Adam Avramescu  00:04

Okay, Test test test. Great. Here we go. Ready? I’m ready. Okay. And three, two. Welcome to CELab, the customer education lab where we take customer education myths and misconceptions and cancel them. That’s right. We cancel them. It’s canceled culture at work. I’m Adam Avramescu and I am here with Courtney Sembler. Hi, Courtney.

Courtney Sembler  00:37

Hi, Adam. How’s it going?

Adam Avramescu  00:39

Oh my gosh, it’s going so great. I love how we just said that. Like we weren’t talking before we started recording. But the joy with what you just said that inspires joy in me. So I am super happy that we’re talking today. Because you are currently running a big amazing program at HubSpot. So I would love it. If you could introduce yourself to our listeners and and tell us a little bit about Yeah, what your role is and what’s going on and HubSpot Academy.

Courtney Sembler  01:10

Yeah, of course. I don’t know, Adam, I think you’re one of the kind of people in my life where I can go a while without talking to you. And then we jump out and it’s like no times ever passed. So I think that’s a always joyful part about chatting with you. But yes, I’m Courtney sembler. I I’m the director for HubSpot Academy. So I have just the great privilege and opportunity to look after all the educational content development for HubSpot. Been at HubSpot for about seven years now. So coming up on being a little bit of a longer term employee, which is lots of fun. And you know, the HubSpot Academy team is just grown so much in the last few years, when I initially joined the team, that we were doing a lot of good stuff. We had the inbound, sir, we were you know, obviously rockin and rollin. But now we’ve got, you know, 40 plus certifications in the market. We’re educating just hundreds and 1000s of people in multiple different languages. The team today is actually over 60 people, which is just insane. We’ve got folks that are in Colombia in Tokyo, of course, across the United States, folks in Europe that are just helping support what we’re trying to do at a much bigger scale than I ever thought possible. And it’s a definitely a lot of fun.

Adam Avramescu  02:29

Yeah, it sounds like a lot of fun. And it also sounds incredibly global and incredibly complex, which is actually probably a really nice lead in to the topic that we wanted to talk about today. Cuz obviously there are a million things that we could talk about in relation to HubSpot Academy. And I’m sure you will be back on the show at some point to talk about many of the other things. But today, we actually wanted to talk about a topic that was hot on both of our minds. And frankly, this is something that I am running into as well now that I am over here in Europe, which I’m probably going to mention every episode. That’s no longer a novel. And that topic is localization, as well as translation and globalization, which are not the same thing. And we can we can talk about them in a moment. But Courtney, I’m I’m really curious, like how do you think about localization at HubSpot, tell me a little bit about your your needs and why this is a hot topic for you?

Courtney Sembler  03:28

Yeah, it’s, you know, I think it’s a hot topic for a lot of us, particularly over the last few years, as we went from being in person for a lot of events where you didn’t think about the option for localization, you’d think about the options because you know, you and I are sitting face to face we both speak English, okay. I can’t subtitle myself the same way as I can when we’re creating all of this online content. So it’s really on that rise. But for HubSpot, it’s been something we’ve been talking about and has been a priority for many years because of our product, which is being able to provide that product in multiple languages to serve our global learners. And global users really does kind of translate down the line to Well then how do we educate them? How do we make sure they have resources to use the product that’s in Spanish, French, German, etc. and be successful with their business and be successful with HubSpot. And so for HubSpot Academy, you know, over the last probably three years working really closely with an our internal localization team to figure out what that looks like for us. And you sort of touched on it. There’s there’s really kind of three things we talked about with the big wide world of localization, which is localization, translation, and globalization. They’re all very different. So

Adam Avramescu  04:45

yeah, let’s let’s talk about that. What’s the difference between the three of them and what like, why should that matter to a customer education leader?

Courtney Sembler  04:51

Definitely. I think it matters a lot, particularly when you’re starting to talk about what this means for your team because like, translation at the purest form is gonna be like changing text into another language. So that is the purest form, you go to Google Translate, and you’re like, how do I say hello in German, that is translation that is a one to one match. But localization is going to be much wider than that. It’s going to think about the culture, the visual, the technology aspects of what you’re doing, when you’re bringing something into another site, or another language. So that could be you know, your German learners may engage with your website differently in a localized version versus a translated

Adam Avramescu  05:35

what does that mean? Like? How would they they interact with it differently?

Courtney Sembler  05:41

Yeah, so for you, you may choose for your German site versus your English site to have different images, maybe you have different resources on it. So when they go to that site, or they switch the language, it’s not going to be the same experience, it’s going to be different, because what you’ve sort of decided are their needs maybe based off feedback, which sort of ends up in a world where you are doing, you know, globalization, which is that adaptation, basically, on the demands of that culture or that language. And so you kind of have those three stages that go through of what do you need, and when a great example, for a customer education leader is like, the difference between translating a knowledge base, versus like creating global content for a variety of learners in different languages, you may translate the knowledge base kind of out word for word, but you may create a global piece of content that is going to be much more on that localization element.

