How to Choose the Right Translation Agency for Your Business

Expanding your business into new markets? Whether expanding within the United States or abroad, you must engage your audience in relevant ways. To reach new markets, you’ll need to meet your audience where they are and create content in  their native language. Hiring a professional translation agency with industry and cultural expertise is key to ensuring quality and establishing the most cost-effective process. 

Working with a Translation Agency

Your company’s reputation depends on the quality of your written materials, so it’s important to choose the right language solutions partner. Brochures, newsletters, and websites must be professional, relevant, and on-brand, no matter the language.

When looking for a translation agency, keep the following questions in mind: 

Does the language solutions company work in the language pairs that you need?

A language pair is the two languages between which you are translating. For example, you may have a source file in English that you need translated into Spanish, so the language pair in which you are working is English and Spanish and the direction you are translating is from English into Spanish. Consider your requirements and the language pairs that the translation company offers before making your decision. 

Within what industries does the translation agency work?  

For some industries, knowing the technical terminology is as important as knowing the language itself. Legal, medical or financial terms can be confusing if the translator is not an industry expert. Look for an agency that works with linguists who have in-depth industry-specific knowledge so that your multilingual communication resonates with your target audience. Also, check if the agency is a part of the American Translators Association, Association of Language Companies or other professional organizations. 

What services does the agency offer?

If you are entering a new market, you will probably have a variety of translation needs which can include anything from market research translation to legal document translation to multimedia localization of your corporate training videos. If one agency can’t satisfy all of your needs, you will have to look elsewhere and go through the tedious selection process again. Plan in advance and make sure that you are hiring a language solutions company that can serve all your future needs.  

Does the translation agency provide culturally relevant translation?

Every region of the world has its own dialects of language. For example, Spanish spoken in Spain is different from Spanish spoken in Latin America. We’ve all heard stories about localization and translation mistakes done by even the biggest brands out there. (If you haven’t, here are 63 examples.) When entering an international market, it’s important to have an understanding of the culture, customs, and language of your audience. If you are targeting medical professionals in Brazil, the linguist translating your materials should be a native speaker of that specific region with a background in medicine. Find an agency that hires linguists who have an understanding of the cultural and linguistic nuances of the audience you are trying to reach. 

What is the quality assurance process? 

Ask the agency what quality control measures they implement and if they have editors revising the work of the translators. Ideally, the same group of linguists will be working on all of your projects to preserve continuity across translated materials. Also, ask the agency about their process for hiring linguists. Freelance linguists should possess relevant education, training and experience in translation. 

Are you looking for a long-term partnership?

Partnering with Translation Agency

Jill Bishop, founder and CEO of Multilingual Connections, points out that the most important thing for you to consider when looking for a translation agency is partnership. “How quick are they to respond to your calls and emails? How many questions do they ask about your business and what you’re trying to accomplish through translation? Do they ask about your voice, style, and terminology preferences? Are they open to modifying their standard workflow? A good translation partner focuses on more than just the word count of your documents and turnaround time (though important, of course!) and focuses on bigger picture items and how to help ensure that your translations are well-received by your audience.” 

Choose an agency that offers you a single point of contact who will discuss your requirements throughout the translation process, by phone, email, or in-person. The translation of your content should be a collaborative process from start to finish. Avoid companies that simply want to provide translations without an ongoing conversation. Translation is not a transaction; it’s about fostering a collaborative partnership in order to help you communicate successfully to your multilingual audience. 

Can the agency meet your deadlines?

Does the agency have the capability to work with your deadlines, offer a fast turnaround, and manage several projects at the same time? If you have content that needs to be translated on a regular basis, it’s vital that a translation partner has the staff and resources required to adapt to your needs. Discuss your expectations and needs with your account manager early on in the planning process to ensure on-time delivery. 

Discuss confidentiality concerns

Ask about the steps that the translation agency takes to ensure the confidentiality of your materials. Where will they store your documents? Does the agency have signed confidentiality agreements with their network of translators? Does the agency sign nondisclosure agreements for special projects? Your translation partner needs to understand and be able to fulfill your confidentiality requirements.  

Before working with a translation agency…

Trust and collaboration between a business and translation agency make up the foundation of your success. Start developing a relationship with your translation partner early on in the planning of your project. The more background information and materials that you can share with your translation agency, the more likely they are to produce great work. 

If you have any translation questions, connect with us, we’d love to be your language solutions partner.