App Localization: Why Can It Grow Your Business?

With the rapid growth of digital technologies, our world is getting smaller. And the destinations shrink in the virtual space. And the online global market is booming because of this. Obviously, now is a perfect time for businesses to look for more opportunities to operate on the global scale. The more foreign markets business conquers, the more customers it’s going to get, obviously.

No secret, customer engagement is the most important ingredient of success. Hence, going global implies dealing with other languages and international requirements for business operations. Which also means there will be a need to localize a mobile app. This is one of the most important steps that can establish your brand in global settings enabling a clear communication with foreign customers and business partners. 

If you’re not sure what localization is and what it can do for business growth, read this blog post for more info!

Why is localization important?

According to the research conducted by Allied Market, the mobile apps industry will reach up to $407 billion on the global scale by 2026 (or even earlier). And since both Google Play & Apple stores are utilized by users everywhere in the world, localization of mobile apps becomes crucial. It ensures app’s success because of:

Global reach. As of today, there are over 6 billion smartphone users in the world who get access to the Internet on a regular basis. Getting rid of the linguistic/cultural barriers allows to boost a number of potential buyers overseas.

Virtually unlimited sales potential. Mobile apps’ localization is a necessary step for emerging in the regions of Asia, Africa, India, etc. where most locals speak little English but, if you localize, your brand gets a chance to earn significant revenues.

Better return on investment. An overall app’s success largely relies on the number of people who hit a “Download” button. Statistically, localized apps tend to get more downloads and perform much better because users are more likely to use apps that have been catered to their needs in their native languages. But you’ll have to take into account different kinds of cultural nuances that exist in every region to ensure that nothing offends your consumer segment.

In sum, localization of mobile apps is important because of:

  • Your great chance to reach out to international buyers;
  • Improved user experience;
  • Better visibility in the app store market;
  • Advantage over competitors;
  • Increase in downloads;
  • Greater ROI.

How is app localization different from translation?

Okay, let’s talk about how translation is different from the process of localization. Whenever the content is being translated, it means converting and transforming it from one language to another without changing the meaning of the context. Basically, the main purpose and mission is to translate texts so the target language “reads” as though it was written in this particular language initially.

When it comes down to mobile app/website localization, this process evolves around language variants like French, Brazilian Portuguese, Hindi, etc. to make content and context clearly speak to locals. Typically, this means the proper formatting of numbers, dates, time, quote marks, in a manner appropriate for the audience. For example, the following sequence 1,000.5 in the US will be written like 1.000,5 in the EU and so on.

Localization also means taking into account sensitive things like idioms, color schemes, images that can be offensive due to some cultural differences, religious beliefs, etc. Think about anything else that may not be appropriate or make sense for a locale. If you are an eCommerce app, you’ll need to make sure that your foreign buyers are paying in their local currency. Then there is a time zone. Odds are you’ll need to allow users to adjust the time zones to their current ones. Don’t forget about local holidays: localize your app’s design for local holidays like Christmas, Chinese New Year, Bastille Day. Proper localization will definitely make your app much more engaging.  

How does localization work for mobile apps?

Localization deals with more of a technical side like preparing the locale-specific content for the prospective buyers. Setting up localization for apps extends to features like adhering to regional laws, payment options and gateways, design and layout and so on.  For example, in software/web, this means taking the following steps:

  • Sorting out translatable strings;
  • Separating strings from executable code;
  • Supporting character sets with proper encoding;
  • Making sure that text fit in the fixed-width app’s buttons;
  • Doing internationalization of local currency, dates, etc.
  • Taking care of all tech implications for the best multilingual experience.

Generally speaking, localization of mobile apps equals globalization. This process is focused on marketplace issues and finding appropriate ways to bring your product to the marketing place in an appropriate way. You will need to analyze whether your app “works” in a particular region, what support is required, what local customs or taxes are, etc. All of these need some careful planning since maintaining such a project can become challenging. So, think about these 2 questions before start localizing:

  • What do I need to do technically to provide a multilingual experience that will allow me to reach new customers around the world?
  • How do I make my content most appropriate for locals I’m trying to reach?

Basically, localization involves not only simple translation but also there are marketing considerations, support considerations, etc. So, make sure you localize a mobile app (or website) so it does make clear sense to people of regions you’re interested in. And that it solves locale-specific translation challenges.

What are the useful tips for proper localization?

Yes, the mobile apps industry picks up speed and grows faster every year and smartphones are the most popular device in the world today. It’s been already projected that within a few years, there will be a larger market for Apple in China than even its home in the US. And if you’d follow Craig Federighi (Apple vice-president), who encouraged developers at the WWDC keynote: “Get your apps ready for China!”, you’d also see that the same is true for most other locations in the world.

In case you wonder whether localization costs money, this process does require some investment of time and money. But in reality, it’s not as expensive to localize most apps as you might think. The vast majority of apps have just a few hundred words (app’s description is often even longer). What’s more important is to know if there would be a demand for your products/services in the region you want to localize your app for.  

What is the other important stuff to keep an eye on while localizing a mobile app? Here is some advice from the industry experts:

  • Localization should be brought in during the initial stage of app development. It is also possible to localize an existing app. App localization comes with several challenges. Hire an expert mobile app development company to help you implement app localization seamlessly.
  • Select your target market and analyze your target audience.
  • Select the language preferred by users in the target market.
  • Try out localization services provided by the Play Store.
  • Translate an app name, description, and other content to suit the local market better.
  • Consistently update all versions whenever new features are added.
  • If your app can perform just fine in different markets without being localized, then don’t localize it. Instead, use it as a last-mile strategy to tap the potential market.
  • Don’t localize for multiple regions at once. And it’s easy to understand why.
  • Choose the right technology or frameworks that support localization. Fun fact: the number in the abbreviation denotes the number of letters in-between.
  • Since web frameworks or CMS have different plug-ins, extensions, and modules that allow developers to localize their apps, do some research and find the right one for your project.
  • Do you want to auto-detect the user’s locale? Or provide manual switch options? If you want some intelligence, then use IP geolocation technologies to detect the user’s locale and automatically switch the content to the right language.

In case you’re localizing your business website, don’t ignore SEO optimization. Localization will have a huge impact on the performance of your website in this case. So, do your homework and stick to best practices.

Bottom-line

App/website localization can ensure success of the brand in global settings. It helps to establish the brand’s presence in the form of a mobile application. And it is very important. But it also means getting rid of any kind of linguistic barriers making this mobile app accessible to anyone in the foreign region.

Yes, localization works great for customer acquisition and for making your products/services accessible to a wider audience. Maybe it is an e-learning platform providing online courses and some free educational content. Or a useful health app that everyone can benefit from. Localization opens up your app to millions (or even billions) of people who would otherwise have a hard time understanding what it’s about.

App localization is important to make users download your app. In fact, a quick search of the Top Apps in the iTunes App Store for foreign countries shows that 9 out of 10 have been localized. And this “feature” will certainly give any app an edge while introducing it to foreign markets.

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