Adam Avramescu  06:41

Yeah, and I think that’s, it’s a really good distinction. Because first of all, you’re bringing up the fact that it’s more than just text, right? There’s there’s actual things that you have to change to truly localize so that it feels I guess, I’m trying not to just use the word local, it feels it feels like it was produced in that language or in that country, where you’re localizing the content to, so that it doesn’t feel like hey, I’m like looking at American content that’s just been translated into my language. But yeah, one thing that occurs to me is even even translation itself is no joke. So for instance, when you think about single sourcing from English into something like German, well, all of a sudden, German has considerations that English doesn’t, you have to think about, am I using, you know, like the formal or informal case in German, and that actually affects your voice and tone in a much more meaningful way, say, than just like your language choice in English. So even even translation already is very complex.

Courtney Sembler  07:41

Yeah, it’s, you know, I think this is where it’s important because it for her for so long, we’ve sort of been afraid of jumping into this localization, this global world, because it is hard. It isn’t easy. It’s also not easy to have all the different perspectives. When you start to dive in. Natalie Kelly, here at HubSpot, she is our VP of localization has been for many years. And I remember in an early conversation with her, I was like, you know, I don’t know this, this localizing HubSpot Academy thing might just be too hard. Like, I don’t know what we’re gonna do. And she’s like, Yeah, but if we do it, then like, everything else is going to be so much easier. And I was like, okay, and honestly, I think about that a lot. Like, when hard problems come up, I’m like, I can’t be as hard as localizing content. And like, anything could be easier than this. So it becomes

Adam Avramescu  08:37

one of the capital H hardest things to do in education.

Courtney Sembler  08:42

But when done well, it really does end up being a differentiator for your customer education program. You know, it’s, you know, you may be seeing this now, a little bit more in Europe than when I got the mentioned back in there for you as well.

Adam Avramescu  08:57

Thank you, Europe, is the continent that I currently live on? Yes, yes.

Courtney Sembler  09:01

Which is, you know, if you take it from just one perspective, even just a European perspective, you leave a lot of learners out, you leave a lot of customers on the table. And they’re not gonna be as excited to learn with you if they’re having to kind of make those bridges for themselves learn in a language that isn’t native to them and can kind of have a downstream effect. Long term.

Adam Avramescu  09:24

Yeah, so I think this is you’re getting get a really important point right now, which is, what is the what’s the value of localization? Like, if I’m gonna, like you mentioned, it’s going to make a lot of things easier. So you know, if I’m going and saying to my executive team, hey, I as a customer education team, now want to localize my content. Why why is that important to me in my business?

Courtney Sembler  09:47

Yeah, it’s a great question and on it for depending on what your business does and what the goals are. There’s probably a few different ways to tackle it. The first way we tackle it, though, is it opens up so many more markets. It If you’re able to showcase that you can localize content, and be able to provide that you’re talking about potentially new markets you never went into, which is new customers new business, and essentially, more growth for your company. That’s the way we thought about it initially for HubSpot Academy was how can we use HubSpot Academy to attract new users in Latin America, in Japan, in Germany, Canada, etc, by educating them about Inbound and our sales software, and getting them as really that growth lever for the rest of our marketing and sales team. And we’ve used that model in North America and in English for many years. And we’re sort of like, oh, well, why can’t we use that for, you know, this business that we’re trying to create in? APAC, or other places. And so there’s that perspective, which is it does open up new business. The second way, though, when talking with whether it’s your leaders or even talking about it within your team, is, what are also the ways in which your English content is not global. And so when you start to think about localizing content, it opens this wider conversation of who are you just leaving out of your English content, or whatever your primary language content could be? Maybe it’s German. And there is a shift that we’re sort of going through as well, which is being able to provide further contextual, and example based content, with localization kind of being the the thing that is knocking on that door to make that happen. You know, we get kind of stuck in that bubble of, well, this is how we do it. That’s how we create content, you start talking about localization, like, oh, well, actually, this picture of a stop sign that we have on this slide. And this piece of content isn’t going to relate to anyone, unless they live in the US. And they know what a stop sign in red means. Like that.

Adam Avramescu  11:52

Yeah. Does like are like titling your courses like 101, like nobody outside of North America has 101 as a convention.

Courtney Sembler  11:59

Exactly. And so it starts to get into that interesting conversation. Where are you also not able to deliver or get the most amount of growth in your current content in the core language? And localization can really help with some of that acceleration as well.

Adam Avramescu  12:15

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. And it actually brings me to maybe like a related tangential thought is that I could imagine that part of thinking about localization or globalization is also thinking about what’s even in your portfolio to begin with, because we hear a lot about learner preferences globally. And this is not the same thing as learning styles, which we know don’t really have much of a basis in evidence based practice, but learning preferences and cultural learning preferences, I think there is something to that. So for example, you hear that some countries in some cultures have a strong preference for face to face instruction, and others have a much stronger preference or tolerance for video, et cetera, et cetera. How do you think about the way that localization might affect you the actual portfolio of content that you develop?

