When companies want to grow their customers, a logical step is often to expand to other markets and countries. Software providers are no exception. But language barriers are the first obstacle these companies encounter.
So how can they overcome those hurdles? How can they ensure that their entry into is new a market not destined to fail? The first step would be to conduct market research. The second, equally important, step is to create a product localization strategy.
Unlike many industries, software products come with their own set of needs and to-do lists. Moreover, there are many moving parts within a software product, making it harder for business owners to envision their product localization strategy.
In this article, we’ll show you how software companies, including software-as-a-service (SaaS) startups, can overcome their language barriers and create an effective product localization strategy.
What is product localization?
Product localization is a process where a company renders and adapts its software or product to another language. In a way, it’s similar to translation but goes to a much deeper level and understanding.
While translation is about transforming content from one language to another, localization is about adapting that language to a specific country or region, while taking in its cultural and language aspects.
For example, if you have a software product in English and want to start marketing and selling it in Canada, you want to know which areas of Canada you’ll be focusing on and you’d want to ensure that you’re using Canadian English and Canadian French.
Using the French used in France or Belgium would not be the best idea. It would be easier and less expensive but it would not only reduce the impact of your product but also in some cases may end up hurting your product.
On the other hand, by using product localization, your software becomes part of the target audience’s language and culture. It’s still a new product but it’s also one that speaks their language.
What is a product localization strategy?
The best way to localize your software product is to create a product localization strategy.
A product localization strategy is a plan that focuses on the core areas of your product and how you can go about not only translating but also localizing them.
Your strategy also helps you decide which parts of your product you need to start with, which languages, and what matters to your target audience.
Benefits of product localization
There are three main benefits to using a product localization strategy:
1. Bigger customer base
This is the main reason companies consider localizing their products in the first place. Because they want to reach a wider customer base and generate more sales.
With product localization, you’ll be able to reach your target audience in a much better and clearer way. The biggest problem is that translation can sometimes be a bit superficial.
On the other hand, localization goes a step further by making the rendered text sound like it was written in the target language, to begin with.
2. More satisfied customers
Localization is a great way to ensure that you not only speak your target audience’s language the way they do but also make them happy because it helps them understand your product better and find a solution to their problems.
Nearly 76% of “only shoppers prefer to buy products with information in their native language,” according to a CSA Research survey. The survey included over 8,700 people of which 40% said they “will never buy” from websites not in their native languages.
What this shows is that having your software product’s website in the target audience’s mother tongue builds more trust and begins their satisfaction journey.
Happy and satisfied customers can begin buying from you or subscribing to your product packages and become long-term customers.
3. Faster expansion opportunities
With product localization, you have a better chance of expanding at a faster rate without impacting your current customer base.
It allows you to market your product to a new audience, with your current audience still using your website easily and without interruption.
Product localization strategy: What to do
Now let’s look at how to go about your product localization strategy. We’ll also cover the steps you can follow to ensure it’s effective and supports your needs.
Step 1: Conduct your research
The first step in any plan to go global involves conducting market research. You need to know which market (or markets) lacks products like yours or can benefit from this software.
Your market research should also include understanding your target audience, their location, and their habits. Not to mention the language(s) they use.
Moreover, your product localization strategy can act as a stepping stone for your digital marketing or social media marketing strategy. Because it will help you learn more about your target audience, their behavior, preferences, and cultural considerations.
Step 2: Divide your product into segments
Your product comprises several elements or parts. We recommend dividing those parts to see which you need to start with first.
Normally this would mean you’d start with the initial services and features that you’ll offer your new target market. Translating your marketing materials, or at least knowing which you need to work on, can also be part of this stage because they form part of your overall business localization strategy.
Step 3: Create a product localization team
Step 4: Localize your product website
You’re probably wondering if you can just hire a freelancer or two to do the job for you. Assuming you have an in-house developer, you may find freelancers who can help with the language side.
However, without a developer, you’ll be hiring many freelancers to help you and resulting in a bigger project with more requirements and people.
Here are a few things to remember when creating your product localization strategy:
Product localization examples
Now that you know what your product localization strategy should entail and how to go about it, let’s explore two examples of product localization.
Many software products have attempted and succeeded at product localization. Here are two of them.
Exakt Health is a mobile app that helps people and athletes recover from sports injuries by providing them with the right exercises to rehabilitate them.
Launched in August 2021 in Europe, the Exakt Health team discovered that many of its customers were from the United States.
As of 2022 and through Exakt Help’s product localization efforts, the company now supports English, German, Spanish, and French.
Since embarking on its product localization strategy, Exakt Health has reached and served more customers in several countries.
Gameball is an engagement and loyalty tool that helps e-commerce businesses build attract customers and build retention.
The company first launched its product in English via Shopify. Soon their team realized that their customers, e-commerce store owners, and customers come from different parts of the world.
Gameball turned to localization to offer multiple languages for its users and their customers. As of 2022, Gameball supports 14 languages via Shopify and its website.
Localizing your software product should is a multi-step process and that’s why it requires strategy, planning, and, of course, a budget.
Where you want to expand and how big your product is can impact the cost of localizing your product. We recommend using a translation brief to manage your requirements with whoever you decide to work with, be it a team of freelancers, your in-house team(s), or an agency like TranslationPartner.We would also like to invite you to a quick free consultation call with our team to learn more about how TranslationPartner can help you with your product localization needs and strategy.