Localization strategy

Proving Localization Value: Six Key Metrics Every Localization Manager Should be Sharing

Discover how to measure the real value of localization with six essential metrics. Learn from experts how to track and share key metrics like turnaround time, quality, customer satisfaction, and more to demonstrate the impact of localization on business success.
Metrics and KPIs

How do you measure the real value of localization? And perhaps more importantly, how do you make sure you’re sharing that information with the right people, in a way that they understand?

It’s one question that comes up whenever we attend an event or host a webinar. And with so many different opinions and methods, it can sometimes be useful to take a step back and think about the key numbers that matter most to the business.

In this post, we’ve consulted experts from a variety of companies, and selected six essential metrics that can help you show just how effective localization can be and how it drives revenue.


Key Metrics for Measuring Localization Success


1: Turnaround Time

Let’s start with an obvious one; Turnaround time. After all, translated content is only valuable when it is out in the world, helping people!
Turnaround time is all about efficiency. With so much content being published, a quicker turnaround can be a real competitive advantage for a business, driving faster time-to-market and increased customer satisfaction.

A quote from Debora Cohen, Head of Localization at AppsFlyer, stating, "Delivering localized products and content on schedule is crucial for retaining customers and protecting your company’s reputation," alongside her headshot in a circular green border.

“Delivering localized products and content on schedule is crucial for retaining customers and protecting your company’s reputation.” – Debora Cohen, Head of Localization at AppsFlyer

To measure turnaround time accurately, start simply.

For larger tasks, you can track the start and end dates of each localization task using project management tools like JIRA or Trello.

Visualizing this data with Gantt charts can help identify bottlenecks and streamline workflows. You can view this initial measurement as a research task, making sure that you don’t run into much larger issues when you begin automating tasks and driving higher volume.

This is essential if you need to scale activity, and particularly important before implementing high volume machine translations across areas like user-generated content, or customer service chatbots.  In these instances speed is often more desirable than 100% perfect translation (although of course, it’s always good to aim for both if you can).


2: Quality Metrics (First-time Quality and Error Rate)


Speaking of perfection, quality is a fundamental aspect of localization. Metrics such as first-time quality (percentage of translations that pass quality checks on the first attempt) and error rate (frequency of translation errors), help ensure high standards, but can also be a way to manage costs, by applying quality thresholds to different types of content and using this to manage workflow. 

“Quality doesn’t mean the same for everyone. Managing those expectations around quality is crucial.” – Ketty Tirrito, Localization Manager at Zendesk

It’s important to recognize that quality was often a subjective measure in the past. Language and communication preferences can be very personal, so it’s important that you approach quality in a standardized, scalable way.

Many translation providers rely on MTQE (Machine Translation Quality Estimation) scores, which group different scores into four broad categories:


Category Description Use Case
Perfect Accurate and fluent, no significant errors Final publication, official documents
Good Generally accurate, minor errors Internal communications, draft documents
Acceptable Main idea conveyed, noticeable errors Preliminary reviews, informal communications
Poor Significant issues, difficult to understand Identifying problematic translations, detailed human translation

While this can be useful, it can lack the nuance needed as you translate more content and begin automating more of your workflows. At this point, we’d be remiss
not to mention our own Phrase QPS,  an AI-driven system that predicts quality scores based on the Multidimensional Quality Metrics (MQM) framework.

Capable of providing instant quality insights for both human and machine translation, Phrase QPS scores range from 0 to 100, providing greater accuracy and transparency.

Sharing this data can be simple – track errors and pass rates in your current process and collate the data. If you’re sharing this outside of the localization team, then you may not need full dashboards initially. 

Instead, use simple charts to effectively display error distribution and quality trends so that the wider business can clearly understand the effects these have on different content types. And of course, don’t forget to build in continuous feedback loops and improvement processes to ensure you are maintaining the right level of quality. 


3: Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)


CSAT surveys measure how satisfied customers are with localized products. High satisfaction indicates successful localization, leading to better customer retention and loyalty.

To measure CSAT, send regular surveys to users of localized content and use line graphs to track satisfaction scores over time. A good CSAT response means you can collect both quantitative and qualitative data, essential for deeper insight.


4: Spend by Language/Market

Tracking costs by language or market can be a big help when you want to showcase the ROI of localization, and identify areas for cost-savings or investment. 

Using KPIs like cost per word, budget adherence, and cost per revenue (Your total translation spend, divided by your total revenue) provide details that will help the business allocate resources efficiently. It will also give you suitable ammunition if you need to increase budgets to improve particular performance areas.  

A quote from Ketty Tirrito, Localization Manager at Zendesk, stating, "Gathering data on how much you've spent but also how much you've saved thanks to localization is essential," alongside her headshot in a circular blue border.

“Gathering data on how much you’ve spent but also how much you’ve saved thanks to localization is essential.” – Ketty Tirrito, Localization Manager at Zendesk


This data can be invaluable for companies expanding into new markets, as they’ll allow more accurate forecasting of required spend over time, and will reflect wider goals over time.

On a smaller–but no less important–scale, this will help you track translation savings, which will highlight just how much value you’re getting from your translation tools, and help you discover the best places to utilize your internal localization resources.


5: Throughput Rate
This metric is related to your turnaround times, but allows you to dive much deeper into the efficiency of your operation.

Throughput Rate shows the amount of content passing through your system, so the higher it is, the more volume you are capable of handling. It’s related to turnaround because you’ll be using KPIs like translation output per hour to inform this number.


“Throughput rate provides visibility into how efficient your workflow is and also helps you understand capacity.” – Debora Cohen, Head of Localization at AppsFlyer

Again, simplicity is key to sharing this data. Use simple bar charts to visualize how many localization tasks or projects you are completing each month, and compare those over time to show how capacity is affected.

You can also go deeper by keeping track of how many of those completed projects are actually used in a given month. This will help you spot bottlenecks or create efficiencies around the business, and streamline workflows.  


6. Percentage of Translation Milestones Completed on Time

We all know how important it is to make sure that we’re meeting the key milestones across the translation process, and tracking and sharing this information will help you create much stronger relationships with stakeholders around the business. Again, turnaround time may appear as a KPI here, alongside more detailed numbers, like the workflow efficiency rates we mentioned previously. 

“Meeting key milestones is important to keep localization efforts on schedule.” – Ketty Tirrito, Localization Manager at Zendesk

Keep a close eye on completion dates and share them regularly. It’s also worth remembering that very few translation processes exist  in a vacuum; incorporating numbers like onboarding time here can help you understand how well you are working with third-party vendors, and ensure you aren’t risking delays. Regularly checking these numbers is a surefire way to ensure your localization projects are on track.

Sharing information with the business

While there are hundreds of possible KPIs available, the main thing to keep in mind is that you need to share the topline numbers that have the most effect on the rest of the business and its goals. 

While most of us will be adept at creating regular reports and dashboards, it’s always worth thinking about how and when to share this information. 

While a regular monthly email may be enough for some, it might not reach the whole business, so consider more creative and interactive ways as well. 

For example, displaying live dashboards can make numbers seem more relevant and exciting to teams, and showcase how new localization efforts are driving revenue in different locations. 

Hosting workshops, sharing real-life case studies, and building out training content that helps others understand the basics of measurement can also be a great way to help elevate the conversations you have with other departments, and help them see the true impact of localization.

Whichever metrics you use, sharing information this way can be a great way to make sure everyone sees the results of your hard work.