Courtney Sembler  13:10

It’s a really great question. And something that we’ve seen recently, we launched them boot camps this year, and they’re like, six week long instructor led sessions. And initially, we’re like, oh, yeah, we’ll bring them into other languages, see how they do. They’re rockin in the other languages, we did French and Spanish. And you see that modality of learning just being much more applicable to those learners, they’re engaging, it’s a lot of peer to peer learning. And, again, it kind of goes back a little bit to the beginning here with translation, which is, when you talk about localization, and how you think about your portfolio, you’re not going to do the same thing for every single language, it doesn’t become a conversation of, well, if we have it in this way, in English or German, we have to have it in this way for Spanish. And so when you think about those learner preferences, it really starts to open up that multi dimension, you know, multi level house, so to speak, for your portfolio of you may choose to make different decisions, it’s not going to be a one to one, there’s some content that should be you should think about it as more Ra, if this is what we’re hearing, maybe it is live content, or face to face, whatever it is great, you can go and run in that direction. It shouldn’t stop you though, from creating on demand content video based for your other learners. And I think we get stuck in that of, well, my portfolio has to match in all the languages and then you’re just never going to move forward with any localization because it’s going to feel too overwhelming. And, you know, you look at 100 pieces of content, you’re like, we’re never going to localize all of that you’re like, correct, you’re not because you’re adding more and it’s just you’re never going to catch up. But it does open up more of, I think that creative space that we often forget about in customer education, like we can be creative and how we tackle these problems. And for HubSpot Academy at least that’s been a huge benefit for us of like, what goes in what direction? And what language to support those preferences?

Adam Avramescu  15:10

Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. And I love that in a way, you you just gave everyone permission to not localize every single aspect of their program if it doesn’t actually fit learner preferences, but like, how do you how do you get a sense of where to make those investments? Are there tips you have for figuring out if say, if we’re going to launch into a new language? Which which pieces of the portfolio do you take with you? And which ones do you maybe hold back on?

Courtney Sembler  15:36

Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, you probably have your four to five, like, four, you know, core foundational pieces of content. That’s always a great place to start for HubSpot Academy. That’s our software certifications. That’s our inbound cert, those are always like, I like to throw those out. First of like, let’s test the market and get feedback with content we know performs well. Excuse me. And the idea with that is it sort of gives you permission to start without actually having some of that, like learner preference data yet? Because initially, when we started talking about it, we’re like, Alright, how do we get this feedback? How do we get this, you know, understanding from the learner, and like, well, we don’t have learners yet. Like, no one’s learning with us in Spanish, because we don’t have Spanish content. Like how do we open that conversation? And so when you think about your portfolio, and starting, it’s like, what do you want to start with? What do you want to say is going to be your cornerstone that goes in all languages no matter what, and then you can start to retrieve and ask those people? What did you like and not like about this experience to start to build and decide, alright, we’re seeing the NPS for this course, is really high in Latin America, for Spanish learners. And they’re giving us good qualitative feedback around this format. We’re not seeing that in German. So let’s start to differentiate within these languages. But you need the base, you need to understand who you’re who you’re going to be teaching, so that you can start to like diverge on that portfolio.

Adam Avramescu  17:08

And like, so you talk about starting with core content? Would you take core content in different modalities? So like, Would you do your, your materials for the inbound cert for the online track and the videos as well as the classroom experience? Or would you start with one and use that to test the others?

Courtney Sembler  17:27

Personally, we started with one. So on the inbound and inbound marketing certification, were some of the early early pieces of content, we localize, we tested a few different types of localization as well. Initially, we subtitled then we did dubbing those were very costly. We then went and invested in in people and inbound professors, what we call our instructional designers to help support that creation. But we just started with one, there’s enough complexity, when it comes to localization, I think you give yourself a break, and you don’t try to do too much it at once. If anyone takes away anything from this podcast, I would say please give yourself a break when it comes to localization is hard. And you know, in the first 12 months of doing it for the team, I was like, Well, this is never gonna work. Like I don’t know how we’re going to, like, oh, but you know, that all of a sudden, you know, content is being published and other languages, were getting feedback. And the next year rolled around, and we were able to start doing some of that testing. So test with one, know that you have some flexibility in your back pocket as you get some of that feedback, as well

Adam Avramescu  18:32

as to take like one course, one modality, test, and then and then use that to figure out what you want to do next.

Courtney Sembler  18:39

Yeah. And I would also say go with one language.

Adam Avramescu  18:42

I think language Yeah, one. Yeah. Yeah,

Courtney Sembler  18:45

we did. Let’s see, we did the sales, software certification, three languages, two months, with our unbelievable inbound professors who were just new to HubSpot knew what we were doing. And I can’t thank them enough for going on that journey with us. Because it was it was a lot but Spanish, French and German went out the door. And it was, I mean, you really, you started the, we started a really exciting project that ended up you know, changing quite a bit over that first year, and how we accomplished localizing content. But we learned so much from every, basically every piece of content gave us a new foundation to help us build.

Adam Avramescu  19:38

Yeah, so I want to I want to come back to the idea of the Indian professors, and especially, maybe this idea of hi, hi, welcome. Here’s a huge project for you. But let’s let’s kind of cap off what we were just talking about. You just gave some really good frameworks and ways of thinking about getting started with localization and I’m just curious before We move on, what other advice or tips you would offer to someone who maybe is building their customer education program and really wants to get started with localization?

