Translation and Localisation: Which Trends Will Shape the Industry in 2023?

Customers expect global brands to deliver premium services and products in their native language. Fast movers who include localisation in their strategy can compete and grow in the international market. In 2023 translators, agencies, and companies also face other challenges that streamline and define work flow.

AI innovation

We’ve been monitoring the development of machine translation and its improving quality for years. The machine translation market grew from $450 million in 2017 to $1.1 billion in 2022.

And in 2023, AI technology will have ever higher demand and assist the sector’s drive towards greater efficiency. AI in machine translation tools maximises accuracy and shortens translation delivery times. And integration with dictionaries will contribute to machine translations further improving.

A change in how machine translations are used is also anticipated. The original procedure whereby translators edited the machine translation result will be reversed. As early as the input phase, translators can guide and adapt the AI so that the resulting machine translation meets their needs.

But the panel discussion AI in the Here and Now – Emerging Trends during LocTalk ’22 raised concerns about how to ensure the protection of sensitive information during machine translation for specific content (e.g. laws, safety, health) and whether to use machine translation in such cases.

In 2023, we will follow the efforts to achieve acceptable quality at lower cost. Prices have never been more keenly contested. So companies need to approach translations differently. Sometimes large blog post translations need not be conducted if the ROI is negligible. It's useful to consider the purpose and value of specific texts, and to choose the translation quality accordingly.

Transformation of B2B localisation

B2B and B2C localisation strategies differ. Jose Palomares (head of localisation at Coupa Software) talks about the need to adapt the localisation strategies of B2B companies at LocTalk ’22.

What works for one company is not a universal fit. So he recommends that companies base their strategies on sector know-how or work with a local localisation partner. It’s a sound strategy to develop a multi-level expansion plan rather than risking it all at once.

Integrating SEO into localisation

You can reach a wide audience in new markets with quality SEO. Content optimised for search engines appears higher in search results, bringing higher visibility and more click-throughs.

Many companies often underestimated SEO during expansion, and translated websites without including keywords. What e-shop owners used to do in their home countries will also cross borders in 2023. Localisation will be increasingly linked to optimising content for search engines.

The Unbabel study found that 41% of international marketers use SEO localisation in all markets, and 40% in some markets.

For optimal results, the involvement of experienced copywriters, SEO specialists, and marketing-translators is a must. It will be interesting to see how this trend affects multilingual content.

One step ahead of your competitors: read why it pays to include SEO translations in your expansion strategy.

Localisation of SMS and e-mail marketing

This micro trend can be very important to brands. Companies have so far mainly localised websites, yet that will roll out to SMS and e-mail marketing too.

Increasing demand can be expected for the localisation of such marketing communication as an integral part of international eCommerce.

Translation tools exclusively as cloud solution

The future is in the cloud. In 2023 we should see a shift to cloud-only solutions for most translation software.

“Only established market leaders such as memoQ or SDL Trados still offer stand-alone licenses,” Milengo reports.

Cloud services have clear advantages, such as automatic updates, and translation management in one place with easy access by translator teams without installing software.

But the elephant in the room is data security. Cloud service providers prioritise protecting stored data, but there’s always some risk. So it’s wise to consider whether cloud solutions meet the security requirements, or whether it is better to install software on your own server.

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More localised data-driven content

Increasing number of companies will realise in 2023 that localisation plays a key role in achieving international goals. Businesses will plan strategies based on data to maximise results. Data mining costs minimise the risk of bad decisions. And communicating with local customers in their local language pays off as higher sales.

This is confirmed by a Unbabel study which canvassed 300 international marketers. 84% of respondents stated that localised content has a moderate to strong positive impact on sales growth.

Companies have found that an increasingly important factor in translation quality is effective cooperation with content suppliers. The 2023 trend is to seek out more direct and simpler cooperation.

A Smartcat study of 145 companies (including Apple, Siemens and Microsoft) showed that companies achieved better translation quality and faster delivery when – in addition to working with agencies – they have direct contact with translators whose specialisations give valuable insights.

Good or outstanding translation

Already last year concerns were raised in the translation ecosystem about increased price pressure. Inflation forces translators to raise rates, while machine translation pushes rates down. The uncertain situation threatens companies’ strategic planning. They respond by reducing budgets for multilingual content, although they should be doing the opposite to ensure global growth.

It's a dream come true for me to work for a company where I trust the people and the services 100%. Peter Drucker was right about one thing: "The best way to predict the future is to create it," which is why it'll be my pleasure to brief you on the future direction of the translation sphere as well as the hidden pitfalls of marketing.