Many of us are familiar with the vital role that transcreation—the creative adaptation of marketing content for local markets—plays in helping a brand build a strong global presence. In fact, successful brands use transcreation to generate more than 50 percent of their revenue annually, with localization serving as the third leading method for online businesses to market their goods internationally.
While gathering data on transcreation at the macro level is relatively easy, measuring the effectiveness of a specific brand’s transcreation program is not as clear-cut. As a creative process, transcreation is always hard to evaluate, and opinions on quality are often subjective.
Yet it is possible to evaluate and improve the output and effectiveness of transcreation teams. This is accomplished by defining clear quality standards, analyzing key performance indicators, investigating potential issues and collaborating with stakeholders to implement improvements.
Quality control starts at the beginning of the client-vendor relationship. In initial discussions (such as a kickoff meeting), clients clarify the objectives of their content and provide brand-specific stylistic guidance. This should include terminology and their translations, as consistent use of terms improves the clarity and cohesion of brand messaging.
Next, resourcing is key to quality. Transcreation is a specialized field and resources must be experienced, fully vetted and tested, a topic we covered in our first post in our transcreation series. It’s also important that resources remain consistent throughout the project, so knowledge can be retained.
Process is the next element of quality. There are a number of people involved. The transcreator creates the content. The local brand champion reviews and suggests edits to ensure that the content conveys the intended meaning and fits within the cultural values and expectations of the target market. The transcreator reviews the revisions and suggested edits and works with the local brand champion to create a final draft. And this might not even be the end of it, because achieving high-quality results requires an iterative process with multiple linguists and reviewers looking at the content and providing feedback. The entire process is indicative of the highly collaborative nature of transcreation work.
Lastly, many transcreation projects use “back-translations”—where content is translated back into its original source language—to assess how the creative talent approached the process. Afterwards, transcreators explain their creative process and decisions, which helps shed light on how well they understood and communicated the brand’s objectives to the creative teams and within the final product itself.
Setting KPIs and investigating effectiveness
While transcreation effectiveness may not lend itself well to direct quantitative measurement, the use of certain key performance indicators (KPIs) and tests can help teams identify potential issues. Appropriate KPIs are largely dependent on the type of content and the marketing channels used. Any KPI that you use should meet the SMART criteria, which means the data must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.
For digital marketing campaigns involving transcreation, it is easy to collect and measure data. For instance, look at target-market data such as click-through rates, the number of website visitors, conversion rates, bounce rates and your Return on Investment (ROI). Compare these figures to data from other markets where the brand is established. While some discrepancies are to be expected, if the target market is performing significantly worse than others, that could indicate an issue with the content.
Stakeholders can investigate these issues further using blind A/B testing. In this process, an additional creative team member will deliver a separate transcreation (the B version). This material is published alongside the existing content to gather data. A panel of content specialists will review the data to objectively measure the effectiveness of both pieces of content. If transcreation B performed significantly better, the team can move ahead to use the better version in their campaign.
Other useful tools include independent third-party reviews and market surveys. This review process involves engaging a content specialist unaffiliated with the team and/or a third-party editor. The third party will review samples of transcreation content to offer an independent assessment of the transcreator’s effectiveness. Market surveys involve forming focus groups from the local population. They can offer invaluable feedback, which transcreation teams can use to make improvements.
Resolving transcreation issues
The most common issues include missing cultural nuances, off-brand adaptation or content that makes no sense in local markets (for example, selling swimsuits in Alaska). If you have issues with your transcreation content, it is important to investigate and take corrective action. Often the first reaction, particularly where there is evidence of poor performance, is to fire the creative team. But this is typically not the best or most cost-effective option.
A lot of resources go into implementing a transcreation program—teams must be recruited, screened and brought up to speed. The first step toward corrective action is to share your findings with your transcreation vendor. Commit to working together to resolve the issues. Request that the vendor develop a timely and realistic plan to remedy the situation. Ensure that the plan includes important milestones to increase accountability. The program should be regularly reassessed to ensure that things are getting back on track.
Where client stakeholders are working directly with transcreators, it is important to provide insights on individual performance. Address their adherence to style and brand guidance and to terminology lists, their creative process, their ability to communicate and meet deadlines and any other relevant factors. Resolving issues at this level can go a long way toward improving the creative process.
Some tips to make transcreation work for you
Here are some useful tips that you can use to improve the effectiveness of your transcreation program.
- Share creative briefs. This helps your transcreation vendor have a better understanding of your brand and stylistic preferences. Include details on the demographics of your target audience. Encourage questions and feedback from your vendor.
- Make sure you provide translated terminology. As mentioned before, this is a key component to ensuring clarity and consistency.
- Facilitate in-country and native stakeholder reviews. Reviewers should be familiar with the message of your brand as well as your products and services. Being in the country and a native of the target market ensures that the stakeholder is familiar with cultural norms and expectations.
- Be patient. Marketing content takes more time to adapt than typical translations. Transcreators engage in a highly creative process that seeks to convey the original message in a way that appeals to local tastes and sensibilities.
- Expect a different process. Transcreation is also significantly different than traditional translation processes. Unlike translation, transcreation seeks to establish new relationships with users who are new to, neutral toward, or possibly unreceptive to a brand. Success requires careful study of the target market and potentially multiple iterations of content.
Transcreation offers brands potentially unlimited growth potential. But to be successful, stakeholders must continually evaluate transcreation effectiveness and implement changes where needed.