The Miami Herald: MotionPoint
By Joseph A. Mann Jr.
When Best Buy wanted to attract more buyers to its Spanish-language websites in the United States and Mexico, it turned to MotionPoint Corp., a technology company based in Coconut Creek.
When Amtrak wanted to set up a U.S. website in German to serve the large flow of German tourists who like to travel by rail and plan their trips here ahead of time, it called MotionPoint.
And when Abercrombie & Fitch was dissatisfied with the performance of its websites in Germany, France, Spain and Italy, the company contracted MotionPoint.
In all three cases, the companies logged strong gains in online sales, MotionPoint said.
MotionPoint, founded in 2000 by three entrepreneurs, uses specialized personnel and proprietary technology to translate customers’ websites into foreign languages, customize these sites so they appeal to the local markets, drive potential customers to these sites and help boost online sales.
“While translating content is an important piece of what we do, it is a relatively small piece of delivering a functioning website in other languages,” said Chuck Whiteman, MotionPoint’s senior vice president of client services. “We know from experience that a website will generate three-times more revenue after we apply our optimization technologies and techniques. We’re really a technology company — a giant customization engine.”
The company, which handles many website translations for its customers — a difficult enough task by itself — said that it provides most if its value by improving websites and increasing their online sales.
The company was founded in 2000 with four employees (three co-founders and a web developer). The co-founders were Will Fleming, the president and CEO, Adam Rubenstein (COO) and Enrique Travieso, chief technology officer. The three started out in the 1990s with a successful, prepaid international phone card business, which they sold, and then began developing the concept of “virtual brochures,” an online product information brochure offered in multiple languages to large retail websites. Their first brochure client was Sears, which also became their first website optimization customer.
“While our virtual brochure concept did not take off,” Fleming added, “listening carefully to our clients and prospective clients enabled us to identify, understand and ultimately solve a large unmet need: the client-side IT integration problem in website translation, so that websites could easily provide information in the languages their customers actually speak and understand.”
But as the company grew, the partners identified another opportunity: website optimization. “We now offer far more than website translation,” Fleming said. “We globalize, localize and truly optimize client sites for each market, so that they achieve real business success in each market. We have unique expertise in this.”
Since its founding, the company has grown rapidly and today has more than 800 clients, including Delta Airlines, the Florida Lottery, Victoria’s Secret, J.P. Morgan Chase, The American Heart Association, Citibank, Tylenol, Humana, KFC, La Quinta, Sears, Best Buy, Amtrak and Abercrombie & Fitch.
MotionPoint now has about 200 employees representing some 40 countries, not including contractors who work overseas. Its workforce is made up of software developers, web engineers, quality assurance experts, information-technology support, translation account managers, editors and proofreaders as well as sales and administrative staff.
To meet the growth in demand for its services, the company last year hired 50 new employees and plans to hire 50 more in 2013. It also increased its office space from 12,000 square feet to its current 36,000 square feet in two Coconut Creek buildings. In 2012, MotionPoint helped clients set up more than 150 websites, and this year expects to do 150 to 170. It currently manages more than 1,000 websites worldwide for its customers.
CEO Fleming said that the company has logged eight consecutive years of revenue growth and has been profitable for more than six years. He also pointed out the company recently appeared for the sixth consecutive year in Inc. magazine’s 500/5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. While he did not release profit figures, INC. Magazine rated MotionPoint as No. 3,183 out of 5,000 and said that the company’s 2012 revenues were $33.4 million, up 102 percent since 2009 ($16.5 million).
What does MotionPoint actually do?
MotionPoint offers customers a package of highly specialized services.
“We provide technology tools that make linguists very efficient when working on a website,” said CEO Fleming. “We provide technology to enable clients to avoid a ton of back-end IT integration work in markets that require languages other than English, and we have unique expertise and tools enabling us to help clients localize and customize the translated sites for each of the markets they’re trying to serve.”
Starting with a client who wants to set up a new website either in the U.S. (in Spanish, for example) or in another country, MotionPoint personnel typically meet with the customer and develop a “glossary” of terms related to the particular products, audience and market, including search-engine optimization terms related to the company’s products.
The actual translation from English to whatever language is done by professional translators at a Miami-based firm, ProTranslating Inc., or another MotionPoint partner. The translation process is complex and must reflect regional differences in vocabulary while it accurately conveys the voice and spirit of a particular brand. For example, the Spanish used on a website in the U.S. would be different from that used in Spain or in Argentina, and American words and idioms must be translated or rewritten carefully to sound natural in a different language.
Using the translation and the customer’s existing website in English, MotionPoint specialists put together sample web pages and obtain feedback from clients. The pages are reviewed by in-house MotionPoint editors who have become specialists in a company’s particular product line and its markets, proofread and tested for functionality. MotionPoint uses IT and country specialists and programs to take into consideration cultural conventions for different countries, correctly format dates and times, properly orient text (for example, right-to-left) and convert currencies and other units of measure. Once the new website is carefully reviewed by MotionPoint and the client, it goes online.
“The whole process usually takes 60 to 90 days,” Whiteman said. And after a website is launched, MotionPoint updates text and graphics. Big retailers, for example, usually post weekly specials, so these have to be translated and posted. Once a major website is translated, MotionPoint can use its data base and technology to quickly update or revise sites.
MotionPoint’s key service, however, is website optimization. For example, Abercrombie & Fitch in 2011 had several market-specific translated sites (Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan and China) but believed they were underperforming, Whiteman said.
Abercrombie & Fitch engaged MotionPoint to optimize 16 sites and add 11 new ones in six languages covering three brands. A&F reported that international direct-to-consumer sales rose 46 percent during fiscal 2012.
How does this happen?
MotionPoint starts its website optimization by analyzing the customer’s site or sites, using technology and its own experts to find out what’s going on — tracking traffic, identifying users, buying patterns, looking at the potential market, etc. It ensures that the site is geo-specific, has content customized to the local market, and is attractive and appealing to local buyers.
MotionPoint then uses different search engines to attract buyers to each site from multiple markets (someone does a search for shoes, for example, and sees an ad from MotionPoint’s customer), applies best marketing practices and holds business forums to educate the client on the best ways to engage multilingual markets online.
Another MotionPoint customer, JetBlue, has been working with the company since 2008.
“They provide translation and optimization services, primarily for our U.S. and Latin American markets,” said Maryssa Miller, JetBlue’s director of E-commerce.
“Any user in any country can access our site by going to hola.jetblue.com or by clicking the Español link in our top navigation from the English jetblue.com site,” she added.
“We use their Spanish site sniffer to present an interstitial [pop-up] to users coming from Spanish sites like Google.es, asking whether they want to default to our Spanish site. U.S. and Latin America have responded strongly to the optimization work we’ve done.”
She noted that some figures suggest that traffic to the Spanish version of their website has increased by more than 140 percent but noted that some of that may be due to customers choosing a better site on their own.
“A number of companies claim to offer comparable services, especially in translation services,” Miller said. “But MotionPoint does much more than translation for us. They really are all about optimizing the performance of the site in other markets.”
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