Successful Strategies for Localizing Mobile Apps

Pollion Team

Across the world, smartphones and other mobile devices are crucial to our modern lives. Our phones do more than help us communicate with one another. They also help us stay connected to essential services through mobile apps.

Do you order food delivery services through an app? Do you like to download and play video games when you’re bored? How often do you use a banking app or a digital wallet? All of these services are essential to modern life, and they’re all managed through mobile apps.

About 255 billion mobile apps [SV1] were downloaded in 2022, according to Statista. These numbers are predicted to grow as more people become reliant on their smart devices. If your business wants to reach new target markets, it’s necessary to consider localizing mobile apps.

In this article, we’ll discuss what localizing mobile apps means, the benefits of this process, and more.

What is App Localization?

Mobile app localization is the process of translating all the app’s elements, including the text and non-text elements, into another language/culture.

This process focuses on more than only translating the text into another language. It involves customizing the UX (user experience) according to a user’s cultural and language preferences. It’s necessary to change all elements of the app for each target market. Some UI elements that may require app localization include:

  • Text translation
  •  Date/time formats
  • Audio dubbing/voice overs
  • Graphic elements
  • UI layout
  • Keyboard and input method
  •  App Store Optimization (ASO)

What are the Benefits of App Localization?

Mobile app localization offers several essential benefits for businesses, including:

Enhanced user experience: mobile app localization is essential for any business that wants to provide its app users with a natural experience in their native languages.

Improved user retention: when a mobile app feels comfortable and easy to use, users are more apt to continue using it. Localization helps increase user satisfaction and retention rates, reducing churn and increasing user loyalty.

Expanded market reach: app localization also allows a business to reach new markets, leading to a broader audience reach worldwide. The process may also increase downloads, user engagements, and revenue.

Competitive edge: the app marketplace is crowded; however, localization can provide a competitive edge by setting a company’s app apart from its competitors. Moreover, app localization also shows a commitment to serving diverse audiences by meeting their specific needs and preferences.

Opportunities for growth and expansion: a successful localization can lay the foundation for future expansion into other markets and languages. A business can adapt and evolve the app to meet the needs and preferences of users around the world.

What’s the Difference Between App Localization and App Internationalization?

It’s easy to confuse app localization with app internationalization. However, the two are quite different forms of app development. They are not the same processes.

App localization involves customizing the app to fit the language, cultural preferences, and needs of a specific market. The aim is to ensure that the app and UX meet the needs of different target audiences, increasing user engagement and revenue.

Conversely, app internationalization is a pretty different process. This process is done before releasing an app. It focuses on the app’s architecture and codebase, ensuring these are adapted for each localization. App internationalization makes sure that the app’s infrastructure is easily adaptable to future markets. So, app internationalization supports app localization efforts.

Types of Mobile App Localization

There are two main approaches to mobile app localization, each with pros and cons. A company’s choice of method depends on its goals and resources.

Minimum Viable Localization (MVL)

Minimum Viable Localization (MVL) is the primary method for app localization. This method localizes the core elements of the app, including the following:

  • Keywords
  • Descriptions
  • Payment methods
  • Date/time formats
  • Metadata

MVL is the basic minimum that is necessary to analyze if the app works with the target audience.

Full App Localization

If MVL proves that the app localization is successful thus far, the next step is full app localization. This process goes much further and includes translating the text, tweaking user experience, app store localization, and ensuring the app is ready to market in the chosen target market.

Creating an App Localization Strategy

The key to app localization success is to create a strategy to ensure a smooth process:

1. Market Research and Analysis

The first step starts with market research and analysis. This step typically includes gathering customer feedback. Their insights can help companies learn about their audience’s preferences and needs.

2. Target Market Identification

The research gathered in step one is now used to identify the target market. In this step, it’s necessary to prioritize multiple languages/regions. Consideration is given to language prevalence, user demand, cultural compatibility, and use of mobile apps.

3. Research Target Market

When the target languages have been chosen, the next step is to focus on conducting research on the target market, including the following factors:

  • Which countries use the target language(s)
  • Demographics of the country or region
  • Number of dialects in the region
  • Cultural nuances and preferences to include in the app
  • Socio-cultural influences of the target market
  • Popular search phrases for each app marketplace used in the region or country

4. Prepare Localization Resources

Now it’s time to gather all the necessary resources for the app localization process. This step also includes hiring the required translation services, investing in localization tools, etc.

5. Determine App Localization Budget

The cost for app localization varies depending on the number of languages, countries/regions, and functionalities required within the app. It’s necessary for a business to plan its app localization budget at this stage to ensure they have the resources available to reach the target markets it’s selected.

6. KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

Now it’s time to identify the app’s KPIs. These are necessary to monitor performance in each target market.

7. Quality Assurance and Testing

Once the app has been localized, it must go through thorough testing and quality assurance checks. The app should have no bugs that affect the UX. All glitches, language inconsistencies, and other issues must be fixed to ensure user satisfaction and success for the app.

8. App Store Optimization

Once the app has cleared all quality assurance testing, it’s ready for the localized app to be optimized for each app store and search engine used by the target audience. It’s necessary to localize app metadata, keywords, screenshots, and app store descriptions. These steps improve the app’s visibility and conversion rates in local app stores, including the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and others.

A company can develop a successful app localization strategy by following these steps. With a successful strategy, the business has the potential to ensure its localization efforts are accurate. The app has a better chance of success in the chosen target markets.

Concluding Thoughts

A successful app localization process requires in-depth planning, resource allocation, and continuous refinement. The method includes all the steps outlined in this article, emphasizing the quality assurance steps.

Quality assurance is essential to ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of the localized app versions. Finally, optimization for app stores is also necessary to provide visibility, and discoverability, and ensure success in the chosen target markets.

Creating a smooth app localization strategy is crucial to achieving success, ensuring user engagement, and ultimately increasing revenue in the competitive app markets worldwide.

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App Localization FAQs

Why is app localization essential for reaching a global audience?

App localization ensures that the app meets each target audience’s linguistic and cultural nuances, enhancing downloads, user engagement, and revenue.

How can cultural preferences impact app localization?

Cultural preferences influence aspects of app design like color usage and functionality, ensuring the app resonates well with the target audience.

What steps can a business take to facilitate a smooth app localization process?

Businesses should plan localization early in development, assemble necessary resources, and establish a quality assurance process to ensure smooth localization.

What role does quality assurance play in app localization?

Quality assurance ensures the app functions well across languages and fixes any linguistic or cultural discrepancies, aiming for a seamless user experience.

How can user feedback influence app localization efforts?

User feedback provides insights into the app’s localization effectiveness, highlighting areas for improvement and guiding future updates to enhance UX.