5 tips for selling your app in international markets
|Jim Mansfield in Marketing & Promotion Friday, January 6, 2017|
What you should know when publishing an app that is targeted for a country outside of the United States.
Apps are about as global as the Internet itself, and any successful app developer is smart to look beyond borders for new growth. After all, developers are always on the lookout for new users, particularly high quality and engaged users. They’re also trying to scale their businesses. Reaching out to users in other countries accomplishes both goals.
From mega-corporations to mid-sized companies to mom-and-pop coding shops, thousands of developers in dozens of countries are working on a wide range of new apps for users living in every country on the planet.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to enter international markets.
In fact, taking a game or app that’s popular in one market and launching it in other countries is about more than translation. It’s also about user fit, preferences, culture and other local variables that can thwart even the best marketing plans and promotional strategies.
Consider these five potential hurdles:
Language: Although this is usually the first concern that jumps to mind when expanding into international markets, language is an easy problem for developers to solve. It is not usually a massive hurdle to have the content in your app translated by a professional or to translate the copy used in your app store pitch. In fact, some promotion platforms are only presented in English anyway, regardless what country they’re selling to, but those that aren’t can easily be translated to fit.
You can also test your app in Asia in places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia without a translation before deciding to make the jump to pay for an Asian language translation. The Netherlands and the Nordic countries also do fine with English-only apps, and those tests and could help you decide if you want to make the leap for Spanish or French.
ROI: As with targeting different user groups or market niches in the U.S., the ROI on app promotion will be different for each country you enter. That means you might spend more to acquire a customer in South Korea than you do in Brazil, but both might be less than you’re spending in North America. It just depends, and you want to tailor your pitch for each user base to reflect that, using a digital marketing platform to A/B test different price points, sales pitches and other variables to see what works for each country.
Culture: Although there is overlap regarding what sells in different parts of the world, the fact is that some apps do a little better in Asia while some do a little better in western countries such as the UK, Canada and the U.S. due to cultural differences between buyers. But that doesn’t mean an app needs to be directly targeted to each country in the world to sell there. A game that sells well in Asia will also likely find an audience in the U.S. and elsewhere, simply because there are Asian gamers here as well as people who like Asian games.
Content: Local preferences also play an important role in app buying as well. Right now, some of the most lucrative markets for game developers are in South Korea, Japan, and Australia, and the games that sell best in each of those are all slightly different. For example, in Australia buyers like sports games and they like betting on sports. So those types of apps sell well there. Asian buyers are more into strategy and multi-player games right now, so developers in those markets tend to lean on those niches. It’s true that every type of game works in every country on some level, though some regions are better suited to certain types of content than others.
Testing: The nice thing about apps is you can start testing new markets immediately at a very low cost of entry. A developer can, using an online marketing platform, go out and acquire 100 users in Australia, and 100 users in the Netherlands, and 100 users in Japan, or wherever they want to go, and slowly start testing the waters. It allows you to dip your toe into each market to determine which one you're getting the most traction in.
Outside the app world, launching a product in a new country involves a massive marketing and logistics push. But with digital marketing a developer can spend their marketing budget in small chunks—say $1,000 here and $1,000 there—to see if there is interest before investing more. This also helps generate feedback and reviews that can tailor further the app to local users and make it more suitable to that market.
But remember, when it comes to selling an app to the global market, success is relative.
Even if a developer can’t replicate the massive success they saw in their home country to the rest of the world, they’ll still find users in the U.S., in the U.K., in Europe and everywhere else because a lot of what makes games appealing is universal. Cultural differences, and language barriers and sales pitches don’t matter nearly as much as delivering a fun, entertaining product.
In fact, the element that makes one game a massive hit in Korea might make it just a decent success somewhere else, but that doesn’t make it a failure. The key is to run small tests in different markets and see how much traction you get, before fully committing to rollout strategies for different countries.
This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.