided by OpenPrise, and it was excellent…  but nothing can compare with a screenshot below 🙂