Getting ahead of the competition with online sales for your e-commerce venture is always a moving target. SEO tips, email lists, A/B testing, loyalty programs- the list goes on! But one frequently overlooked tool to help expand your target audience is e-commerce translation. Sure, there’s numerous plug-ins that can help automatically translate your website into other languages, but the results are far from optimal, and sometimes laughable in their attempt. The benefit of using an e-commerce translation agency like TSI is we have actual native speaking translators who understand the intricacies of online sales.
Here’s a short list of 5 tips on how to increase product sales internationally.
Find International Target Markets
There’s many great ways find a market beyond the United States. You can use government resources to help suss out overseas trends. Websites like www.export.gov are a wonderful resource. Using keyword searches like www.kwfinder.com and setting search parameters to other countries is also an excellent method of finding untapped buyers.
Translate Your Current Website
When clients come to us for translation help, very few think to offer multiple language options on their website for international customers, but after discussing the benefits, most opt-in for this service. A frequent question we get is “why not just use the google translate website option?” The problem is google translate is far from accurate. Thousands of words have numerous definitions which can completely change the meaning of your sentences if not translated properly- this is the main issue with computer and machine translations.
When we are asked to translate an e-commerce website, we only use native language speakers who understand the target country’s terminology so that there is no confusion for potential consumers.
Create Custom Websites and URLS for New Markets
In addition to translating your e-commerce website, you can give your online presence an extra international boost by creating standalone websites in other languages. To take it even one step further, customize the website with your target country’s URL.
For example, if your company website is www.bestproduct.com, consider purchasing www.bestproduct.it if you plan on selling in Italy. This way, in addition to translating your website copy, you can also optimize your keywords and SEO for the italian market as well.
In addition to custom websites, consider joining already established online marketplaces that have decent traffic. Amazon has recently made a large push into numerous countries across the globe through their Amazon Global Selling (AGS) program. At TSI, we have experience translating for Amazon Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA) and AGS.
Add Additional International Payment Methods
Offering numerous currency options for payment can help entice international customers to purchase your product. You can take it a step further and even add some of the more popular cryptocurrency options as payment as well.
When adding new currencies, it’s important to understand localization of these numbers as well as your payment portal- another portion of e-commerce website translation. For example, the US and other countries list dates and times differently: month/day/year versus day/month/year. Little details like this left unfixed will give your potential buyer the impression that your company does not take them seriously.
Localize Your Marketing Materials
In addition to your website, there’s a plethora of additional platforms and methods of reaching consumers. Social media is a huge one, as are banner ads. We love helping our customers with punching up their ad copy into other languages through the use of transcreation. This form of localization can also be targeted to specific demographics or locations, therefore it’s essential to hire translators who know the lingo of your particular customer.
What are you waiting for? Contact us for a free quote on how we can help your business expand abroad and reach customers across the pond. With our extensive experience and deep portfolio, we are here to offer your business all the translation services you require.
When producing video content for customers or potential clients, sometimes your audience is overseas or simply speaks a different language. If this is the case, subtitle translation is an excellent idea. The process is more complicated than slapping words on the bottom of the screen- it involves translation, revisions, and adherence to international subtitling standards to work properly. Thankfully, we have over 28 years worth of experience offering translation and subtitling services for videos.
When Should You Use Subtitles?
For the average subtitling services project, typically we follow the clients’ lead. If they send us a video that already has subtitles, we provide video subtitling translation services. However there are situations where this might not be the best choice.
An effective use of subtitles is when a person is seen speaking on-screen. It’s quite awkward and amateurish to see a person speaking one language and hear the translation in another language. Subconsciously we are trying to match the sound of the words to the movement of the speaker’s lips and it becomes frustrating and even annoying.
Most clients will agree to the use of subtitles in this situation, but at times there are those who insist on what’s called the United Nations method, whereby we hear the first few seconds of the person speaking in his or her native language and then a narrator’s voice quickly fades in as the source language is left barely audible in the background. This approach doesn’t appear to be so annoying to the viewing public.
