6 min read

Managing translations for dynamic content

Managing translations for dynamic content is a detailed and specialist area of translation work. As such, we’ve taken a deep dive into the world of translating dynamic content, explaining why it’s important and how you can ensure that you get it right in order to improve the user experience available to your customers.

What is dynamic content translation?

Dynamic content is content that appears in websites and emails and that changes based on user interactions, timing or other preset parameters. Thus while the email or website’s appearance remains broadly the same, the content itself changes. With dynamic content translation, a translation agency can ensure that a company’s messages and website enhance the user experience, regardless of which language that user engages in.
According to one translation agency, businesses are focusing on using dynamic content largely on their landing pages and targeted advertisements when it comes to translation. However, for some clients, it is becoming such an integral part of their customer engagement strategy that they opt for whole site translation, with dynamic content woven throughout the project.
For any business looking to translate their dynamic content, the first step is to define what they want to achieve and why. This will not only clarify the thinking behind the undertaking, but will also help those tasked with translating the content to understand the big picture. The strategy needs to include measurable goals, in order to later evaluate the success of the dynamic content translation. After that, it’s a question of finding the right people with the right skills to undertake the translation and localization work.

Why is dynamic content translation important

Dynamic content is important as it engages users more effectively than static content: Pure360 found that just 8% of consumers would be inspired to engage by static content personalization (such as the use of their name), while 62% now expect to receive personalized discounts or offers based on the items they’ve already purchased (according to SalesForce). Furthermore, Infosys found that 31% of consumers don’t feel that personalization goes far enough yet, indicating that brands need to up their game in terms of dynamic content.
With dynamic content, the user enjoys the experience more and is more likely to take positive action as a result. According to Econsultancy, 39% of marketers reported seeing a ‘major uplift’ as a result of personalization within search engine marketing. Just 7% reported no notable impact.
Thus dynamic content can achieve anything from increasing interaction rates with emails to increasing conversion numbers as part of a sales funnel. Hubspot’s analysis of 330,000 calls to action over a period of six months found that personalization achieved a 202% better conversion rate than default versions.
The end result for the user? A more pleasurable engagement experience. And for the business using the translated dynamic content? Enhanced conversion rates leading to greater profits from overseas, as indicated by the Hubspot figures.
Companies often experiment with dynamic content in one language, seeking to perfect the user experience in one country first, before rolling it out to others. The majority of translation clients take this approach, translating their content to just one language at a time. They assess the ROI of the initial translation (which changes depending upon the nature of the particular project), before considering their future translation strategy.
However, experience shows that there are also businesses who jump in with both feet and translate their dynamic content into multiple languages from the outset, believing that delivering dynamic content in several languages at the same time can turn out to be a more effective (i.e. profitable) approach.

The global translation context

Globalization has opened up some incredible opportunities to companies that are ambitious, forward-thinking and unafraid when it comes to innovation. Those that were quick to see the potential of the internet and got straight down to tasks such as website translation and email translation were first off the blocks in terms of engaging with global audiences.
By 2016, the EU was generating a surplus of €304 billion for international trade in goods and services, according to Eurostat, emphasizing the huge financial potential that globalization has delivered. Some 18% of the turnover related to such sales resulted from electronic sales, with one in every five enterprises with 10 or more employees making sales online. From 2008 to 2016, the number of enterprises offering electronic sales increased by 7%, while the percentage of turnover resulting from those e-sales increased by 6%.
Creating dynamic content gives companies that sell their products online the best possible chance of harnessing globalization and using it to their advantage. Taking the US as an example, a company that wanted to expand into providing goods and/or services to markets in Central and South America would benefit hugely from Spanish and Portuguese translation. Translating dynamic content into just those two languages would open up 94% of Latin America to the company in question (60% of Latin America’s population speaks Spanish; 34% speaks Portuguese). Of course, there’s also the fact that some 13% of the US population speaks Spanish as a first language.

