Need to Localize Content on a Limited Budget? Use Your Customers!

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Rob Vandenberg
Rob Vandenberg
Need to Localize Content on a Limited Budget?  Use Your Customers!

How to use the power of the crowd to translate your content.

Need to translate your content?  Expanding into new regions and languages can be crucial to sustain growth and optimize your online presence and search results.  But traditional translation work is expensive.  Why not have your customers do the localization work for you?  With today’s translation technologies it’s possible.

Is customer-based translation right for your company? There are a few key questions you can ask to find out.

1. Do you have initial interest for your product or service in another language?  If you don’t know, survey your customer base and ask them.

2. Do you have an ethnically diverse customer base? Ethnically diverse customers are often bi-lingual and well equipped to help in the translation process.

3. Do you have a highly involved, loyal, or motivated customer base?  Companies that nurture a high level of involvement, loyalty, or motivation with their customers have the best chances for success with a customer-based localization strategy.  As an example, video game companies often have very involved and loyal customers who spend endless hours not just engaged with the product itself, but interacting online in forums, blogs, and guilds.

How to recruit and motivate customers to help with a localization project.

So you’ve done some initial research and determined a localization project is right for you.  How do you go about recruiting and motivating customers to help?  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Use your product as a motivation

Offering your product to volunteers as an incentive can be a great, low-cost way of recruiting help, particularly if you have a high-margin product.

Use status, rank, or recognition as a motivation

Sometimes what customers want is to simply contribute and be recognized.  Creating a ranking system, awarding virtual badges, or recognizing top participants online or at an event are all ways you could motivate your customers.

Leverage customers’ competitive spirit

By allowing translators to see each other’s progress, you can foster a spirit of positive competition that will help translators stay motivated.  Offering awards or recognition can amplify this effect.

Tools for a customer-based localization strategy

Choosing the right translation software is the key to a successful customer-driven localization project and can dramatically influence the speed and quality of your results.  Here are some specific technologies you should look for when choosing a translation platform.

Machine Translation (MT) – A Machine Translation is simply an automated computer translation of the content which is displayed to the translator.  This will help accelerate the translation process but is not sufficient by itself.

Translation Memories (TMs) – Translation Memories are essentially a database of translated words and phrases that are best or most accurate for your company.  Approved and commonly-used words and phrases are recommended to the translators in real-time as they work thus improving the overall quality and consistency of the translation.

Workflow Management – In order to have large groups of people simultaneously working on a translation, it’s crucial to have the ability to track the progress and quality of the translations in real time.  Your translation software should give you the ability to automatically assign content segments to translators and track progress with sentence-level granularity.  Reviewers should be able to access content immediately after it is translated to ensure quality.


Using your customers to translate content can help you expand your business more rapidly and more cost effective than previously thought possible and give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  With today’s translation technologies it’s possible.

Rob Vandenberg

Rob Vandenberg

Rob Vandenberg is the CEO of Lingotek. Prior to being named president of Lingotek in 2008, Vandenberg served as the ... [Read full bio]