Courtney Sembler  20:10

Yeah, I, it really comes down to three core things for me, which is depending on where you are also, with localizing other elements of your business, you may be leading the charge with some of it. As a customer added program, you have the opportunity to kind of go out ahead of maybe some of the other initiatives that are going on, don’t let that deter you really use that as a way to get other folks at the business on board, whether it’s with marketing or sales, start to have those conversations of it’s not just about building the content, it’s how do you market it to people? How do you get it to them, who’s going to be sending emails to these people in these languages, about all the things there is a lot of it’s not just about how you get the content in the language, it’s about all those other elements. And so don’t let yourself feel like you’re on an island, like, open up those conversations while you’re localizing the content, so that you feel prepared to get it out the door. And then I would say Secondly, with that, when also thinking about who’s going to be involved in the localization, we were really fortunate to have a team already at HubSpot, that was doing localization for our product, you might not have that, that’s okay. There may still be experts or folks who have that background, you just never talked to them about it. So start to explore some of those localization elements. And then also know that there are so many companies out there that can help support some of those initial stages, there’s agencies and translation services, that can just help you get I almost think about is like getting the ball rolling. You know, when you look at a piece of content, particularly if you’re doing on demand, you have a lot of text based scripts, it can feel overwhelming, there’s awesome companies to just be able to provide some of that translation that enables you to start to be flexible with it. And I’d say last, you know, just as you get started with it, talk to other people about how they do it, I think the most helpful things for me was understanding that there was a lot of different ways to localize content. Initially, when we, when we went out there I was, I was very like, Okay, we got to do the industry standard, we have to do it exactly like how other companies do it. You know, we don’t want to mess with it. Now, we messed with it so much. Like we found what worked for us it what works for us might not work for you. And having that flexibility is also what’s gonna get you the most engagement with your customer base. And asking them what feels good to them is going to be the the magic sauce in the localization project.

Adam Avramescu  22:52

Yeah, I love I love those reflections. And I think that takes what is incredibly complex, right, we’re not gonna, we’re not going to sugarcoat here, and at least boils it down to an appropriate, approachable starting point. You’re reminding me a little bit of the first localization projects that my team did at Slack, where we were actually taking our admin and developer certifications, the courses, the exams, and then we started adding up everything else. It’s like, oh, well, it’s also the prep materials, the study guides, it’s the marketing emails, taking all of these formats and localizing them into Japanese was the first language that that we started with. And I think Japanese is actually a pretty difficult first language to localize into because you’ve got different characters, you have, I think, very precise demands from Japanese speaking audiences around how content is translated and how companies speak to them. So it was definitely a tremendous challenge in terms of the, the process, but also in terms of the outcomes that we were trying to generate. And as we started inventorying, all of the different materials that we needed to localize, we also started realizing what was going to be easier and more difficult to localize. Right, all the tech stuff, that’s fine that can be scraped, that can be fed into, you know, we were working with, with a vendor who was doing, you know, a lot of human translation, but they still have translation memory, that is the software that that kind of feeds a lot of those localization pieces in so they know how to keep translating things the right way, and don’t have to keep making those decisions over and over. So they’re feeding it in. And so all the tech stuff that’s pretty easy. Even all the like assessment questions and things like that, you can kind of scrape out of the API, and then you start getting into like the elearning and articulate rise files, and it’s like, how do you get the content out of the rise file? Ooh, this is going to take a really long time. Who Whew, this is a really huge project. And so you start realizing, you know, the the complexity and the magnitude of these projects, which I, why I love that you you recommend, you know, starting simple choosing a piece of the world to, to try to localize one language, one piece of content one modality just you, you know everything around it, as well as the idea of really kind of having a strong partner or vendor or agency that’s, that’s driving the project with you. So you don’t feel like you’re, you’re wandering around in the dark,

Courtney Sembler  25:34

you and you will feel like you’re wandering around in the dark, particularly if you don’t speak the language that you are initially localizing the content in. I remember early days, you know, we’re trying to get some of the content out and I was copying and pasting our Japanese, like learning descriptions to the website. And I was like, I don’t know what this says, like, I’m gonna go with it hopefully says something about sales software. But if it doesn’t, and it just like is the description of like, what the what the academy app is then like, awesome, like, there is that feeling of being in the dark too, because I think something that I really appreciated about localization is it, it did open up, honestly, outside of my professional life, it did give me a lot more empathy for having to learn in another language or having to experience the world in another language that is not your own.

Adam Avramescu  26:30

Yeah, well, I don’t even I mean, first of all, I would have been completely lost if we didn’t have a localization team to work with. So onca or Beatrice, if you’re listening, thank you, you definitely let us along. Very, very confusing pathway. But you know, our team was doing a lot of the same things. We were copying and pasting, hoping, hoping for the best. I took Japanese in college, and I had no idea what I was localizing, you know, except for like, very basic sentences, where I could like, sort of tell what was going on or like grammatically, maybe how things fit together, I still had to be like, okay, admin, that’s like, a little house and a moon and then develop her. That’s like, you know, right, you have to like, kind of look at the characters and try to memorize them somehow.

Courtney Sembler  27:17

Well, and also, I mean, that, you know, I’m assuming in college, you didn’t learn Japanese from a sale, you know, a software perspective, right. Like, these terms are also, you know, marketing hubs software isn’t going to be a common definition that Google Translate pops out for French. Yeah. Like, it’s, it’s an interesting approach as well.

Adam Avramescu  27:39

You can sort of yeah, you can try to, like, sound some things out and be like, Oh, that that word says, like, developer? Like, that’s, that’s developer, okay. Like, yeah, I sort of got that. But then then it’s like, Okay, where am I gonna go beyond like, Haji, my mush day, I put a meniscus on this. Those are the euroschool like I can, I can hand you my business card. But I’m not going to be able to, like get that much further than like, very basic, transactional, Japanese. And by the way to any Japanese speakers, sorry, first of all, for everything I just said. And also, I know, I just got that wrong.

