Focus on Localization to Find Worldwide Niches Everyone is Ignoring
October 30, 2014
Today?s guest post comes from Evaldo Rossi, Founder of WordData - App Store Optimization (ASO).Although the trend points to an ever-increasingly connected world, you can't expect that it's possible to run the same marketing campaign worldwide and get the same results. Even with globalization, the one-size-fits-all approach probably won't work. Cultural, lingual and economic barriers keep that from being a feasible plan. And this translates (no pun intended) to the iOS App Store.
In order to optimize your app's performance worldwide, you have to?at the very least?localize your marketing assets. You must make a serious effort. You have to hire freelancers to translate all marketing copy (app name, description, screenshots), upload copy for each language to an app store (five sets with five screenshots each), and perform keyword research and optimization for each market.Basically, if you want to market your app in other countries, you must apply App Store Optimization (ASO) for each language.And therein lies opportunity. Hidden gems and unexplored niches await you in your localized ASO. It's hard to find these gems, but that's why they are there. By optimizing for a specific language, you will increase the number of downloads from your campaign, resulting in a cheaper eCPI and better worldwide performance.Translating vs. LocalizingSome might think that localization is just a modern name for translation. Translation is indeed a very important part of localization. What localization tries to overcome is not only the language barrier, but the cultural barrier as well. Language itself creates cultural barriers. If you're taking the time and effort to translate your game, you might as well go the extra mile to understand how the non-English speaking world will view your game.Keyword Localization on the App Store
The iOS App Store is divided by the countries in which it operates. Currently, there are 155 App Stores globally. But when uploading on iTunes Connect, you may have noticed that there are fewer localization options than that. Localization on iOS is language-based, not country. This means that when optimizing for a language, you optimize for all App Stores that use that language.One of the most important parts of localization is your keyword list. The ideal scenario would be brainstorming a list with a native speaker of the language. Though that's not really necessary. You can start by fully translating your English keyword list (if you're using Google Sheets, that's pretty easy). Then, with your favorite ASO tool, obtain the metrics for your keywords. Don't forget to set the options to show data from a major country that speaks that language. You'd be wasting your time searching for French keywords in the US App Store.Next, do your keyword and key phrase analysis as usual. Evaluate each term for relevance first, followed by competition and traffic. Always focus on the key phrases rather than keywords, unless you have a healthy marketing budget to spend on advertising. Pick your one or two best key phrases and insert them in the App Name?they have to be extremely relevant to increase conversion.Why is this different than just translating your final list? Because even if they match relevance after translating, it's very likely that competition and traffic will vary significantly from country to country. Therefore, your final list will be very different from your original English keyword pool. Keyword optimization is something you should begin almost from square one for each language.Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and LocalizationAfter you've secured your possible niches in keyword optimization, you should take care of the conversion part of ASO. This is what normally comes to mind when talking about localization: translating and adapting screenshots, the icon, the description and the app name.Description and IconIdeally, a native-speaking freelancer should be translating an app?s description, but you could get away with Google Translate if you're in a hurry or on tight budget. Your app icon shouldn't have written text to begin with, but if it does, translate that too.Screenshots and App PreviewsI'd argue that the most important part of localization, regarding conversion, is the app screenshots. I wouldn't use Google Translate on it. Since most people that find your app will almost immediately see the first and, maybe, the second screenshot, you don't want to turn off potential players because they read something nonsensical or poorly translated.Screenshot localization is important. They work similarly to ad creatives?you have an image that should convince the user to download your game. Chartboost showed us the Top Creatives for the Japanese market, and you will notice that all of them are translated. Usually, translated screenshots will exhibit a higher conversion than the non-translated ones.If you really want to jump into the Asian market, you might need to redesign your screenshots. Several Asian countries speak logographic-based languages, which allows people to be comfortable with big chunks of information at the same time. In the West, graphic design can look cluttered and full of information, but Westerners can handle it pretty well.It doesn't mean you should cram your five screenshots into one. It means that it's worthwhile to test a screenshot showing more features and information about your game and compare it to a slide-like, single feature screenshot. You can also run an ad campaign and analyze conversion.For now, App Previews don't support localization. Unless your app is location relevant (such as a public transportation app for Shanghai), you should leave your videos in English.Translating Your GameYou should carefully evaluate if translating your game is a good option. Depending on the quantity of text, it could make the translation expensive enough to make your ROI negative. I usually recommend translating for games with less text or for markets where ASO localization worked pretty well. The more your game is text reliant, the better your results should be when translating it.
Hire a native speaker to translate your game. Check if the new text works well with in-game assets?text shouldn?t bleed outside of buttons, for instance.Testing Your Localized ASOAfter you localize your app, there's no way to know if it works or not besides actually launching your game or updating it. Observe how your app performs on organic downloads and how much you climb in the search rankings. Run a small campaign and see how your app reacts to the download boost.If the final eCPI is low and LTV is good?bigger than eCPI, as least?it means that your chosen key phrase niche is resulting in loads of organic downloads. It should be safe to increase your campaign budget or invest in fully translating your game, if you're feeling confident.ConclusionI've rounded up all the ASO localization moves you can make. Some of these methods can be extremely time consuming when executed on for several languages, so evaluate your time and budget to find out what works for you.Don't forget that localization is an investment in time and money: depending on the language, it may not deliver great results. One market infamous for being hard to enter, for example, is South Korea, which is why I?d never recommend anyone to attempt translating their game in Korean without getting concrete results beforehand. Study every country and decided on a case-by-case basis whether you should invest in localization.