Measuring Translation ROI


Measuring ROI – return on investment – is a great tool, and a fairly intuitive and sensible thing to do. But in case of translation, it is a very tricky concept.

Translation costs are an investment, but how can you measure their returns in real life terms?

Example: When you translate into a new language you will gain some new customers, but many will simply move from a previously existing language version to the new one.

Example: When you publish your new language version, some of the new customers might prefer to use the previously existing language version, because they find your new translations “funny.” They might complain that the search box is faulty in the new language.

The quality of translation (readability, tone of voice, slang etc. reflecting your identity and target group) may make or break your business in a new market, but simply comparing sales pre- and post-translation will never reveal that.

Moreover, in online and other tech settings, it is impossible to separate the translation from the whole experience – website or app bugs, localisation, adjustment of payment and delivery methods to market standards, alignment with local culture, etc.

We would argue that developers are often asked to fix filters that are perfectly fine – but translated out of context and therefore making search harder instead of easier. Have a look at a real life example:

LocAtHeart - language quality audit example 1


In this new concept, localisation and translation efforts are seen less as a measurable revenue generator. Instead, they become a revenue enabler. In this approach, the focus shifts from typical measures (like numbers of translated words that are completely meaningless from a business point of view) to a more holistic approach that looks at opportunities, outcome and processes rather than the small details.

But translation, as with any business operation, needs indicators that allow us to check if goals are being met.

Translation KPIs >>

<< Segment 3: Translation price and performance