Mobile app localization: is it important?

Erica Sunarjo
July 9, 2019

Localizing your app is now an imperative step towards considerably increasing your market share and your business’s revenue. While app developers of various calibers flood the app stores with their products, catering to people of all ethnicities is now considered both an ethical and an economic staple.

Efficient localization allows both SMB’s and large corporations to enter the most culturally diverse markets and still provide products and services that are palatable to the locals. At the end of the day, we most probably all want the same things, but our cultural peculiarities need to be taken into account.

In this article, we’re going to look into the reasons why your business should localize its app and online presence as soon as possible. Let’s take a look, shall we?

What localization is and isn’t

Before we look into the spectrum of benefits that localization has to offer, it’s essential to differentiate translation and localization, given that the two are often confused. While it is true that these two practices are awfully similar, the general goal of localization is to facilitate the user’s cultural perception of the text.

Translation, when compared to localization, is more preoccupied with literal meaning. A translation aims to be “faithful” and abide by common linguistic standards.

Localization is, on the contrary, closer to the people that speak the target language in a specific area, which infers that some expressions might not be exactly according to the international standards. A marketing campaign in New Zealand may as well be executed in English, but it certainly won’t always be in accordance with the English spoken in Washington or London.

Therefore, it’s safe to assume that simply “translating” an ad campaign that was initially crafted for one market, this would be a mistake that cost you a lot and the entire effort would render itself useless and that it’s best to reach out to businesses like The Word Point, to receive consultation on how to approach localization for your particular app and marketing campaign.

Can’t read, won’t buy

Common Sense Advisory, an international company that researches business and commerce, published a notorious paper analyzing the effects that localization has on business and revenue. If you’re looking to invest in localizing your app, this is a critical study to look into. Here are a few essential points the paper makes that are worth pondering upon.

The study features over 3000 respondents from a broad spectrum of countries with languages in various language groups, such as China, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Japan, and Russia.

The study has concluded that users are drawn towards making purchases when advertised in their own languages. People most often aren’t ready to spend money on something that they are bound not to understand fully.

It can be derived that international customers will be dissuaded from purchasing apps that aren’t localized as well. Considering that a host of countries that spend colossal amounts of money on mobile apps often have very low percentages of English-speaking citizens.

Essential markets

Localization can have a spectacular ROI if you’re carefully selecting the markets you’re looking to enter. There are now a few Asian countries that are gaining immense momentum on both Google Play and the App Store and localizing for them will have a considerable impact on your reach and market share. We’re talking about South Korea and Japan, two countries that are known for their love for gadgets and phones.

At the same time, these countries aren’t exactly known for the highest English proficiency per capita. By localizing for these two countries alone, you’re bound to increase your revenue manifold.

This becomes especially clear when you look into Statista’s numbers on what the most commonly spoken languages on the internet.

While Japanese barely goes above 3% in the report, Korean doesn’t even have a noticeable presence there, this, however, doesn’t impede these countries to be the leading spenders on app markets worldwide.

Increased customer loyalty

As we mentioned previously, localization comes with a lot of meticulous research, along with considerable time and budget investments. However, it’s safe to say that if performed well, it is most certainly a high return investment.

A localized product is an essential gateway to customer loyalty.

In an EU-funded survey, 90% of respondents suggested that they would use a site or an app if it were in their language.

In conclusion

App localization is most definitely an essential instrument for extending your reach to an international non-English speaking audience. Despite being a long and complex procedure that can be very demanding in regards to money, time, and effort, all evidence suggests that localization is very well worth the hassle.

It’s also safe to assume that localizing your products is by no means a trend that is to become irrelevant soon. On the contrary, as the world becomes fixated on identity, localizing products will remain a viable option for expanding your reach and considerably increase your revenue worldwide.

Localizing your app also allows to mitigate cultural sensitivity and provide much better customer support, so if you’re a company that values its interaction with its clientele, you have another critical reason to localize your app. Good luck!

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