• Ty Smarpat

Market Research Translation: The Ideal, Perfect World, Best Practices, Everybody Happy Approach

Seriously, if you haven’t worked with us before, we want to make your first experience seamless and fast. Here are some tips:

We know, from extensive experience, that accuracy and turnaround time are critical to the success of any market research survey translation project. Fortunately there are a few simple file preparation steps you can do to make submitting survey content for translation easy and fast. Most survey platforms in common use are similar in how they handle the survey questions and responses, and we have worked with most of them. And even if we haven’t, we can still quote, translate, review, and return them to you in a format that is compatible with your platform. Let’s look at a few simple steps you can take when packaging up content for a quote or to order a translation.

Outline the specs for your MR survey translation project

  1. Scope: Word count, open comment fields, visuals, other media elements, platform. If you send us your finished source files, we can do this for you.

  2. Languages

  3. Deadlines


  5. Platform preference

  6. Special requirements

Specify the languages and how they will be displayed and delivered

It is fine to simply list the languages you require, but you should also tell us what the target country or geographic area is for each. Different countries sharing the same language may have significant differences in meaning and usage. Mexican, Argentine, and continental Spanish, for example, are different enough that we will use translators who are native speakers and in-country for each. Chinese, the most spoken language in the world, is not actually a single language. There are Mandarin, Cantonese, Simplified Chinese, and a host of regional dialects. If you have questions regarding which to target, we can help.

Localization assures cultural relevance and helps with completion rates

Determine whether localization is an issue. The more culturally aware your survey developers are of the differences between cultures, the better your completions and accuracy of the responses will be. Language is intensely cultural and small errors can turn people off. If you’re getting a high abandonment rate in certain languages or markets, you may be making localization mistakes. Your language service provider should have safeguards in place to avoid cultural gaffes. If we suggest a content change there may be a very good reason. To help you understand cultural issues we’ve created an eBook for common languages including Brazilian, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, and Spanish. It can help your survey creators understand these issues. And if they have any questions about content we are happy to help.

Understand formatting and text length differences from language to language

Finally, it helps for your course designers  to understand how each language displays to the respondent when creating the survey. Arabic reads from right to left. Chinese languages display in visual characters. German can be 30% longer than the English original when translated. If there are questions about these kind of formatting issues, let us know so we can help you deal with them, before they are sent off for translation.

Determine how comments should be handled (there are options)

Are you using open-ended comment fields? There are some options for translating this content. You can do a full translation, which can add up for large surveys. You can rely on machine translation, like Google Translate, when simply getting at the intent of the answer is enough. We also offer the option of using a combination of human and machine translation to save you time and money. These options should be determined as part of the prep for translation.

Compare quotes on the same criteria

If you’re getting quotes from multiple language vendors, try and make your comparisons based on the same set of requirements. Some may include things that others charge extra for. The ability to turn things around on your timeline can be a challenge with less common languages. Set criteria for hitting deadlines.

How market research translation pricing works

The pricing of survey translation is relatively straight forward. A word count is taken and a per word charge is calculated for each language. Per word charges vary based on the language, with less common languages typically costing more. If subject matter expertise is required, or there are unusual confidentiality/security requirements, finding the right translators may be a challenge and they will likely cost a bit more. Your quote will also address any custom formatting, rush charges, etc., which may be quoted based on an hourly rate in addition to the per word rate. Comment translation is a separate issue and the price will depend on whether you can get by with machine translation or require a translation and review for each comment

Discuss any special requirements

Does your survey include video or any other non-text media elements? (in our experience this is rare) Translating these elements materially affects turnaround and cost. For example, it is generally much cheaper to do subtitles than dubbed-in dialog, but some cultures will not respond well to subtitles, affecting your completions and the quality of the results. Another example would be images with text embedded in them. If you can send the source files (image without text) we will not have to recreate these images to accommodate language differences. These issues should be covered upfront.

Determine review requirements

Translation review is the process where a second native speaker of the target language reviews the translation for accuracy, errors, and localization issues. Normally this is included in your quote, but if you have these resources, either on staff or someone in-country who can review, this should be specified to save you the cost of this process.

Talk to us

If you have questions about survey translation or your surveys include unusual elements, our project managers are happy to work with you to ensure that these do not negatively impact each project. They have extensive, day to day experience managing survey translations across many language pairs, within tight deadlines. Take advantage of this experience and your market research translation projects will go smoothly.