Global Content Marketing: Avoiding Costly Miscommunication

Global Content Marketing: Avoiding Costly Miscommunication

This is from an interview with Charles McKeever of Open Source Marketer.

“Have you ever used Google Translate to convert website content from one language to another? I have and while Google does an amazing job of attempting translation, I just didn’t know enough about the language and cultural differences to know if the translation accurate or unintentionally offensive. Now imagine doing that on a much larger scale in multiple languages across multiple cultures. Things would go bad very quickly.

Well, today’s guest is Heidi Lorenzen, Chief Marketing Officer for Cloudwords, a Marketing Globalization Cloud. It takes all of a business’s marketing material and automatically prepares it for use in any other locality – regardless of language and local customs – and with complete attention to brand guidelines.

During our conversation, Heidi explains how to expand your global reach, avoid costly communication mistakes, and increase the productivity of your marketing team using Cloudword’s streamlined team communication dashboard.” – Charles McKeever

Watch the video, or here’s the full transcript:

Welcome back to Open Source Marketer. I’m your host, Charles McKeever.

Today’s topic is global communications. We’re going to talk about avoiding miscommunication in marketing and how to properly communicate in other geographic regions.

Joining me today to talk about this is Heidi Lorenzen, Chief Marketing Officer of CloudWords – the marketing globalization company that takes all of your marketing materials and automatically prepares them for use in other localities.

So, Heidi, thank you for joining me today.

HEIDI LORENZEN: Thank so much for having me, Charles.

CHARLES: You know, this is a really interesting topic to me because I’ve had personal experience with these types of situations where you’re trying to hit a market that’s not necessarily within your sphere of comfort and you’re trying to get all the materials translated and message things correctly and stuff like that. But my two experiences with it have been working with an outside resource – someone who translated something for me and then gave it to me and I didn’t really know what it said but I knew where it was supposed to go – and then, the other one was, you know, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, taking and putting something into Google Translate and then hoping that it was correct and then putting it out there and sharing it with the world.

So, let’s talk about CloudWords. What do you guys do and how is that experience different than what I’ve experienced?

HEIDI: Yeah. So, CloudWords was created to focus on the needs of folks like yourself – those who are actually in a position of needing to get their content into other markets and wanting to maintain global brand integrity, wanting to do it faster, wanting to do it more efficiently, et cetera.

Up until CloudWords was introduced on the scene, the translation industry was dominated by the translation service providers. They were creating efficiencies for the translators. It’s still a very important piece of the process. But nobody was really thinking about the needs of the marketer and, you know, globalization is just a must-do now. You know, it’s not a nice-to-have. You know, the world is flat ten years ago, and even then, if somebody spent a lot of time overseas, I thought that was already old news – that was really old news.

So, you know, if a marketer is not thinking consistently about “how am I optimizing growth for my company across the world?” they are leaving money on the table and they’re not really, you know, doing their company the full service that they can be. So, CloudWords aims to kind of address it from that perspective, building in the efficiencies that will allow marketers to do all of the marketing that they want much easier, much more simply, for less effort on their part as well as, you know, less financial resources.

CHARLES: Yeah, I know exactly what you’re saying because it doesn’t really matter what space you’re in. I mean, I’ve talked to people who are doing online marketing and who have a product or service and they’re just trying to hit another market or even app developers who are most comfortable in their native language but then, when they look at the market of people who are downloading their apps, they’re like, “Well, my apps get downloaded in Brazil or Germany or France or whatever,” and they know that, if they could target that market better, they could make more money off the same effort, the same level of effort that they’d put in to developing the app.

So, yeah, exactly – knowing that you can reach a much broader audience is really important.

So, give us kind of an overview of how CloudWords works. It’s a tongue twister, isn’t it? You had said something a moment ago that kind of piqued my interest – “efficiencies.” How is that more efficient?

HEIDI: Yeah, there are a couple of ways that we directly impact that.

So, anyone who’s done any sort of translation, especially if it’s a larger company, you know there are a lot of stakeholders. There are the corporate marketers, there are the marketers in all the regions, there are the translation service providers that you work with. And, very often, there are multiple versions of those across the world because everybody’s got their favorite because, you know, the right translator for their particular language, content type, et cetera.

And all of your content lives in all sorts of places, right? Some content is going to sit on somebody’s desktop, some content is going to sit in the marketing automation platform, some is going to be in your web CMS. So, it’s existing in all of these places and you have all these stakeholders. Another stakeholder are the reviewers which is an important part of the translation process.

