How Can Bad Translation Hurt Your Business?

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Localization has a huge impact on your business profitability and the credibility of your brand. We know that it requires a lot of effort to get it right: first, there is extensive research, then the planning and the project kickoff is just the beginning of your global adventure.

While it’s quite easy to measure the effects of a localization project done right, many will neglect the direct connection between their business’s general growth and translation quality. For these people, we have prepared this blog post, which gives a few reminders as to how bad translation can hurt your business.

#1. You provide a poor user experience

It takes about 50 milliseconds for the user to judge your website. When it comes to your brand, the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ rule doesn’t apply. The truth is when people visit your website they judge your brand immediately. For a new user, everything is a part of the experience! This includes design, the feel and, of course, the actual content.

You don’t have to go far to see that – think about yourself! When you visit a new website, whether it’s an e-commerce or the site of a company, you very quickly decide whether you’d like to stay or you’ll leave. Spelling mistakes and poor quality translation will be highly unappealing to a potential customer. Do you think they will purchase a product or service from you if you didn’t make the effort to properly translate the content into their language? Wrong! They will simply find the website of your competitor who actually made an effort.

#2. You make cultural mistakes

Some words have different meanings in different cultures, or, putting it less mildly, one language’s ‘thumbs up’ is another language’s ‘f*** you’. Being unaware of a region’s culture and failing to understand specific topics can be damaging to your business. Localization of a website or any digital content for that matter requires an understanding of local customs and culture.

How can you avoid such problems? Hire a professional translator that is native in the language and culture you are localizing your product for. Apart from that, don’t cut corners on a marketing specialist and a copywriter. This aspect goes much further than translation alone, incorporating layouts, time and date formats, the colors in your marketing material and even the images you use.

In fact, localization saves you from offending foreign cultures and even from breaking advertising laws or censorship guidelines. Remember that in this case, the key to a high-quality translation may be also the key to your business going global.

#3. You experience SEO failure

When you use only machine translation services like Bing Translate or Google Translate plugins, Google bots are able to identify this via a machine translation widget. Yep, you read that right – the bots recognize whether the content is human- or machine-generated. As a result, your machine-translated website has no SEO relevance whatsoever. That means that new users will not only leave your website very quickly – they will have problems finding it in the first place!

Machine translation is a great solution for many types of content, especially when you’re on a tight budget. However, there are ways of making it useful and actually helpful to your business’s growth instead of damaging to it. You can use the ‘machine translation with human post-editing’ solution, which can keep up with speed, will not put a dent in your pocket, will provide sufficient quality AND will allow your landing pages to be indexed in search engines. You can read more about this approach here.

#4. You lose money

If you don’t want to spend anything on quality translation and you choose the fastest and cheapest option instead, you might end up spending double the money. If you think we’re exaggerating, think about the fact that nowadays 99% of internet communication is in the written word. In this instance, even modern businesses depend on the old-fashioned skills.

A single spelling mistake can really cut your online sales in half. And that’s not the worst of it! Think about re-starting the project, missed deadlines and doubling the workload. Bad translation makes your business’s pocket bleed.

#5. Your business experiences brand damage

Believe us, for many, there’s nothing funnier than an article about translation fails made by top-notch companies across the world. In the world of social media, going viral with a hilarious cultural mistake or a grammar error is just a matter of time. Everybody remembers when Coca-Cola translated their brand name to “Bite the Wax Tadpole” in an attempt to name their product in Chinese with something that sounds like ‘Coca-Cola’ and KFC did the same with translating ‘It’s finger-lickin’ good’ to ‘Eat your fingers off.’

Sometimes, the actual words of the translation are fine, but there’s a big twist that dramatically changes the connotation. These mistakes can make even a well-established brand look silly and clueless. That’s why translation is sometimes simply not enough to really transmit the true meaning of something for another language and region. Lack of localization and transcreation factors may result in bad translation of your website in general. Make sure your content has a local ‘feel’ by adapting nuances, idioms, speech patterns, and phrasing.

Go for High-Quality Translation. Always! 
Gosia
Written By:

Gosia loves copywriting and product translation. Additionally, she's a content marketing and lolcats junkie.

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