Opening up your online business to markets in Asia means reaching a massive and constantly growing new consumer base.

The number of Internet users across 35 Asian countries and regions stands at 1.4 billion people, according to Internet World Stats.  

That’s a huge number of potential customers – but it’s also a huge number of different languages and cultural divides, which is where an integrated translation application programming interface (API) can help you to swiftly and easily tackle those hurdles.

Here’s how it works.

The API Economy

The global online economy has been moving towards using APIs since the early 2000s.

If you’ve ever bought something from an independent company through Amazon, booked an Airbnb or Uber car, or watched a YouTube video embedded in another website’s page, then you’ve used an API.

It is essentially a set of code that allows that website to automatically connect and use a service from another website.

In the case of translation APIs, it can connect your website with a translation management platform, giving direct access to professional human translators and intelligent machine translation engines to quickly and efficiently communicate between languages.

The Asian region comes with its own set of challenges for online businesses using APIs. As Gustaf Alströmer, product manager, growth at Airbnb told Venture Beat in 2014, the inaccessibility of online services and social media like the Google Play store, Facebook and Twitter in China create challenges of their own.

But one way to leap over the language barrier is to integrate your websites with an API for a professional translation company.

Using a Translation API

If you’re running an online business with websites in multiple languages, then one of your biggest challenges will be managing the updating of website content and client communications in that foreign language.

(Read more...) could employ entire local customer service and content creation teams to manage each different region, language and culture – or you could connect your site to a professional translation service using an API.

Because APIs are entirely customizable, you can control what content gets sent for translation automatically and what doesn’t. You can also set the level of translation you need (whether that is a human translating each piece of content from scratch, or post-edited machine translation, where intelligent software translates the content automatically and then a human checks and corrects any mistakes – but more on that later).

You can also minimize your time spent sending content back-and-forth by having all your processes streamlined as much as necessary. 

How Does API Work?

One way to use an API is to have it directly connect the content in your website’s content management system (CMS), across a range of industry standard platforms (such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal), directly with translators working from a proprietary translation platform.

That means the content you select for translation is instantly whisked away to go through one of two processes: unique translation by a professional human translator; or through post-edited machine translation – where the content goes through a machine translation engine (similar to Google Translate, but trained to recognise and assimilate the terms and style specific to your industry) and then edited by a human translator to pick up any errors in the translation’s spelling, terminology, grammar, style or cultural context.

For your marketing materials, landing page content and any other website copy that has to be “on-brand”, you’re best off using human translators who are natives of your target language’s country, with previous experience in professional copywriting and experience with writing for your specific industry.

That way you can be sure that the resulting copy will be customer-friendly, correct and culturally attuned.

For quick updates, customer communications, social media messages, user-generated content (UGC) and other high-quantity content, you could use post-edited machine translation to reduce your costs.

By using an API to do all the back-and-forth of sending and receiving content for translation, you can cut out a huge amount of your organisation’s time spent on admin and communications, freeing you up to do what you do best: making sales to that huge Asian customer base!

*Image via Shutterstock

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