Localize your product to expand to international markets and grow your business faster
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, the right localization play 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.
So why is now the right time to localize your product?
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
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 shows that 39% of B2B buyers want to be able to make purchases online without having to speak to a sales rep.
By localizing 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
As of writing in August 2022, the U.S. dollar and the Canadian dollar are the two strongest currencies in the world for this year (in that order). For the first time in 20 years, the euro has fallen below parity with the U.S. dollar, placing American companies in a strong position to invest in Europe. The Canadian dollar follows closely behind, in part due to the close ties between the two countries’ economies.
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.
5 Ways Localization Will Help Your Company Grow Internationally
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 go-to 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 make the leap to 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 translate user manuals and other key documentation. IBM swooped in to fill the gap and stayed there for decades.
Customers will pay more for a fully localized experience
Yes, you read that right.
A 2020 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.
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 2022 study by Market&Hustle estimated the cost per lead for tech and SaaS companies as follows:
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.
Localizing enhances your brand’s image internationally
Word-of-mouth is among the best ways to attract new customers. It does not cost anything, and it is self-duplicating, meaning that one person may share a positive experience with multiple friends or family members.
Statistics from a 2016 survey by the Temkin Group show that 77% of customers who have an “excellent” experience with your brand are likely to recommend it to others.
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 have localized the entire customer journey. This means starting with a translated website, offering a fully translated user interface, and following up with localized tech support or help docs.
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 offers 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. A study from 2018 shows 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 fully translating your 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
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 two well-known examples:
In the course of 13 years, 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 also offer 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 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.
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 were able to add millions of dollars of revenue.
At Art One Translations, we specialize in helping tech and SaaS companies increase their revenue by releasing localized versions of 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 are interested in localizing your product so that you can do more business globally, please get in touch with us to learn how we can help.
You might also be interested in our 5 Considerations of Localization Strategy for Global Expansion article discussing what to consider before expanding internationally and how to avoid mistakes localizing your content when preparing it for foreign markets.
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