Your product translation price is going to be the most critical factor in determining your total return on investment (ROI). However, simply identifying and accepting the lowest bid isn’t the solution. Instead, you should thoroughly review what each bid entails so you can better surmise the level of quality to expect and avoid hidden fees.
Remember: A bad translation (although cheap up front) is always going to be more expensive than a good translation in the long run, primarily because it comes with both direct and indirect costs. For example, not only can a poorly translated product cost you dollars to fix, but it could also cost you customer trust and limit the impact of your release in a new market. Not to mention that once a reputation is damaged, it can be challenging to recover.
So, upon a closer look, sometimes you have no choice but to accept a higher bid. Luckily, there are other effective actions you can take to keep costs down.
4 Steps to Control Your Product Translation Price
The most evident solution to control the product translation price is to break down what is covered in the per-word rate. Often, companies will work to lock their rates in at rock-bottom prices by marking necessary tools, such as translation memories, formatting, and quality assurance, as expensive add-ons. Evaluate every price based on what you’ll actually pay rather than just the per-word rate.
A bad translation (although cheap up front) is always going to be more expensive than a good translation in the long run.
Aside from that, there are four key things you can do to avoid scope creep that causes prices to skyrocket.
Establish a translation minimum viable product (MVP)
Your MVP is the lowest-quality translation you’re willing to consider publishing. There’s no universal answer to this question, so you’ll need to review the specifics of the project by asking:
- How much content do you have to translate?
- How much traffic does that content receive?
- Do you have a need for multimedia content, like voice-over translation?
- How is customer support managed?
The answers to these questions will help you determine what your baseline is for translation. By knowing how much you’re paying for a bare-bones approach, you can scale up as needed and reduce scope creep risk.
Take an iterative approach
To manage the learning curve of translation, your localization strategy should start small and scale up. If you tackle too many languages simultaneously, there is a greater likelihood of errors occurring, which can add up and magnify quickly. However, if you manage one language at a time, you can learn as you go and course-correct as needed. Issues are minimized and problems are isolated.
You will also be able to better answer questions that determine the scope of your project. It will be easier for you to determine if an in-market review is needed, and decide which translators are best for the project. You can also establish the QA process and better manage workflows and policies ahead of time. By ironing out these details, you can apply them to larger jobs and create a more efficient and effective process.
Measure the linguists’ profit margins
It may seem strange to worry about the linguists’ pay, but understanding the profit margin will help you avoid issues later. If you pay 20 cents per word, but your translator is getting only 3 cents, you can infer that the translators are likely low-quality, and there’s a lot of overhead at the translation company.
High-quality translators are well-compensated. As a result, they are better prepared to offer a superior level of work. They’ll go the extra mile to ensure the content is of top quality the first time around. This means that you won’t have to go in and fix content later, as you’ll have it right from the get-go.
Weighing subscription services versus one-off contracts
One important decision you’re going to run into when looking for ways to control product translation costs is choosing between subscription services or one-off contracts. Both have their risks and benefits depending on the type of project. In some cases, where the scope of the project is limited, the contract is the clear choice. However, for a longer, more extensive project, a subscription service may be the better option.
The subscription setup allows you to develop a long-term relationship with the agency. This grants the agency the ability to get to know your company and its culture so they can better guide translators. Especially in cases where you need regular content updates, a subscription service may be more suitable for cost savings. For example, when localizing multiple languages, a longer-term relationship is worth investing in as there will be constant updates and changes to manage.
Controlling your product translation price is going to require you to look beyond the per-word rate. Asking questions about the translator margins, scaling up efforts as you learn more about localization, and establishing an MVP are all necessities to reduce the risk of scope creep. With due diligence, you can control the costs of your project and maximize your ROI as you reach new markets.