Machine translation technology has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, which would explain why we’re seeing such a surge in use today.
As this technology becomes more reliable, accurate and easy to use, it’s becoming clear to businesses that translating content with a machine first, before handing it over to human translators for a more in-depth analysis, offers a faster, cheaper alternative in many cases. And, unlike the machine translation of a decade ago, you’re not at the mercy of dodgy translations that are more wrong than right!
In the marketing industry, in particular, this method is becoming increasingly popular for certain types of content. With this rising demand for more and more content, accessible almost in real-time, marketers are turning to machine translation to help them deliver.
What is machine translation?
Machine translation uses artificial intelligence to translate copy. In its rawest form, it is the process of fully automating the translation process from one language to another without any human assistance. But, despite the advances in this technology, it’s still not a perfect science and will work better for some content types than others.
Raw machine translation (content that has been translated by a machine and not yet proofed by a human translator), for example, can be helpful to gain a quick understanding of something—especially where the occasional error can be overlooked. Today, it’s becoming more and more popular to use machine translation (combined with human translators) for content such as websites, e-commerce and product information, because of the speed and volume at which these are often created. Hence the spike in marketing use.
The benefits of machine translation in the field of marketing
The obvious benefits of machine translation are speed and cost. This technology allows you to expedite the initial translation phase, meaning it’s more of a revision exercise than a full-scale content creation task. And, of course, less time spent means less money spent.
In marketing, where demand for high-quality, personalised content is prevalent, machine translation allows us to gain an edge over the competition through accelerated speed while upholding the creativity levels required for marketing content creation. Use cases are soaring for things like chatbots, long-form content and community building.
In short, anything that needs to be translated fast and for a broad-but-individual audience is a popular candidate for machine translation.
Machine translation and the latest marketing trends
By 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels, according to Gartner. The shift towards digital is only going to rise and, with it, the demand for better quality content to support these conversations.
In marketing, we’re seeing a distinct rise in the following areas:
- Interactive and user-generated content
Buyers are becoming increasingly independent and require more detail than ever before. Machine translation can play a big role in meeting these demands, by enabling us to produce personalised content, in a user’s native language—fast.
- Tools and applications
With the rise in hybrid working, we’ve seen a number of new tools and apps appear on the market to support this trend. Machine-powered translation can enable us to more easily personalise and translate messages, invites and communication within programmes like Teams, Zoom and Slack.
- Data-driven and insights
In a world where marketers are no longer just users of data, but also the creators of it, machine translation can help us to generate much higher survey response rates with local language versions. We can also react to feedback faster and in a more personalised way.
- A rise in content creation
Two-thirds of marketers say they expect their content marketing budget to increase in 2022, according to new research from CMIContent. More budget means more content to produce. As we know, nothing can help speed up a packed content schedule like machine-powered translation.
- Long-form content
Long-form content such as whitepapers, research, blog content and website content are the backbone to a strong marketing campaign—but they’re also pretty heavy-duty when it comes to copy. Machine translations that include specialist human post-editors can help you localise your long-form content into all your chosen languages, without the lengthy human-only translation process.
When should I use machine translation?
Machine translation, when used alongside a human translator, is an excellent option for:
- User-generated content and support tickets
- Translating within a restricted budget
- Large volumes of content, such as websites, articles and whitepapers
- Screening documents for a general gist
However, it’s not always the right option. For example, at Comtec, we don’t recommend machine translation for professional video localisation or strategic comms such as advertising, brochures and brand literature. This kind of high-quality, user-facing content typically requires a more creative translation process, or a process called transcreation—an advanced form of localisation that combines translation skills and creative license to preserve the core meaning of the source text for its new region. In essence, transcreation is the translation of ideas, not just words.
The only way to know for sure which method is right for your project is to work with an expert, like us! We can help you work out where it fits in your process, and which kind of translation service you need based on your requirements, budget and content, whether that’s machine translation, human translation or transcreation.
We’ve created a free-to-download guide to support your next steps in creating global marketing communications. It’s packed with tips and advice!
For further info on how we can help you with your translation queries or requirements, please give our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to talk translation!