The Importance of Subtitle Formatting and Standards
International and company standards exist for the amount of words or characters that are allotted in a line of text. The number of characters generally agreed to is 42. An average English word consists of 6 characters that includes 5 letters and a space at the end. Dividing 42 characters by 6 gives us 7 words per line of subtitle. A maximum of two lines per scene is recommended. If there are more than 2 lines of subtitles, most people would not be able to finish reading before the scene ends and the next scene begins.
Let’s analyze the use of subtitles in a English version of a 10 minute video. On average, there are 150 words spoken in normal conversation, that is a delivery not too slow and not too fast. Therefore a 10 minute video would require 1,500 words of text. Assuming that there are 6 words per line of subtitles and that the limit is two lines of subtitles per scene, a 10 minute video would require 125 scene changes.
Many people find this amount of changes difficult and tiresome to read. In addition, when someone is focusing on the subtitles, it’s nearly impossible to see what’s going on in the video. If one is reading the subtitles, they are missing the images on the screen. If they are looking at the images on the screen, they are not able to read the subtitles at the same time. This creates a real dilemma and most people will tune out and stop watching.
The parameters change somewhat depending on the language that’s being used for the subtitles. Character based languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean (there are others) typically use symbols rather than letters. One character might represent a whole word. For example, a 400 word English subtitle will require 2,400 characters, while the Chinese character count would be 640. This is a dramatic difference.
But we also have to consider the size of the characters compared to the size of the letters. A single Chinese character might be the size of two English letters depending on the font sizes used. There’s a considerable amount of planning that has to be considered when using subtitles.
Which is More Expensive, Voiceovers or Subtitles?
We get this question all of the time. In the long run, they are very close in cost. The ten minute voiceover which would include recording studio rental, audio engineer, professional narrator and final editing would cost around $1,000.
The audio track would be delivered to the client in either .mp3 or .wav format and would be timed to the exact length of the video. The video editor would line up the foreign language audio file with the first audio of the source, lay in the file and violà, the job is done.
Subtitles, on the other hand, would require a video editor who knows how to break the language down into the appropriate lines. The editor would most likely work alongside a native speaker of the language, either in person or remotely, to verify that the lines of text are placed correctly.
Working from a Word document or an Excel file, they would cut and paste the two lines of subtitles into 125 separate scenes. If the editor could cut and past 12 scenes per hour (5 minutes each) it would take approximately 10 hours to complete the job. The fees involved would be for the video studio rental, editor and language consultant.
The advantage of one method over the other would depend on the experience of the people involved. In most cases, the difference in fees would not be enough to choose one method over the other compared to the cost of the entire production.
A Client Subtitle Case Study
Recently we received a request from a client to translate an eight-minute video that describes the function and operation of a newly designed forklift truck that was being used in the logging business.
The machine looked like something out of World War II. It was large, ominous looking and instead of wheels and tires, it rode on heavy duty steel tracks. It didn’t have the typical two pronged forks, but instead, a device that looked like giant tongs that could lift and carry ten tree trunks at a time. It could also navigate mountainous terrain, deep, rugged valleys and cross rivers four feet deep.
Subtitles were used to describe the movement and operation of the machine, but there were also captions naming the essential components of the equipment. Our client decided to use voiceovers for the description of the machine’s operation, as we suggested, and translate the captions. In this manner the viewer could listen to the soundtrack and read the captions at the same time.
No matter which method is selected, “planning ahead” is the most important part of the job. Give us a ring or shoot us an email. At TSI, our experienced translators and project managers have the experience to ensure your video subtitles and translations are done properly.
Translating videos, films and interactive slideshows is an exciting and effective way to connect with potential customers. Our first ever client here at TSI was Kodak in the 1980’s. We created English to Spanish voice over translations for their commercials and promotional videos. We have decades of experience producing voiceover translations and all sorts of other documents.
