E.g., 03/31/2020
E.g., 03/31/2020

Marketing Automation: Usage and Tactics for Language Agencies of All Sizes

By: Konstantin Dranch (Consultant) - Translationrating.com

25 May 2017

Traditionally translation agencies aren’t big on marketing. Many feel it is easier to find business via personal contacts and recommendations than to build and maintain a lead-generating website. Most language service providers (LSPs) don’t even hire dedicated in-house marketing professionals and prefer to build sales / business development teams.

Marketing automation and inbound marketing can be powerful tools for language service agencies to increase their reach. These systems often require hefty upfront investment, take 6-8 months to build momentum, and don’t guarantee ROI. Hence their users in the localization industry are mostly large firms that have budget to spare.

That might change soon.

Marketing Automation Tools are Adapting

The success of Hubspot and Marketo has drawn many more software companies into marketing automation. As a result, there are dozens of new tools for small businesses that have most of the functionality for 5-10% of the cost of the original platforms. These include Getresponse, Drip, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign and even Wordpress tools such as CF7. In May, popular email platform MailChimp made their automation tools available even for free accounts.

Quite a few language companies use these lower-cost tools. (This information can be gleaned by examining publicly available page source content.) For example, here is a gated content page by Wolfestone, using a free CF7 plugin and offering a white labeled ebook to marketing agencies to help sell translations for cross-border ecommerce. In another example, Arancho Doc offers RFP templates to anyone that iss willing to “pay” with contact details. The form on that page is powered by LeadPages, a tool costing just $50 per month.

In 2017-2018, license costs will no longer be a barrier to marketing automation. Now, it’s only about the ability of the marketers to deliver content that matters, and using that content to grow business.

The following describes how large LSPs are using marketing automation tools and inbound marketing tactics, and why smaller LSPs should consider making the investment of time and resources to use these methods and technologies.

One in Five Large LSPs Use Marketing Platforms

Every LSP wants to grow, but it’s becoming increasingly harder to find new customers. Larger companies in our industry have started using marketing automation platforms to get leads and warm up potential customers for sales conversations.

At least one in five of the world’s top 100 LSPs are already using popular marketing automation (MA) technology. Below is a list showing the tools used by some of the largest organizations in the language industry.

CSA Global Rank

Language Service Provider









DXC Technology (HP ACG)

Adobe Marketing Cloud


Language Line Solutions


















Alpha CRC



Sajan, Inc (acquired by Amplexor)






AAC Global



Certified Languages International



MasterWord Services



Xplanation language services






Interpreters Unlimited






Interpreting Services International, Inc.



Dynamic Language












Method: To create this list, I scanned the websites of top 100 global language services providers created by Common Sense Advisory (2015) using an app that detects tracking codes of MA platforms inserted into websites. I also checked company home pages, blogs, and resource centers if present, because sometimes a separate CMS is used. In cases when this approach failed to detect an MA system, I looked at form source code manually. This approach allowed me to identify most systems, however, there may be exceptions.

The search was specifically limited to premium platforms like Hubspot, Marketo and Act-On that require a sizeable financial commitment: $10,000 - 30,000 or more per year.

Here is a similar list from the websites of top language technology companies:

Language Technology Company

















Why Should I Pay Attention to Marketing Automation Platforms?

With a starting cost of about $10 000 a year, marketing automation platforms have to offer a lot to their users to justify the costs. The most popular functions are lead tracking and scoring, workflows, and landing page builders.

Lead tracking and scoring: Once a visitor to a website with MA code fills in any form, the platform puts a cookie on their browser, and can follow most of their actions on the website such as which pages they view, downloads, and email opens. While this can be considered a “creepy gray area,” salespeople love it. Knowing what prospects have been looking for helps them start conversations with a relevant line.

image2015-5-12 15%3A2%3A30.png

Lead tracking and scoring in Marketo shows how clients interacted with company content.

Workflows: MA platforms can send emails and adjust prospect information in CRM based on different actions users take. For example, a marketer can send an offer to a list of people, then follow-up with quick reminders if they don’t open/click on the first offer. Or, if the prospect opens multiple pages and emails, the system can notify a company salesperson to call them and close the deal.

Visual workflow builder in Salesforce Pardot helps chain up emails based on interactions.

Landing page builders: When you buy an MA platform, the company designer creates you a set of page templates. These look exactly like your current website, but are actually operated by the MA technology under the hood (CMS, CDN, hosting, stock photo archive). As a result, marketers can quickly build new pages using a drag-and-drop editor, and connect these pages to workflows. All without help from designers and developers. It takes only a few minutes to make a page for a new ebook, event, or product. And visitors will see personalized text and images based on visitor data.  

