I have yet to meet a single mobile app developer who says, “I wish I had fewer downloads.” Or, “I have too much revenue.” Like any business, app developers want to provide something useful. One of the best ways to measure how useful something is is to measure how much someone is willing to pay for it.
If you’re only distributing your mobile app in one language, more often than not you’re missing potential customers and neglecting the value of the hours sunk into building, testing and launching your app. App Annie, which provides app market estimates, reported that Japan surpassed the U.S. as the No. 1 country in app-generated revenue, and that Brazil, Russia, India and China have all made gains in app downloads. This new reality sets the stage for future revenue growth in multiple languages.
Last year, Google Play announced translation services for Android developers. Here are three highlights:
• App game Zombie Ragdoll combined app translation with local marketing campaigns. In doing so, it found that 80 percent of installs came from non-English-language users.
• Dating app SayHi Chat expanded into 13 additional languages, then saw a 120 percent install growth in these local markets and improved user reviews.
• The developer of card game G4A Indian Rummy saw a 300 percent increase with user engagement in localized apps.
Mobile app developers and mobile marketers would be ill-advised to convey their messages in only one language and risk forgoing potential revenue.
Here’s how to take your app global and ensure that your hard work is getting the respect and recognition it deserves.
1. Set Clear Goals
Before diving into the world of translation, figure out what your goals are. Here are four goals we’ve seen from successful mobile app developers: more downloads, better app store rankings, more revenue and continued user engagement
There are hundreds of ways to get to these goals. Once you know how important each of these categories is—are we only focused on user engagement or are we predominantly focused on rankings?—you’ll be ready to set clear consumer targets and build strategies to help consumers find you.
2. Set the Strategy
If localization is your goal, the next step is to set a clear strategy. Ask yourself:
• What markets are we aiming for?
• What languages do we need?
• What content within our mobile app will be localized?
• Who will lead the localization process?
Certain apps translate into specific markets better than others. The Wall Street Journal reports that Fotopedia, a company that makes photo travel magazine apps, lists China as its largest market. Three years ago China was merely its 10th biggest market.
3. Get Found
The International Telecommunications Union predicts there will be nearly 3 billion Internet users worldwide by the end of 2014. More than 50 percent of the global online population can be covered by English, Spanish and Chinese. Add 10 more of the world’s most popular languages—among them Japanese, German, Korean and Portuguese, for example—and you’ll have 90 percent of the world’s online spending power covered.
To access these online markets, consider optimizing for search engines and app stores by taking these four steps:
• Produce quality content that is culturally sensitive.
• Select and use relevant keywords in the local language.
• Encourage positive customer reviews and acknowledge reviewers.
• List all relevant languages, app features and company information.
Once you’ve been found, you’ll need to focus on engagement by having your app translated and localized.
4. Streamline Your Translation
Updating a multilingual app can be quite a challenge—one that requires adaptability and integration. When “transcreating” app experiences for our clients across languages, we focus on three things: the strings of executable code, understanding the context of the app and delivering clear instructions to the translator.
5. Don’t Settle
No matter how you decide to translate your app—be it internally, through a translation agency, through crowdsourcing translation platforms or through machine translation—you’ll need to revisit your initial goals, determine the level of quality that’s acceptable and review your spending.
Remember that app localization is just the beginning. When selecting a translation provider, be sure that they can translate all modes of communication: confirmation emails, fulfillment for in-app purchases, translation of newsletters and localization of websites.
Following these five steps should help you capture the attention of the users you’ve been missing out on thus far.
If you have other ideas or stories on how to ensure mobile apps don’t fall flat in international markets, let me know below in the comments section.