Edith Yeung is the head of marketing of Dolphin Browser, the world’s first Gesture, Webzine and Add-on-enabled mobile browser. She is also the founding partner of RightVentures, which focuses on cloud and mobile investments. You can find out more about Dolphin on Twitter, Facebook or via the Dolphin blog.
Many developers create smart, innovative mobile apps that have near-universal appeal, but how broad is too broad?
For instance, developing apps only in English prevents your star power from reaching a global stage. It’s totally fine to start building your mobile app in one language, but if you want to tap the huge international market, you can’t stop there.
How should developers go about taking their apps international? For starters, try this handy guide.
What Countries Should You Aim for First?
In 2011, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market achieved a combined 20 billion downloads. Although China leads the world’s smartphone market, 41% of cellphones bought in the U.S. are smartphones. However, eight out of the top 10 largest iPhone and Android markets are not English-speaking, according to Flurry Analytics.
Not only that, Flurry also reveals that there are tons of mobile users around the globe who don’t yet have a smartphone, but could easily afford one, which makes for a huge untapped growth potential. Leading foreign countries in this category are China with 122 million potential smartphone users, India with 75 million, Japan (61 million) and Brazil (34 million).
Taking your app international is no longer just another nice-to-have strategy, but a must-do. Localize your app by adding languages such Chinese, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese and Hindi as a critical part of your marketing strategy.
As an independent developer, what are the specific steps you will need to take to set the stage for your global success?
Level 1: Start Small, Then Take a Giant International Leap Forward
You don’t have to start by fully committing all your resources to support an international audience. Kick things off at the most basic level: Simply translating your app market description can be a quick and dirty way to test the water. It’s possible your potential users in Japan don’t know your app exists because they simply don’t perform searches in English.
Also, keep in mind that you need to optimize your app title, market description as well as change log and search keywords based on local language and cultural requirements.
Level 2: Localization – Translating Your App
As soon as you localize your app description, you should start closely monitoring downloads statistics in the associated languages and countries. If you notice a significant increase in downloads, it’s time for you to start thinking about localizing the app itself. Offering your app descriptions in French will likely drive additional downloads, but localization will drive the next level of engagement.
The W3C defines localization as the adaptation of mobile application content to meet the language and cultural requirements of a specific target market. This includes numeric, date, time and currency formats, symbols, icons, colors, text and graphics.
Keep in mind that localization is not just about translating into different languages. You can’t just plug the app into Google Translate; your audience won’t understand what you want them to do with the app. Specifically, target these areas when localizing to a new language.
- Text string
- Launch tips
- Push notifications
- Help tips
- End user license agreement
Level 3: Internationalization – Building a Local Team
You’ve finished localizing your app into Chinese and are seeing amazing uptake in China. Now it’s time to go even further and start building a team there. You’ll need to dedicate resources to make sure all the elements surrounding your app are fully accessible to an international audience. In other words, you’ll need to internationalize.
Internationalization is the design and development of a mobile app that enables easy localization for target audiences that vary in culture, region or language. We’re no longer talking about source code or app content; we’re talking about everything that surrounds the app. Ideally, local language alternatives for the website, social media and so forth are available for users. In order to do this successfully, you need a dedicated team that can operate at a local level.
Building a team overseas is definitely not a walk in the park. It’s a big commitment and it can take vital resources, but when done right, the returns can be immense. Here is what you need to do to go fully international.
- Localize your company website or blog.
- Localize social media marketing strategy.
- Localize user acquisition strategy.
- Hire local marketing support.
- Hire local public relations support.
- Hire local customer service support.
- Hire local legal support.
- Apply for local patent.
Checklist: Going Global To-Dos
To summarize, check off the following items for the three levels of going global.
What other advice can you offer for taking an app or startup to an international level? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
from Mashable! http://on.mash.to/xrLSMh