Courtney Sembler  28:11

Well, let’s go back to it better than I than I could. So I’m not even going to attempt it.

Adam Avramescu  28:17

I can already tell you what I got wrong about that last sentence. And so Eagle-eared listeners, please write in and complain and tell me what I got wrong in the last thing that I just said. Let’s talk about the team because you talked about having it done professors, and you talked about the you know, kind of the idea of having this very localized, like, instructional design model. And then you also mentioned the possibility of having agencies and other models like that. So tell me tell me a little bit about how you build a team around that localization strategy.

Courtney Sembler  28:50

Yeah, it’s, it’s a great, it’s a great question too. So for those who maybe are unfamiliar with HubSpot Academy, our structure even regardless of the language is we have inbound professors, they are curriculum designers, they’re instructional designers, they are rockstars, is really what we want to have say about them. And the the model for them is we treat them like you kind of treat a professor in a university, they do research, they do the design, they develop all the content, they also facilitate all the content and implement it in the market. And so they’re really doing that end to end process, which gives them a lot of flexibility and understanding of like, what do learners need? Why are we creating this content and putting them in the driver’s seat for for creation? And so all of our processes all of our documentation was from a professor first perspective, it was how do you as the professor create a learning objective? How do you create a script? How do you go into our different software’s and develop your content? So when we sat down and we were like, Alright, how are we going to localize content? I still remember I was sitting in a conference room, you know, at HubSpot pre pandemic days, I was in an office. And I was staring at this whiteboard. And I’d been talking with my boss about, alright, well, what if we had like a rollout and we did like subtitling? And then, oh, well, I guess we’d have to hire someone who could edit. And, um, we were just getting into these weeds. And I was like, why don’t we just hire an inbound professor who speaks Spanish? Because then like, they could also help us understand what we’re missing. And then the biggest thing was, I was like, Well, what if we published the inbound cert in Spanish and we get feedback, we’re gonna have to pay a software, like some sort of software to translate the data for us to even read it. And I, we just going down this like, rabbit hole of like, we just need someone who is living in these regions who speaking these languages. And I’ll be honest, it was pretty hard sell for the business, I was like, I want to go and hire, not just more professors. But now I want to get like four layers of specialization here. It’s not just an inbound professor who’s going to do sales content. It’s like an inbound professor who’s going to do sales content, and also in Spanish, like it was just this extra layer. And, you know, we put together a lot of models for them of how it was going to help us how it’s going to help scale, how it initially was going to help the marketing teams. And we worked really closely with our regional marketing teams of like, they can do promotion for it, they can do videos, you know, we really was trying to sell the, you know, end to end process. And after probably quite a few months of discussion, they finally were like, alright, like, hire an amount professor in Spanish, we’ll see how it goes. And Juanita was our very first Spanish and bound professor, She’s based in Colombia, she came on, I was like October, and she was here 30 days, and the business was like, Yeah, okay, this works, go and hire someone for front. Like it was, it was immediate, you know, the ability to have someone who also started to poke holes in the thinking we had. And so now today, we actually have a kind of mirrored approach to the team, we have a pillar of inbound professors, and managers who support by persona, so customer, partner, and developer are core personas. And then we’ve mirrored that. And we are now building the equivalent in all of our other languages. So we have three managers and a collection of inbound professors, we’re gonna have 17, by the end of the year that are doing Spanish, French, German and Japanese content. And the great thing is, is you start to see the process, the documentation come together. Yeah, it’s different. But you had the foundation already there, because you were doing it in English already. And we’re just starting to tweak it to make sure it matches the other languages. And the scale we’ve gotten from it is just incredible.

Adam Avramescu  32:55

But now you have someone who can really develop or who can adapt that development, I should say, and then deliver in that language. Exactly. So so, you know, not every company, obviously, is going to have the resources to put towards building that model. So I’m curious, like when when you think about exploring building in house versus agencies, or even with agencies and vendors thinking about, let’s say, human translation versus machine translation, or using combinations of those, like, how should companies think about those those types of options?

Courtney Sembler  33:30

Yeah, and we also use those, we also introduce those types of localization into our process. So the localization process for us does still start with the support of our localization team, which is in house doing that, what we call the base translation, essentially taking all that text, give it to us in German, so that the inbound professor in this case, Gigi, or Lisa can go and then create that globalization.

Adam Avramescu  33:58

They’re not sitting there actually, like translating everything from English.

Courtney Sembler  34:01

No. And, you know, I will say, if the inbound professors are listening right now, I did make them do that once I made them translate every single word. I didn’t need to run a forum or an NPS feedback on their experience with that, it was very clear that that was the wrong decision. So we did that once and it just doesn’t get you what you’re looking for, like you think, oh, it’s, it’s gonna be really helpful. There is enough that you just want translated, you know, introductions, definitions, things that aren’t going to change too much using that base translation. So really helpful. Now, if you’re gonna go fully in that, and you’re going to use machine translation and human translation, to do the whole scope, my recommendation is to find an agency or whoever you’re able to work with and make sure that they they have sort of that optionality. You mentioned something that’s really important, which is having memory Having that machine memory of the translation or you’re just paying for every single word to be translated every single time. And so having an agency that can help you with those things, there’s a lot of great software’s on the market to support that as well. And then I would say, for if you’re not going to bring folks in house, an option that is great to explore too, is being able to see any of the work with animation that’s been done. So you can still have a little bit of that translation plus engagement sort of mirroring in there. There’s a really some really great companies that are doing machine translation with some animation that gets you that engagement in the the tools and learning experiences, as well.

