Modernize Translation and Localization Processes to Deliver Successful Global SaaS Offerings

Smartling-JuddMarcello-headshotby Judd Marcello

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become one of the most important types of software in the global market. SaaS offerings, known for their affordability and accessibility, enable individuals and companies around the world to benefit from software that would otherwise be unattainable. This means, if your company offers a free or paid SaaS offering, it’s global by nature, and securing revenue from international markets is easier than ever before. But, to yield the highest return on investment (ROI), it’s important to localize your SaaS offerings for your multilingual stakeholders both within and outside the U.S.

In a Common Sense Advisory study of more than 2,400 Web consumers in eight countries, 72.4 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. The same study found that more than half of consumers are willing to pay more to companies that provide information in their language. The takeaway: Engaging your customers, prospects and other constituents using high-quality native-language content is now a requirement, not an option, for doing business globally. And if you can’t translate and localize your content efficiently, you can’t sell efficiently.

Modernizing Translation and Localization
To date, translation and localization have remained largely manual processes that often deter companies with perceived notions of cost and complexity. When done the old-fashioned way, translating and localizing (adding cultural nuances to translated text) offerings can be time-consuming, resource-intensive and costly (think hundreds of spreadsheets of content in need of translation and endless back and forth with translators via email). Translation projects can take months, if not years, to complete, and tying up internal engineering resources on such projects can cost a company important product development time – time they cannot afford to lose in the middle of a global expansion. Additionally, internationalizing code for translation and localization can cost SaaS companies hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars to build and maintain.

Luckily, today’s cloud-based translation management technology is modernizing the language services industry by removing complexity, cost and time from translation and localization processes. With this technology, SaaS providers can leverage human translation for the highest-quality multilingual content while automating the non-linguistic parts of the process. Rather than take time away from an engineering team, translation management technology automatically detects and captures content in need of translation (eliminating the need for files to be manually exported or imported) and flags it for human transaction. Professional translators then work through a contextual interface to provide translated content that is stored in the cloud and eventually delivered back to its designated endpoints.

With this dynamic combination of human translation and translation technology, companies can better compete globally and reach customers around the world with localized SaaS apps faster, more efficiently and more affordably than ever before – a critical factor in keeping up with accelerated global growth trajectories. Additionally, localizing the SaaS experience with high-quality multilingual content can help companies:

  • Boost Sales and Account Retention – Offering native-language content to multicultural customers provides tremendous upsell potential, enables you to capture a greater share of the global market, and can make a huge difference not only in purchasing decisions, but in account retention.
  • Charge More for Global Offerings – Think back to the Common Sense Advisory findings, and you’ll be reminded that customers are willing to pay more to companies that provide information in their own language. Many companies can actually recover the costs of localizing their product by packaging it as a premium offering.
  • Beat the Competition – Simply having a SaaS offering used to set companies apart from the competition, but today, organizations that personalize and customize the SaaS user experience for their global stakeholders benefit from true competitive differentiation.

Tactical Tips for Developing Successful SaaS Offerings

Once you’ve made the decision to localize your SaaS offerings, identified your prioritized languages, and selected the translation resources and technology that best meet your company’s needs, it’s time to start thinking about development and design strategies. Here are three tips to keep in mind to develop successful global SaaS offerings:

  • Structure Screens for Easy Translation – Localizing SaaS apps means providing a completely customized user experience, not just translated content. Your software design should facilitate software localization. For example, ensure menu options and their meanings are clear in every language (don’t let their context depend on anything else on the screen), and always allow space for complete words (refrain from using abbreviations and acronyms).
  • Standardize Labels and Menus for Multi-Directional Languages – When labeling fields for information entry within your SaaS screens, left-justify them next to the entry box so everything looks consistent. Additionally, some languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew, are written right to left for characters, but left to right for numbers. In a vertical menu, this means the text will not always line up, creating visual inconsistencies. To avoid this, make sure your menus are horizontal.
  • Implement a Monetization Structure That Works for Everyone – For companies that provide a freemium SaaS offering and hope to convert those users into paid customers, it’s important to implement an international monetization structure that ensures a seamless transition and keeps everyone happy. Many companies let customers use their services for free up to a certain capacity. Then, as their clients’ businesses grow, they offer additional capacity in exchange for a monthly fee. While there is no exact international monetization structure that guarantees the best ROI – models will likely differ depending on customer preferences in a given market – a capacity-based model is a safe and effective strategy, since it places the same fairness on everyone.

While there’s no denying that translating and localizing SaaS apps will require an upfront investment, the ROI achieved far outweighs any initial costs. In fact, because of the global nature of SaaS, providers today really can’t afford not to translate. In a competitive market, translation and localization can truly help you stand out from the competition and make the leap from being a global business by default to effectively doing business globally.

Judd Marcello is the vice president of marketing at Smartling.


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