How to approach dynamic content in multiple languages

Once you’ve decided which territories and languages you plan to tackle with your dynamic content translation, it’s time to turn to the practicalities of the translation itself. There are two elements to this: translation and localization. While translation converts copy from one language to another, localization services go a step further, adapting content based on cultural and linguistic considerations that are specific to the target audience.
Sticking with the example of the US company used above, delivering truly effective dynamic content to Latin America audiences will require input from a range of localization specialists. The Portuguese language content is the easy part, as only one country (Brazil) in South America speaks Portuguese. As such, translating and localizing dynamic content is relatively simple – the company just needs to work with an agency delivering Brazilian Portuguese in order to fully understand the target audience and localize the dynamic content accordingly.
Adapting content in this way goes back to fundamental questions about the target audience. What are their values? What is distasteful to them? Which popular culture references will appeal and which will appear outdated? What are the latest colloquial/slang terms and which demographics are using them?
An example of a localization fail can highlight the importance of getting this right. Some years ago, the California Milk Processor Board sought to engage Latina milk buyers with its “Got milk?” campaign, which had been so successful in the US. Unfortunately, this translated into Spanish as “Are you lactating?” which was not received as the milk board had intended. Furthermore, the concept of a Latina mother running out of milk is an offensive one. Thankfully, the advertising agency quickly realized its error and created a separate Spanish-language milk campaign almost immediately.
Market research activity can be helpful here. If you need to understand your audience better, speaking to them usually helps! Again, this is something that you can use a translation agency to assist with. You can create your market research document in your native language, then have the translation agency deliver it in the language of your target consumers. Translators can then also help to convert the results back to your native language, in order that you can analyze them. As such, the multilingual element of the process is taken out of the equation, making market research overseas almost as fast a process as it is domestically.
All of these questions also apply to dynamic content being translated into Spanish. However, Spanish throws up a whole load of new considerations. The number of Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America runs into double figures. Each country has its own slight variations in the language, as well as its own traditions, cultural norms, colloquialisms and more. A ‘one size fits all’ approach therefore has the potential to diminish the user experience, which is precisely the opposite of the aim of dynamic content.
Again, the use of localization experts can help. Professional translation services (as opposed to individual translators) have the advantage that they work with translation and localization professionals around the world. As such, localizing content to meet the needs of a range of countries should be easy for a decent agency to achieve

Don't forget about SEO

The other thing to bear in mind is the SEO implications of managing dynamic content in multiple languages. When writing in English, you no doubt shape your copy with a view to climbing Google’s rankings, given its clear position as the favorite English-language search engine. However, Google doesn’t reign supreme the world over. As such, a little bit of research into your target countries needs to be carried out.
Firstly, find out which search engines are most widely used in the countries in which you intend to use your translated content. Next, do a bit of reading up on what the search engines do and don’t like. It’s also a good idea to carry out keyword research in the target language, as keywords will differ in terms of their competition levels in each country/language. Remember that these are all tasks that you can use a professional translator to assist you with, if you don’t speak the target country’s language well enough to undertake the research on your own.
You also need to consider hreflang tags – those lovely little tags that tell Google which language you are using for your website. When translating dynamic content, it is important to work with a translator who understands the role and value of hreflang tags so that thorny issues, such as multiple languages being deployed on a single URL, can be addressed swiftly and seamlessly.
Thus armed with the building blocks for SEO success in multiple languages, you can work closely with those translating your dynamic content to ensure that the copy is as SEO-friendly as possible.
Dynamic content can do much to improve the user experience for your customers each time they interact with you. It can enhance engagement and more than double conversion rates, thus benefiting both the user and the company.
If your business is ready to tackle dynamic content translation, start by defining what you plan to achieve and what success will look like. Bring in the resources you need to ensure the translation process runs smoothly, including grilling the agencies you are considering on their SEO and hreflang credentials.
After that, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the results that your translated dynamic content produces. And then to analyze those results, make a few tweaks and start the process all over again…
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