Adam Avramescu  35:47

Say more about that, how does how does animation pair with machine translation?

Courtney Sembler  35:53

So in most cases, if you’re going to do machine translation for, let’s say, on demand course, what you’re going to get back is, you know, all of that text translated, and then you’re going to need to make a decision on do you do a voiceover translation? So is someone going to be speaking in the language? Are you just going to do like burned in subtitles, so someone you know, is still going to be speaking in English, you’ll hear them in English, but like the text below is going to be in Japanese. What is interesting with machine translation in some animation, is because the animation doesn’t have to be translated, you could create, you know, five, six minute video that’s animated. And that machine translation can again, do that, like burned in text, it can be integrated with what’s going on on the screen. And it just gets a different perspective on some of the I’d say no learner experience.

Adam Avramescu  36:50

Yeah, that’s, that’s a really interesting approach, especially if you’re not going to do my personal favorite, which is treating it like one of those, like international news broadcasts where you you play the original language faintly, and then loudly dub over it in the second language. Just there, that was a joke listeners, that was a joke.

Courtney Sembler  37:10

If you Google Courtney Sembler, GDPR German, I believe there is still a video on the internet somewhere where I am clearly dubbed over with some lovely woman speaking German. And I every time I watch that video, I’m like, I do not recognize myself. I’m like, talking, but like the German vibe does not match my tone, or the giant smile that was on my face talking about GDPR. So it can work.

Adam Avramescu  37:41

That is that’s really funny. And I think we’re gonna have to put that in the show notes. But yeah, so I think I think you’re you’re pointing towards a good strategy here, which is using a combination of vendors or agencies, and perhaps some combination of human and machine translation, to get your, your base translations in. And then to have folks on your team who are focused more on putting it into practice in those languages, making sure that it really conveys your your voice and tone, and that you’ve kind of captured the nuances of localization for your market. We do something similar, actually here at personeel. Now where our our user education, and content team is actually one of the most diverse teams in the entire company, simply because our writers and editors come from all of the different backgrounds where you don’t where we serve customers. So on our team, we have people who are native Spanish and German and English and Italian, and French speakers, and I hope I’m not leaving out any languages, Dutch. I probably should have gotten that one. I live in the Netherlands. I was about to like, where did you move again, in Europe? Yeah. In Europe. I currently live in the Netherlands. Yeah, so I hope I didn’t forget any other languages. But it’s really, it’s actually quite fascinating to see just that diversity come into play and how we hire on the teams, which adds complexity, but also adds really nice diversity. We have a community manager who manages our international community who speaks like six different languages. It’s really impressive to see. And I think the the effect of that, again, even though it takes longer to find really talented people, is that you you then end up carrying that brand voice and tone your your culture into the materials that you produce.

Courtney Sembler  39:40

Yeah, and it’s it’s such a good point to it. It can be very difficult. You know, when we first brought on our international kind of elements of the team and excuse me, our you know, Spanish, French and German professors. I was still based in Boston at the time they were in Columbia, Ireland and In Germany, and I was like, when are we ever gonna meet? Like what’s going on? Like I don’t. And I was, I felt a little bit like I was panicking. The bottom of the fishbowl is like, they’re here. And we got to get to make this work. And there’s a an amazing book by Aaron Meyers. It’s called the Culture Map. And if you are at all considering doing any element of what we’ve been talking about, please read it, it was so helpful to understand how you don’t just only bring together a team that’s doing this, but how you bring together excuse me, a culture for that team and how that blends together. There is so many things that I learned by failing and making mistakes and saying the wrong thing. And I read that book, maybe a little bit too late, in in some of those early days, where it was a lot of like, oh, yeah, that’s why that was wrong. Like, this is how I can do better in the future. But there’s a really interesting exercise in it, which is on communication, and how different folks from different parts of the world are going to communicate. And she paints this amazing story of she was presenting, she had a colleague who was from, I believe, China, who was in the room, and he never, he never spoke up, he never engaged to the conversation. And that was the expectation she had set with him of like, hey, like, I want you to participate. And afterwards, she was just like, I was so upset. And I went to him. And I was like, what, what happened? He’s like, You never paused more than five seconds. And I would never jump in unless I like heard a longer pause. And in my brain in that moment, I was like, Oh, my goodness, like, do I ever stop talking? Like, no, I don’t, I never like pause. And I just expect, you know, in America, people caught me off, and it’s fine, and we keep going. But when you start to introduce these different cultures, particularly with team members, where English isn’t going to be their first language, in team meetings, and how all those pieces come together, it’s a really interesting element to think about.

Adam Avramescu  42:03

Yeah, so okay, the Culture Map, we’ve got to put that in the show notes as well. And I agree, I mean, it’s it’s even advice that we often take to heart when we’re thinking about building more equitable experiences for say introverts and extroverts, right. So you could argue that the expectations of American culture are largely geared more towards what we would consider extroverted behaviors, talk, get cut off, you know, et cetera. But that doesn’t create a lot of room for people who are more introverted in their approach to collaboration. And yeah, I think the same thing does apply when you’re when you’re thinking about cultural norms and expectations.

