Evan Kramer, CEO of MotionPoint, a tech-driven translation and localisation company, discusses the differences between translation and transcreation and the benefits that going beyond simple translation can have.

He also explains the impact translation can have on conversions and why you should measure their impact to determine the level of translation required.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Evan Kramer – MotionPoint

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Evan Kramer

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today.

Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I’m joined by Evan Kramer, who’s the CEO of MotionPoint. Welcome to the podcast, Evan.

Evan: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Mike: So, Evan, I mean, you’ve done quite a lot of things, you know, in your career, tell me about your journey and how you’ve ended up running a MotionPoint.

Evan: Yeah, I mean, I think for your audience that has a marketing focus, you know, my career is quite interesting, and how I ended up, you know, getting into marketing, and then ultimately a CEO. I, originally, when I graduated college, back in the mid 90s, I was in finance and accounting. And in the late 90s, when I went back to graduate school, the Internet was taking off and got bit by that, that digital marketing bug with with internet companies, and so launched my career, really getting into startups, working for venture capital groups, and working for venture capital backed startup companies, all really interested in digital marketing, so focused on SEO, paid search, and in all those emerging areas, you know, back in 2000, in the early 2000s, and so I had the, the opportunity and privilege to launch a few companies to work for some incubated businesses or even venture backed businesses. I helped launch, you know, autotrader.com, back in the late 90s, for Cox enterprises, and then was able to go off and launch another online automotive business. And so really, for the first, you know, the early 2000s, really focused within direct to consumer based internet businesses, where I was leading marketing and really doing a lot of cool stuff. Because, you know, you were able to figure out things like SEO before Google really put the clamps down on the grey areas of that sort of profession, or how do you optimise paid search. Whereas today, you know, there’s so much automated tools that that human trickery doesn’t really exist anymore. And so I’ve kind of worked my way through different companies, to the point where I became a CMO Chief Marketing Officer for about a decade across several, again, high growth businesses that were PE or venture backed. One being a home security company in Philadelphia that we ultimately sold to direct TV, where, you know, we were able to really become a pioneer in customer acquisition costs for home security, that was a CMO for a software company, again, out of Philadelphia, that was targeting consumers that wanted to inventory or organised receipts expense reports through software, and then became, you know, CMO at a global IT company, really learning about and first time getting indoctrinated into global marketing, and global digital marketing. And then became a CEO, one for an education technology company that we ultimately had a really great growth story and sold the business very successfully. And then another marketing services company.

And then now finally, at MotionPoint, this is my third time as a CEO, all for a private equity backed company. So you can see how my journey, you know, really took the marketing track and my dream my career and then, you know, then rolled that into a leadership at a CEO level.

Mike: And it’s interesting, I mean, I know your company, MotionPoint is headquartered in Florida, but you’re based in Detroit, and we don’t have many people from Detroit doing marketing technology. So as Eminem kind of skewed my view of Detroit I’m sure it’s much more exciting and, you know, more high tech perhaps I think,

Evan: well, I mean, if I’m sure with Eminem, you hear an eight mile I’m near 14 mile, so we’re six miles away from all that. But I went to school at the University of Michigan. So my heart I’m not from Detroit originally, but my my wife and her family is from Detroit, and we recently moved back. And so I think there’s a lot of innovation coming out of Ann Arbour, and a lot of the universities that emigrates into Detroit, we have a philanthropist that started a large company out of Detroit called Rocket Mortgage. So you’ve heard that Dan Gilbert, who’s invested a tonne of time and money into the city, and right up to COVID. I think there was a real almost a mini Silicon Valley sort of harvesting in in downtown Detroit. We have now have Detroit Venture Partners and a whole wing of venture. So what’s interesting about Detroit that a lot of people don’t know is the size of it, right? So from a geographical standpoint, You could fit San Francisco, Boston and Manhattan all into Detroit. So, you know, just the enormous landmass that’s here, the development, the real estate development, the emigration, I think, is starting to really grow tremendously. So it’s kind of a cool story.

Mike: That’s, that’s pretty posted. It’s nice to hear. Let’s move on and have a look at what you’re doing, though. And what MotionPoint does. So do you want to explain very briefly, you know, what MotionPoint is and what they do for your, for your customers?

