Eight tips to launch your app abroad: expanding your business beyond national borders with translation and localization
So you have a dream of expanding your business beyond national borders, but the rest of your management team is out of the loop. Getting organized to sell your app abroad requires a roadmap. Here are eight stops you don’t want to miss.
1. Arm yourself with relevant statistics and make the case
Companies are always looking to grow. Localization may not be a choice but a necessity. Most of the potential market or audience across the world does not speak English as a native language. Would you buy a product in a language you don’t understand? Why do you think some of the world’s most spoken languages continue to be underrepresented?
Roughly 16% of the planet’s population (1.28 billion) speaks Chinese. 95% of Chinese consumers do not buy products or services presented in a foreign language, even if they are fluent in that language. Yet, according to W3Techs 52.9% of the top 10 million websites are in English.
In the European Union, 42% of consumers do not buy products or services presented in a foreign language, even if they are fluent in that language.
The gap between the web and real life also manifests itself in Spanish which boasts 437 million first-language speakers but accounts for just over 5.1% of websites.
Imagine if all the content you read would show up in a language that was not your own. Now, the next time someone asks you why they should spend money on localizing content? Just remind them, nearly half of internet users say that they never spend money online in a language that isn’t their own.
2. Make Sales Estimates
Being successful at home does not automatically ensure success abroad. Whether Swedish, German, French, or Chinese should be your first choice depends on your objective. At the very least get a better idea of the market size. A simple way to get an idea of the possible market size is to divide population size by number of web or mobile device users. Determine which regions should get priority because they have more potential.
Compare the market you’re aiming at with a market you already know. For example, if the new market has half the number of smartphone users as the US, a correctly localized version of your app might attract half as many customers.
Analyze data from online tools like Google Global Market Finder and Google Trends to see how popular relevant keywords are in different languages.
3. Make a SWOT Analysis
SWOT is a marketing and business term that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Checking out these four aspects can help you decide if a particular localization is likely to be good business or not.
On a relative basis (compared with other projects you know about) or in absolute terms (when you can quantify impacts and dollars), a SWOT analysis can help you decide if you stand a chance to make money.
4. Weigh Timing Trade-Offs for Localization Investments
Accepted wisdom says that any necessary investment should be made as close as possible to the launch of a product, and that all possible revenues should be collected as soon as possible after launch. That way, you avoid tying up investment too early and having to wait for returns, whose value will be eroded by inflation over the time you have to wait for them.
5. Plan the Internationalization of your app
The preparatory work for any specific localization is often best designed in from the start. Just like security and quality, it is often more difficult to add in or layer on internationalization at a later stage, and the results may not be as good, either.
The basics of internationalization, such as the separation of content and the use of functions to automatically format units and quantities for foreign languages, may also need relatively little effort, when they are done at the same time as the development of the code.
Localization itself, meaning the translation or “transcreation” of text and other content, can then be done shortly before the planned launch date of a version of your app or website in each language.
6. Cost Management for Localization ROI
Return on investment primarily depends on two things. The first is making more sales revenue and profit. The second is properly managing your localization costs. So your next goal is to run a tight project ship for each language. This means monitoring time, expense, and progression towards deadlines to ensure that localization projects are kept on track towards goals and that costs are contained.
7. Optimize Translation Cost
Use a professional localization service provider who can guide you through the translation process.
Use translation memory. Translation management platforms now offer facilities to hold previously translated strings and to prompt translators to use them again. This avoids extra effort or cost, and helps produce a more consistent translation each time (also important for maintenance and upgrade releases.)
Use translation glossaries. Some terms may not need to be translated or else their translation will always be the same. By preparing a translation glossary of such terms, you can reduce effort and cost. In the right format, these glossaries can also be included in translation management platforms, making it easy for translators to click “OK” and move directly to the next phrase to be translated.
8. The Final Step to ROI – Merchandizing to Make Sales
After you have made sure marketing and development are firing on all six cylinders to help generate a positive ROI, you will need to make sure that merchandising is up to the job as well. Put it this way: if customers do not know that a localized product exists for them, they will not think of using it. Do not release a product on an unsuspecting market. Advertising and PR should provide the wakeup call for your market to sit up, pay attention, and start thinking about all the things they will be able to do as the proud owners of your localized app.
A translated product alone does not guarantee global success. The best performing international businesses are those that are highly culturally aware and able to adapt interculturally. To succeed abroad it is necessary to account for differences in culture and expectations. Good data makes for sound decisions. Success comes down largely to excellent preparation and execution.
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