Escape from Zombieland by localizing your app

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  • February 19, 2015

A recent report said that 83% of apps cannot be found in the Apple store. This figure is even higher when an app is not translated into a local market. Localising your app will increase its visibility in local app stores.

The app economy has a bright future following Apple’s announcement that users are spending nearly half a billion dollars on in-app purchases throughout the world, which last year generated over $10 million in revenue for developers. By 2016 the number of smartphone users worldwide will reach a billion and is expected to drive further growth in this industry.

1Source: Flickr

However, if you are thinking of tapping into this booming market, another recent report released by Ajust.com, stated that 83% of apps in the app stores are zombies. These are the ‘living dead’ of the app stores as they never achieve any consistent level of ranking. This means that an app would not be discovered through generic organic search unless the user types for a specific sort of app or the app’s name.

Instead of having an English app to target a global market, you must choose a local category/subcategory and local app store in order to minimize the chance of your app becoming a zombie. How competitive a category is may vary from country to county, as well as the language. Apple showed that zombie rates decreased when it comes to non-English app stores. See table below:

2Source: Ajust.com

In fact, the report shows that the zombie rate is reduced when a local/translated version of an app is provided locally. The actual zombie rate for English app versions within the four non-English Apple stores are significantly above the average. For example, the zombie rate in the German Apple store reaches 91%.

Translating your app appears to be the quickest route out of Zombieland. This is partly true, but also an app needs to be localised, which goes beyond a simple translation.

First of all, do you really know the difference between Internationalisation and localisation?

Internationalising is the capacity of an application to be adapted to different languages, regions and cultures. This is an important effort to reach a global market and is usually done before localising any application.  The first step is to identify the culture-specific information and internationalise time, dates, region format, and so forth.

Localisation comes after translation and it is how to translate the app resources into different languages. People tend to think of localisation as the same process as translation, which is not completely true. App localisation involves a proper translation in terms of images, video, keywords, description, icons, and the app’s name. This guide further explains both Internationalisation and localization for Apple Store. Also, take a look at the Android localisation checklist.

3Source: Internationalization and Localization Guide

In this case study, Abe the Dragon, a game app, has increased its download rate by 700% after doing keyword localisation.

 Here are 4 key tips that will help you to localize an app

1) Choose the right language:  The largest app stores, the iTunes app store and Google play, are present in over 130 countries. Only the Apple store itself covers more than 100 languages/dialects. Yet, bear in mind that an English app designed to target the American market may not fit Australian local expressions and way of speaking. Take into account cultural differences. Additionally, for countries such as Belgium you might consider having both a French and Dutch version of the same app, as well as different dialects in India. Remember that users are keener to connect to what it’s familiar to them.

 

2) Localize into your overall strategy: Localizing your app will enable users to find your application by country/region. Keywords, the app’s name, video, description, icon and images must be localised and at the same time should reflect your overall marketing strategy. This is likely to require a native speaker to carry out the task. You may find online tools to do this job, but it doesn’t guarantee that the localisation will tailor the overall brand strategy along with reflecting the local content. Yet, the process of adapting language and app elements must suit your target audience in a certain region.  Achieve consistency by having the same language partner translate all the content.

3) Localize to the local regulations: Uber and Lyft are facing regulatory battles in the US and worldwide. Lyft is pausing its operations in a few cities after being accused of creating a category for transportation network companies. The Reserve bank of India asked Uber to adapt its payment model, which could have become a pricey move for the start-up. Localising your app to local regulations and payment methods should be seriously taken into account by avoiding the risk of turning customers and the regulator against the company. Besides, m-commerce apps must adapt payment models to every region otherwise it may result in sales losses.

4) Testing: Always! Always! When building your app strategy ensure you reserve a portion of your budget for testing. The way that users react to a marketing strategy could be very tricky and vary from one marketplace to another, however, by the end of the day it’s up to them to decide on which app they are going to download. This article, for instance, has shown, that A/B testing can boost in-App purchase conversation.

Yet, it doesn’t matter how well your app is localised, if customers cannot find it. Localisation should be part of a sustainable mobile strategy, which goes along with overall optimisation and a strong PR campaign driving positive reviews and downloads.

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