Localize Your Product for International Expansion

Why Localize Your Product for International Markets and Why Now Is the Right Time to Do This?

There has never been a better time to grow your business internationally than now—especially if you are a successful SaaS, tech, or telecom company here in North America.

As new markets emerge, choosing to localize can be a game-changer for your company for these reasons:

  • you can acquire more customers for less money than in North American or English-only markets,
  • there is less competition abroad, and
  • you can be the first to market in your industry.

Emerging Markets Are Waiting for You

Growth has accelerated in countries outside of Canada and the U.S. over the last 20 years—and so has consumers’ access to mobile phones and high-speed internet. In fact, the OECD reports that “emerging markets have overtaken advanced economies in terms of total gross domestic product (GDP),” led by China and India.

Do not make the mistake of overlooking an emerging market just because the average salary is low. Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Brazil each have between 200 and 300 million residents—including a robust middle class. Even if only 1-2% of the population has the purchasing power to afford your product, that is still close to or greater than the entire population of countries like Spain, Canada, or Poland.

An Online Presence Is Often Enough

Decades of digital transformation have shifted how we buy. Individual consumers worldwide are now used to doing business online, as are B2B purchasers.

As workforce purchasing power falls into the hands of millennials and Gen Z, the trend toward online purchasing is likely to continue. Both generations prefer to use the internet to do research and make purchases. In fact, a report from Shopify shows that 39% of B2B buyers want to be able to make purchases online without having to speak to a sales rep.

When you localize your website, chatbots, and help center, you may be able to tap into new markets without having to maintain a physical presence in each country.

North American Purchasing Power Is Soaring

The U.S. dollar remains strong, and the Canadian dollar follows closely behind, thanks to close ties between the two countries’ economies. Analysts project that the Canadian dollar will continue to strengthen in 2024. While the U.S. dollar and the Euro are no longer at parity, they remain close, placing American companies in a strong position to invest in Europe.

This means that your dollar (American or Canadian) can go further when advertising abroad. Additionally, since you will rely on in-country teams to localize your product, the total cost of localization can be cheaper.

How Localization Will Help Your Company Grow Internationally

Localize Your Product for International Growth

  1. You can become the “go-to brand” for your industry

Executives covet “first-to-market” status for a good reason: without competitors, it is easier to establish yourself as the preferred product or service for consumers.

Your company might have a relatively small market share in Canada, the U.S., or even Western Europe. But if you can localize your product for customers in Poland or Indonesia before your competition, you can become the benchmark there.

However, there is a caveat: if you want to earn consumers’ trust in the long term, you need to make sure you have a solid localization strategy in place.

In the race to sell personal computers in Japan, Apple squandered the first-to-market advantage because they failed to localize user manuals and other key documentation. IBM swooped in to fill the gap and stayed there for decades.

  1. Customers will pay more for a fully localized experience

Yes, you read that right.

A recent study by Common Sense Advisory found that 34% of consumers would pay up to 30% more for a localized product. But when they asked B2B buyers the same question, that percentage rose to a stunning 66%.

If you do not want to—or cannot—compete on price, then localization may provide you with a leg up on the competition. If you make strategic decisions about when and where to localize your product, you could reap massive ROI.

  1. You can grow your business at twice the rate you do in your home country—for a similar cost

The cost of marketing your product in a non-English-speaking market may be significantly less than what you would spend on a similar campaign in the U.S., Canada, or even the UK.

Currently, the cost per lead is considerably lower in other parts of the world.

A 2024 report by First Page Sage estimates the average cost per lead at $237 for B2B SaaS, $452 for fintech, and $553 for manufacturing, among others.  

But studies have shown that leads for Europe and the Middle East are, on average, 43% cheaper, and those for the Asia-Pacific region can be up to 64% cheaper. In other words, the average cost to acquire a manufacturing lead in Europe may be $315, and for Asia it could be as low as $200.

