Customer Insights

The 4 Levels of Partnering with a Translation Provider: Which Solution Does Your Company Need?

You will likely encounter different options for handling translation projects translation solution. From freelancers and Language Service Providers to full-service localization companies, understand what solution fits best given your company's growth curve and international requirements.

Evan Kramer's avatar
Evan Kramer

February 09, 2023


When your business is ready to expand globally, translating content is a necessary investment to connect with your target audience. 87% of customers surveyed by CSA Research stated they would not buy from an English-only website, while 75% of people explained they’re “more likely to buy again from a brand if customer care is in their native language,” even when they had a confident grasp of the English language.

Watch 5 min Webinar on the Total Cost of Web Translation with MotionPoint’s CEO, Evan Kramer.

Website localization and translation are the keys to growing your business and attracting multilingual customers. Where do you begin when it comes to developing multilingual content? Do you translate content in-house or trust your business content to a professional? Several levels offer solutions for translation and localization:

Level 1: NMT Solutions

Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is a cost-efficient and effective way to begin translating content. NMT is the most advanced form of automated translation software available. With recent advances in self-learning AI, deep learning, and big data, NMT systems essentially “learn” new languages and apply knowledge to produce translated content that’s more accurate than previous machine translation approaches.

NMT can make AI-translated language sound more human and less robotic. NMT also gets smarter over time. Like the human brain, NMT can generalize to make new conclusions and connections and learn new language pairs quickly. NMT is especially good at translating repetitive content that requires high accuracy, such as manuals, guides, and reference materials. Once trained, the translation speed is impressive, and NMT can be easily integrated into software APIs.

There are some disadvantages to using NMT. Neural machine translation has difficulties translating ambiguities, highly technical language, proper nouns, and rare words, which could be a problem when you’re ready to localize content for a multilingual audience. NMT also produces poorer results with small data sets. Finally, NMT can’t perform well without the expertise of human linguists and proofreaders. A human editor should always check NMT text because language interpretation requires a level of critical thinking and nuance that computers haven’t achieved yet.

NMT isn’t sustainable long-term when you have smaller translation projects or are ready to localize content for multilingual websites. The next logical step if you’re beginning to scale up translation efforts is to add freelancers to NMT projects.

Level 2: Freelancers + NMT

NMT is not without its flaws. For example, if you’re looking to localize content, you’ll need expert human translation to pair with NMT. This freelancer-NMT hybrid approach would allow a freelancer to look closely at the NMT-translated content for more accurate localization.

It may seem that the only freelancer you need is a linguist for the language you’re translating. Upfront, freelancers may seem like a cost-effective option. However, costs can quickly ramp up depending on your needs. Budgeting for translation goes well beyond paying a price per word for work. Published content for your business needs high quality, involving translating, proofreading, and editing. The assignment can also include hiring more people and steps to take to a finished product, which will probably cost you more than anticipated.

For example, the more dynamic content is on your website, the harder it is to translate and assign to freelancers manually. Freelancers don’t see how their translations will render in the translated site’s user interface (UI). They do not have “in-context translation” to understand handling Java and JavaScript content,  embedded text in images, and more.

Applying these decisions requires technical proficiency beyond most freelance linguists’ ability. Therefore, the next logical step is to look for a language service provider (LSP).

Level 3: Language Service Providers

A Language Service Provider (LSP) offers translation, interpretation, localization, and additional language services. These extra services can include digital content creation and multilingual narration. The structure, support, and expertise of highly-skilled LSPs produce quality results that save companies from costly mistakes from poor translations.

In the short term, there’s a higher investment going with an LSP. Treating this decision in the same way, you’ll likely consider other business decisions and partnerships – as a strategic pillar of your long-term strategy – an investment with an LSP can make much sense.

One massive advantage of hiring a professional language service provider is that they employ native speakers and professional linguists who have studied languages and have proven translation experience. An LSP will assign a dedicated linguist to your project so that person can learn and understand your brand.