Evan: Yeah, so MotionPoint, is a pioneer in what I like to call managed outsource translation. So what we do is we take over any website or web translation needs for companies all over the world, right. So if you need to translate your, your website, or your digital assets into another language, for multiple reasons, we have a technology platform that we pioneered called proxy that enables us to completely manage that solution, while your marketing department internally at our customers can focus on marketing. And then everything they do from a marketing perspective just gets automatically translated, and marketed into a translation experience for that particular entity. So so that’s really what we do, there’s really two types of main customers that we focus on. Given that we’re in the US, obviously, we focus more on US based companies. One one use case is where companies want to market globally, right. And so there, we do have fortune 500 brands that are in as many as 30 different countries, you know, operating in 40 different languages. And so we operate and manage their entire experience. There’s other the other persona or the other big use case, that we manage our domestic companies that for compliance reasons, or, you know, for the Hispanic community need translation, either into French, Canadian, or into Spanish, right. So you think about financial services, you know, banks or credit unions, hospitals, health care, government and utilities, you know, these are companies that need translation to service, the entire customer base, as well as, you know, regulatory compliance reasons. So we do that on an on behalf of them. And so those are sort of the two different the mix of types of customers that we have.

Mike: That’s interesting. I mean, you mentioned you focus more on the American customers, is that because it’s your local market is easier for you? Or is that because there’s a difference between, you know, American companies and European companies when it comes to translation?

Evan: Yeah, that there’s quite a difference, right, the EU and you know, even east of that the translation market is much more mature, right, the US as as a melting pot, really, probably only for the last 20 years has really been thinking about needing translation. And so, you know, there’s a lot more companies and a lot more competition across the pond, right, that have required different levels of service. And a lot of the companies, you know, in the EU, for example, you know, want to work with more local vendors. So I think the opportunities are a lot different, the maturity of the lifecycle that the companies are in, are different, where we seem to rarely Excel is earlier in the translation lifecycle of the company, right. So if you are, you know, just entering global marketing, right, and you’re a US based company, you’re going to come to a MotionPoint, because you don’t know a lot about translation, you don’t have the resources, and you want to outsource it first. And so we’re sort of that first line of defence. You know, once you’re in 20, markets, there’s a lot more optionality about how you think about your total cost of ownership of translation, right? You can hire a lot of localization managers, do more in house have a mix of outsource versus INSOURCE. And some were thinking about domestic US based companies, they’re most of them are earlier within that maturity of that translation lifecycle. So there is a big difference between the two.

Mike: That’s interesting, I guess that there’s a really clear explanation of where you sit in that translation market. I’m interested because you mentioned you know, things like financial services, and obviously, a lot of people who listen to this podcast are companies that are doing technical products, you know, where you have a technical requirement, whether it’s to better explain something in an engineering language, or whether it’s to meet, you know, the legislation when it comes to financial services. I mean, that’s hard with translation. How do you make sure you get that translation? Right?

Evan: You know, there, there’s a lot of there’s a spectrum of quality of translation, right. And at one end of the spectrum, you have what I’ll call generic machine translation, right? And that’s the Google translate to the world and it I’ll even call it the chat GPT is of the world we’d come back to that and talk a little more in detail about about chat GPT and open AI. But on the other end of the spectrum, it moves more towards human quality and linguists, right. And so that that spectrum is around more literal translation, right? If I give you a document with 1000 words, I need you to translate those words. The next level of quality is what we call trans creation. And so if you have those 1000 words that you want to translate, let’s say from English to French, Canadian, fully translated human with editing, is what you do, but transcription is taking it to the next level where you localise the French Canadian words from English, meaning that it has a localised slang and glossary involved in how it is said not just what is said, right. And so there’s a large spectrum. And so when you talk about our clients, what we like to do is we work with them over a long period of time we try to get samples, we use the same linguists, we measure quality by having what’s called a two step review process where there’s a second linguist that oversees the first. And so we try to hold to a pretty high standard. Now, where technology doesn’t really exist today that is really coming really fast is how do you measure that quality more quantitatively, right? And say, Okay, well, that’s a 10 out of 10, or an eight out of 10. And so that’s really where there is a lot of innovation happening. Up till now, it’s been a lot of sort of client acceptance of the quality and a lot of QA review. But to automate that and score, the content, I think, is where there’s some innovation happening.

Mike: It’s interesting, I love the way you’re making a distinction between translation and transcreation. I mean, we talk to clients and say exactly the same thing, you know, translating the words may actually not carry the same meaning and different languages have the same emphasis. So I think that’s really important. What you talked about review, and that still being a part of the process? I mean, how do you handle this, this process of the customer reviewing your translations?

Evan: Yeah, I mean, what we do is we we give them access to all the translations in real time. And so they’re able to review it, but I think where we’re MotionPoint stands a little bit apart is we actually have a QA team. So where the client is obligated to review where they want to, we also do another QA on our side, when we when we provide the content. So it’s another benefit of using MotionPoint versus going direct to a linguist or doing it in house. So that’s that extra layer.