You can make a page that says: “Mr. John Doe, this is just the book you need!” in no time.



Hubspot’s landing page builder - tags with contact name and company inserted into page text

Inbound Marketing: The Rationale Behind MA

The reason why companies invest into pricy MA software is to bring in more business. The idea that drives adoption of these platforms is Inbound Marketing, a term coined by the creators of Hubspot. As opposed to “outbound,” the aim of “inbound” marketing is to have clients come to you.

Here are some tactics of inbound marketing:

  1. Draw visitors to the website from search engines and social media. Marketers do this by writing copious keyword-driven articles with solutions to typical customer problems. “Which languages to localize my app into,” “Best practices for international medical device labelling,” and “Selling luxury items in China” are some examples.
  2. Convert unidentified visitors to known “leads.” Visitors are tempted with ebooks, webinars, and templates for documentation - all of which require “paying” with a business email address.
  3. Nurture leads with more content and offers over months of their business lifecycle. Marketers score leads based on engagement and expected revenue.
  4. Send over qualified leads to sales department, or close deals with them using email offers.

High-converting content is usually at the core of each inbound strategy.

Examples of Great Inbound Marketing From the Industry

“Definitive guide to website translation” - a 138-page ebook by Lionbridge. You can assess it after filing in this Marketo form. Submitting the form puts a cookie on the browser and tracks your behavior from the point of contact to closing the deal.

Up to 20 articles every month: This is what Moravia’s marketing department produces on a regular basis, probably the most prolific writing team in the industry. While articles are free and open to the public, visitors only have to provide an email address in order to add comments, register for webinars, and get downloads. Many are very willing to take this step as Moravia’s content is just that good!

XTRF's website greets visitors with an instant invitation to a webinar. This is a quick and easy way for them to convert visitors to leads right away, which are then tracked in the SALESmanago platform.

Industry Leaders Share Views on Marketing Automation

The benefits of marketing automation are clear, but don't just take my word for it. Read what these language industry sales leaders have to say about the importance of these tools.

Jessica Rathke

Jessica Rathke
Principal, L10N Sales and Marketing

"Inbound marketing is not exclusively for the "big boys" It is definitely something smaller- to -medium size LSPs should be considering and replicating on a smaller scale to increase visibility, automate personalised communications to prospective customers and ultimately generate qualified leads that sales teams need. It's a great adjunct for sales teams that need to close business faster than traditional outbound selling allows."

Konrad Chmielewski

Konrad Chmielewski
Head of Sales, XTRF

"The only thing I can say is that the number of leads generated has grown three times after we started with marketing automation. Investment into marketing automation is primarily time that needs to be spent upfront. Once configured, you still need to tweak it and allocate some time for maintenance. But even with that, ROI is very positive. For us, primarily it is the ability to prioritize leads based on their level of expressed interest.

For automation scenarios to work, I think it’s best to observe your audience and build lead nurturing tailored for them. That can be a challenge. Another challenge is connecting automation to your overall marketing and content strategy, that, I assume, already exists. If not, put in place before any marketing automation."

Veronique Ozkaya

Veronique Ozkaya
Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Xplanation

"We’ve been using Act-On for 2 years, and currently running the Professional version with about 5000 contacts limit. For us it’s more of an analytics platform.

First, it helps a lot to see who is doing what on our website. Second, we can track which messages connect with the audience both in email and social media channels. Recently we sent a newsletter about the new QA tool Xplanation developed, and it was very successful, with more than 30% open rate. When a campaign is successful, and our prospects, clients partners show high engagement, we send them personal follow-up messages.

We tried sending purely automated follow-up a few times, but quickly discovered this doesn’t work. If the email looks generated, or commercial, open rates drop dramatically. It’s better to personalize a lot, and never send a batch of mails to multiple people in the same company."


Large LSPs are actively using marketing automation tools and inbound marketing tactics to increase their reach. Changes to costs and offerings are making these tools more afforable to smaller companies, which is a great opportunity that should not be missed. Marketing automation tools and simple inbound tactics can help you and your team reach the next level of sales success in the language services world.


Konstantin Dranch is a researcher in the translation and localization industry and the founder of translationrating.com. He has held various roles in industry companies including a marketing management position, a technology consultant, and a conference organizer for national trade shows TFR and UTIC.