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      Google translate. AI translation. Human translation.

      Unless you’re an industry insider, you probably believe that those are the three basic “quality levels” in the world of translation. But it’s a lot more complicated than that — and if you’re working with translators or translation agencies, there are some insider secrets that you need to know. Otherwise, you risk getting a low-quality translation that makes a poor impression on your customers.

      What no one tells you about the translation industry

      The truth is, having a “human translator” is no guarantee of quality. There is a huge range of skill levels out there, and major quality differences from one translation agency to the next.

      In general, I would put them into three groups: 

      • Giant agencies that charge rock-bottom prices and pay their translators sweatshop-level rates. 
      • Agencies that charge middle-of-the-road rates and pay accordingly. 
      • Boutique agencies that charge a premium and pay rates that will actually attract skilled professionals. 

      Agencies in the first two categories will — I think I can say this safely — never be able to deliver good marketing translations. Their translators simply can’t afford to take the time to think about writing style and nuance. They’re racing against the clock, trying to pay the rent. 

      Boutique agencies are generally a cut above the rest, but even with them, it can be hit and miss. Although better agencies will have a higher minimum standard, you’re still likely to have different translators working on different projects for you. Some of them might be outstanding, but not everyone. So you might get exceptional quality one week and just acceptable the next.

      What it takes to get translations that convert your customers

      The thing is, most translation agencies provide mass market services. That means that you can expect accuracy, but not much in the way of style. It’s a rare agency that will let you give feedback and discuss the finer nuances with the translator. The problem is, that’s exactly what you need to get a marketing translation that does its job.

      Marketing translations are all about nuance. They’re about voice, and style, and the message behind the message. To get that right, a translator needs to be:

      • An expert in language (to understand the text itself)
      • An expert in both cultures (to read between the lines and adapt the message appropriately) 
      • An expert at copywriting (to choose exactly the right words for the new audience)

      Translators also need to be paid enough that they can afford to take their time with their work. Someone rushing through an assignment won’t be able to capture the nuance and style that are so crucial to a successful marketing translation. That’s why agencies on the lower end of the price range will never be able to give you the results you’re hoping for.

      Successful marketing translations also take a close working relationship between you, the marketing manager, and your translator, the language expert. Because there’s probably no one who understands the nuances of your marketing campaign like you do. This is another detail that many agencies overlook.

      How my work is different

      Many of my customers come to me because they’re unsatisfied with the agencies they’ve worked with in the past. They want more consistent quality, and more input into the final projet. They’re tired of hearing that “preferential changes” aren’t part of the project.

      I’ve seen over and over again how problematic this can be — and I’ve made it my mission to give my clients a better experience. I love working closely with my clients — many of them consider me part of the team. And I also know that, no matter how good I might be, you are still the expert for your brand. That’s why all of my translation packages include at least one round of revisions — so we can fine-tune everything until you’re totally satisfied with the result.

      How to get translations that actually win customers

      Wordsmith, at your service!

      Do you need copy for your website? Content marketing that converts? A translation or transcreation of your German marketing materials? Let’s make it happen!