Mike: That sounds great. I mean, I’m sure that that that definitely helps remove some of the problems makes it easier for the clients to check. So that sounds like a really good approach. When you get customers and they start using MotionPoint. What impact do you see in terms of the growth of use of their website? I mean, you know, are you seeing people becoming more engaged and more likely to convert? Or do you see a much bigger impact with translation?

Evan: Yeah, I think I think it’s a bit varied. And I say that for the reason of attribution, let’s call it right. So if you’re, if you’re talking about needing it for for marketing and growth, right, obviously, you can measure traffic, right? And you can say, Okay, well, we’re getting more traffic, if you’re a commerce experience, you can measure sales. And so we do see lifts in that, but where there’s a little bit of a blur is around attribution, right? So you know that, and from a marketing perspective, it we’re in a multi touch world, and that happens with translation as well. And so how do you know that if someone came in through the origin site, and then went through the German experience, but then came back through, you know, the origin site to buy, you know, so there’s still not we’re still early in that, in that and with respect to measuring that? So I do think that that, again, this is a really interesting category with a lot of, you know, technology needs and innovation that we’re addressing, and and some of it is, you know, how do you measure success when it comes to these translated sites? The other part of the answer is around quality versus growth, right. So the, in the past, you really only had access to human quality, which is very expensive, right? So if I want to translate one word in Spanish, it could be anywhere from, you know, 10 to 20 cents. But if you want to translate one word in Spanish, using generic machine translation, it might be a fraction of a penny. And so if you launch in 20 markets and find that two of those markets are not getting a lot of traction, you also can reduce your investment in those markets by reducing the cost Quality and how much you invest in the translation without having to give up the translation experience completely.

Mike: And that’s interesting. And so presumably there, what you’re ultimately looking to do is score the quality of the translation and look at, you know, whether the better quality, produces better results is that ultimately what you’re trying to do, and then work out whether the cost justifies the the revenue you get.

Evan: Exactly. And it also depends on sort of the client, right? If you are a luxury brand, right, the risk of you leveraging anything better than great human quality, could really impact your experience and your brand experience, you know, if you are, you know, an informational site, that’s not, you know, generating, it’s not a lead generation site, there might be more appetite to reduce the quality. And then the third is sort of a hybrid, where maybe you are, let’s say, you’re a fashion site that requires high quality, but you have a lot of areas of your site that maybe have deep links, or at very low traffic, you can reduce the quality in those areas of the site to kind of be more cost effective.

Mike: Especially if it sounds like you know, one of the big pitfalls is, is not matching the quality to what, what’s needed. I mean, are there any other mistakes you see people making when they’re, you know, first embarking on translating their, their website or other content?

Evan: Yeah, I mean, I think that the misconception is that translation is about cost and how much the supply of the translation words itself, cost. But there’s a lot more on the technical side of translation, right? So when you talk about a website, you’re dealing with front end frameworks, and I remember back in the early 2000s, you know, everything was, you know, HTML is pretty straightforward. But we’ve really evolved over the last 20 years and the complexity of websites and and how much is embedded in JavaScript and JSON and the different types of front end frameworks. And in fact, you know, WordPress, for example, which is the largest market share of any CMS, in the world, you know, has multiple versions and updates ongoing. And so the ability to just extract, import and export content and translate it is, is really complex, right? And so being able to identify all of the changes, change content that needs to be translated, the ability to get it back into the site without breaking functionality, right, is very complex. And so also understanding how to leverage different translation types is complex. Right. So I think that the biggest misconception is just how hard it is for everything outside of the translation itself. And that’s why a lot of you know, customers come to us for MotionPoint is because we take care of all that as sort of a concierge outsourced solution. But really, I think the, the behind the scenes, the beyond words component of translation is what’s is what’s most complex.

Mike: That’s interesting. I mean, we’ve touched on AI already, and you’ve talked about AI translation, and you know, the the issue around quality. I mean, where do you see AI going in the translation market? Do you see it replacing human translators ever?

