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Incredibly, 83.72 percent of the world’s population own a smartphone, and in 2021, 230 billion apps were downloaded to mobile devices across the globe. If your business has published an app, you have the potential to reach an almost inconceivable number of people. However, language and cultural barriers can prevent your success. That’s where localization comes into play.
In this guide, we’ll explore the basics of app localization, so you can implement an informed expansion strategy that empowers your business to achieve its global aspirations. Let’s get started.
What is app localization?
The app localization process adapts an app and its interface, content, and functionality for users in a geographically distinct market. While the process does involve translating the app’s text from one language to another, it goes further.
Localization customizes every facet of your app to meet the unique expectations of a user base. This includes the following:
- Text (in-app and app store) and its meaning, including storylines, tone, character names, and figurative language devices like metaphors and idioms
- Addresses, dates, time, units of measurement, currencies, and symbols
- Images, icons, photos, avatars, maps, screenshots, and graphics
- Colors and fonts
The goal is to tailor every element of an app to an audience’s social and cultural behaviors, habits, and expectations.
Why is app localization important?
Four in ten customers won’t buy a product – an app included – if it isn’t in their own language. What’s more, 65 percent prefer content in their language, and almost three-quarters want reviews in their language. The takeaway: App localization is key to unlocking success for businesses with global ambitions.
Here are some of the many benefits of localizing your app:
- Global expansion. If your business is looking to tap into overseas markets, it must tailor its app to meet location-specific needs. In addition, localized app store optimization (ASO) is integral to getting your app in front of a new audience.
- Visibility. Billions of people use apps every single day, but if your app isn’t localized, you can’t reach them. A robust app localization strategy can enhance your visibility and increase your downloads.
- Improved UX. User experience (UX) is vital to any product’s success, and localization is an essential part of an app’s global expansion strategy. Research has found that every dollar invested into UX drives $100 in return on average. There are few other places, if any, your business could achieve an ROI of 9,900 percent.
- Longer-term engagement. Inspiring a user to download your app is half the battle. Next comes retainment and long-term engagement. If a user installs your app only to find the content difficult to understand – or worse, offensive – they may uninstall it immediately. Delivering on user expectations is critical if you are to build a sizeable, engaged, and loyal user base.
How to localize your app
Apps have many distinct elements, all of which work together to support their functionality. Therefore, each one of these elements must be localized to create a positive UX.
App store optimization
ASO involves optimizing your app’s title, screenshots, keywords, and description for app stores. The better your ASO, the greater number of people who will see your app in the app store.
If you have global ambitions, it’s critical to perform ASO to meet the needs of geographically diverse audiences. Here’s how that might look in practice:
- Consider your app’s title. Instead of simply translating it from one language to another, research keywords. Search terms are heavily dependent on culture. For example, people in Japan might use different phrasing when searching for a food delivery app than those in the US.
- Incorporate location-specific keywords in your description and other relevant sections.
- Add appropriate screenshots, video demos, and other visual features. Think about the food delivery app example. If expanding into the Japanese market, you should ensure the screenshots of your app’s map functionality feature Japanese cities – not American ones.
In addition to the above, research different app stores’ optimization requirements and limitations. For example, the keyword field in the Apple App Store has a 100-character limit.
First, ensure all text is translated into the appropriate language. Don’t forget to rework your push notifications. Then, check conventions and symbols – for example, you may need to alter how dates are formatted (e.g., dd/mm/yy vs. mm/dd/yy) and units of measurement (e.g., miles vs. kilometers). Finally, check for figures of speech (e.g., beat around the bush or spill the beans), as these English language quirks won’t make sense when translated word-for-word.
If your app contains location-specific information – for example, maps or dates – add positional information. This helps app stores show your app to the right users, boosting your download count and engagement.
Consider whether your app’s icon is culturally appropriate. Different colors, shapes, and symbols have different meanings across cultures and regions. For example, a thumbs-up gesture might be a positive sign of agreement in many cultures, but it’s an insult in Iran. If you are unsure, work with a location specialist with experience localizing for the market you are expanding into.
There’s no denying the power of app reviews to drive downloads. They provide all-important social proof and bolster your app’s discoverability and ranking in search results. Ideally, you want reviews and other user-generated content to be localized to your new market.
If your app contains video, avoid simply dubbing it or adding captions. If you can, remake the video to cater to your new audience. Work with actors and voice-over professionals local to your new market to ensure proper pronunciation and authentic delivery.
Localize your app
Ready to propel your app’s reach to the next level by expanding into an established or emerging market? Localization is a key step in your growth strategy. The problem is, unless you are familiar with cultural customs and expectations, getting it right can prove a significant challenge.
Our team has the knowledge and expertise to ensure your app’s localization positions you as a market leader. So contact us today, and let’s explore your needs.