As you were saying, sometimes you’d get something back and you just don’t know, “Is this right? Am I going to be saying really wrong things to my market?” and so you need to have somebody with local knowledge of not just linguistically, is it accurate, but is it right for that particular market? You know, Chinese in Taiwan is different than Chinese in Hong Kong is different from Chinese in mainland China.


HEIDI: So, you’ve got all these reviewers, you’ve got all the stakeholders, you’ve got all these technology platforms that are hosting your content. And so, what CloudWords does is, first of all, on the people side, we offer an opportunity for the team to collaborate a plan around what is going to be done in localization – whether it’s specific projects or whole campaigns which is very often the case for marketers. You know, you’ll develop a campaign with multiple pieces so the collaboration is one piece.

Then, we automate the entire workflow. Once somebody has the content that needs to be translated, it automatically gets sent off to the translation service provider and then it triggers those off for them so that they know they’ve got something to do and it keeps them on time. And then, when that’s done, it’ll go to the reviewer and then whatever steps. You can customize all of the steps within CloudWords – you know, whatever you need to do within your company.

Whatever those steps are, they’re all automated and alerts are sent out if somebody hasn’t done something. It’s very clear what your tasks are. That’s a huge piece of the efficiency creation.

And then, another piece that can sometimes even be more dramatic is that we integrate with the technologies that marketers are using. So, if they have developed an email campaign and a landing page with all the forms and everything in their automation platform – you know, like Marketo or (00:07:29 unclear) – that sucks the content out from there and then, after it’s translated, automatically goes right back into their marketing automation platform in the format, in the template, that they’re preselected. And so, sometimes, France may have a different template than Japan, et cetera.

And so, what marketers had to do previously was they’d be emailing their content off to the translator, they’d get it back, and they’d be copying and pasting it back into each template and that just takes hours. I mean, we had a customer tell us that, since starting CloudWords, I mean, they’ve gained back literally 50 percent of their day.


HEIDI: And it is really dramatic. I mean, most people just don’t even recognize how challenging localization can be. They just think, “Oh, yeah, that’s something I’ll just check off the list.” But it’s a very intense process. So, that’s another way to create the efficiencies.

CHARLES: Those types of things sound simple enough. I’ll just send it to somebody and they’ll send it back and I’ll copy-paste it, you know? That’s the way that people like to think of things. But the multiple steps and the communication and all of the things that you just mentioned, those add up. Then, the next thing you know, you look up and your whole day is gone.

HEIDI: Right. And you do that for ten languages which is not uncommon for most companies. So, you know, repeat what you just said ten times.


HEIDI: So, yeah, there’s a lot there.

CHARLES: Okay. Before we move on, I want to move on to sort of the intrinsic costs of not doing this efficiently. But before we leave that, I want to talk about, it sounds like there’s a funnel there for being able to put the content in and have it managed and have everything automated and stuff like that and then be able to have it sort of end-to-end from the beginning of the project, all the way down to the email templates and things like that. Is it still necessary to have a person in your office who is familiar with the language? Who is familiar with the customs of the locality? Is that still a requirement?

HEIDI: Well, I would always say that it’s best to have someone who doesn’t have to be on your team. You can leverage an in-market partner. You know, sometimes companies will work with PR agencies or other agencies overseas to make sure they’re looking at it. So, I’m a proponent that it’s always best to do that.

Now, many of our customers have gotten to the point though that, with their translation service providers that they’re working with, that they’ve gotten to know their business so well that they get to the point where they really know, you know, “This will be fine when we get it back.”

The other thing that CloudWords offers is a big part of ensuring the quality of the translation. There’s something called “translation memory” and most people haven’t even heard of that. In fact, we did a survey of marketers and 80 percent had never heard of it. I spent ten years of my career overseas, worked behind a lot of vocalization projects, and before joining CloudWords, I had never even heard of it.

What translation memory is it’s a repository of all of the words, phrases, et cetera – strings of content as they’re called – that you’ve already translated and, if you’ve already translated them once, it means that you never have to translate them again so you never have to pay to have those words translated again and you never have to wait the extra time and you can also ensure the quality. So, you know, “Okay. This is the correct way of translating X.” But you know it will also be translated that way going forward.

CHARLES: So, I’ll imagine a good example of that would be your tagline for your company. You know, it never changes so, therefore, you know that’s also translated correctly.

HEIDI: That’s correct. And the other thing Cloudwords centrally hosts a company’s glossary and style guide so any translation service provider that you’re working with would access that same content all the time and, therefore, be able to keep everything they do on brand, on message, et cetera.