Adam Avramescu  42:54

But maybe, maybe going along with those those lines. I know, this is something that you were talking to me about previously that this idea of building equitable learning experiences at HubSpot Academy was kind of paramount. So tell me a little bit more about some examples from from HubSpot Academy and how you’ve been building.

Courtney Sembler  43:13

Yeah, so that is, that is our goal and our intention for this year, and was last year as well, which is we want to create equitable learning experiences. And for us what that means a lot of the time is, we don’t just want one to one experiences we don’t just need to have Alright, if we have a 500 lesson, Asset Library in English, we need that equivalent in Spanish, we want to make sure that the experience is matching what the learner needs. And so for us, that means quite a few different things. Right now, our in non professors are striving really hard to continue to build up our library that is part of that equitable learning experience, which is we do want a healthy amount of, you know, additional language content Spanish, French, German, Japanese Portuguese content in the library. So we believe in the last few weeks launched over and I’m gonna get this wrong, but I believe we launched over 40 different lessons in multiple languages just in the last few weeks. So really building up that library. The second piece is sort of being able to create more of a community for our learners who English is not the language they choose to learn in. So our platform enables us to create study groups and different elements where folks can engage live and with peers in multiple different languages. So really starting to create that equity of not just in the, you know, I’m teaching you but you’re also able to learn from one another. And then the other thing that we’ve been building and testing a lot about with HubSpot Academy is how we can also do a variety of live training as well. So we’re They’ll do and we we’ve been calling them a few different things. But we, these study groups where people are coming together live sort of talking about their learning and being able to host those in multiple different languages. And then we’re gonna start to experiment with some new types of content for our non English learners on so things like having a course that’s not just in Japanese, but is really specific to the market. So, you know, how do you do sales in Japan, in Japanese? So you know, are kind of taking that step further of like, you know, it’s not just about the language, but we also want to be, you know, how do you do social media marketing in France? Is it different? What are the different platforms people may choose to use, and being able to kind of start to go into more of that vertical approach?

Adam Avramescu  45:50

Yeah, I think that’s a really, really good experiment. And I mean, first of all, I loved what you were talking about earlier with the idea of actually connecting your your users who are speakers or native speakers to put their own flavor in context, that that’s a really great way to scale without your company always having to be the the broker of all that information. And then I also, I think it’s a really important point that you just brought up that the actual processes or the actual jobs to be done can look very different in different regions or different cultures. In fact, we run into this a lot at, because we are an HR platform serving all of Europe, and guess whose laws are all really different around HR, every country in Europe. So in a way, that means that we have to be really smart about the way that we don’t just localize our content, and don’t just translate it, but really make sure that the features that we’re talking about and the use cases that we’re developing reflects the different ways that our product is going to get used to comply with different regions, local laws.

Courtney Sembler  46:58

Yeah, no, it’s GDPR was a really good example of that a couple of years ago, when, you know, the General Data Protection Regulation, you know, kind of hit the scene, it was you couldn’t take a blanket approach, you know, there was so much of a nuance in Germany, there was a really different way in which Canada was approaching it first, the US. And you had this kind of intersection of like, if you are a US based company, but you have users of your product in these regions, how are you teaching them how you and you had this complexity, and I, you know, kind of made a joke of it before, but our GDPR lesson was one of our first localized lessons, because, you know, the majority of people who are taking it, we’re based in Europe, who are speaking French, and German at the time, and we needed to be able to provide that that contextual experience.

Adam Avramescu  47:53

I know you’re an educator, because you actually explained what GDPR stood for. And I think that’s actually the first time I’ve ever heard the actual words of what of what GDPR stood for. I’m not sure I actually could have told you before this this talk what the G was? Yeah, so thank you. Okay, well, we’re almost at the end of our time, but I’d love to ask you a few. A few quick questions. Okay. How do I budget for this stuff?

Courtney Sembler  48:24

Oh, jeez. That’s, that’s gonna be a fun one. I’m budgeting for localization is probably one of the best examples. I had of like, I don’t have my MBA, and maybe I should have gotten my MBA, like that was like, Oh, all right, the finance piece here. Budgeting for localization is going to be a multi pronged initiative. If you’re using an external agency, it’s going to be a little bit easier, because they’ll have like a cost for their work like cost per minute, essentially. But everything is going to cost money. And so depending on what budget you have available, the three core things you’re going to want to pay attention to is what is going to be the cost for the text translation, what’s going to be the cost for the video production, and what is going to be the cost for any edits that you want to any of those to do to any of those things. And I know I said three, but I’m going to tack one on as well, which is closed captioning. Closed captioning is going to be a separate cost if you choose to do video format, and everything else, and it may be a different agency that you use to be able to provide that. And so the the way that we we do it from a budgeting perspective is a I have a team member who is a rock star and manages our budget, but early on, that was kind of a team approach. And we we looked at it from the those kind of four layers and then we broke everything down per project. So instead of sort of thinking about it as like, oh, we had a for X amount of money for the quarter we really worked on like, what is going to be the cost for this project. And then sort of total that up with the we did it quarterly based, but it’s it’s definitely a, it’s, it’s a process, I will say there’s not enough information out there too on how to budget for localization. Maybe that’s a reminder to me that I could get some of those pieces out there. But having a system that helps helps you do it as well, we used air table early on, which was really helpful, just like totaling up some columns and taking some of the work out of there for you. But I will say, on top of being complex, the budgets also not going to be super fun.