There are 3 ways to accomplish the production:
1. Voiceover Translation
2. Subtitle Translation
3. A combination of the two
There are several reasons to choose one version over another. I will delve into each separately.
Whenever possible and applicable, voiceover translation is the preferred method, because many people dislike subtitles. Actually, they hate them. I’ve had what I thought were sophisticated and curious friends who would never go to a movie if it were subtitled. Unfortunately for them, they’re missing many great foreign films. There’s no doubt that having to read subtitles takes away some of the enjoyment of viewing the images on the screen. But when you’re dealing with potential clients who would be interested in purchasing your product or services, you should look into the advantages of subtitles.
If the video, film or slideshow is in pre-production stage, you’ll have an advantage, because you have control over the timing of the production. As I have mentioned in earlier articles, many of the languages we deal with on a daily basis are longer than English; up to 30% in some cases. What this means is that if you have a 10 minute video in English, a Spanish narration might require 12 to 13 minutes to record the translation. This can be very problematic and costly. There are 3 ways to deal with this dilemma.
1. Read the translated text faster. Well, this is almost never a good solution unless the English was recorded very slowly, as if the voice talent was about to fall asleep at the microphone. Besides, when the speed of the narration is increased over 5%, the voice starts to sound unnatural and even annoying. Then when the speed of the narration is increased over 10% and even as much as 20%, it’s not only annoying, it becomes impossible to understand. It sounds like Jerry the Mouse running away from Tom the Cat as he’s yelling “don’t catch me; don’t catch me”. Seriously, it’s a poor way to solve the problem.
2. Make the video scenes longer. In some situations, this is an acceptable solution, except that now you’ll wind up with an 11 or 12 minute video. And somebody will have to pay for the additional video editing time. This will only work if there’s nobody speaking on-screen. Still pictures can be lengthened on-screen. Even moving pictures can be lengthened or slowed down to increase their time on the screen. However a person looking directly into the camera would appear silly and even disturbing, because the moving lips would not sync up with the foreign language voice.
3. If you have the opportunity to get involved at the pre-production stage, you should be able to edit the translation to make it conform to the length of the English. This is how we prefer to work. Whenever possible, we encourage our clients to let us make the original translation. Our translators understand the intricacies of working with video and film and can adapt the recording script to the allotted time.
Choosing the Right Voice Translator Talent
When we started translating videos and recording foreign language narrations more than 25 years ago, over 90% of our clients used male narrators. Many of the videos dealt with technical products, heavy duty machinery and construction equipment. They were made to sell products and create safety training programs for issues relating to OSHA. Our clients requested male narrators to match the style and feeling of the English versions. About ten years ago companies started using more female narrators. I prefer the sound and tone of a female voice. Female voices appear sharper and clearer on videos and films.
A final thing to consider with voiceovers is the accent of the narrator. If a video were meant to be used in Mexico or some of the other Latin American countries, I would advise a client not to use a narrator from Argentina, Uruguay or Spain. Because there are many countries that have Spanish as their official language, we typically suggest a Spanish speaking narrator with a neutral accent, perhaps someone from Colombia or Peru. The same can be said for other languages such as French, Italian, German and Russian. It’s best to choose a voice that is suitable to the location where the video or film will be used.
When Video Translation and Subtitling are Better than Voiceovers
At TSI, we do more than just voice dubbing - we are also a subtitle translation services company. There are specific occasions whereby voiceovers should not be used whenever possible. I advise clients to avoid voiceovers when the talent is talking on-screen. It’s almost impossible to sync an audio track to the movement of a person’s lips when using another language. The results range from being funny to annoying. Our mind wants us to think that the person is speaking the foreign language, but no matter how hard we try, it just doesn’t work, especially when the target language has a different etymology from the source. Imagine trying to sync Chinese, Hindi or Swahili to English. The languages are so vastly different that the viewer will not feel comfortable listening awww.tsi.world/contact.htmlnd viewing at the same time. There is a solution however, when a customer really wants this option. This means finding the right translation and subtitling services company.
