Which Languages Should I Translate My Software Into?

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So, you’ve decided to invest in international expansion in a bid to reach and capture new audiences. Congratulations. Positioning your software in new markets is a huge step toward growth and sustainable success.

However, before launch day, there’s work to be done. To ensure your software resonates with new audiences and maintains its functionality, the text must be translated. Better yet, the entire user experience must be localized.

If you’re not sure which languages to translate your software into, read on. We’ve listed four key considerations to keep in mind. But first, why is localization so integral to your software’s global success?

Why software localization is critical to attracting and engaging global audiences

Global expansion empowers your brand to reach new audiences. But while the prospect of broadening your customer base is exciting, your go-to-market strategy must include software localization. Localization is about more than language. It’s about cultural norms and expectations. It’s about meeting your new audience where they are to deliver the most engaging, effective, and positive experience possible.

What is localization? The process encompasses language, culture, and communication. It removes and replaces culturally-specific references, it converts measurements from metric to imperial or vice versa, and it guarantees that your software’s content is free from potentially irrelevant or offensive material. In short, it ensures your software achieves its mission in a way that makes sense to and resonates with your audience.

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How to choose which languages to translate your software into

Launching your software product in a new market is a significant step in your business’s growth, one that demands time and resource investment. Localization and translation are essential to your endeavor’s success. But, how do you know which languages and cultures you should target? What language should you translate your software into to ensure you achieve the highest ROI possible?

Here are four vital considerations to keep in mind.

Know your target market

Your software is built to make specific people’s lives easier. When deciding which languages to translate your software into, keep those people front of mind.

Start broad. Which countries have the highest demand for your solution? Is your software local – in other words, does it require geographical data to execute core functionalities? Is it impacted by government regulations and compliance? Answering these bigger-picture questions will help you narrow down your potential market, but you can dig further.

Are the people that fall into your prospective international market receptive to online marketing? How do they make buying decisions? Do they have any niche pain points that your software can resolve?

If your software’s target market is relatively broad or overwhelmingly large, you might like to consider factors like purchasing power. How much do individuals or companies have to spend on solutions like yours? What is the value of their eCommerce market?

Research your competition

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. It’s a truism that has helped many businesses level up their reach and thrive in new markets, and it’s something you should consider when translating your content.

Start by visiting your competitors’ websites. What languages have they translated their software into? You can translate your software language to reach the same audiences your competitor is targeting, or you can look for untapped markets.

Don’t forget to research international competition, too. If you run a US-based company looking to expand into Germany, wrap your head around German businesses serving your target market.

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Prioritize languages according to your budget

Your software might boast worldwide appeal, but you might not have the budget to translate and localize its content into the world’s top 50 most-spoken languages.

The cost of translating your software’s language will depend on several factors, including:

-The amount of text your software includes

-The language your software is currently written in

-The language you’d like to translate your software into

-The vendor you work with

If you only have the budget to translate your software into one language and it’s not already available in English, consider making English your number one priority. English literacy is high even in non-English speaking countries.

Be aware of where your current users are from

If your software has a website, leverage your visitors’ demographic data to help you decide which languages to target. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can see where your web users are located and which languages they browse in.

The most-used languages

Numbers might play a role in your translation and localization strategies. First, you can look at the most-used languages on the internet, although this will unlikely be the most decisive factor. The top five most-used languages (as of October 2021) on the internet are as follows:

  • English (63.2 percent)
  • Russian (7.2 percent)
  • Turkish (3.9 percent)
  • Spanish (3.7 percent)
  • Persian (3.5 percent)

English is a clear winner, and as we mentioned, should likely be a top priority for your software. The following four most-used languages may or may not cater to your target market. Instead, you might gain more from considering core markets and their respective languages. Some established and up-and-coming markets’ languages include:

  • English
  • Simplified Chinese
  • Spanish
  • German
  • French
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Italian
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Choose languages your target markets speak

Ultimately, which languages you decide to translate your software depends on which languages your target markets speak. Let your audience guide you toward the right decision, using data where possible to confirm your assumptions and forecast your return on investment.

Expanding your brand into new countries, cultures, and markets is a significant milestone in any business’s journey to success. As you navigate the ins and outs of unchartered territory, be sure you have a trusted localization expert by your side.

Localization helps you maintain your brand’s messaging and software’s functionality. It gives you the opportunity to establish an authentic and meaningful presence, to connect with new audiences and solve their problems. We can help make successful global expansion a reality. So reach out today, and let’s discuss what you need to embark on your next chapter of growth.

Read also:

Website Localization: Why is it so important?

What is involved in Website Localization?

Which languages should I translate my website into?

10+1 best practices on software localization

Software internationalization pitfalls

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