How to use Localization for Global Reach

Global appeal, local feel. That’s how all the biggest brands build their empires. Apple, Google, Toyota, Amazon, McDonald's, Coca-Cola — mention any of these brands to people across the world and they’ll instantly know what you’re talking about.

Global success didn’t just happen for these brands, though. Getting to this status wasn’t achieved by conquering the U.S. and UK and sitting back until other countries came knocking. It came from taking products into new markets and appealing to audiences in their own language, and in a way that fits their culture.

Finding success in new territories is something we’ve managed to achieve at MacPaw, and, with the right approach, it’s something your business can replicate.  Entering a new market brings with it a number of potential benefits: increased revenues, greater market share, international brand value, and competitive advantage, to name but a few.

According to the Global and Localization Association, 56.2% of consumers say the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. A product or brand that speaks to you in your own language is going to be more appealing than the one you have to translate using Google. Clearly, your custom isn't as important as those in another country, which is why we don't often trust international brands that haven't bothered localizing content.

Before diving headfirst into translation, however, you’ll need to start with research. Find out if there are people out there interested in what you have to offer.

Finding a market

With the launch of Setapp, our target market was the United States, so the product was launched in English. While there are minor nuances between U.S. and British English, launching in this language naturally meant we would be able to appeal to the UK, Australia, and Canada, as well as other areas where English is a widely-spoken language, such as the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

In looking at the data, though, we found that Setapp had users in Germany, France, Brazil, China, and Italy. Five new markets for potential success straight away.

This information can easily be found by examining your paid and organic traffic in Google Analytics by going to Audience > Geo and selecting Language or Location. Or by checking Locations in your Google AdWords campaigns.

The next step is to consult your database. This will help reaffirm what analytics is telling you. We did this with a poll on our Facebook page asking users what language they spoke, which revealed German and French (alongside English) to be the most popular. This might not seem like the most in-depth of studies to carry out, but with over 2000 actively engaged users it gave us the information we needed to go ahead with product localization.  

Similar data can also be found by reaching out to users via email or with a short survey on your website.

Testing the market

When you’ve identified a market for localization, the next step is to test the waters to see if there really is a market there.

The last thing you want to do is invest heavily in translation, only to find that the venture offers no return on investment (ROI).

Google AdWords is the quickest and easiest way to do this, offering almost immediate results. Rather than tailoring the message to suit a new location, at this stage, we simply opted to use AdWords to deliver the same ads that had proven successful in English-speaking PPC campaigns. Ad copy, keywords, and the accompanying landing pages were translated to mirror current campaigns exactly.

Using PPC in this way, at this stage, is merely for testing — to see if there’s enough traction to warrant further investment.

Our PPC campaign revealed that impressions and clicks were 402% in localized campaigns than they were in English campaigns, and cost per signup was half as much. Those results were the confirmation we needed to scale up.

Mirror your own ad campaigns in target markets and examine the results. Ideally, you should see matching, or greater, results than your native language campaigns in:

  • Impressions

  • Click Through Ratio (CTR)

  • Cost Per Conversion

  • Cost per click (CPC)

  • Conversion Rate (CR)

Also, keep a close eye on Quality Score (QS) to ensure the quality and relevance of your ads isn't damaged by translation.

Scaling localization

Localization needs to be approached as if you were a new company launching a new product in the country you’re targeting.

The translation of ad copy and landing pages will only take you so far. What needs to happen now is a full translation of all product marketing, advertising, documentation, and customer touch points, including customer services and social media. Think of it as starting afresh — building from the bottom up in a new language.

Translation software can help you do this, but it shouldn’t be relied upon. Software, as brilliant as it is, often loses things in translation. If you’ve ever used Google Translate in your browser, you’ll know that the results aren’t always the most natural sounding. Sometimes they make no sense at all.

Invest in professional human translation carried out by native speakers. That way you can get your message across as intended. Human translation will also allow you to cater for different languages within a specific country. Take South Africa for example, where there are eleven official languages, or Belgium where there are three

Measuring success

Success in the case of product localization is measured in the same way as it is in your native market, by numbers!

It’s all about ROI. Campaigns should pay for themselves. Look at your conversion funnels and metrics. With Setapp, key performance indicators (KPIs) were visitors who signed up for free, those that engaged with apps, and paying customers.

You’ll have your own KPIs, but ultimately what you’re looking to find out is how many visitors become revenue-generating customers.

Some business KPIs you’ll want to monitor regularly are:

  • Cost per visit

  • Monthly recurring revenue

  • Lifetime value (LTV)

  • Client acquisition cost (CAC)

  • Churn rate

  • CAC <> LTV (correlation of client acquisition cost and lifetime value)

Product localization is an attractive and rewarding way to take your product global. But, remember: it shouldn’t be rushed. Find out if there’s a market, test localizations, invest in professional translation, and continually measure results. Good luck!