When I was younger, I had the same vital statistics as Marilyn Monroe. However, whilst my chest, waist and hips matched her measurements, I am taller, so the overall effect was never quite the same.

Which serves to illustrate that whilst metrics can help create an impression, they can’t tell the whole story.

How to localise for international growth

Traditionally, the buyers of translation and localisation services used to focus on measuring the efficiency and cost of the localisation effort with metrics like average translation project turnaround time, translation quality pass/fail rate or adherence to the translation budget.

However, these metrics only served to reinforce the idea of localisation as a cost centre. Modern and mature translation and localisation buyers know how to look at the bigger picture and measure what localisation achieves at the different stages of the customer journey cycle.

For the early stages of the customer journey (awareness, consideration and decision), you translate or transcreate marketing, website and social media content that aims to generate new leads for your company. Typical performance metrics of the success of this work include page views or bounce rates.

At the customer retention stage, it’s important to measure your customers’ satisfaction with your localised product, for example by looking at retention rate and or product reviews. And at the loyalty stage, you want to track whether they remain engaged with your localised social media content or found answers to their questions from your translated support materials.

How to be customer-centric

Don’t be content with telling the same story everyone else is telling. You can create a more interesting narrative by measuring something a bit different from your competition. Most performance indicators we use in business inform us of how our company is doing. They’re company-centric. Even when we measure the behaviour and preferences of our customers, what we’re actually interested in is how those customers are performing for our company, not how our company is performing for them.

So when you try to measure how well your multilingual marketing content is performing out there, it’s easy to settle on measuring how many new customers it’s bringing to your website. Or how much new revenue your online product catalogue translated into six new languages is bringing to the company. Because that data is easily trackable in your digital marketing team’s reports.

But instead of telling your story only in terms of those company-centric KPIs, you could be measuring how well your localised content is performing for your existing and potential customers. That would be true customer-centric thinking that would in turn translate to a boost to your traditional company KPIs.

All existing and potential customers come to your website, help centre, knowledge base or e-learning course with a problem, need or question. How quickly or easily that gets resolved indicates how your content is performing for them. And that can be measured.

You could also track how the number of culturally appropriate online payment options for your product impacts your new client acquisition. Or how the social acceptance of your localised product interface is reflected in the number of “friends” or “likes” it receives. Or you could carry out a sentiment analysis of the multilingual reviews your customers have given via your multilingual chatbot service.

How to measure localisation ROI

At a language services company, we apply customer-centric thinking when we advise our clients on how translating and localising their content helps them achieve their business goals. That includes ideas for which indicators to track and how to use those tracked statistics. At Sandberg, we’ve just made this a little easier for you – we’ve written an e-book full of hands-on tips for measuring localisation ROI. The underlying principle is that when you have a digital product or digital content, you focus more on the outcome rather than the output. In other words, you don’t just track how much translated content you have, you track how that translated content performs.

How to use what you measure

We live in a world where we track everything: the steps we take, the hours we sleep, the calories we eat and burn, the friends and followers we have, how many times our heart beats and how many people like what we say or write.

Measuring and tracking makes you aware. It helps you focus. It aids your decision-making. But beware – comparison will kill you. When my daughter was a teenager, she hung that sentence in a frame above her bed.

Comparison will kill you because vital statistics are personal. Whilst it’s important to learn from your marketing team what good looks like in terms of organic website traffic and social channel growth, and whilst you must pay attention when your sales team explains how many leads you need in order to generate the pipeline you want, the numbers they give you are not meant to be used for comparing to other companies and their numbers.

Those figures are given to you so that you can set clear goals for your teams and effective KPIs for tracking how your teams move towards those goals.

Your company has a unique combination of talent, resources and opportunities, but also a unique blend of skills gaps, challenges and commitments. Just as your vital statistics are individual, so should be your company expectations when it comes to KPIs such as conversion rates or market share or customer retention.

There is value in benchmarking, but you don’t need to pursue other people’s goals. Choose your own goal, figure out the ways to measure what good looks like in terms of that goal, and stick to tracking your chosen KPIs so that you can see whether you are moving towards your goal or away from it.

If you’d like tips on how to check whether localisation is a revenue-generating investment for your business, our Client Services teams would love to help. Contact me via LinkedIn or email us at info@stptrans.com and we can figure it out together.

Director’s Cut