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Going Global: How Localization Can Boost Your App?

March 11, 2016


How do I ensure that my mobile app expands its reach? How do I replicate the success I’ve had with my app in a different geography? If those are the questions enterprising app owners and developers like you are asking, then the answer is – Think beyond English.

The US market is only one piece of the puzzle. As an ‘App’preneur, you have to aim higher. If you look at the image below, you’ll see that 50% of the countries within the top 10 for downloads and revenue are non-English speaking countries.

To tap into the world market and to acquire new users, you need to localize your app. Localization is adapting your app to a different country and its respective language. You have over 40 languages to choose from. Now that gives you a lot of room to expand.

Why Localization should figure on your Mobile Strategy?

How did Airbnb have users from 192 countries download its app? It’s no coincidence that their app is available in 27 different languages – including Malay, Turkish and Chinese. Going international helped them achieve over 1.8 million downloads.

Localizing your mobile app in multiple languages offers some unique advantages. Here are some of them:

  • Make a dent in the Emerging Market

According to the Mobility Report released by Ericsson, it is estimated that by 2020, there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users globally. As the mature markets of US and Europe near saturation, we are witnessing a huge surge in demand from developing countries. It is predicted that Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa will account for 80% of all new mobile subscriptions. Now, that’s a world of untapped opportunity.

  • Easier to target Native Keywords

It would be a mistake to assume that only English language apps enjoy a good number of downloads. You should know that Russian, French, Italian and Spanish apps also do very well on App stores. A fundamental advantage of localization is that it becomes easier to target certain keywords in a native language compared to English.

  • Results in Increased Downloads and Revenue

Many case studies on localization reveal that apps which introduced a native language version increased their download volumes by at least  128%. Etips travel apps is one such case in point and Eurosport is another. Zynga and 6 Waves are two other prominent companies that saw a massive increase in their number of downloads post localization. All these companies also reported a significant increase in their average revenues.

How to Localize your app?

Localization of an app is much more than just translation of language. It also involves using the correct and relevant date and time formats, translation of each asset of your app including the graphics, text, units of measure, and providing the correct keyboard. Cultural adaptations are also part of localization.

Trying to manually translate your app can be a frustrating experience, especially if you are not fluent in the language you are targeting. Also, you become quite prone to error while dealing with multiple files and spreadsheets. We recommend enlisting the help of a professional service in order to achieve best results. ICanLocalize, One Sky App and Babble-On are some of the third party localization vendors you can use.

Key Considerations before Localization

Local app delivery and distribution depends on the content delivery network you use, cloud services you are subscribed to, the servers you host your app on, and more. Latency issues can affect your users’ experience and a lot of those infrastructural bottlenecks come about based on your choice of platforms, distribution networks, CDN networks, servers, and more.

That is why, it is best to consider some factors before you spend any money or effort trying to localize your app.

  • Due diligence

Before you localize your app, you must know that not all apps can work everywhere. Tinder, for one, doesn’t work in Saudi Arabia. Before you go global, do your research and see if your app – and what it does precisely – is allowed in the country you are targeting.

Check for legal requirements and allowances, whether or not you are allowed to market your app without physically setting up a company in that region, and more.

  • Localization 101

If your app is in English, you might need to look at making your app available in multi-lingual versions. The complexity – just with languages, for instance – is bewildering. For instance, India alone has multiple languages although English is widely spoken and used. Mexico and Spain will require Spanish versions and France will need your app to work in French.

That’s just to do with languages. You’d also have to consider localization of UI/UX design, features, and look into infrastructural capabilities too. For instance, if you built a CRM app with in-built calling and SMS functions, you’d have to figure out if the host country allows for such connectivity with your existing layers of capability of your App.

  • Localized Marketing and Affiliate Marketing

If you set out to do marketing with the usual channels such as blogging, ASO – App Store Optimization, social media, and even recruiting affiliates to help boost promotions location wise, you’d need to tread with caution.

Consider setting up a simple app downloads offer with a CPA network, for instance, you’d have to specify the countries the offer is open to, the promotional methods you allow affiliates to use, and legal setup needed if the countries have a mandate as such.

For social media alone, not all networks work exactly the same or are weighed with the same popularity as it is in the U.S or Australia. South Africa is still heavy on MXit and China swears by Renren.

Localization: The task is worth the Effort

Going global is exciting and thankfully, you can do it with your apps. If you don’t know how to launch your localization effort, begin with countries that have a high number of mobile subscribers like China, India, Russia and Japan.

Systematic localization of your app can help you get discovered by new users around the world. If your app has nothing to do with providing services locally, it’s meant to go global. That should be the default position.

At July, our App Marketing strategies help businesses generate additional sources of revenue and bolster their global position. Want to reap the rewards of being an early mover?

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