Many, if not most apps have the potential to reach massive global audiences. The Google and Apple marketplaces span across 130 countries and billions of users. However, sometimes if developers limit their app to a single market, they could also risk limiting their app’s growth and success. To effectively deploy an app worldwide, it is critical to adapt it to each target country and properly “localize” it. This means developers need to go beyond a simple translation of their app to another language. Successful localization includes translation plus adapting the date and time into the correct format, utilizing the proper keyboard, editing icons and videos to align culturally, and adjusting to cultural and regulatory norms, among many other things. This may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that the U.S. accounts for just 28% of the free download market and just 34% of global revenue from iPhone apps. Therefore, if an app can successfully leverage app localization, they have the potential to significantly grow their business.
If you’re ready to expand your audience and take your app to the next level through localization, consider the following advice.
1. Pick the right target market
When determining which market to expand into, it is important to consider which markets have the biggest potential for revenue growth for your app. To determine this, you may want to “test the waters” by deploying Minimum Viable Localization (MVL). MVL is a concept where developers translate only the app’s description and then monitor the activity and interest derived from this post. This can help developers determine which markets have the biggest potential before deploying a complete localized app.
In addition, you should consider which countries have the largest user bases and which markets have the largest base of paid users. Besides English, other top language markets include European Spanish, French, German, European Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Latin American Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese.
Your dev team should invest some research into picking the right target audience- whether it is through MVL, user data or another method.
2. Optimize the app for the marketplace
In order to optimize an app for a foreign market, it is important to go beyond auto-translation- sorry Google Translate! You should aim to partner with professional translators that also have stellar copywriting skills. This will ensure that you avoid any translation faux pas that could offend or leave a poor impression on your target audience. Furthermore, you need to make sure you update screenshots, videos and other app description components to reflect the native language and culture. It is also important to be honest about the level of localization being offered to customers in the app description. For example, if users are led to believe an app is natively developed in their language and then they discover it was not, this could have negative consequences. To avoid poor reviews and cranky users, set clear user expectations.
3. Leverage resources
Below are a few resources to help you on your way to localization. We spotted positive reviews for all of these, so they are a good places for you to start.
- One Hour Translation: One of the biggest players in the professional translation game, especially for apps. Possesses a workforce of 15,000 translators in over 100 countries. Also known to have very competitive pricing.
- Babble-on: US Company specializing in app localization services including translation, press releases and description writing.
- AppAnnie: Business intelligence tool that tracks yours and your competitor’s localization efforts through detailed analytics. Over 700,000 applications and 94 percent of the top 100 publishers use AppAnnie.
4. Consider geo-specific regulations
Apps like Uber have faced regulatory challenges when expanding into new markets. For example, when it began running its service in California, the ride sharing company encountered new legal challenges in regards to proprietary user data and whether its drivers should be classified as employees. It is important to not be nonchalant about adapting your app to local regulations and payment methods, because you can risk facing major repercussions. In addition to this, developers need to be aware of any data privacy nuances that exist amongst different countries and regions. For example, Japan has a “right to be forgotten” policy where certain targeted marketing methods are prohibited and China is also tightening its data privacy requirements.
5. Test, Analyze and Enhance Your UX
It is imperative to continue optimizing the UX in localized apps, just as you did on your initial app platform. Users may react to marketing, animation, in-app purchase queues differently across countries, regions or languages. Tracking, analyzing and adapting to these subtle changes in user behavior is critical. Developers can utilize UX app analytics like Appsee to gain this valuable, specific insight into international market user behavior.
App localization has the potential to help you unlock new audiences and additional revenue streams. However, it is crucial to note that successful localization is quite an undertaking. You must thoroughly analyze the return on investment before undertaking such projects. For those who invest the proper time and resources, localization could truly fuel your app’s growth in 2016 and beyond. Good luck!