With almost 30 years as voice language translators, TSI has the experience to ensure your videos are done on time and on budget. Our portfolio offers great examples of some of our clients who return year after year thanks to our professionalism. If your company is looking for a translation agency offering voiceover translation services or subtitle translations, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free quote.
At TSI, many of our long term clients come from the advertising industry. For decades, we’ve worked closely with both third party as well as internal ad agencies and firms to ensure their campaign’s message isn’t lost in translation. From our experience, the most difficult part of translating for the advertising and marketing industry is transcreation.
We touched on the concept of transcreation in a previous article, but to recap, transcreation deals primarily with copy written for the advertising industry. It is used to create an understanding of the meaning of the message and not simply a translation of the individual words.
Let’s look at some common business slogans that word for word have little meaning in a foreign language, without being transcreated into a slogan that would reflect the meaning in that other language.
Heinz – “Beanz Meanz Heinz”
Due to the clever and unusual spelling, this works only in English. If one were to try and find a translation using any of the well-known online translation programs the answer would come back as “Beanz Meanz Heinz”. I asked different translators to ‘transcreate’ this slogan into Spanish and received the following results.
Frijoles favoritos Heinz --- Heinz beans are favorites
Cuándo quiera frijoles pida Heinz --- When you want beans ask for Heinz
Frijoles significan Heinz --- Beans mean Heinz
This last one is not quite as clever as the English, but you get the picture.
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes – “They’re GR-R-R-reat”
This slogan is difficult to translate. It’s based on the fictitious character Tony the Tiger. Why Kellogg’s featured a tiger eating Frosted Flakes is anybody’s guess, but apparently it works. Frosted Flakes have been around for a long time and are still a popular breakfast cereal. I imagine it’s due to the crunchy feeling and the sugar rush associated with the sweetened cereal. The reason this is difficult to translate or to come close with transcreation is due to the GR-R-R-reat that emulates a tiger’s growl. I sent this to to different translators and received the following.
Un rugido de energía – A roar of energy
¡GR-R-R-andiosos! – GR-R-R-reat! (my favorite)
Ten un día salvaje - Have a wild day
Son lo MÁS de lo MÁS - They are the MOST of the MOST
Simplemente geniales - Simply great
Skittles – “Taste the Rainbow”
I really like this slogan, although I’ve never eaten a Skittle. The word sounds a little too much like spittle to pique my appetite. But apparently it has been successful throughout the years. After all, rainbows are beautiful and somewhat mysterious the way they appear during a rain shower. Here are the translations to this happy slogan.
Un arco iris de sabor – A rainbow of flavor
El gusto multicolor – The multicolored taste
Saborea el arcoíris - Taste the rainbow
Disfruta con el Arco Iris - Enjoy the Rainbow
Dejate llevar por el Arco Iris - Get carried away by the Rainbow
Despega con el Arco Iris - Take off with the Rainbow
It’s not often that we get requests for such popular slogans as the foregoing examples, but we do come close with companies wanting a special slant on their branding. When these requests come in, we choose translators who work in advertising or who are creative writing specialists. We want them to let their imaginations soar and create solutions that are unique and effective.
Using non-native speakers for translations that rely on transcreation is a risky bet. Much like idioms presenting difficult issues when crossing languages, transcreation has the same potential pitfalls. Our translators at TSI are native speakers and specialize in the industry for which they are translating.
Do you have a product or a campaign that is being expanded overseas? Do you want to freshen up previously translated advertising collateral? Reach out to us for a consultation or a quote. We are more than happy to get you the help you need: TSI - We're GR-R-R-owing your business internationally.
Francis Semmens is the founder of TSI and author of all blog posts with a focus on translation for clients and translators alike.