Should You Localize Your App?

Today, I want to talk to you about whether or not you should localize your app.

Localizing your app means that you translate it into other languages. You can make your iTunes or your Google Play page, and you can rewrite it in the language of a particular country. Another thing is that you can actually localize the app itself.

On the app level, that’s pretty advanced. A lot of people try to test out localizing their iTunes or Google Play page.

But now the question comes: Is it worth it?

Here are two ways to measure how it’s worth.

1. Is it worth the money?

Now you have to go hire somebody to translate it and do the research on a culture and make sure that you’re doing it right. So is it worth it to hire somebody?

2. Is it worth your time?

Now on iTunes, when you’re uploading or updating your app, every time you update it you’re going to have to make sure that you update each different language version. That can add a lot of time to your workflow, over the course of your lifetime, or of your app’s lifetime.

Localizing An App to Get More Downloads

Now here’s what people often forget about. When you localize an app, typically you are trying to get more downloads. But if those downloads are not turning into dollars already, getting more downloads that don’t turn into dollars isn’t going to help you.

So the first thing you decide upon is: “Am I actually making money already from this country? Do I know if this is a profitable country for me?” You can find this out in your analytics report in your iTunes Connect. Apple will give you this data and allow you to filter by country.

What you don’t realize is those countries may not be making you any money. You may get tens of thousands of downloads in any tier three country like India, Pakistan, or Thailand. But they may be so low on their lifetime value that you’re not going to make any money, even if it’s ten times the download number.

Average Revenue Per User and Advertising Revenue

Go to your iTunes Connect account and see how many downloads you’re getting from a particular country for your app. Then look at how many in-app purchases or paid purchases people have completed in that country. So that you can get a metric where you divide the number of downloads by the amount of money. That’s the average revenue per user.

If you’re showing Ads, you can also add in the advertising revenue for that country.

Forecasting

Then you go make a forecast. When you localize the app, how many more downloads do you expect to get? Then you multiply that by the average revenue per user, and you now have a dollar amount that you can compare to the cost of actually trying to do this.

Assign A Dollar Amount to Localization

So if you’re wondering whether or not you should localize your app, the answer is: you have to be able to assign a dollar amount to localization.

If you already know how much it’s going to cost you, now you need to put a number on how much return you’re going to get for that effort. And you do that by forecasting how much your conversion, your downloads will increase, and then you go into your existing app analytics, and get your average revenue per user and you multiply the two. Cost versus return. Is it worth it? That’s how you make that decision.

But realize that localization will increase your downloads, but will not necessarily increase your revenue. So if you’re not making money already, you’re just going to have more people that don’t spend money.

So that’s the final caveat. If you go into the app and you want to localize the app itself and you can prove that it’s going to dramatically increase the average revenue per user, that can be a game changer.

If you want to test that, do it for one country and see what happens. Make the investment in one country. If it works, it’ll probably work in other countries as well. That’s how you do it.

See ya!

Carter

How to Make An App
 

COMMENTS

  • Brett Wharton September 5, 2017

    Hi Carter,

    Have you split-tested localizations by OneSky and Unbabel? Have you found that one provides better results than the other?

    I’ve heard from people who speak foreign languages that sometimes Unbabel’s translations are not as smooth as OneSky’s. Have you heard the same? Most importantly though, I’m wondering if you’ve found any differences in revenue when you use one service versus another.

    Which translation service do you use most often?

    Thanks,
    Brett

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