Evan: Yeah, I mean, I think that, you know, although everyone in the world thinks that Chachi PT is going to, you know, eliminate everyone’s jobs, and ultimately, you know, take over the human race, I don’t think that’s actually going to be the case here. Right. Just like everywhere else, I think it’s going to facilitate speed of innovation in translation, but it’s not going to replace what we do. It’s going to enable us to have more capabilities. So just to kind of level set where we are with with AI, and chat GPT with respect to translation itself. Google Translate is a neural machine based translation. And so as part of a deep learning, open AI and chat GPT is another form of how it’s translating, and they are at similar quality levels. At this point, there’s been a lot of comparisons or a lot of research done to see does chat GPT outperform Google Translator devel. And, you know, there’s been some where it’s, it’s a little bit better or a little bit worse, but I call that generic machine. If you think about a quality score, right? There’s one quality score called a blue score, a blue score out of 100 would mean 100 is perfectly human translated. Zero is it’s not translated at all. You know, we were seeing average blue scores for chat CPT and Google Translate probably around let’s say, a 20. You’re still pretty far off, human quality translation. But the next level of translation is what’s called domain neuro machine translation. And what that is, is taking actual data or content from a specific brand, and training it on the machine so that it can understand the lingo and how in the context of how a specific brand markets itself, and you can train and get a much closer to you can get from 20 to 60, or 70. Right. So I think that the open AI and chat JpT will accelerate the training and move the continuum of quality more towards human. But we’re still several years away from getting closer to human quality. Where I do think Chachi Beatty will be more effective is what we talked about earlier with transcreation. Right and saying, Okay, well, I’m going to use linguists to translate, but I might use AI to say, how can I say this better? In Italian? Right? So I think there’s going to be areas that will actually help us improve the quality of translation.

Mike: That’s a fascinating answer, I think it’s going to be interesting to see what the impact of AI is on translation, as well as many other markets. So I’ve got a couple of quick questions for you. Before we, we finish. I mean, you obviously, as you said, you were a CMO before a CEO. So from your point of view, what do you think makes a really good marketing campaign?

Evan: Yeah, so I come up through the, you know, my mentors and marketing, we’re very direct response driven, right. So I’m very data oriented and test driven. And so to me, a marketing campaign is about identifying your objectives, and then utilising the right, creative and call to actions and messaging to drive the response rate that you need. And so high response rates is what I target for the types of campaigns that I look for. And so it’s always about trying to think through, what’s the message that solving the pain point of your target audience. And so I know I’m not answering by a specific campaign, but it’s more of the construct of developing a campaign really needs to be thought through of Who are your personas that you’re trying to market to making sure that the audience’s that you’re buying and your media, you know, match those personas, and that the messaging solves the pain points for that persona group relative to what you’re selling. So that’s what all it means to line up, right? And then you’re measuring based upon that, you know, what has the highest response rate. So what makes a great marketing campaign is, is aligning with that formula and measuring it successfully. So that’s really what I see the other part of what makes it a successful campaign is threading that campaign, once you identify what’s successful across the, the omni channel, way too many times do I see companies that have disjointed campaigns where they might be running, you know, messaging in social that’s different than email, or, you know, it’s not consistently messaged, or the there’s not enough time to let the campaign mature, and you’re moving and switching to a different campaign too quickly. So I think that that’s kind of, you know, what, how I look at marketing campaigns?

Mike: I mean, it’s great, it’s very clear focus on the results, which I love. Along the same lines. You know, one thing we like to ask our guests is about marketing advice. I mean, what’s the best bit of marketing advice you’ve ever been given?

Evan: Yeah, that’s a bit of marketing advice that I’ve ever been given is throw away your opinion, and follow the data. Right? So it’s really easy to because marketing is a very visual, reacted sort of medium, it’s very easy to have opinions about marketing. And so it’s really about the data. And the effectiveness of that, you know, I sit, you know, with my kids and watching commercials and thinking about cash wire, why are they still using, you know, Flo from progressive because it’s, She’s so annoying, right. But I can’t imagine that progressive isn’t seeing great results, you know, using that creative? So I think it’s really about, you know, try to ignore opinion. And that’s even with the hierarchy of a CMO. Right. So having been a CMO, it’s really easy to have some sort of hierarchy of associate level, director level, VP level CMO, and, you know, the highest the highest opinion accounts, but it should be that the data is what counts. So that’s really the the advice I have been given.

Mike: I love that. If people have any questions, or would like to know more about MotionPoint, what’s the best way to contact you or try the product?

Evan: Yeah, so I’m available on LinkedIn. You can find me, Evan Kramer on Twitter. I’m Kramer cool. And then obviously, triple W dot motion. point.com. I’ve got contacts there that you can grab me but I’m pretty active on on LinkedIn and in social media, so you can direct message me as well.

Mike: Well, thanks so much. This has been a, you know, a really interesting discussion. I know that, particularly our American clients, a lot of them are thinking about translation and trying to understand it. So I’m sure it’s been incredibly helpful. Thanks so much for being on the podcast.

Evan: All right. Thank you so much.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing B2B Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you’d like to know more, please visit our website at Napier B2B dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.