CHARLES: Okay. All right. Yeah, I can see how that right there would make it more efficient because it would bring in, you know, just being able to not have to redo something over and over again.

Okay. I know that I saw on the website, there’s a bidding process. So, take us through how that process works, of how bidding works, and let’s also talk about, you know, the hidden costs of not doing this right.

HEIDI: Yeah, sure.

So, on the bidding process, typically, what marketers will do is they’ll send out bids to different translation service providers saying, “Hey! I need to have this content translated. How much is it going to cost? When can you have it back to me?” et cetera. They’ll get back a bunch of different quotes that will not always be apples to apples, but they would compare and then make a decision, “Okay. I want to go with this translation service provider.” But, again, it’s a very manual process and also not on par – not apples to apples.

So, what Cloudwords does is we automate that process so we just put in what you need to have translated. You just check off the boxes that the translation service providers that you’d like to send it to and you can send it to the ones that you love and have already been working with, and you can also find additional translation service providers, if you’d like, in our marketplace of service providers. And so, you can send this out to bid and then, automatically, the bids would come back and they would all be each aspect of the bid – the price of the work, the total cost, the time frame, all of that – you can compare line by line against each other and make the best decision.

Now, typically, we find there are customers who do get significant savings this way, and you don’t necessarily always want or need to take the lowest cost bidder. It’s not always all about price. You need other considerations. You know, experience with certain content types or languages or whatever other factors. But, regardless, you then get to see and make those choices yourself of what really matters for you. We have one very large global brand – perhaps one of the most visibly recognized global brands in the world – who, when they started using Cloudwords, they discovered that they were not being charged market rate for their localization. Just by going through this bidding process, they reduced costs by 30 percent of just the hard cost of the translation.

Again, it’s not always about cost, but there is a lot of inefficiency. $34 billion a year last year was spent by global corporations on localization and that’s a lot of money that’s being thrown at a process that typically has been very inefficient. So, whether you’re creating efficiencies on the time side or the money side, you’re talking about a big savings.

CHARLES: It’s funny that we tend to show up and think that this is just the way things are just because, you know, we discover the process and we learn all the players and then, regardless of the topic, we think, “Well, that’s it.” And, as you’re saying, reshuffling the deck on that process and saying, “Okay, look, we can do this more efficiently, can lower the cost and not necessarily sacrifice the quality,” I think that’s genius. I know, in the past, I’ve gone through and submitted the exact same document to several translation services – online translation services – just to see what I would get back as far as quality and very different results across the board. So, being able to pull that into one place and know that you’re going to be able to get a good quality product and that you’re going to be able to know what your costs are upfront, that’s great.

HEIDI: Yeah.

CHARLES: Let’s talk about the automation part of this because I know that the part that I’m really interested in is kind of the workflow of things and also I want to talk to you about the collaboration piece because, you know, it’s not just about you or me. It’s about the people that we have to communicate with. So, tell us about that.

HEIDI: Yeah, and that’s actually ties to the cost. You referenced earlier the hidden costs. So, these costs that are most visible are the translation costs and so, you know, obviously, improving that helps. But, if you’re having a lot of marketers around the world spending a lot of their day in the tedium of copying and pasting content and sending emails and managing this entire process by what usually is Excel spreadsheets, you know, it’s kind of really 1990s type of technology.

CHARLES: Well, now they’re in Google, right? So, now they’re more efficient.

HEIDI: Yes, exactly. Yes, oh, yes, precisely. Oh, modern days!

So, that is a hidden cost that people just don’t think about in this process and so that’s why the automation is so important because, if you’re moving the process along much faster, you’re ultimately able – as a marketer – to probably run more campaigns, probably run more creative and effective campaigns, and reach more markets. And, if you’re doing that, that hits upon the other – what I would call – “hidden costs of localization” if you’re not doing it right.

If you’re putting up with the old, slow, inefficient processes, you’re probably coping by not localization as much as you want or communicating in headquarter language and I’ve seen that done more often than I care to admit. If you’re not doing all those, there’s a huge opportunity cost with that. You’re not going to be fully helping your company grow in a given market if you’re not marketing enough or well – or at all – in those markets. So, those are the opportunity costs.

Going back to the workflow and the efficiencies, typically, I’d say an average time to market savings that we offer our customers is about 60 percent meaning that, you know, we have one customer, for example, Coupa Software who was a typical localization project. It was taking them over six months – six to ten months actually in some instances – and, after Cloudwords, it was down to three to six weeks.


