5 Key Steps to Translate Your International Survey

Jan 4, 2022

Sara Maria Hasbun

Teal Flower
Teal Flower
Teal Flower

Translating your international surveys can turbocharge your due diligence or your market research, by offering you insight into international markets.

Whether for private equity or for pharmaceutical research, the difference between a well-localized survey and a poorly translated one can be the difference between thousands or even millions of dollars for your business.

For that reason, it is very important that you carefully plan your international survey launch.

Here are some guidelines that will ensure a smooth and efficient launch for your international surveys.

1. Identify your target locales and audiences

You have probably already done this! Which countries, regions, and audiences will you be targeting? While some countries have more or less one language of business (like Japan or Germany) many others will need more careful linguistic planning. For example, Singapore conducts business in English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil!

If you are not sure about your linguistic needs, feel free to check with us.

2. Internationalize your surveys

As you prepare your surveys to be multilingual, the first step might seem counter-intuitive: you first want to strip your surveys of any hyperlocal references that will not be relevant to other locations.

If you use specific brand or location examples in your English survey that are not directly related to the purpose of the survey, you should remove these or add more descriptive language or guidance, so that translators can help you find the best local alternative.

Idioms or cultural references (“is that a home run?”) should also be removed, in favor of plainer language.

3. Localize!

Prepare your surveys for translation according to the needs of your translation provider.

Ideally, your translation provider will have experience working with markup languages and can accept survey files that contain coding for piping and logic (such as XML files).

Your translation provider may work with a Translation Management System (such as SmartCat or Crowdin) to facilitate the accurate and consistent translation of your surveys without breaking the code.

4. Iterate and do final check

After you receive the final translation and upload the translation to your platform or your panel company’s platform, it is good practice to send a link to the final survey back to your translation provider for final checks.

This is because sometimes, once the translator can view the final survey in its complete layout, he or she can leverage the extra context to continue to optimize translation decisions.

5. Send any feedback to your translation provider

No one knows your business like you do! If your team or your respondents have feedback about the translation, be sure to pass it along to your translation provider so that they can update their term bases, translation memories, and glossaries.


The better your translated survey, the more forthcoming your respondents will be. Since an accurately translated survey can mean more data and cleaner data for your due diligence, you already know how important it is to localize well!

Best of luck with your international survey launch, and if you need any further guidance, you can always reach out to our team and let us tailor your powerful survey.