How many languages should I translate into?

We always advocate slow and steady here at Applingua. Launching an app with many languages at the very beginning can be a real headache and there’s never any guarantee localizing your app will automatically increase sales.

There is no magic number

There are many many factors here that need to be considered on a case by case basis. Try and think about the following:

  1. How “universal” is my app? (Does the content apply in other locales?)
  2. How big is my app? (How expensive will it be to translate?)
  3. How frequently is the app updated? (Each time an app adds a new string you have to wait for the translation)
  4. In which countries are my competitors?

As an example, let’s take well implemented calculator app. It’s universal in appeal, it’s unlikely to have many strings, it’s unlikely to need monthly updates either. The cost to translate the app and its marketing metadata are manageable. A higher number of languages (for arguments sake, let’s say 20) would be acceptable here.

Let’s now take a new social networking app (maybe for photo sharing or status updates). It’s appeal is also universal, but it has many strings and updates will probably be quite common, especially in its infancy as the app updates and pivots to get users. Most of the competitors already have a strong hold in major international app stores. You have to decide: should you target the same, or go after less crowded app stores. Based on these factors, a medium number of languages would make sense (let’s say 8-12).

Finally, let’s take a complicated design app. It’s universal in appeal, but it’s big. Updates are not so frequent, but the cost and time needed to implement and test languages is high. There are several competitors who have translated their apps into varying different languages. With no specialist market consultancy, you may translate to what appear to be the strongest markets. Make an informed decision (see below). Based on this, you’d be looking to start with 2-3 languages.

Start small

If in doubt, start with fewer rather than more.

Remember, the more languages you translate to, the lengthier the translation process. 10 languages means at least 10 translators translating your app and then 10 QA testers checking everything looks good.

It’s easy to add languages, but slightly more difficult to remove them (at least without fear of One-Star reviews).

There’s no shame in starting with a handful and adding more later – in fact, you can localize future releases and incorporate that into your continuing marketing plan.

Make an informed decision

If your app is already available for sale, you should have statistics on who is downloading your app. Make a list of potential markets you see from those sales stats. If you don’t see any discernible differences between countries, try translating your app store metadata (description, keywords, title) first to see if that affects sales and go from there.

Take a look at competitors, ask contacts in the industry, ask us.

 


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Rob

CEO & Founder of Applingua.com

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