Internationally marketing your app? Here's where to start

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, offers advice on marketing your app internationally, taking account of cultural nuances and preferences.

What defines a great global market entry strategy in app marketing? Internationalizing your app is a challenging feat. After all, variances in culture, consumer behaviors and expectations could all be confoundable variables you face when planning or executing your strategy. 

Preparing for global markets takes much more than the most evident and black-and-white market adaptation to them. So, what can a mobile marketer do to introduce their app to new, global audiences effectively?

One of the foundational pillars of App Store Optimization (ASO) is carrying relevance through all user touchpoints. From search, conversion, and even paid user acquisition, relevance drives all app store growth, and ASO helps developers both domestically and internationally develop key messaging that resonates. 

Increased mobile use and globalization – the opportunity for apps
In a report from Businesswire, it is estimated that one in three mobile users in the Asian-Pacific region regularly plays mobile games. Externalities aside, this statistic is incredibly profound since markets like the US and Western Europe play mobile games comparably less frequently. In those Asian-Pacific regions, mobile gaming use surpasses PC and game console gaming combined. 

To pair this, Hybrid also reported that 55 per cent of the entire mobile gaming market resides in just six Asian-Pacific countries. With the rise of smartphone adoption, more and more people are looking to mobile apps as their new destination to shop, explore, and entertain themselves at unprecedented rates.

Opportunities to reach these lucrative markets provide developers become all the more pressing and important, not just for mobile games, but for all app categories. 

How does ASO help build your global audience? 
It’s not just about being the best thing since sliced bread, to make it in international markets, its best to adapt to your environment rather than being a “visitor”.

When looking at global app store competition, you're dealing with other market entries and also local app developers. This poses a unique threat to your organic strategy as local app developers often don’t need to think of things like localization in a general sense. Instead, speaking to users comes naturally as languages, cultural cues and communication is “home”. 

For market entries, this is one of the biggest hurdles in organic app marketing: understanding that optimization for global markets goes beyond just a mere translation. This is pertinent to design as well. In some cases, global app marketers may assume that value propositions and messaging carries over rather succinctly. However, we often find that the largest opportunities to gain traction in markets abroad may also be some of the (inadvertently) easiest to overlook. 

Let’s look at an example…
A popular mushroom identifier app suddenly gains traction in the US. As the developers of this fungi app look to expand to other markets given its newfound fame, it looks to develop a market international entry plan for ASO. What do the developers look at? How do they prioritize what to optimize, and how to optimize it? Well, it’s all the same – with a few extra details. 

The developers looked to Poland, where research revealed mushroom scavenging to be a popular familial pastime. As a great first step to any marketing plan, market research is crucial to establish a primary goal for a target audience, gauge the competitive landscape and develop a preliminary plan for testing their new market strategy.

By using ASO tools and technology, they’re able to see that sentence and search structures vary across Poland and the US. They find that their target search queries are function-oriented rather than brand- or feature-specific. Based on this finding, they’re able to extrapolate what key messaging resonates most with their target audience and incorporate it into their metadata. 

What about their creatives? Well, let’s say that the developers of this app used design elements like American flags, or less overtly, native American mushroom species in their screenshots. These same designs will not resonate with a Polish audience. 

Instead, the developers of the app look to incorporate family-focused messaging, and mushroom species often found in Poland. Paired with adding phrases they collected in their app listing metadata research, they combine ASO best practices to make screenshots that truly resonate with the audience.

Of course, market entry strategies all differ from one category to another. That’s why it’s important to stick to the App Store Optimization strategies and best practices throughout your market expansion. ASO helps us better understand, define and change with audiences across borders. 

What else should you look out for? 
Some of these cultural variances may not be so easy to spot. Search variances can only be spotted with reliable ASO tools and technology. Design elements can also be difficult to pinpoint but that doesn’t mean they’re far from reach. 

When internationalizing your app, it’s vital to spend a significant amount of your time researching what resonates with your audience abroad. As a global app developer, you’ll face competition from domestic and international markets simultaneously. Look to see what competitors are doing on all fronts, and test to see what works and what doesn’t for your brand. 

Odds are local competitors have an edge in being able to “speak the language of the user” in more ways than one. Understanding search behaviors and how they vary abroad is the first step in achieving global app store success.

Where do you start with an international app marketing strategy? With ASO, of course – but don’t be fooled. When it comes to global app expansion, market research is one of the most vital steps in preparation, testing, and execution. The processes in ASO are just as pertinent to your growth as they are in domestic markets, so don’t just be a tourist – remember to mix with the locals when entering the market!

About the Author
Dave Bell is Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube. Gummicube is a global leader in App Store Optimization with more than 12 years of experience optimizing and marketing apps. We offer the leading enterprise ASO technology and agency services, providing support to clients around the world. Our company is trusted by thousands of enterprise brands and leading startups including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Bethesda, SWEAT, GrubHub, McAfee and many others.