As competitors enter new markets, and other countries begin to catch up with the U.S. and Canada in terms of business innovation, you can expect those rates to decrease.

  1. When you localize your product, you enhance your brand’s image internationally

Word-of-mouth is among the best ways to attract new customers. It does not cost anything and is self-duplicating, meaning that one person may share a positive experience with multiple friends or family members.

Studies have found that one satisfied customer may lead to as many as 9 new customers, just thanks to word-of-mouth.

So how can you maximize word-of-mouth in a new market?

International customers are most likely to sing your company’s praises if you localize your product as well as the entire customer journey. This means starting with website localization, UI localization for a fully translated user interface, and technical documentation translation ensuring that you localize tech support or help docs.

  1. You can increase customer loyalty with localized support

The same study we mentioned above contained another interesting fact: 75% of those surveyed said they would be more likely to repurchase if a brand offered localized customer support. Interestingly, even 60% of those who self-identified as good at English preferred to have access to support in their own language.

Even companies with the best of intentions fall short here. Studies have shown that companies with multilingual websites often translate only 10-16% of their content for users of “major” languages and just 5% across the board.

Imagine the competitive advantage you could establish by if you localize your entire website for markets such as Korea, Brazil, or Turkey, each of which has tens of millions of internet-equipped consumers.

Localize Your Product, Experience Stratospheric Growth

Localize Your Product for International Expansion
Many of today’s “unicorn” companies found success through localizing their product and introducing it to new markets—but there have also been stumbles along the way. Let’s take a look at three well-known examples:

Uber

Over 16 years in business, Uber has become a transportation juggernaut. They have increased their market value by expanding to over 70 countries. They start by translating their app into local languages. But they have also offered hyper-local products, like Uber Copter, which carries customers from Manhattan to JFK Airport in a helicopter, or UberAUTO, which allows users in New Delhi to book a rickshaw.

Uber has struggled in countries where they did not take the time to understand the local market, especially in Asia. For example, competitors seized on the fact that Uber did not accept cash payments in markets like India and Indonesia.

Airbnb

Airbnb has invested heavily in localizing their product in order to appeal to customers globally. For many travelers, the Airbnb style of travel—renting a room or a home from an individual—could be intimidating the first time. A translated website helped reduce friction and increase user confidence.

Airbnb also recognizes the importance of user-generated content (hosts’ descriptions of their properties as well as guests’ reviews). But the volume of reviews is too large for humans to translate—so Airbnb strategically uses machine translation to handle this content.

Asana

Asana, a software-as-a-service project management tool, has developed a massive global footprint—in part because they localize their product into 14 languages. They have customers in 190 countries, and 42% of their revenue comes from outside of their homebase in the United States, helping protect them in case of economic downturn.

Asana has spoken regularly about their strategy, which involves working with local, on-the-ground teams to determine what content to prioritize for localization. They also use A/B testing to determine which aspects of their localized content are working well within a given market, and what needs to be tweaked. Additionally, they make sure that they localize help content, from written docs to live training seminars.

How Localizing Their Product Generated Millions in Revenue for One Canadian Company

Case Study: Copperleaf Technologies

Canadian SaaS company Copperleaf makes software that helps large infrastructure-management firms make data-driven decisions. They knew there was immense potential demand for their product in Europe, Latin America, and Asia—if they could localize it. By working with Art One Translations, not only did they speed up their release cycle, but they also added millions of dollars of revenue.

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At Art One Translations, we specialize in helping tech and SaaS companies increase their revenue as they localize their software. Our end-to-end localization solutions allow you to work with one partner to translate user interfaces, help documentation, customer-facing websites, multimedia content, and so much more.  We work with many languages, and our in-country translators are also subject matter experts.

If you want to localize your product so that you can do more business globally, please get in touch with us to learn how we can help.

You may also be interested in our 5 Considerations of Localization Strategy for Global Expansion article, which explores what your company needs to consider before expanding internationally and how to avoid mistakes as you localize content for international markets.

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