Penetrating new international markets is, by far, the fastest way to grow an audience for an app or piece of software. Accessing a new pool of consumers can even breathe new life into a floundering app or software that hasn’t found its niche. Of course, these market entries are easier said than done. To manage one effectively, you need a comprehensive product localization strategy.
Competition for app users is fierce. Android alone releases more than 6,000 new apps every single day. However, in many cases, the companies that release those apps are targeting English-speaking users. By branching out into new markets, you can eliminate the depth of competition and gain a more significant following of individuals in underserved markets. Here are five product localization strategies to consider as you delve into international markets.
Step #1: Complete a Full Product Audit
Before beginning your localization strategy, it’s important to identify which aspects you intend to localize. (This is inclusive of all media used, such as text, photos, videos, or audio files.) This review will give you a more accurate estimate of how much work will be required and who is needed to complete the process. Some translation companies may provide services only for translating text; others might do everything from translation to video dubbing and more. Knowing what you need will help you control costs and scope creep later.
You also need to review the code that powers your app or software. How conversion-ready is it? How is your structured text formatted? How do you treat variables? Are text boxes flexible enough to support larger phrases or sections without spilling over or cutting off? You need to ensure both the content and the user experience remain intact after they’re translated into a new language.
One quick way to perform an initial assessment is to utilize machine translation. Both iOS and Android apps have extensive international support, so it’s relatively simple to roll out a new app in a different language. A simple machine-translated pass can be used as sample text to test how your code and UI will change based on the conversion. This strategy can help you build a better experience by allowing you to catch errors early on.
Step #2: Perform Data-Driven Research
What languages do you want to target? While this might seem like a simple query, it’s also one that results in the most missed opportunities. You may go all-in on a Spanish translation—based solely on an assumption—only to find little actual interest in the region. On the other hand, you may hire an expensive firm to do market research, but they can only make educated predictions; they can’t guarantee success with provable data.
This is where machine translation can provide significant value again. Using a machine-translated version of your product, you can collect valuable data on interested users in the region. Support tickets and visits will tell you where the most opportunity lies, allowing you to closely target those specific areas for a more robust localization strategy.
Step #3: Assess Your Assets
Assets include anything your linguists can use to understand your brand and its internal culture. This includes corporate lexicons, terminologies, existing term bases, and translation memories. With a comprehensive collection of assets, you can consistently build on these tools to further improve your translation results.
A particularly valuable example is translation memory. As you review and make changes to translated content, the memory is updated with those changes. This continuous improvement allows you to greatly improve the accuracy and consistency of your messaging as the translation memory guides linguists and prevents the need to retranslate.
Step #4: Build QA and Maintenance Plans
How often do you intend to push new content live? What is your overall maintenance strategy? Is it continuous, or are you taking a more structured approach? Both methods have their benefits and risks.
With a continuous strategy, updates to your program are triggered by changes to your original. This will provide a faster, more seamless approach to maintenance that will keep your product constantly up-to-date. However, it’s also risky, as a small mistake in one area could filter through all languages and become a larger problem down the road.
A structured approach will provide you with more control, but it will also require a larger investment of time. You’ll need to regularly monitor for changes, submit jobs, check received content for quality, and push it live on a strict, step-by-step basis. This approach can be challenging for a large-sized company.
In a structured approach, you will also need to set standards for the overall quality of translated content and ensure translators adhere to it. To streamline this part of the process, it’s advisable to choose a single point of contact who will have final approval over what’s brand-appropriate and what isn’t. This will avoid any miscommunications, information silos, and inconsistencies that can come with multiple approvers.
Step #5: Choose a Platform for the Product Localization Strategy
The final step you need to consider as you localize your product is selecting the right partners. Often, there’s a disconnect between your service partner and your chosen tools. You may find an excellent translation firm that provides expert linguists, but they may not understand how to best employ the tools you use to manage the translation workflow. Conversely, you may find technically compatible providers, but the service delivered is lackluster. To ensure seamless localization, it’s critical to partner with an agency that is the right fit in all regards.
An all-inclusive localization management platform bypasses any potential issue described above. Everything is handled inside a single system from beginning to end—job submissions, work completion using computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, and content retention. The activity inside the platform can also help you understand the return on investment (ROI) of your translation in a given market, progressing your market research.
Incorporating these five tips into your product localization strategy will allow you to reach new markets and grow your audience exponentially. With an all-inclusive platform, you can better understand your target market and increase your ROI, all while effectively managing the technical aspects of translation. Any company that wants to succeed on a global scale will need to inevitably explore international expansion. Implementing a localization strategy in the early stages of growth will give you an edge.