With an LSP, however, the learning curve of getting to know your business happens only once. For example, a freelance Portuguese translator might do a great job translating your site into Portuguese. At the end of the project, they’ll understand your business and an LSP. But now, the Spanish market is where the next opportunity is, and you need a Spanish version of your website. So now, you have to source a Spanish translator, and the process starts from scratch, taking your time, focus, and more money out of your budget away from other aspects of your business. 

After translations are complete, will that LSP also be able to upload and maintain your website content to give you peace of mind that your products and services are reaching your target audience? The answer may be “no.” This is where you’ll need to “level up” to a Language Service Partner.

Level 4: Concierge Level Language Service Partners

The best translation provider views their relationship with you as a partnership. Partnering with LSPs may be able to help you, but it may also come at the cost of a one-size-fits-all solution that may not fit all of your needs. An ideal Language Service Partner will offer the technology that best supports your unique business processes. A partner will also care about the accuracy of your data and will work closely with you to correct errors, meet deadlines, and to problem-solve out of the box during high-stress situations. As your partner, they offer you more than you might receive from a partner. 

A Language Service Partner goes above and beyond traditional LSPs. Language Service Partners work with businesses to manage technology,  perform international SEO, host websites, and perform QA, among other services. These LSPs blend the expertise of certified linguists with technology to provide a complete partner experience.

What Solution Is Best For Your Company?

Evaluate Your Needs and Goals

When determining which partnering solution is best for your company, start with a thorough evaluation of your goals and needs. Then, set clear objectives for translation and localization projects. When working with a translation partner, you should ask whoever is handling the project to provide details about who will be involved in the process and what measures they will take to ensure your objectives will be achieved.

Download the Ultimate Guide to Owning vs. Partnering when Translating

There is crucial information you’ll need to provide to whomever you decide to partner with, which takes estimation and pre-work on your part. This information includes:

  • Estimating the volume of words or the number of documents to be translated
  • Identifying the source languages and target languages you need your content to be translated and localized to
  • Assessing timelines and the urgency of the project
  • Creating a defined style guide and formatting standards

Weigh The Options of Owning Translations vs. Partnering with an Expert

In a conversation about how to handle your translation project, you should always consider leveraging internal resources first. An advantage of owning your translations is that team members are familiar with the company’s products, processes, and culture and can quickly adapt to changes. They also directly access company resources, such as data and employees. However, there are several disadvantages to translating in-house. Owning your translations can be costly in terms of salaries and overhead costs, and it can be difficult to scale if the company undergoes rapid growth. 

Determine Your Position In The Translation Lifecycle

The translation lifecycle of a company is directly related to the localization maturity curve. Each of the five phases of the localization maturity curve has a strategic process to move a company to the next level until complete localization is reached. The five phases of the translation lifecycle are Manual, Automated, Agile, Centralized, and Expert.

As localization phases develop, companies mature and require higher levels of localization and more translation. The entire translation lifecycle requires consistent communication and collaboration for successful results. As a company becomes more mature and requires higher levels of international dependency, the need for more support from an LSP increases. 

Where Does MotionPoint Fit On The Hierarchy?

As a Language Service Partner, MotionPoint is the highest level of translation partners available. MotionPoint is a full-service Language Service Partner with concierge-level service that offers an accurate end-to-end translation and localization option. Working with MotionPoint allows for the most scalable, cost-effective, and efficient method of translation and localization for multiple and ongoing projects your business may need as you continue to grow. This is thanks to our Adaptive Translation™, a combination of translation memory, algorithmic translation, and artificial intelligence.


International business growth is complicated, but connecting with your consumers should be a top priority. MotionPoint offers a full suite of translation services and works with you to handle translation and localization projects, including finding high-quality professional linguists, quality control processes,  and critical decisions tailored to your needs.

Last updated on February 09, 2023
Evan Kramer's avatar

About Evan Kramer

Evan Kramer has over 25 years’ experience managing private equity and venture-backed companies focused on digital transformation, marketing, and technology. Mr. Kramer has delivered strong investor returns over four different exits.

Evan Kramer's avatar
Evan Kramer

Chief Executive Officer


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