Mobile App Localization: How to Increase Downloads and Boost Your Business

Today we will talk about one of the most important strategies in Mobile App Marketing in general and App Store Optimization in particular – App (store) localization.

Table of Contents

Mobile is global – App Localization is a MUST

Chances are high that most of your potential users do not speak your language – GSMA Intelligence are identifying already over 4.8 billion unique mobile users worldwide, and this number is projected to grow up to 5.7 billion by 2020. Over a half of those users are located in Asia and Pacific regions, and on a global level, only around 15% of users speak English as their first or second language.

In a pursuit of reaching these huge audiences of users, more and more apps now consider localization their main growth strategy. The mobile economy is booming: over 342k apps are downloaded from the stores every minute, and the app installs hit the record of more than 25 billion in Q1 2017. If your app is not yet available worldwide, stop everything and localize it now!

Unique Mobile Subscribers Worldwide
Source: GSMA – The Mobile Economy 2017

In a global world, mobile app localization becomes a vital strategy. Do you know which markets are the most interesting for your business? Where does the biggest demand for your product come from? Without localization, it’s quite hard to estimate.

Read more: ASO KPIs: What metrics to track and how to optimize them

The benefits of localization for mobile apps are clear – reaching a huge share of potential users can provide an endless value for any business. Let’s see how:

What are the main benefits from app localization?

1. Extended customer base

An access to a constantly growing new customer base is a valuable asset for any business.
With a proper localization, mobile apps have lower cultural barriers and a wider reach to educate and evoke interest in their potential new users.

To be ready for an international growth, your mobile app has to be properly translated and localized. A good app localization takes into account the market conditions of the particular country and provides the content or service that is adapted to the needs of this market.

Even if your business doesn’t have enough resources to provide a fully localized content yet, it is a good move to localize the elements of the product page first (app name, description, screenshots and videos). This way, you’ll be able to test the demand before investing time and money into full content localization.

Mobile App Localization

2. Fast entry to the new markets

A localized app product page, together with a strong App Store Optimization strategy, provides an easy and fast access to the global markets. You can make the app available for multiple countries and locales in the app stores, to simply try and find out if a particular market is interesting and have potential value for your business.

Translation and localization services are quite fast now, and can offer a ready-to-go localized product page in less than 24 hours. So why not make an advantage of it and try out your app on the new markets? Who knows where the demand might come from?

3. Better engagement levels and user experience

Your future customers want to see the content in their own language. Fully localized app, with an adapted communication strategy (e.g. push notifications, emails and other) provided in native language of your users, will ensure them having a great experience with your product, better understanding of it and thus, you’ll notice higher engagement levels among these users.

Although it is true that many people will use your app in its English version, but they will get a real value from it if it’s available in their own language. More engaged users – better for your business!

4. Virality

When the app is provided in the native language of the users, they will be more likely to spread the word about it. With effective built-in growth mechanisms, your users can become the drivers for your app’s growth in their countries.

5. Diversified customers

For mobile apps, probably the easiest strategy to grow and get a bigger market share is to localize an app. By having customers and users from different countries, you will have a wider and more diversified customer profiles, that can in turn, become your ambassadors and invite more users to your app or game.

What are the best markets for game / app localization?

First of all, we should keep in mind that there can be various spoken languages within one country or region. The obvious examples are Switzerland, Canada or China. This is why, when it comes to app localization, we will focus on locale, not a country or a market.

Locale is a combination that indicates both country and language, for example, en-US or en-UK. Even two locales with the same spoken languages can have many cultural differences, like wording, displaying dates and numbers and much more.

What are the best locales to target? There is no single answer to this question.

Apps and games of different categories may have higher success in some countries, but the only way to go is by doing a thorough research and finding out possible pros and cons for your business in a certain locale. Depending on your business needs, you may choose to go into a competitive market, or, for example, seed resources to move on to the new markets.

Even though mobile world is still dominated by English-speaking audience, there are other countries on the map with interesting numbers of revenues and downloads.

Top Countries by Downloads and Revenues
Source: App Annie

The traditional mobile super-powers like United States, Japan and South Korea are now going side by side with the new prospects: Brazil, China, India and Mexico.

