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Is Innovation About To Wipe Out The Dinosaurs?

Is Innovation About To Wipe Out The Dinosaurs?

Retro Digital's Partner Program

The translation industry is famous for being known as backwards. It’s not something the language industry likes to admit, but it’s a stigma that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Although I have been to plenty of industry conferences before, this is my first one from “outside the industry”. Everything I do in business is built around the words innovation and inspiration, which is why I felt inspired to share my thoughts after a wonderful few days at LocWorld.

Seeing an industry you know and love from a different point of view was a mix of inspirational, surprising, and eye-opening. Having got through to the final of the Process Innovation Challenge and only just missing out on the top spot and coming second, it made me think. Is the localization industry really ready to step outside it’s comfort zone? And if not, why not? The other innovators taking part did an amazing job, but I did feel a bit like a fish out of water as the only “digital marketing” solution there amongst all of the translation-related software providers.

To start off answering that question about being ready for innovation, I’m going to give you a bit of context and take you back to the LocWorld’s Process Innovation Challenge. I wasn’t actually meant to be going to LocWorld this year – we were meant to be celebrating our anniversary. That’s when Dave Ruane got in touch to let me know we’ve made it to the final six shortlisted for the award. Having met at LocWorld, what better way to spent not getting married that at LocWorld, right?

In all seriousness, though, Innovation is one of the few things I can honestly say I’m really passionate about. I love pushing boundaries, I love the challenge of taking something old and making it new, and I thrive in an environment where I’m given the opportunity to change people’s mindsets, and most importantly, help. I think it’s amazing that Dave has created this platform to give industry innovators the chance to not only get noticed but to get their innovative ideas out there and seen by the people who need it. Which now leads me on to our idea…

The background to Retro Digital’s Partner Program

Back in 2017 when we set up Retro Digital, my partner and I realized that there was a problem. I came from a translation/marketing background, and he came purely from the digital marketing industry. We realized that LSPs are lacking the in-depth SEO/digital marketing knowledge to offer multilingual SEO solutions successfully, and marketing departments/marketing agencies are lacking the language skills and global knowledge to implement their local SEO strategies abroad. So we sat dow, and came up with a solution. Our partner program.

What is Retro Digital’s Partner Program?

We worked out that in order to start offering SEO properly, it would cost 76,400 USD (that’s how much it costs to hire an SEO manager for a year, and invest in all the technology). So what we set out to do was set up an SEO training program that was free so that it’d be accessible to everyone. Why? Because some of the best linguists we work with are from boutique translation agencies. And size doesn’t matter.

How does our Partner Program work?

We built our partner program around 4 pillars:

  • Knowledge – There are 3 parts to SEO and we give our partners a basic overview of it all, so that they know where their translations are going in the greater scheme of things.
  • Training – Teaching our partners about on-page optimization is of paramount importance, so that they know all the ranking factors behind their content, and that they can make sure all of the linguistic parts are complete.
  • Resources & Workflow steps – While setting up both the company and partner program, we realized that translation resources do not work for multilingual marketing, and marketing materials are not geared up for reaching global audiences. So, we created our own. We put together guides on multilingual SEO, SEO tools, etc. with globalization in mind. We’ve also put together guides for sales people so they know how to sell to marketing managers. Some are also free to download. We created our own workflows for handling keyword research, on-page optimization, and SEO as a whole, to make sure that it was suited both the translator and the client’s needs.
  • Technology – Marketing software is expensive (the initial set up works out at 8,400 USD for the first year). It’s an extra expense which is putting small translation agencies off investing in SEO properly, so we thought that we’d do all the technical parts for them – meaning they don’t have to invest.

As my presentation said…how the feck do we make money?

One of the biggest problems client’s have with translation is getting the budget to invest in it, as there are no real parameters to measure the ROI. The great thing about digital marketing, though, is that everything can be tracked and measured and proving that SEO works and makesan investment a lot easier. The only thing is that you have to offer a full-service SEO package to do so. And that’s where we make our money. The LSP offers SEO as a service to their end-clients. They do the content, and we do the off-page and technical optimization, plus the analytics. It’s a win win – LSPs offer a new service, they gain long-term contracts (as SEO contracts are normally for a min. of 6 months), and we do the bits they’re unable to do in-house. Plus if they want to offer native English, German, or Czech SEO (to name a few), we can do the content for them. It also means that we get to work with their end-clients in markets that we wouldn’t be able to get into, as we don’t have the language skills for these particular markets in-house.

Does Retro Digital’s partner program really work?

Although we’ve only been doing our partner program unofficially for the last 4 months, we’ve already seen some incredible results. We’ve trained 4 LSPs, who have gained a total of 11 end-clients between them on long-term contracts (which average around 6,000 USD each). And for end clients? Well, we’ve tracked their results and one particular client saw them get 19 keywords ranking #1-3. And in the process, they’ve saved 204,000 USD by not investing in SEO in-house (and yes, we’ve taken our costs into account here).

How can I join Retro Digital’s partner program?

If you’re interested in offering your clients a new service and you’ve got the time to learn about SEO, we’d love to hear from you. You can apply via our sign-up form. We’ll then have a call to find out more about you and take things from there.

Conclusion – Is the language industry ready for change?

I’ve spoken to many people to try and guage people’s oppion on this, and to find out if the industry really is ready for change or not. The reactions we got on the partner program during the challenge were either extremely enthusiastic, or slightly skeptical about the idea (as it was outside of their comfort zone). What I have noticed, though, are that there are sparks out there who are just as passionate about change as us. While a number of people in the industry don’t want to move outside of their comfort zones, it’s going to become increasingly hard to offer a valuable service that’s unique in any way. Translation technology is becoming increasingly accessible thanks to companies like SmartCAT and Protemos, which in turn is leveling out the playing field. In turn, companies are going to have to think outside the box to find their USP, and survive the digital revolution.

To the sparks of hope that are out there – at Retro Digita,l we will do everything in our power to support your ideas and push the industry forward. We’re on a mission to innovate and ignite those sparks of hope into the asteroid showers that killed the dinosaurs, and create a new age of globalization – for 2018 and beyond.

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