Localization and Mobile Marketing

Ed Marsh | Jan 18, 2012

Localization - not by "dead reckoning" anymore

With the advent of the internet, technologies such as predictive analytics, a surge in mobile apps, and a better understanding of local markets, the web has come to bring the world closer together and in turn, give companies anywhere in the world opportunities global in size. With more than 320 million mobile subscriptions in the U.S., there is no denying that the country is mobile. According to Microsoft Tag, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage by 2014. Google states that 40% of mobile queries are related to location and that 70% of smartphone users use their device while shopping in-store.


Companies now see opportunities that were thought to be beyond their reach in global markets moving well beyond the traditional barriers of communication and localization of marketing capabilities. We’re now moving well beyond the English language to reach customers and stakeholders in their native tongues and mobile marketing is playing a key role in this transition.


A "Land Grab" frenzy

Today, mobile sort of resembles that early web. Yes, you can find apps and mobile websites that aren't in English, but by and large, the number of them that have been localized seems relatively small.


That soon may change; however, as iOS and Android adoption grows outside of North America. According to mobile ad network Flurry, The era of mobile computing, heralded by Apple in 2007 with the debut of the iPhone, has put powerful, networked computers into consumers’ hands.   Onto these devices, consumers have downloaded billions of apps.  In 2011 alone, we estimate that 25 billion iOS and Android apps will be downloaded.  And Flurry expects that number to roughly double in 2012 that adoption is occurring quite rapidly.


In a blog post, it notes that in January 2011, over half (55%) of the app sessions it tracked across iOS and Android devices came from the United States. 28% came from the next nine most prominent countries in terms of usage, and the rest of the world was responsible for just 17% of app sessions.


Moving forward several months. The United States now accounts for less than half (47%) of iOS and Android app sessions. Sessions from the next nine countries have jumped to 31%, and the rest of the world's share of app sessions has grown to 22%. Making the growth all the more impressive is that absolute sessions in the United States doubled during this period.


In other words, despite rapid growth in mobile app usage in the United States, other countries are growing so fast that the U.S. can't hold on to its relative share.  


Surging overseas adoption - skipping traditional phases

Leading the charge is China. As Flurry notes, it has a population of 1,3bn people, and many of them are quickly coming to love mobile apps. How much? Between January and October of this year, Flurry has seen the number of app sessions in China grow by a whopping 870%. But it's not alone: Argentina, Israel, India, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Belgium, Thailand, Russia and Taiwan have all seen growth during that same period exceeding 325%.


This means one thing: localization will be more and more important to mobile app developers as the opportunities to court audiences outside of the English-speaking world explode.


The impressive growth of mobile web around the world and its increasing use by consumers has drastically altered business perceptions of the mobile industry. Not long ago, the mobile web was deemed unimportant for business activity. Its rapid acceptance amongst consumers for online transactions has made it more important now for companies to offer a mobile website for users. However, with growing competition, the requirement for mobile web localization and optimization has also arisen. These services enable businesses to remain on the forefront of the search terms that they want to target, especially in a local capacity, and provide users with a localized mobile website that caters to their specific needs.


The ART of localization

Of course, it's important to note that 'localization' means far more than just 'translation.' Good localization always goes beyond words and looks at culture and local conventions. That may be even more important in the mobile space given the complexities that are often present in creating compelling experiences on devices that are at the same time intimate and somewhat limited.


Intrigued by the opportunity for your business?  Overwhelmed by the seeming complexity?  Not sure where to start?  Contact us to learn how Consilium Global Business Advisors can help you through the process of localization.  For more info, read our white paper "4 Immutable Principles of International Marketing & Localization" and our eBook "International Marketing Considerations".