How to Successfully Localize Your App for the Global Market

Read Time: 5 - 10 min

In 2017, global mobile app downloads exceeded 175 billion and consumer spending surpassed a whopping $86 billion, reports App Annie.

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The same report found China to be the world’s largest app market with Chinese app users spending over 200 billion hours in apps across iOS, Google and third-party play stores. Additionally, $1 out of every $4 from the app-store is generated by the Chinese market. While China is leading the market in terms of app downloads, India comes second, whereas the US stands third.

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The report found that only 15% of total internet users speak English. Meaning if you have the app developed only in English, you are probably missing the rest 85% of potential users.


This is where app localization comes into the game!


Once you have a substantial number of downloads and users on your app in your local space, the next step is, to localize the app to make it irresistible for the global audience.


App Localization is the process of customizing your mobile app to a particular region, language, culture, and market. The goal is to offer an app adapted to the local look, feel and culture.


56.2% of consumers feel that obtaining information in their own language is much more important than price. Localization also gives a competitive advantage to your app in many ways such as:


  • Exploring untapped markets
  • Enhanced visibility for your brand
  • Increased number of customers

Which local markets you should target?

You don’t want to localize your app for all the countries, right? The first step is to decide the countries, markets, and geographies which would give the best results.

Start researching the countries where a potential market for your industry exists.

For instance, you have a health application providing suggestions and consultation on health issues. You’ve launched the app in Australia and localizing the app for global expansion is your next goal. Thorough research before localization will save you a lot of time and cost.

A joint report by Wharton University and US News perceive the top 5 health conscious countries based on their life expectancy to be - Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Your health app could do well in these countries.

Another way to find the demand is by visiting the local app stores for similar apps. If they are doing well that means you can target those locations.

App data analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Appsee, and appScatter help you find the best target market using hardcore data.

Additional things to consider are - look for markets and countries where there is either lack of your product or where the competitors are not as good as you. Penetrating a market already crowded and matured for your offering could be a waste of time initially.

Many a time, you may find a great market with low competition. Instead of getting excited and starting to localize immediately, conduct a local market research. Get to know more about the culture, religion, audience and start localizing only if you find the conditions favorable.

 

3 Tips to increase your app downloads in a local market

1. Localizing the app’s metadata

An app’s metadata refers to the texts and images you see on the app store listing. They include title, description, keywords, screenshots, icons, videos and graphics.

An optimized metadata is crucial for search ranking and to get the right users to visit your app and to actually download the app. Next in line would be to add the right keywords and to localize the texts, audio, and visuals to the countries and languages you are targeting.

It is extremely crucial to select your brand name carefully.  While localizing, choose an app name which is easy to pronounce, remember, recognize and portrays a positive sentiment. It will fail to work if it doesn’t make sense in the local language, so instead find a close phonetic equivalent that keeps the brand identity intact.

Culture has a massive impact on communication, hence it becomes important to ensure that your app is culturally adaptive to that country. For example, being blunt in expression in one’s thoughts is acceptable in some cultures but not accepted in others.

2. Follow the App Store Optimization best-practices

The ASO is your sales pitch or shop window to a potential customer to entice them to install your app.

While localizing the metadata, there are a few character limits to adhere to. For example, in the iTunes connect, the character limit is 100 for the keywords.

For example, “wishlist” in English when translated into Spanish is “lista de deseos”. This word doesn’t exist in French. Localize the keywords rather than translating them so that they make sense to the native app users. Along with the keywords, localize all elements of the app including description, promotional text, time and date, currency, symbols, colors and the subtitle.

3. Hire a translation agency

The quality of machine translators fails to match that of human translators because they cannot understand that sentence structures vary in different languages. They are unable to localize the context or grammar of the sentence.

For example, when translating the app to Portuguese, the literal meaning of Facebook’s “Like” is “gostei”. However, a more impactful work is “curti” which only a native human translator is capable of contextually adding.

All the resources spent in months of coding, testing and marketing will mean nothing if your app is not localized to appeal to the local users.

 

About the authorAlpi Mantry is the VP of growth and relationship at Translate By Humans. With her 10-years of experience at Oracle, Deloitte and Infosys, she now helps Translate By Humans cater to global brands such as Vogue, Nike, HSBC Europe, Amazon and many more.

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