SaaS Translation – Setting yourself up for success (Part 1) 

Startup Translation

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:

a Website

a Blog

some E-mail automation

a Help-desk and chat

some Sales presentations

Social Media profiles

Our core product

some Marketing collateral

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.

Everything just got integrated into a primordial soup of content. My content. My app, blog posts, Facebook page descriptions, Intercom e-mail automation.

Now it was easy to send it for translation – there was just a blender with some goo.

…no, we don’t make blenders.

We make translation tech that blends digital content from multiple sources, so that it can be translated in bulk without terminology problems, and returned to me in a usable way. Continuously.

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. 
Lights out! 
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

Written By:

As a marketer by trade and product designer by heart, Blazej focuses on easy inclusion of translation tech in international expansion of businesses.

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