In today’s highly globalized world, it comes as no surprise that brands are expanding abroad and engaging with an increasingly fragmented customer base that spans a greater range of cultures, languages and regions. For marketers, this presents new opportunities to reach a larger pool of potential customers, but also presents some challenges, such as learning how to navigate a new market.
For life sciences companies, these challenges are further amplified by the unique industry landscape. Beyond factoring in market needs, life sciences companies also need to navigate regional regulatory requirements and remain compliant across a wide array of content, from product pages and labels to disclosures. Much of this content is highly technical, whether from a chemistry and pharmaceutical standpoint or a legal one. Thus, translating content requires translators who are not only fluent in their language but also have a firm grasp of highly technical terminology.
With all these complexities, it is easy to dismiss notions of expanding into a new market or begrudgingly accept translation as a necessary but burdensome evil. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. By adopting strategies and best practices, life sciences companies can ease the translation process and localize content more efficiently and accurately.
Start with a Strategy
Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content that needs to be translated, companies may find it easier to approach translation on an as needed basis. Using this approach, they can sidestep initial planning and instead dive right into the tasks at hand.
While this approach may sound reasonable, in practice, it can be detrimental to future translation needs. Considering each life sciences product requires multiple assets—marketing materials, product labels, product inserts, e-learning materials for the sales team, website copy and more—it is important to maintain consistency across multiple content types. An ad hoc approach to translation makes consistency incredibly difficult to achieve, especially as brands create and manage content in an increasing number of languages, and generate a larger quantity of content as expansion into emerging markets accelerates.
Taking the time to plan ahead reaps multiple benefits, the most notable of which is implementing translation memory. Translation memory is a dynamic database system that automatically stores words, sentences and text strings in the original source language. The database then expands and updates in real time as text is translated, creating an evolving database of approved translations. It also doubles as a valuable cost saving tool by enabling translated text to be reused.
For example, a disclaimer that appears in a marketing brochure, product webpage, print advertisement, and other content types is pulled from the translation memory database rather than being translated from scratch multiple times over. Thus, repetitive translations are eliminated and consistency is guaranteed, resulting in considerable cost reductions.
Additionally, by creating a strategy and plan, companies can categorize content as high risk, medium risk or low risk. High-risk content absolutely must be translated perfectly—such as drug inserts and product labels that describe a medication’s ingredients, side effects risks and dosage information. Low-risk content includes internal newsletters, where translation standards are less stringent and the content is not considered to be critical. Creating a tiered system can help reduce costs, as resources are then allocated appropriately based on the priority of the content, and translation processes are also adjusted.
The creation and implementation of both a style guide and glossary is yet another benefit to planning in advance to maximize content efficiency. Style guides capture corporate preferences for fonts, color, font size, brand tone and voice, and templates. Glossaries detail a company’s preferred terminology, which may differ by region. Developing style guides and glossaries and sharing them with a language services provider helps ensure consistency in terminology, tone and look across content types, and further accelerates the translation process.
Partner with Experts
To successfully manage both the breadth and depth of content, life sciences companies should consider partnering with a language service provider with experience and expertise in pharmaceutical translation. The language service provider can engage a global network of experts who have the necessary technical expertise to accurately translate content. Additionally, a provider can help streamline the translation process. Translation management systems that include SaaS-based platforms and automation capabilities can provide the scale, security, precision and accessibility required for effective global content management.
Creating a centralized architecture for content creation and management both enforces linguistic consistency and lowers overall translation costs. Further simplifying the process, some language service providers can connect into popular content management system (CMS) platforms to streamline the entire workflow and create a seamless process for producing final translated content.
Selecting a quality provider can reduce costs and ease the translation process. Because of language providers’ vast networks of translators and language experts, they can provide translators who are familiar with technical terminology, as well as experts in local regulatory requirements.
In sum, translating life sciences content can be a slow, tedious process bogged down by regulations and the sheer volume of content involved. However, companies can save a significant amount of time, money and headache by planning appropriately and putting language at the forefront of a product development strategy. Companies can take strategic steps, such as instituting translation memory, developing a style guide, creating a tiered approach to content, and partnering with a language provider to streamline the translation process without sacrificing quality. For content as vital as pharmaceutical inserts or clinical trial recruitment documentation, companies should take the appropriate steps to ensure all content is given the time, attention and thought needed for high-quality results.