As we mentioned earlier, the best way to see if a certain market brings value to your business, is to localize the app product page (listing) first, and make the app available for a certain locale. Apply App Store Optimization strategy to get a great visibility and conversion in this market and see if the downloads and revenues are meeting your expectations.

If you find a great potential for your business, you can then invest in localizing full content.

Average Minutes per Day in Mobile Apps
Source: App Annie

How to prepare your app or game for localization?

To have the freedom to make experiments and find out the best countries and locales to focus on, it is best to get your app prepared for later localization on an early stage. This will save you hours of development and significantly cut the costs of later localization for multiple languages.

The mobile app localization consists of three activities:

1. Internationalization

Internalization means making an app language independent, and includes initial preparation of the content to make it ready for localization. Once the internationalization is done, it is easier to estimate the time and effort needed to localize the app or game to any languages.

This process consists of separating all user-facing content (text and graphic) and storing it in strings and separate files, ready for translation. Developers will then build separate functions to retrieve the numbers and dates formats and display them for different locales accordingly.

Luckily, this process needs to be done only once, and the earlier it’s done, the more cost-effective it will be for future localization.

2. Content localization

The next step is the localization of the content itself and the proper adaptation of all user-facing text and graphic elements for a certain locale.

App localization takes much more than a simple translation, as other details such as colors, shapes, numeric formats can mean a lot here. Never trust the blind automatic translation! 🙂

Blind Translation

Translation and proofreading always have to be done by the native speakers of the target language. Don’t overlook this part: if you want to provide seamless and high quality experience for your users, your localized app should look and feel just as natural as if it was developed in the user’s native language.

Even small grammatical or punctuation errors that can escape from you, will hurt the eye of a native speaker, and this will soon pop up in your reviews and ratings. To avoid complaints, don’t use automatic translation and always proofread your texts with native speakers.

What to keep in mind:

  • Your App Name is adapted to the target language and doesn’t have a different meaning.
  • You’re using correct numerical systems and formats (1,000 vs 1.000).
  • You’re applying the correct list ordering rules, punctuation and spacing.
  • Your calendar system and symbols are adapted to the target locale.

You can find a list of top app localization tools here.

3. Implementation on the app stores

Both App Store and Google Play are providing convenient mechanisms to facilitate the localization of mobile app:

  • Built-in internationalization: locales are chosen by the end users and applied automatically by the stores.
  • Quick export: text strings can be easily exported and stored in separate files to make the localization easier.
  • Auto-layout: screen layout automatically adapts to different text lengths.
  • Auto-formatting: numbers and dates are adapted to user locales.

If you are looking for more information on localizing apps for the stores, be sure to read these guides for Apple App Store and Google Play.

TL;DR: App Localization checklist

Localization offers multiple advantages for app developers and certainly can’t be ignored. It is a great strategy to reach wider audiences, diversify your current customer profile and enter new markets to analyze the demand for your mobile product.

Here is a short checklist on mobile app localization:

  • Study your target market: make a research to find out the similar apps, look at what your competitors are doing, what are your customers’ buying habits in this region and what price they’ll be ready to pay for your product.
  • Find out what devices are most used in this locale and what app stores dominate the market.
  • Do App Store Optimization for your target stores and find out the best visibility and conversion strategy for this market.
  • Prepare and adapt your UI so it can support foreign characters, vertical scripts or RTL languages if needed. Make sure your app supports user-generated text in any languages, independently from the user interface.
  • Proof-read the localized content with a native speaker and check the graphics, too – sometimes irrelevant images can fail to transmit the right message to your users.
  • Make sure you are not blindly translating, but also adapting your product, provide local sharing options, messaging and support page.
  • Always test your localized app on all devices and platforms to ensure it’s coherent and has no errors or bugs.
  • Be fast – the earlier you prepare mobile app localization, the easier and more cost-effective it will be to try out new markets.

Do you have a localized app or game? What countries are you targeting? We’d love to hear more about the challenges you came across in the process – tell us more in the comments!

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1 thought on “Mobile App Localization: How to Increase Downloads and Boost Your Business”

  1. Mobile app development has become a new trend. Everyone – may it be an entrepreneur, an office-going guy, a mobile app developer or a student – all are striving to enter the mobile market. This has increased the competition in the market, making the mobile app developers go beyond their local market for enjoying higher downloads and traffic.

    Anyways, read the below. This might help.

    Sourav Basak
    Namaste UI

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