The Big Guide to Regional Mobile App Personalization

mobile app localization

Want to grow your mobile app in new markets? Expanding globally is a great way to increase your app’s user base and win more revenue.

But there’s a catch. If your app is written in English-only, chances are, it won’t perform well in most international markets. Market research shows that most consumers are hesitant to download mobile apps that aren’t written in their native language.

The solution? You’ve got to go multilingual. The best way to do this is with mobile app localization.

Today, let’s explore what mobile localization is and why it’s so important. Then, we’ll go over some tips for planning your next app localization project.

What is Mobile Localization?

Mobile localization is the process of customizing a mobile application for users in a different culture. Language translation is a big part of app localization, but it’s not the only factor.

Image: mobile app localization depicted by Apple
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Localization also includes a full evaluation of an app’s user experience (UX) to ensure that it’s a great fit for a new locale. For example, think about the apps you use every day. A social media app for American consumers will look and function very differently from a Chinese-language app. There’s obviously the language difference, but also changes to colors, images, UI elements, usability, and cultural references.

How to Build an App for a Global Audience

You can dramatically increase your global reach when you make your app compatible with different languages and cultures. Here’s what you should customize for users outside of the English-speaking world.

    • Internationalization and App Functionality
      Internationalization is the process of structuring your app’s code for localization. For example, if you use Paypal, that may not work for countries like Pakistan, where Paypal isn’t available. Early in the development process, you should think about how your user interface (UI) can function seamlessly for your target audience.
    • App Store Listings
      Don’t forget to translate all the content in your app store listing for your Android apps and IOS apps. Localized icons, screenshots, and translated descriptions can make a big difference in app downloads.
    • Colors, Designs, and Imagery
      Did you know these graphic elements may not be interpreted the same way in different cultures? For example, most Japanese consumers prefer visually crowded websites and apps. In other areas like the US, minimalism is more popular. Make sure any images, colors, and designs you use in your app are a great fit for a different culture.
    • Language Translation
      Language translation is a key part of the localization process. As you translate your app into a new target language, make sure the wording sounds natural to native speakers. Be sure to use a translation glossary and style guide to keep everything consistent.
    • Cultural References
      It’s no surprise that different locales have big cultural differences. Do plenty of research on your target market to make sure your cultural references are appropriate for your audience. For example, if you use emojis in your app, they could have wildly different meanings in other cultures.

Why Should You Localize Your Mobile App

Have we piqued your interest in mobile localization yet? If you’re still not convinced, read on to learn about the biggest benefits of mobile localization.

Happy Customers in New Markets

Mobile localization will show your customers that you’re willing to go the extra mile to meet their needs. According to population statistics, a majority of the world’s population does not speak English. In a recent survey, consumer researchers discovered that most people will only buy from brands, companies, and websites that speak their native language. When you customize and deliver content that appeals to your target consumers, it increases trust in your brand.

More App Store Downloads and ROI

Mobile app localization makes it easier for people around the world to discover and download your app. Although it takes time and effort, localization pays off in downloads, new users, and revenue. According to a study by Distomo, app downloads for localized apps were 128% higher than for non-localized apps. More downloads mean more revenue, and more revenue means more investment. It’s a win-win for all stakeholders. Plus, localized apps produced 26% in additional revenue for each region.

Better Marketing Campaigns

Savvy localization can help you avoid embarrassing branding mistakes. A one-size-fits-all marketing approach isn’t always a good fit for different countries. Phrases and words in one language can mean something else in another. This also applies to brand names. For example, the carmaker Fiat chose Uno as a brand name since it meant number one in Spanish. But they didn’t consider that Uno means idiot in Finnish.


Localization should be carried out alongside the development of your website and your app, not after. Developing your app all over again because you just thought of your Japanese, French, or German customers will be tedious, time-consuming, and expensive. Setting aside a small portion of your app development costs for mobile localization will turn out to be profitable in the long run. Effective localization helps you scale and add more languages in the future.

Strategy Tips for Mobile Localization

As you adapt your mobile app for new global markets, it’s important to build a solid content localization strategy. Here are 9 steps that will help your team plan a successful mobile localization project.

  • Choose the Right Markets
    Do your research to uncover the best target audience for your app. Concentrate on data such as mobile usage, revenue from apps, and preferred payment methods.
  • Consider the Culture
    Tailor your app to match local behavior patterns. Cultural differences will impact the way people interact with their devices for tasks like shopping, social media, gaming, or banking.
  • Build Localization into your Development Process
    Build your app’s user interface (UI) with internationalization in mind. Think about local preferences for graphics, style, colors, tone of voice, and functionality. Also consider date and time formats, currencies, and payment methods.
  • Be Aware of Language Preferences
    Choose the right languages and dialects for your audience. Countries as diverse as Canada and India have more than one official language. Other languages, such as Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic, have distinct regional dialects.
  • Invest in the Right Localization Tools
    Language service providers (LSPs) and professional translation services can help you boost the quality of your translations. If your project is a big one, consider a translation management system (TMS) to help you simplify workflows.
  • Test Before and After Launching 
    Localization testing can help you catch any errors in your text, formatting, and app content. After you’ve translated and localized your app, have residents in your target area test it with common mobile devices.
  • Optimize Your App Store Listings
    Worldwide app store optimization (ASO) is also important for localizing app descriptions in the Apple and Google Play app stores.
  • Localize Your SEO
    Without country-specific localized SEO, customers won’t be able to find you. Make sure you localize SEO, keywords, and metadata for your localized app.
  • Measure Your Results
    Keep an eye on your post-launch ratings and stay on top of any issues that impact international users. And don’t forget to pay special attention to the ROI of your localization efforts.

Simplifying Mobile App Localization

At Localize, we understand the challenges associated with translating your mobile app into new languages. That’s why we make it easy for you to localize your mobile app without the hassle of complex managing strings and spreadsheets.

Ready to share your mobile app with the rest of the world? Book a demo with us today to see how we can help you simplify the localization process.

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