Adam Avramescu  50:41

Well, if you ever do want to write on it, we’re happy to publish it on the the CELab site or I know I definitely. I mean, you and I both know other people who would be happy to publish it too. So I’m sure it wouldn’t be that hard to get get the thoughts out there. Okay, maybe, maybe last ish question. What are some other gotchas to think about just just purely in terms of localizing from one language to another, for example, when we think about text, going left to write versus right to left or word length? You know, average word length across different languages? What are some of those gotchas?

Courtney Sembler  51:21

Yeah, actually, the the word length for exams was a big one for us, which is we did a lot of initially, our assessment strategy included a lot of scenario based questions, where we sort of talk someone through an idea, and then we, you know, had them choose the right way to proceed. And, wow, that looked really long in German. And it didn’t make a ton of sense. And it, it became an interesting approach of like, what was the root of this assessment question? And how is that going to change in these different languages? I will say, one of the bigger gotchas early on was the visuals. When we sent out our first project for localization, we had a slide deck that went with it. And the localization team came back and was like, hey, like, we can’t localize these things. So I was like, oh, like, like, why not? And they’re like, well, the text is in the image. So we can’t, we can’t like replace it, you’re gonna have to come up with like, a brand new image. And I was like, oh, that’s going to be the case for like, everything, because you don’t, there’s so many nuances with that of like, all right, you have a stock image of a woman sitting at a keyboard or the keyboards in English, like, or you have someone who’s doing math on the board, but like the end, so we then really went back to, you know, what is our visual strategy look like for our educational content. And it, it really kind of walks back some of it, which is the the sort of problem in the moment is localization. But it actually has a route in thinking more holistically about some of those strategies. We’ll say the visual ones, I use the example of the stop sign. That was the biggest one. So when put a stop signs slide up, but I was like, Yeah, and like, Yeah, but stop is in the image. I can’t remove that. And I was like, oh, and they’re like, a stop sign in Europe is actually like a triangle. And it’s like blue. And I was like, Oh, right. That’s not going to work. So

Adam Avramescu  53:24

I would say, I’m thinking about what a stop sign actually use here.


Apparently, stop signs.

Adam Avramescu  53:31

I don’t drive here. So yeah, I guess I need to go out and look at a look at the stop sign now. But you’re right, some some of that basic signage and things like that are very difficult, which is again, another really good reason to have someone on your team who actually, you know, doesn’t just speak the language, but is immersed in the culture enough to be able to catch those things. Along with you. Yeah. You mentioned some agencies and localization services. We don’t have any sponsors on the show. So I don’t feel like I’m violating anything here. Do we want to throw out some some names of localization services or agencies that people could check out if they want to get started?

Courtney Sembler  54:12

Yeah, I’m more than happy to share some. There’s also there’s some really great, excuse me resources on on vendors. I don’t know if the name of the article is coming to mind, but I can send it over as well. But there’s a great translation software called memo Q. They do memory for machine and human translation, which a lot of agencies use. So I think that’s the other thing to be aware of. It’s not necessarily the agency. It’s like the tools they use. So that’s something to kind of just keep in mind memo queue is one that HubSpot has been using, it’s great. The other thing that I will mention from an agency perspective is depending on where you are in the world. You might also work with an agency who’s in the region in which you are going to be translating content with so So we work with a company in Japan at vision, they do all of our support for translation when it comes to video editing. And they are just phenomenal. But their biggest advantage is our inbound professor who’s in Tokyo is also on the same timezone as them and can talk to them. Yeah, in in moment on some of that feedback. And so just keep that in mind to have. Yeah, it might make sense. If you’re in the US, and you’re trying to do this, like have your vendors in Europe, so that they’re able to maybe work boots on the ground with some people that you’re working there, with. And then I will just throw this out there as well. Natalie Kelly writes an unbelievable blog. It’s called Born to be global. And it is all about everything we talked about today. She does like just a couple articles every month, and I just highly recommend it from a, if you’re exploring this, she has definitely been someone I talked to a lot about some of these pieces. And if you’re just looking for some reading on the bus or out in the park, born to be global, great resource.

Adam Avramescu  56:03

Oh my gosh. So between that and your other book recommendations, and this clip of you in German, and the websites, they I think this is going to be our fullest show notes in a very long time. But oh my gosh, I’ve learned so much on this call. And I’m so happy that you joined us today, Courtney, it was great chatting with you.

Courtney Sembler  56:22

It was great to chat with you. And it’s always fun to talk about the wild, wild world of localization. It’s it’s a great adventure. I hope all of you take the journey. It’s definitely well worth it.

Adam Avramescu  56:36

Take the first step. It’s scary, but it’s very rewarding. So thank you listeners for taking the listen to the episode today. Thank you Courtney for joining us. You can find us on LinkedIn or wherever people are found and you can find this podcast on wherever podcasts are found. And speaking of wherever podcasts are found, we would love for you to give us a rating on those selfsame services, Apple podcasts, Spotify, all those places. Please help us get this show out to the world. Thank you Alan Kota for our theme music and to our listeners. Go out and educate, experiment and find your people. Thanks for listening and stop and see

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