In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Rapport International LLC is featured as one of our Top Translation Services Companies in the United States. Check out their profile here.
The internet provides a wealth of information that your potential customers use to find your business and form an opinion, even before contacting you. Your website, blog, social media accounts, and your online reviews are some of your most important sales assets.
Did you know that providing your website pages and blog content in a person’s native language makes a customer 72% more apt to buy a product or service? AND more than 56% of European internet users say that they’ll PAY MORE for products/services that are presented in their native language.
This is the power of language.
Knowing these statistics, it makes good business sense to translate your website and content to attract leads and delight customers, to increase your bottom line.
Imagine you are the modern, educated buyer, who starts researching translation service agencies. You look at their website, follow them on social media, and compare their pricing. But here is where you need to have a little more knowledge about how agencies price for translation services to make sure you get everything you need at a good price.
The first thing you’ll notice is that most translation agencies provide their quotes based on the number of words you need to be translated. Yet, not all per-word prices are created equal.
Several factors go into determining the per word price. Some companies provide a low price per word then tack on project management fees, quality assurance, review fees, and handling as additional costs. Others provide an all-inclusive per word price.
Make sure you know the big picture, like what is included and who will be performing the translations, so you are comparing apples-to-apples.
What level of quality do you need? This depends on what you need to be translated and what you will do with the translation.
For a simple email exchange with a customer in another country, using a free service like Google Translate might be sufficient. These simple machine translation services provide a “gist” translation that may not be perfect, might sound off grammatically, and might even miss the meaning, but you may be able to infer enough to have a simple conversation.
At the other end of the spectrum is a professional human translator who is fully bilingual in both languages and has experience in your industry. These professionals provide a much higher quality translation because they read the materials and deliver a translation of your message that is linguistically and culturally accurate.
There are levels in between these extremes, like using a combination of machine and human translation, so it’s important to know how your agency provides its services. And keep in mind that the pricing-quality relationship follows a continuum from low to high. Choose the level that is right for your needs.
Assessing quality can affect the price as well. For example, does the agency perform any quality assurance process, like proofreading or editing? Are these processes included in the base price, or are they add-on services? Make sure you ask questions about how the agency verifies the quality of the translations it provides and what is included in the base price.
You get what you pay for when it comes to quality. If you need higher quality, keep in mind that often comes at a higher price – just as when procuring any other product or service.
2. Confidentiality and Ownership
When you are dealing with confidential information like new product information, legal documents, or personal information, it’s important to make sure your translation agency keeps that information confidential, and that you maintain ownership of the final translation.
Some newcomers to the translation industry provide a crowdsourcing model to perform their translations. This allows them to charge lower prices but can cause problems with both quality and confidentiality.
These companies receive your document(s) and send them out to their network all over the world to find someone who is able to perform the translation. The first person to accept the project does the translation.
There are several potential issues with this type of model:
- Confidentiality is lost when your documents are offered out to the network
- Ownership and copyrights are compromised
- Quality is variable and there is little to no control over the qualifications or skills of the translator who accepts the project
- Follow-up can be difficult due to little accessibility to the translator once the project is completed
- Lack of consistency from one project to the next because the translator may be different on every project
Crowdsourcing works fine for some car rides and overnight stays, yet for business translation, there are many risks.
Another red flag to look for regarding confidentiality is when a company provides a sample translation as an example of their work, and the materials belong to another client. If they are willing to share that client’s document, how can you be sure they won’t share yours?
When it comes to confidentiality and ownership/copyright of materials, it may be worth the extra costs to choose an agency that offers confidentiality, linguistic matchmaking (see #4), and a guarantee (see #7).
Many agencies, particularly larger ones, have an internal process that they follow, and they want you to conform to their procedures. This limits flexibility for you to manage the strategy and process that works best for you and your company.
Other agencies, often the smaller ones, are more amenable to working within your framework and conforming to your process so that the project flows seamlessly. These companies are the ones who take the time to learn your strategies and goals and make suggestions on how to best implement the project to work for both them and you.
Seemingly lower prices may come at the expense of flexibility and control over the process. Yet, actual costs may be higher with the internal adjustments you have to make.
4. Voice, Meaning, and Consistency
It’s important, especially in marketing, that a translation retains the same voice and meaning as the original materials.
Just like a writer has a style and a “voice,” so does a translator. By using the same translator on all your projects, you build a voice in the other language just like you’ve built in English. The best agencies know this and strive to match you with the best translator to convey your message in your chosen voice and consistently assign that translator to your projects. We call this linguistic matchmaking.
This attention to detail, while not a “billable” service, it is something that high-quality agencies are conscious of and are a benefit they strive to provide. Yet other agencies don’t recognize the value in this and assign your projects to whatever translator they have available in your chosen language.
If consistency of voice and message is important to you, ask your prospective agency how they handle assigning your projects on an ongoing basis.
5. Cultural Adaptation
One step beyond maintaining voice and meaning is culturally adapting your materials. This entails changing sayings, pop culture references, visuals, colors, and pricing to be more appropriate for the target audience.
Does the translation agency consider whether your materials are culturally appropriate? Do they make suggestions to you to adapt your materials? Or do they automatically make changes, without changing the meaning, to make this process seamless? These are good questions to know before you start your project.
Not all companies focus on making sure your materials will be socially appropriate and adapted. It may be worth more for you to have an agency that pays attention to these details. Check to see if this is included in the price. When you want to make the best impression on your potential customers, this attention to detail might be worth the expense.
6. Additional Services
Some language service providers strictly provide translation services or interpretation services. Some specialize in a specific niche or industry and have little experience with other industries. Others provide a suite of complementary services to accommodate all your global cultural service needs.
Be sure to learn about your agency’s services, specialties, and costs to make sure that they are the agency that will help you reach your goals. Partnering with a well-rounded agency that can offer guidance and advice could be an invaluable asset to your company in the long run.
Finally, what sort of guarantee does the agency offer for their services? And do they have liability insurance in case there are any issues?
Many places offer a guarantee but knowing how the guarantee works is valuable information. It’s like when you buy a product from a new store, it’s good to know what that store’s return policy is before making your purchase so you know what to expect. The same holds true for a guarantee from a service provider, knowing the procedure when you are unhappy with the service will help the process run smoothly and reduce frustration.
Look for a company that offers a 100% guarantee and will work with you to resolve any issues so that you are ultimately happy with the services you receive. Then you know your investment is protected.
So How Much Does a Translation Cost?
Again, not an easy question to answer, yet when you work with a reputable language service provider, they should be able to address all of these considerations as well as any other questions you may have about their pricing.
And remember, just because one agency charges $0.15 per word and another charges $0.26 per word, that does NOT necessarily mean that the first agency will be “cheaper” once you add in all the other considerations.