HEIDI: And so, you think about that in terms of market impact, right? Let’s say you have a product launch or whatever message it is that you want to get out to the market. If you’re getting it out three weeks from today versus ten months from today, you know, that’s almost a year’s worth of B2B lead generation and just consumer purchases and whatnot. So, it’s a lot of missed revenue and a lot of money left on the table.

CHARLES: I think it’s easy for people to understand because, you know, something is created, it needs to be translated, then it needs to be reviewed, and then, at some point – and, invariably, with any project – changes comes up and then they have to go back through that process. And, if it takes, as you say, six months for things to roll through, I mean, that’s, yeah, definitely missed opportunities. You can’t turn on a dime like that. You can’t be as competitive as you want to be like that. So, Cloudwords sounds like it helps in that respect as well, just being more competitive in your marketplace.

HEIDI: Exactly.

To give the perfect example, I mentioned I spent time overseas and one of those roles was as Asia Pacific marketing director for Polycom based out of Singapore. At that point, there are a couple of stories there, we were literally the fastest-growing market for Polycom around the world. But there was, on the product side, not all of the localization priorities were being given to the AMEA market So, even though we were faster growing, there was kind of a mismatch in strategy because all the localization investment was being spent on AMEA and not nearly as much allocated to Asia Pacific. So, as a result, our product wasn’t localized. You know, the user interface wasn’t localized in Japanese which literally was, within Asia Pacific, the largest revenue contributor despite the fact that it wasn’t in Japanese.

However, our competition was eating our lunch in Japan because they did have a localized user interface. And, if we’d only had, at that time, a localized user interface, you know, we would have had that huge share because we were definitely, by that point, the superior offering by far. It was just getting dinged on the localization piece. So, it’s a huge competitive consideration.

CHARLES: Excellent. Well, tell us real quick about the collaboration piece. If you could, just give us an example of one piece that kind of helps people coordinate with each other.

HEIDI: Yeah, sure. So, just the very fact that you’re bringing all marketers into one system to collaborate around the global campaigns – again, let’s use a product launch as an example – there’s a new product, it’s going to all these different markets so having everybody in a system determining what are the elements of the campaign for the launch – you know, the emails, the data sheets, the press release, you know, whatever elements are associated with a campaign – jointly reviewing that in advance and determining, “Hey, yeah, this is relevant to our market.”

So, in some instances, that product may not be going into certain markets or wouldn’t be appropriate so you need to know that. But that upfront collaboration – getting everybody’s input upfront to see – and then everybody can also then track their own individual status of each element in their own language. So, anybody with a vested interest in French, for example, could go in and say, “Oh, okay. It looks like the website translation is on track but, you know, the emails need some attention so let’s address that,” so you can kind of see at a glance.

And then, the CMO or whatever marketing leader can go in and see at a glance, get a dashboard view of the status of the localization of every single element, every single language, every content type of the campaign and make sure that it’s kept on time and that everybody’s in synch. So, it’s that being in synch that has been the Holy Grail for global campaigns and, you know, it’s been very hard to do until Cloudwords.

CHARLES: So, not only communication with your market but also internal communications so that things run smoothly and people understand what’s happening and where we are with the process and things like that.

HEIDI: Absolutely right.

CHARLES: Yeah, a common dashboard, project status. I know that earlier you talked about spreadsheets and disconnected emails and all those types of things. I mean, you can spend a lot of time just going through emails and saying, “No, no, no, that was my previous email,” and then you finally have to have a phone call and then there’s got to be a conference call because everybody has to have the information.

So, yes, having one common place where everybody can just get a snapshot, it’s beautiful. I love that. Excellent.

So, let’s say someone has a project today and they’re kind of, you know, dissatisfied with the process itself, what’s the best way for them to get connected with Cloudwords?

HEIDI: So, you could send an email to Visit Those are the two fastest ways. We will be eager to reach out and, obviously, I’d love to talk to anybody directly, too. I love talking about global marketing – as you can tell, having done a lot of it myself – and I can be reached at

CHARLES: Excellent. All right. Well, thank you very much. That sounds simple enough.

Thank you, Heidi, for sharing some time with us today and explaining more about how this opportunity works.

HEIDI: Great! Well, thanks again for having me and, as we like to say here, we’re out to help marketers rule the world. There’s a lot of opportunity out there and we really see them as being at the forefront to being able to help their companies seize that opportunity. So, we’d like to help them rule the world.

CHARLES: All right. Well, there you go. You heard Heidi. Visit now and be sure to share this video with someone who needs localization for their content and wants to save their time and their energy and their resources because they will be happy and you will be a superhero.


This video first appeared in Open Source Marketer.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: