Is your software ready for the global market? Will it work as well for a user in Germany or Argentina as it does for one in Canada? You are competing with over 25+ million software developers across the globe. A successful SaaS localization is critical to stay competitive in your target market.
The world’s biggest brands have long understood that customers around the globe respond more positively to products and marketing campaigns that have been tailored to their market.
Think back to when names started appearing on Coca-Cola cans.
Coca-Cola knew that they needed to create a version of its “Share a Coke” campaign for each target market in order for it to be successful. Shoppers in Spain would not be captivated by cans with the names “John” and “Lewis,” so they selected names that were popular in Spain.
Savvy product marketers know the value of capitalizing on personal experiences and responding to cultural differences. Your SaaS platform should be no different.
The best products and tools in the world can be universal in their technology but not in their delivery.
Even if your software has features that will benefit users in both Santiago and Stockholm, it needs to be tweaked to fit specific cultures and language locales.
SaaS localization plays a huge role in a positive consumer experience with the software product.
However, if you think SaaS localization is simply a matter of translating the text that appears as part of the user interface, you are missing the nuances associated with localization. You must address all elements of the SaaS application and its design, not to mention its pricing and marketing strategy.
We divide the process of preparing an application for global distribution into two phases: internationalization and localization.
Internationalization is about ensuring that your application will be globally accessible. The goal is to build an application that is flexible enough to accommodate different languages, without additional engineering work for each one.
Localization takes the internationalized software and makes it suitable for a specific market. This includes translating the text, adapting symbols and imagery for the target culture, and adding other locale-specific elements.
Positive Consumer Impacts: How SaaS Localization Improves the User Experience
A Localized UI, with Inputs that Work
SaaS localization presents a variety of translation challenges.
For example, when translating the user interface, linguists need to be aware of string length.
When an English phrase is translated into German, it may be up to 35% longer than the source text.
Let’s consider a call-to-action button that asks a user to download a trial version of the product. In English, the button simply reads “Download” which is only 8 characters long. But in German, the word is “Herunterladen,” which is 13 characters long.
Of course, if the text is cut off on a button or tab in the translated user interface, the end-user will feel frustrated with what seems like a defective product.
To avoid these issues during the localization phase, you need to account for expansion and other potential localization issues during internationalization. During this stage, your team considers how your software may look and feel once translated into a different language. Then they build in the appropriate design flexibility for the translation process.
You may need to accommodate:
- Right-to-left languages, such as Arabic
- Character-based languages, such as Chinese
- Accented characters
- Increases or decreases in string length
- Fonts appropriate to the target language
Another aspect of SaaS localization to consider is the inputs involved in your software.
Users need to be able to fill out forms and store data in ways that reflect their everyday life. For example, many European countries use a 24-hour clock, as opposed to the AM/PM system favored in North America.
Number formatting is another key component to consider. In many languages, thousands are separated by a period, and the decimal uses a comma, with the currency sign placed after the number —for example, 45.678,90 €. English speakers tend to do the inverse: €45,678.90. Users need to be able to input data in a way that feels familiar to them.
Other inputs to consider include addresses, telephone numbers, dates, forms of address (ex. Mr./Mrs.), measurements. Even paper sizes and electric voltage may vary based on where the end-user is located.
For a closer look at other situations, you may need to consider, see our article on Best Practices for Successful UI Localization.
Once the work of internationalizing the application is complete, translation can begin.
Translations should carefully consider the target audience, their familiarity with the material, and the specific country or region where a product will be marketed.
Taking the time to prep your product and make it flexible for your global audience from the start will pay off in the long run. Users who start a trial will see that the product works seamlessly in their language, encouraging them to purchase. And a functional translated UI will also make using the product easier, which will, in turn, reduce the time and money spent on addressing customer questions and complaints.
A Localized Payment Process and Sales Funnel
To keep customers moving through your sales funnel, SaaS localization also needs to extend to the purchase process.
Your target customers are likeliest to purchase when you offer payment options that they are comfortable using.
Start by allowing users to view pricing in their own currency, rather than having to convert. This will reduce friction when it comes to purchasing.
Verify that you are offering payment options that your target audience knows and trusts. While North American customers use PayPal and credit cards, payment methods vary around the world. Chinese shoppers might prefer Alipay, and German shoppers will be most comfortable with platforms like Sofort. When customers are asked to pay using an unfamiliar platform, it can raise trust issues.
Additionally, the payment plans and pricing strategy that makes sense for one geographic market may not work for another. The Big Mac Index is one way to illustrate this.
Put simply, a standard global price may not work when it comes to software. Before your product is introduced into new markets, think about whether you should offer different pricing to consumers in emerging markets.
However, when considering localized prices, you also need to consider whether the costs of building your software are so prohibitive that you cannot lower the price to the level demanded by a given market. Depending on your margins, you may not be able to drop your prices to a level that the local market can afford.
SaaS localization is, at its essence, about building consumer trust. By using the correct currency and suitable payment options, as well as adjusting the price based on your target market, you can earn customer trust and loyalty.
Design Is Key to SaaS Localization
Something as simple as the colours used throughout your software—in graphics and text—could play a significant role in user experience and overall satisfaction with your product.
On one hand, certain colour palettes can be more aesthetically pleasing than others. Likewise, some combinations of the text colour and background make text easier to read.
However, certain colour combinations could have a cultural or political significance in a particular culture or country.
This could work in your favour when universally recognized as “positive content” among that population. On the other hand, it could be detrimental to your software’s success if those colours represent something controversial or problematic in that area’s culture.
Colour is perceived so differently around the world that Uber came up with 65 country-specific palettes to be used as part of a global redesign.
Imagery is another aspect of localization to consider, whether it’s icons that appear within the GUI, or hero images on the product website. For example, images that show people using your product should be attuned to the cultural sensibilities of the buyers you hope to attract.
Similarly, icons and other visual elements should be evaluated to ensure they are appropriate for the target market. Designers should work with cultural consultants to make sure the finished product is visually appealing—and unlikely to cause offense.
What Does Localization Mean for Your Bottom Line?
Discussions around localization and adapting your product for other markets can sound touchy-feely to those focused on the bottom line. Making products user-friendly may sound like it only benefits the user, but savvy software development companies know it matters to the bottom line.
While you may not be able to translate and localize your SaaS into every possible language, you can start by considering at least the world’s most widely-spoken languages. You will then be building an agile product to launch in phases in a global market.
From there, tailor your product and your marketing materials to each market you hope to reach. Doing so will boost customer engagement and make the product easier to market in new countries. If the localized software is well-translated and easy to use, it will also make it cheaper to retain international customers in the long run.
Art One Translations is ready to help you expand your market reach with SaaS localization. Our capable and experienced teams will deliver an on-time and on-budget translation. If you are ready to scale into new markets, we are here to help you reach your goals. Contact us to learn more about our services and receive an obligation-free quote.
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