Localization of your mobile app boosts your organic growth and ad conversion rates. In some specific markets, it’s even a mandatory entrance ticket. Therefore, it is not a matter of if you should do it, but a matter of when and how. Here is what you should consider.
There is plenty of data demonstrating that mobile app localization is a key to success. And really, it’s not something you should put off until you hit some metric of success, but rather a mean on your way to achieving it. Successful companies address localization relatively early on in the game and define it as an important factor in their app marketing strategy.
The best localization approach to take within your app marketing efforts is to start by asking the right questions…
“Where –What market (s) should I focus on?”
“What should I localize (out of my entire assets)?”, and
“How should I go about executing my localization plan?”
The “Where to localize” decision
When your start thinking about localization, the first decision you need to make, is which countries you want to localize in. Each market you enter will need its own localization approach. Texts, graphics, ASO and advertising through the right channels are only part of the game. Why choose between different markets when including localization in you app marketing strategy? As you may understand, localization does not come for free. While it’s not as expensive as developing your app or acquiring the right users, there is still a cost attached to it. So, like any other activity, your localization focus needs to be well-planned, and should be a part of your overall app marketing strategy with measurable KPIs.
How do you achieve that? By the sweat of your brow (aka research). Find out which markets your competition is in. Actually, you probably already did that when you did your initialb app marketing research. Find regions where your app fills a vacuum. Determine your addressable market in different regions, and consider purchasing premium reports that will shed some light on specific markets. Yes, you could even get insights of your competitors’ revenues in specific markets. That’s a real app marketing asset (App Annie is an example of a company that makes a living by providing such data). To learn more check out our full mobile app marketing localization guide.
It’s Not All or Nothing: The “What to localize decision”
Some people believe localization starts and ends with translating the texts inside your app, but there’s much more to it.
Different countries, different rules…
There are many different aspects to localization, and the degree to which you choose to localize may vary greatly between the different markets you want to penetrate, and, of course, your capacity and budget. In some countries, English, while not a native language, is very popular and heavily used. For example, in the Philippines, anyone who owns a smartphone will most likely not be deterred by your app being described and operated in English. Then again, in other countries, only people in cosmopolitan centers are usually comfortable enough with English, to use your app even if it’s not localized. In short, the specific countries you are interested in will determine which of your assets you should localize…
Such as the texts you write in the app store download page? Well, your app store download page texts can easily be translated. It’s a pretty simple task (also- check on the store support for specific languages. Arabic, for instance, is not supported as a translated language in iTunes, though it is supported in Google play).
But, should you translate the app download page text? That’s a different question. App store localization creates some kind of expectation. If you didn’t go the extra mile to fully translate your app UX you need to state that very clearly as part of the download page copy. Potential users should be aware of the fact that your app UX is not in their language, before they install it. You want engaged users, not “install-curse-remove + bad-review” users.
Then there’s your app marketing collateral. In some markets, potential users can be much more likely to click a banner ad, share your Facebook post, or retweet something when it’s in their native language. But this rule does not always apply, it depends. I have seen localized ads that brought great results compared to English ones, targeting the same segments and using similar creative. But I have also seen localized ads failing to achieve good results in other cases, where English ads worked better. So we are talking about some trials and error here, in order to understand specific behaviors in specific markets.
Creative and graphical assets are no exception – Would a German relate to an image with the Eiffel Tower in the background the same way that a Frenchman, or a Japanese user would? Yes, images can send strong messages, so you must choose them carefully. I always carefully select the images and photos I use for ads designed for specific territories, making sure the ad will not be perceived as biased or offensive in any way, and that the people in the photos are right for that the specific market.
The “How to localize” decision
Both have a large enough market share.
For your iOS app, there’s only the App Store, but Android is a different story altogether. There are over 30 stores in which you can launch your app, and many countries have their local favorite. So alternative stores become another decision point in your localization strategy.
For example, the official Google Play store is not widely used in Russia or China, they have their own local Android app stores. Each different store has its own submission process, text size limitations and other criteria, and every time you have an update, you need to go through the process on all the relevant stores. This can become a localization logistical nightmare. In our full localization guide, we’ll fill you in on services you can use that will ease this pain.
Localization is a key success factor in your mobile app. Therefore, give it the respect it deserves in your app marketing efforts. If you want your app to become a “world citizen”, you should consider the variety of the cultures around.
Move on to our full app marketing localization guide (members only) – to help you with the bits and bytes on how to execute your localization strategy, including some helpful templates and references to 3rd party free tools.