Are you considering taking your product abroad in order to reach new audiences? Here are a few things you need to take into account to make sure your international launch becomes a stunning success
It’s no secret that start-up companies face plenty of business challenges; beyond the end of the development processes, raising money and the need to release initial versions on time, most start-ups look abroad and hope to conquer overseas markets.
You don’t need us to know that this goal requires the success of a number of in-depth business and marketing processes in order for the business to successfully penetrate the target foreign markets: Gathering information on the international market, locating investors and distributors, testing pricing, finding the appropriate personnel, and solving marketing and sales issues.
All this you already know, but one stage that separates technological start-ups from other companies is the need for localization processes and adaptation of the product to the target country, both in terms of language and culture.
So what does localization actually mean? In short, it means adapting the program/application to the target market, in all possible aspects; linguistic adaptation (translation), adapting the cultural content, the technical components, and various cultural aspects connected to local customs.
In a broader sense, localization is the first step on the road to international success. Did you know that 70% of all users of the internet and various software are English speakers? This information is relevant to you because multiple studies have shown that users prefer to use products that have been completely converted to their language, so that in business-competitive terms, this should not be ignored.
Just a plain translation is not enough, because it doesn’t take into account the cultural aspects of the target country and it doesn’t always adapt all of the additional elements such as currency, how sums and numbers are written, how dates are written, icons, units of measurement, names of drugs or their generic alternatives in the target country and so on.
For these exact reasons, a high-quality localization process is an in-depth, multi-stage process that requires a true understanding of the field of content and software in order to localize properly, and for this, expert translators with technological understanding and knowledge are needed.
Not Just Speaking – Communicating
You have to agree that your application or program, no matter how good it may be, will not make users fall in love with it if the user experience isn’t good. High-quality localization takes this data into account when selecting the words, when motivating to action, by using language relevant to the internet and software world and so on.
Beyond the clear advantage of accessibility to different target audiences, it also provides a strategic advantage over competitors, can save development costs due to the quality controls and various tests carried out as part of the process and, of course – creates a significant increase in sales and in profitability, and we can prove it:
Take, for instance, “Groupon”, which launched its application in China in 2011 and suffered a major downfall due – as claimed by the Chinese media – to a faulty strategy that was incompatible with Chinese culture and from “failure to listen to the market and to competitors.” The Gap also forgot to do its homework and fumbled with an unsatisfactory localization process, by introducing its popular 1969 line of jeans in China, jeans named after a year that to American symbolizes inspirational revolutions (such as the first man on the moon), while for China, which was fighting a conflict with the U.S.S.R. in that year, 1969 had far more negative connotations.
Naturally, there are many more mistakes one can make that are technical in nature, resulting from user interface incompatibility, improper use of technical terminology, incompatibility in terms of number of characters in user interface, lack of consistency in translation, lack of understanding of context, improper use of key or button names and more.
So what did we learn?
First of all, an organized and thorough localization process is a critical part of your ability to successfully launch your product overseas. Second – simple translation is not equivalent to an in-depth localization process, as it leaves out important cultural elements. Third and foremost: The secret of your start-up’s foreign success lies in the right combination of meticulous planning and advance preparation, and of course, a professional localization process.
So if you are about to set off into the international market, now is the time to ask the people who have done it before, consult with experts, receive assistance from experienced localization companies with technological knowledge and understanding, and of course, as always, make intelligent use of resourcefulness, creativity and flexibility – three qualities that help you handle the business opportunities you encounter in the best possible manner.