Digital marketing

Covid exposed digital marketing gap between LSP and customer – Lionbridge CMO

Covid exposed digital marketing gap between LSP and customer - Lionbridge CMO

The major trends transforming global commerce today have one thing in common; language, according to Jaime PunishillMarketing Director at Lionbridge. And yet, the language services industry has lagged behind the marketing and digital sophistication of its customers, he pointed out.

Punihill discussed highlights of Lionbridge’s digital transformation journey during the latest edition of SlatorCon Remote. “Think of the irony […] when we try to work with customers to create their most sophisticated customer experiences and help them drive their business expansion efforts across multiple markets. Yet we, as an industry, are the cobbler whose kid has the wrong shoes,” Lionbridge’s chief marketing officer said, paraphrasing a popular trope.

He cited four reasons for the digital marketing gap between the language service provider (LSP) and the customer: (1) an LSP’s digital presence is likely much weaker than that of its customer; (2) marketing sophistication is also lower; (3) A language service provider spends a much lower percentage of revenue than a customer would; (4) The industry is generally out of step with today’s B2B omnichannel buyer journey.


When Covid-19 hit, this discrepancy was revealed. Digital transformation trends over long cycles have all collapsed into a very accelerated chain due to the pandemic, Punihill said, leaving many LSPs unable to pivot.

“Yet we are, as an industry, the cobbler whose child has bad shoes”

“Many organizations have found that they are really doing a kind of Kabuki theatrical version of [digital transformation]. They were trying to be nimble, but hadn’t really redesigned the process from the ground up, trying to be digital first,” he said.

He also highlighted how “the digital universe relies on a strategy of high-quality content that can be experienced, goes where buyers are, brings them back and guides them through the purchase funnel”. However, this content evolves in “a really interesting universe of discoverability”.

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Punihill explained that most buyers and customers only experience a search-driven world, “both in how they discover you and how they interact with your content and your organization. It all depends of how you present yourself to them, interact, engage and drive that engagement.

The Lionbridge CMO then went into detail about the company’s two-year marketing transformation journey that began in 2018, summarized in six stages; freeze, demolish, lay the foundations, rebuild, occupy and expand.

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He also cited specific examples of how his team’s digital marketing initiatives (e.g. effort-based “free” SEO; 18 articles written in German) produced results (5x more visibility in a Google search relative to the next biggest player; an immediate effect bump in two markets, Germany and Switzerland, etc.).

Punihill finished his run by answering questions from the online audience, including what percentage of sales a language service provider typically spends on their marketing budget (“must vary by company…[but] well above 1-2% for most major language service providers”).

Learn more about Lionbridge CMO, Jaime Punihill and other industry leaders by accessing this edition of the SlatorCon Remote Video On Demand here.