Unfortunately, the businesses and corporate sectors in the United Kingdom do not currently have an ‘easy life’. Firstly, only a few years ago, the uncertainly of Brexit and leaving the European Union have struck markets rather surprisingly, and even today, in 2020, the final agreements still aren’t fully formed and agreed upon. Now, to ‘top it all off’, the outcome of a world-wide pandemic of Convid-19 have hit businesses rather severely, and although the final financial consequences aren’t quite clear just yet, it’s obvious that most markets and organizations will suffer at least in the short to medium term. Before these difficult obstacles arose however, UK based companies approached foreign markets and international consumers very optimistically. As a result, over the years, agencies offering professional translation services have become important business partners. Over 100 out of Europe’s 500 largest and most successful companies have their headquarters based in London, and more than 30% of UK’s total GDP is generated in the capital. These numbers alone show, just how important international trade is to the UK’s economy and how significant London is on the corporate map of the world. As you can also imagine, language translations are also a substantial part of this market. Nonetheless, with the recent turbulences, more and more businesses question whether professional translations are currently still essential for the day to day functioning of their organizations, or could they be postponed, until the situation becomes a little bit clearer.
The importance of translation services
The last decade brought significant changes to the way organizations conduct business internationally. Previously, majority of campaigns aimed at foreign and international consumers were simply copies of the content used on the company’s home market, with very few changes and adjustments, which should ultimately reflect beliefs of the new potential customer and which could positively affect their decision making. Even some the world’s largest companies have followed this beaten track, to a point where international campaigns would not only remain not localized but would be also presented to the new market in English, rather than its native language, natural for the consumers within it.
Fortunately, things have changed. With globalization and advancements in technology, such as widely available internet or mobile devices, consumers around the world now realize their unique value to the global marketplace. Today, despite some fashions and trends still being similar across different markets, customers no longer predominantly choose generic brands, and so business owners must approach them in a more tailored way, which fully reflects their individual values. One of the most important aspects of such localized approach to a foreign market is the use of language.
As a result, agencies offering professional translations became an important link in the corporate internationalization chain. By 2021, the translations industry is predicted to be worth almost $60 Billion. This number truly shows the growth in demand for translation services over the last decade, as according to a recent study, it more than doubled within just 10 years!
In order to find out more information about translation services and their place within today’s business world in general as well as to verify from a primary source, whether the statistics regarding the rapid growth of the industry are accurate and noticeable from an agency’s point of view, we reached out for a comment to a representative of one of the fastest growing translation agencies in the UK, Translation Services London, which provides professional language services to some of the largest companies and organizations based in the United Kingdom and worldwide.
“Indeed, our agency has seen a very rapid growth in its operations and customer base over the last decade, which would suggest that the general data for our industry is accurate. Over the recent years, we have observed a rapid growth in the number of companies, which require professional language services, from translation to interpreting or localization. Interestingly, this is applicable across almost every business area, and so today we work with large clients from a variety of business sectors – from some of the leading marketing and law firms as well as commerce giants or largest players in the travel sector. This trend has perhaps been most noticeable over the last 2 years, during which we almost tripled our activities.”
Should I translate now?
This is a very complex question and it can truly depend on your individual circumstances as well as some external industry factors. Generally speaking, in the light of recent obstacles, many companies decided to put their translation projects on hold, but this is most likely a part of a much larger chain, which is halting the internationalization process as a whole.
Nonetheless, some companies on the other hand believe that this is just the ideal time to translate their content and approach new, foreign markets, as it will give them advantage over their competitors in the long run when the situation somewhat calms down and trading goes back to normal.
Whether you choose to translate your materials now or decide against it, you must center your decision by looking at your company’s financial situation and carefully establish whether internationalization can be safely conducted now, so that you can gain competitive advantage in the long term, or whether your budget will be likely to be needed in different sectors of your operations and approaching foreign markets and international consumers must wait.
If I decide to do it now, what should I translate?
Before approaching a translation agency, it is strongly advised to cautiously determine materials and documents which are essential during the internationalization process and those which can wait or simply do not need to be translated at all, and this can be especially important in current situation.
As a rule of thumb, translating your organization’s website is essential, regardless of the sector you trade in or the services/products you offer. A recent study found that people now spend an average of 24 hours online every week, and 1 in 5 spends more than 40 hours browsing the web. By allowing consumers to read information about you and your business in their native language, you greatly increase the chances of converting them into customers. This becomes even more apparent if we look at the numbers provided by CSA Research, which state that 75% of consumers prefer to buy products in their native language and 60% of them rarely or never purchase from websites available in English. You can find the detailed research here.
Additionally, if you are planning on establishing a physical location within the target market, such as a shop, translating other marketing materials can also be extremely important and beneficial. These can include leaflets or brochures, business cards and products descriptions. Comparably to the online behaviors, in the ‘real-world’ people are also more likely to complete a purchase if the information available to them is provided in their native language.
Legal documents like warranties, contracts or terms & conditions, for instance, are also some of the important documents you should consider translating. Ensuring that such documents are carefully converted can create a positive brand image amongst not only your potential customers, but also business partners.
Finding the right supplier
Finding the right translation supplier can often be as difficult as selecting which materials to translate in the first place, especially if you do not have any previous experience in this field. There are several ways in which you can approach turning your documents into another language – from using free online tools such as Google Translate, to working with a professional translation agency or a freelance linguist.
Nonetheless, especially for a business use (although all of the above options have their own benefits) partnering with a translation agency seems to be the most popular choice amongst UK businesses. Even though it is the most expensive option, it guarantees accuracy and fast turnaround times as well as a careful localization by a native speaker of the target language, which is essential for marketing and corporate materials.
When partnering with a language services provider (LSP) for the first time, make sure to ask them for a sample of their work, as it is generally a great indicator of their quality. You can also read third party reviews to better understand how the agency works and what are the levels of their customer care. Additionally, it might be a good idea to review past clients and case studies as you’ll be able to find out whether the provider specializes in translating content specific for your particular business sector and whether they’ll be able to understand what your business is really about.
There are also several different ways you can go about initially finding the potential agencies which you might want to work with. One of the most popular ways is to simply find them through a search engine such as Google, where the most relevant companies are listed and where you can automatically check their reviews. You can also go through a list of agencies on the ATC website, which is the official body for language service providers in the United Kingdom and where professional translation agencies are registered.