Globalization of online content assets permits expansion to foreign markets and increased revenue. By targeting additional languages and marketplaces, Hungarian businesses can rapidly and cost-effectively expand their reach and worldwide customer base. And the translation and localization processes are surprisingly affordable. How do small businesses go global without breaking their bank accounts? We’ll look at strategies and tactics for adding languages and localities, step by step, outlining best practices, tips, and tricks for localizing content in the most efficient ways.

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Seeking Guidance from a Professional Translation Company

Instead of rushing headlong into foreign markets, it makes sense to consult with agencies specializing in localization and globalization as their bread and butter. According to Ofer Tirosh, CEO of Tomedes – a professional translation services agency supporting more than 100 languages for 50,000+ clients in over 100 countries – “Haste makes waste. Look before you leap into a globalization campaign. Most translation companies, as well as language and localization service providers, will offer free strategic consulting even before you spend a Euro. Take full advantage of that.”

In that spirit, let’s consider the basics for Hungarian business as it relates to language translation. We could discuss the pros and cons of globalization but, at least in the economic context, the only “con” is if you globalize imprudently, overextending yourself or making poor decisions about how best to go global.

It’s not news: Hungary is a small country of less than 10 million. The domestic market is not big enough to feed a company with global ambitions.

If a company’s products or services have potential appeal to foreigners, and it’s not aggressively pursuing these export markets, it’s leaving money on the table and missing the benefits of globalization.

The natural place to start might seem to be other European countries. Sure, there are practical and economic advantages of trading within the Eurozone. But make no mistake: neighboring states may not be the most cost-effective places to grow. What is translation if not the adaptation of language for a new target audience? Just translating one’s content assets from Hungarian to English is hardly the answer. (Don’t laugh: many businesses in Hungary consider this the start and finish of their globalization.)

Going in the other direction, companies targeting Hungary and Hungarians in English also need to rethink — and do so before spending a Euro.

Hungary’s business community may fare well with English, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which an expert Hungarian to English translation would not aid a campaign.

There are a few distinctions to be made. What is globalization in essence? The “globalization” definition describes the overall effort to reach foreign markets, usually focused on digital content assets like websites and social media. Website translators and website localization refer to adapting those online assets to a local (national or regional) market. What does localization mean? This term encompasses the “translation” definition but also includes aspects like numerical and date formats, currencies and measurements. It also includes more understanding of cultural likes and dislikes. What is preferred in Hungary may not be so desired in Slovakia or Austria? For these reasons, you need a localization strategy.

How Does a Translation Company Localize Digital Content Assets?

Localization involves modifying one’s website and social media to support additional languages and local versions. There is a software to translate page after page, efficiently and automatically, as well as document translation. There is specialized software for localization management. However, these are complex B2B applications. Software localization services target developers and software localization products target localization service providers — not export businesses.

Your best bet is to ask for a free quote from a localization services company.

You should ask which countries make the most sense to target and let the agency give you some of its acquired experience and wisdom.

You should list the content assets you have, an approximate budget, and ask how best you should proceed.

How to localize content? The website localization process is quite straightforward. There are many website translation services and web translator software which scrape your web pages to extract text strings and non-text items. This information is structured into a database.

This may sound straightforward, but the key to successful localization is in translation. To translate a website means more than creating a database of text strings. Content localization is a culturally sensitive thing, and language localization is best left to expert linguists with mother-tongue familiarity with the target culture. They are best qualified to deliver the benefits and considerations of content localization.

Freelance Translators: A Cost-Effective Alternative to a Translation Company?

Localization agencies seek to provide a “one-stop-shop” for your translating and localizing needs.

They typically support many languages and have technical and linguistic teams on-call to serve you. You will also pay a premium for this on-demand multilingual service and its efficiencies. Translation companies usually block access to the actual translators and localization experts, so this remains a “black box ” to you.

Does it make sense to work directly with translators? You could use local translation resources or online freelance platforms like Upwork or Freelancer.com. It’s easy enough to review profiles, rates, ratings, reviews, and portfolios. You can engage translators with questions about their experience and expertise. You can negotiate terms directly while protecting your investment by using the platform’s escrow service to hold the money until the job has been delivered to your satisfaction.

The downside? You will need to put a lot more time into finding and managing the freelance translator. There’s also more risk working directly with a freelancer. They or a family member can get sick. They may get bogged down in other projects. Freelance translators also often lack experience in the non-linguistic aspects of localization.

One useful tip is to work with freelancers in pairs.

One audits the work of the other and serves as a backup.

Hiring a freelancer in each target language can also provide quality assurance for the work of a localization or translation agency.

Welcome to the Machine! Can Software Do Translation Company for Free?

An even lower-budget temptation is localized using Google Translate, Microsoft Translator or other machine translation tools available (free, mostly!) online. While algorithm quality has improved in recent years, Tomedes’ Tirosh says “machines still cannot match the acumen and cultural sensitivity of an expert human translator.”

However, software translators can be useful for internal translations, for translating highly structured or “dry” language, and for routine customer support interactions. Another good practice is to use machine translation to see if your agency or freelancer is doing this instead of the expert work for which you are paying them! Catching them with their pants down in this manner is a subtle pleasure for the sadistic!

Bottom Line: Go Global By Squeezing the Most from Your Translation Company

To sum up, Hungarian companies pursuing a content globalization strategy should heed the following tips:

  1. Gain knowledge and guidance by engaging with a localization agency or translation company in a minimal way starting with 2-3 new regional targets and foreign languages.
  2. Have your translation company add languages after the benefits of localization in initial companies are proven.
  3. Use freelance resources judiciously, primarily for auditing and quality assurance.
  4. Use online machine translation resources for internal uses, not to translate website pages or other public content. The risk of embarrassment is too high.

Last but not least: Enjoy! Globalizing your business will expose you to new cultures and new people. It will justify travel and entertainment. Which fun-loving Hungarian can say no to that?  Élvezd az utazást!

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