Lokalise illustration of growth for app developers

How innovative app developers are using localization to grow their business

For most app developers, the focus is on building. The joy is in taking an idea and bringing it to life. The app store listing can be a moment of delight tinged with sadness, a mother watching a child, suitcases packed, phone in hand, laces untied, heading off to university. But both underestimate the joy that can be found after a milestone has been reached. For app developers, the real excitement starts as you try to get your beloved creation into the hands of as many users as possible, so they can benefit from your genius. 

In our Growth Heroes series, we’re highlighting entrepreneurial companies with big ambitions. Companies that are using localization to expand their customer base, no matter what language those customers speak, and in turn grow their business. We recently caught up with three app developers:

  • Lunar – a Danish challenger bank that recently reached unicorn status.
  • Dogo App – one of the world’s most downloaded dog training apps.
  • MWM – the world’s leading creative apps publisher.

Here we’ve tried to condense their lessons for growth into three key learnings for burgeoning app developers.

Dedicate yourself to continuous improvement

Perfection is an unattainable illusion. You’ll drive yourself to distraction chasing it, so stop. What you can do is dedicate yourself to the continuous improvement of your app internally and externally. Externally, listen to your customers. They’re out there in the field, putting your app to good use in their everyday lives whether it’s managing their finances, training their new puppy, or creating a mix for their next DJ set. Feedback is the gift that influences your product roadmap.

Internally, unless your company operates with the efficiency of an F1 pit crew, continuous tweaks and improvements can always be made. Lunar is a shining example of this mentality. The Danish fintech is part of a growing group of neobanks, disrupting an industry that has rested on its laurels for far too long. They currently have 400,000 users across Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Their commitment to continuous improvement is exemplified by their recent decision to select Thought Machine, the cloud native core banking technology firm, to modernize their core systems and develop new services as they expand. Prior to this, they tackled a smaller problem – spreadsheets.

After a stellar start in Denmark, the Lunar team decided to expand to some of their Nordic neighbors. They tinkered around with spreadsheets to manage the localization of their existing assets but soon realized how unproductive it was. Their commitment to continuous improvement led them to Lokalise. Manual tasks disappeared, to be replaced by an efficient process of uploading, downloading, and updating keys automatically using the CLI, SDKs, and API features.

Some say: we use this tool for website localization, that tool for backend, another for apps. But we can do everything in one tool – Lokalise.

Kasper Munck, Lead Software Engineer, Mobile – Lunar

MWM had similar inefficiencies that they wanted to iron out. They manage more than 30 apps in 15 languages, covering popular segments such as DJ production, music creation, learning, and gaming. As such, any efficiency gains they create can be hugely beneficial for the company’s bottom line. Before switching to Lokalise, MWM was manually exporting keys to spreadsheets, which were then sent to outsourced translators. After receiving the translations, the code had to be updated manually. Benjamin Duvivier, Product Owner at MWM, recalls: “the process was cumbersome and took heaps of time from project managers, developers, and other team members. And what’s worse – it was not transparent at all and very error-prone.”

Thanks to Lokalise, MWM has been able to fully automate the process of updating translations and synchronizing the Lokalise project with the respective mobile app. Before, these were all manual tasks for developers who had to extract and upload all the files.

It’s 10x faster to launch a new language in Lokalise compared to our previous workflow in Google Sheets. Previously, the localization process for each app could take one to two weeks.

Benjamin Duvivier, Product Owner – MWM

Focus on ease of use, internally and externally

The founders of Dogo chose Lokalise because it was the easiest tool for their translators to use. Founded in Lithuania by iOS developer Tadas, his veterinarian wife Rasa, and Eliza, who is responsible for the commercial side, the dog training app now has over two million downloads.

If the system is annoying to use for the people who do translations, they would not be willing to do it ever again. So for us, it was very important to ensure a pleasant experience for these contributors.

Tadas Žiemys Co-Founder – Dogo

Not only were the translators happy, Tadas notes that the “Sketch integration helped the designer to save a huge amount of time – instead of spending a whole week creating screenshots, he’d only spend a day.” For the Dogo team, this combination of happy translators, developers, and designers has resulted in an app that customers love. Overwhelmingly positive reviews from their two hundred thousand active users has led to an App Store rating of 4.8 and being named on Apple’s App of the Day and Ones to Watch 2021. 

This sentiment was echoed by Benjamin from MWM. “Our developers are very comfortable using the Lokalise platform, and they say that it’s very developer oriented,” he tells us.

“Since we’ve been using Lokalise, our team is always looking forward to the localization tasks as it is one of the easiest and the most fun parts of the app publishing process. We are no longer afraid of making mistakes when pushing the updates. We remain calm, as Lokalise takes away the hassle.”

A happy team makes for a great app, and happy customers. By picking tools your team will love, you’ll help them build a product that your customers will love. 

Reach more customers, faster

Mobile app localization is one of the easiest and most effective ways to grow your customer base, something all of our interviewees are living proof of. It just makes sense. You want to appeal to as many customers in as many countries as possible. How do you do that? Speak to them in their language. Don’t take our word for it, a study by Distimo showed that localizing an iPhone app leads to 128% more downloads on average per country. Moreover, a 26% growth in revenue was observed for each country covered by an app localization.

One thing all of our interviewees have in common is that English is not their first language, so their aspirations of appealing the widest possible audience were made even more difficult. Coming from Lithuania, a small country of just 2.79 million inhabitants, the founders of Dogo made a strategic decision to localize their app from day zero. Not only because that would open up a wider market for the app, but also because Tadas believes that people appreciate the chance to use a product in their own language. 

You don’t need a lot of customers in one country to start localizing. It’s enough if you have some customers in a lot of different countries. Altogether, they still make a big group of people.

Tadas Žiemys Co-Founder – Dogo

It is this philosophy that, in just three years, has seen Dogo translated to ten different languages and used in 221 countries.

Similarly, France-based MWM’s growth has gone hand in hand with its expansion to new markets. Since becoming a Lokalise customer, they’ve grown their bank of apps from five to 30 in a few short years. All this is aided by the greater efficiencies allowed by getting their apps to market “10x faster.” Their apps have now been downloaded over 450 million times in 180 countries.

Lunar’s growth has been stratospheric. It’s currently rolling out its digital banking services across the Nordics, aided by the ease and efficiency with which it can translate its app into four languages. It has grown into a Scandinavia-wide company with offices in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo, and more than 300 employees. Its Series D funding round in 2021 raised €210m. The company says its user base has grown by more than 90% in the past year to approximately 325,000, and that its business arm dealt with more than half of all new Danish SMEs in 2021.

Finding the right formula to grow your app business can sometimes feel like alchemy. Localizing your app is one ingredient that there should be no mystery about.

Kickstart your global expansion

To help you follow in the footsteps of Lunar, Dogo, and MWM, check out Global-ready growth, our guide to unlocking international revenue. Download

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