Digital advertising has considerably lowered barriers to entry into app internationalization markets for companies of all sizes.
Global ad platforms, quick smoke tests, and performance-driven Landing Pages—designed to gather learnings—have made internationalization easier than ever before for all kinds of digital companies, especially mobile apps.
However, going international with your app isn’t as easy as pressing a button and waiting for users to download it. There are several factors that play a crucial role in defining the success rate of an internationalization strategy and ignoring them can lead to failure.
Why Does App Internationalization Matter for Growth?
Internationalization offers mobile app developers the opportunity to reach a wider audience, which usually results in an increase in revenue. Additionally, opening to new markets can help developers find out ways to further improve their products through feedback (ratings and reviews) from a more diverse audience.
From a business perspective, reaching new users internationally can also translate into diversifying the risk of depending on one single market and, at the same time, reducing competitors’ market share.
For instance, entering a new market makes a lot of sense on paper. However, implementing a correct app internationalization strategy can be more complicated than we think. For this reason, we have put together four key steps that any mobile app developer needs to follow when considering going international.
App Internationalization: 4 Steps to Follow
When looking at localization for mobile applications, many marketers fail to recognize that not all markets are the same and that users behave differently. Although the target audience is the same, users in different countries might expect a different app experience or offering.
In the past few months, we have been helping many app developers enter new markets and scale their activities successfully, giving us unique insights that helped us refine our approach. In addition, minimizing the learning curve while maximizing the output is key to successful internationalization.
If you want to localize mobile apps, you need to consider many factors. Therefore, let’s focus on the four crucial steps when doing so.
Step 1: Mobile App Audit – Ensure Your App Is Ready for Expansion
The first and most important step when going international is to ensure that the mobile app is ready for scaling. We will be experiencing an increase in users and approaching a (most likely) diverse audience.
A mobile app audit is a strategic process that reviews the core growth strategy and marketing technology infrastructure to optimize our app growth. At REPLUG, we have developed what we call the “Growth Rocket Model” to review key growth areas and prioritize actions for the marketing strategy.
During the app audit, our strategic growth consultants take a look at the following:
- Martech Infrastructure – How are tracking and attribution, as well as analytics tools, set up? More specifically, looking at attribution windows, channels set up, SKAdNetwork, and data visualization.
- Onboarding Process – How are we welcoming users to our app? Are we explaining the most important features? And what is our permission strategy request (ATT, Push, and more)?
- UX/UI functionalities – How is our app designed against competitors (registration process, usability, and more)? And are the users the same?
- Store Listings (ASO) – How well are the Store Pages optimized, including screenshots and organic KPIs?
- Paid performance channels and strategy – How did past campaigns and creatives perform (KPIs, CPx, targeting, and more)? How efficient was the general Paid UA strategy?
- Retention & CRM – Is any post-install engagement activity implemented? How do we automate post-install communication to increase users’ LTV?
At the end of the mobile app audit, our consulting team identifies growth levers that can be implemented to boost app performance across different areas.
Step 2: Know Your Target Market Well
When entering a new market, researching competitors’ offerings and users’ behavior will give us the best insights on what works to spread the word about our mobile app. It goes without saying that when there is no or little brand awareness in the chosen market, the media budget will determine how quickly we can reduce the adoption process.
Before starting any performance marketing campaigns, our team analyses local competitors to identify what strategies they are implementing and what could work for our partners. The analysis takes place over a period of two to three weeks, leading to the creation of a list of action items to implement.
Although when it comes to the initial test of localization for mobile applications, aligning the offering with the local market might not seem like a crucial step when investing a considerable amount of media budget to scale activities, having relevant content also increases credibility.
Step 3: Localize Your App Content
Another critical step is ensuring that our mobile app’s content is properly localized. Therefore, simple content translation is not enough. As a matter of fact, app localization (or better culturalization) is needed to communicate with the target audience correctly.
Depending on the country we target, there might be different ways to express the same concept or a difference between a formal or informal word version. For example, in German, one could use either the formal “Sie” or the informal “du” when communicating with users. When thinking about content app localization, marketers and app developers need to keep the following two basic rules:
- The communication style needs to be aligned with our brand image
- The form needs to be the same across all mediums used to communicate with the users (in-app content, Store Pages, ads)
Navigating cultural and linguistic app internationalization differences can be complicated when approaching a new market. For this reason, relying on experts and providing them with the right tool to do their job is crucial for success.
After all, how many times have we been put off as users when experiencing a poorly translated text in one of the many products we use? An inadequate translation is often perceived as low-quality services or products.
Step 4: Implement a Data-Driven Marketing Plan
The last step in going international with your app localization is to implement a data-driven marketing approach focused on maximizing activities driving the highest impact and increasing brand awareness. The latter will help marketers build a healthy organic/paid ratio that can sustain growth in the long term.
In addition, the acquisition strategy should be focused on analyzing the metrics of the in-app event that are directly related to monetization—to understand whether there are differences with the existing knowledge gathered in other markets. On top of that, creative assets should also be carefully analyzed, testing a wide range of styles (depending on the media budget invested).
Going International With Your App Is a Long-Term Commitment
App internationalization offers excellent opportunities for mobile app developers in terms of revenue opportunities and audience reach. Moreover, clear KPIs and a long-term strategy that doesn’t stop at the immediate results are key to success.
At the same time, succeeding internationally might require more resources than initially planned, and it is important also to understand quickly when to step back and reassess the effort.
Comparing performances to competitors in the market can serve as a reference point to understand how we are doing. There’s no doubt that going international can help us reach the moon, but it is vital to approach this with a data-driven mindset to justify costs and understand its impact.
Are you looking for the right partner to go international with your app? Get in contact with our experts and learn how we have helped several partners succeed!
What is App Internationalization?
App internationalization is the process of planning and developing your app or product with the intention of eventually having it translated. This should be done simultaneously with development because updating your entire application in the future will be far more expensive.
What is App Localization vs Internationalization?
The process of developing an application such that it may be converted to other languages and areas without requiring engineering modifications is known as internationalization. The practice of modifying internationalized apps for a specific location or language by translating text and incorporating locale-specific components is known as localization.
Originally published on August 12, 2021. Updated on October 5, 2022.