When Language Meets Data – One Year of Language Connect and THG
I’ve been involved in enough acquisitions to know that it takes a lot of work to deliver their intended benefits, and that often that first-year is the hardest. As we celebrate 12 months since The Hut Group acquired Language Connect, I can reflect back with genuine pride on what has truly been a match made in heaven.
A Fruitful Partnership
As one of the fastest-growing language service businesses in the UK, it’s pretty clear why THG wanted to acquire Language Connect. We have helped super-charge the international revenues at the eCommerce giant, which now stand at 66% of all sales across the flagship sites such as Lookfantastic and Myprotein. Where translation is too often viewed as an ancillary activity – and language services providers rarely see the impact of their work – at THG this is far from the truth. Through working with THG we have been provided with a unique opportunity to see the impact of our translations on all of the key site metrics that drive revenue in eCommerce – so, in turn, we can better advise other business on how to open up new markets.
THG is a data-driven business, and plugging into their powerful data analytics platforms has helped us see where opportunities exist for all-important marginal gains, as well as major gains in localisation for the brands we support, such as in SEO localisation. Tracking everything from bounce rates, session times, basket abandons, basket size, PPC, and organic and gross revenue has given us a unique understanding of what works – and what doesn’t. This insight has proved invaluable in ensuring the brands we work with gain even more out of the services we provide and has shifted Language Connect into the realm of data-driven localisation.
We’ve grown Language Connect by a huge 25% since acquisition against a sector growth rate of 6.8%, and are now working with fascinating businesses across new and exciting sectors. We’ve invested heavily in our technology infrastructure, gained ISO17100 and are on the way to ISO27001. Our US team have relocated to a larger New York office to facilitate the growth in the legal sector, and we’ve translated over 15 million words so far for THG alone.
I’ve been struck by the breadth of use cases where we have been able to make a real difference to the bottom line in growing businesses this year. Using a Thai interpreter to renegotiate a key supplier contract; translating labels into Chinese to reduce the delivery time for eCommerce deliveries into China; getting involved in new product development cycle to shorten the time to international market of new SKUs as they go live. The list is endless and it has been an incredible journey, but a journey that I sense is only just beginning.
Preparing for the Future
Technology investments and further capability development underpins the exciting future for us. Machine translation is coming and we’re investing heavily in it; whether for the market research sector and open ended responses or for large scale e-Discovery content in the legal sector. For the retail sector we’ll soon have 25 million words of translated content for MyProtein and Lookfantastic, presenting a unique opportunity to see for ourselves how effective MT can be, and how linguists will work as post-editors of machine-translated content in the future. Moving towards MT will take a leap of faith for everyone, and we’re ready to make the jump. It’s unlikely to be a panacea but we’ve got to try it for ourselves to see how best it can support other brands. For transcreation work it is still the human who will deliver what brands need, ensuring the brand message remains as powerful in another language as it did from inception.
So, the future of Language Connect looks both bright and exciting. Working with more amazing entrepreneurial retail brands, leading market research companies, pharmaceutical companies, legal practices and so many more across the globe is what keeps us focused on the things that matter. But it is the wonderful talent here at Language Connect that is the secret to this incredibly successful year post-acquisition; their endeavour, their care for you our client, their ability to find solutions. They have embraced change and have excelled. The best advice I ever received was ‘surround yourself with great people and you’ll thrive’, and this last year has felt exactly like that.
To all who have been involved in the last 12 months, thank you. To all who will join us on the next stage of our journey, stay tuned. The best is yet to come.
Quentin Naylor MBE is Managing Director at Language Connect.