A few days ago we decided to venture outside of the English language in an attempt to attract new customers for our SaaS startup.
We placed our bet on German-speaking countries. I was terrified.
Like with every other problem I started dividing it up into bite-sized chunks. I ended up with 8 content sources, each with its own nuances. The scare didn’t go away. The list of things to translate was still too broad and undefined:
A SaaS is supposed to translate:
I kept at it. Instead of thinking like a marketer, dividing things up per channel, I got my engineering vibe on. What’s the common denominator for these?
What makes them so scary to translate?
Content origin! I was afraid of those Facebook comments from our swarm of fans. That help-desk reply that could make or break a pending deal for our sales guys. I can’t translate those, so what’s the point of translating anyway?
This user-generated content wasn’t really a problem, though.
Helpdesk tickets, live chats and Facebook replies all happen in the language our users speak in. This operational exception made it bluntly clear – we can easily translate our SaaS into German, but we’ll have to restructure a bit to talk with customers in their native tongue.
Cut out operational thinking from translation management
Fellow SaaS-maker: if you have the budget to enter a foreign market, you have the budget to hire and train a bilingual rep to handle occasional leads from non-native sources.
Deus ex machina in place, all is now solved. By taking user-generated content out of the mix I was left with frames of user interfaces that contain buttons full of juicy content that’s ripe for translation.
Then I put our SaaS in a blender
You heard me. Blender. Close your eyes and think of a big, bad, colourful, checkered blender floating up in the sky. It put our website in there. I put our PDFs, Google Drive, code repository, all of that stuff.
Then I hit Play. Imagine the words from all of it blend into a shiny…whatever that is.
Now it was easy to send it for translation – there was just a blender with some goo.
…no, we don’t make blenders.
The adventures and challenges I faced with developers struggling to give me repository access, the CEO being amazed how my blending-hack decreased the translator price by 57%, are all a priceless experience I want to share with you.
Follow me along @szperlinski and with these upcoming articles as I eat my own dog food to learn how to confidently translate your SaaS.
This was part 1 of a 5 part series on SaaS translation. Read more below!
Part 2: How we set up our sales and marketing process for DACH SaaS sales
Part 3: Translation Memory and TMS: Why you need this in your SaaS stack
Part 4: How to and why should you translate all things SaaS
Part 5: Continuous translation: the CI of international content