SaaS products are used by people from all over the world for all types of needs. So adapting them to serve different audiences better is not just helpful, it’s essential.
Although it might seem intimidating at first, rest assured that SaaS localization is a worthwhile investment. Just look at inspiring SaaS companies like Google, Netflix, and Zoom, which have localization at the core of their products and continuously look to incorporate more multilingual features.
So in this article, we’ll share everything you need to get started and easily implement the SaaS localization strategy that will work for your business. If you’re ready to take your website and software to the next level with localization, here’s exactly how to do it!
What to consider in SaaS localization process
Software localization goes beyond making the product available in users’ local languages. A successful localization strategy tailors the entire user experience to international users’ needs, habits, and preferences. Localized SaaS products can easily outperform regional competitors and bring in more revenue abroad when done correctly.
But these favorable results require time, consideration, and work on various aspects of a product. From the functionality of your product to the look and feel of your website, everything that contributes to your unique offering should be considered in the SaaS localization process.
An in-depth understanding of the target audience and market is essential to create the local version of your product. And this effort should be continuous because, like your product, localization components undergo changes.
From local players to legal requirements, you should always keep an eye on the latest shifts in your target market. This might also create unique opportunities to make your software more efficient in a foreign market and attract a larger audience.
However, beware that a poorly implemented SaaS localization strategy can do more harm than good. To make this significant undertaking successful, you have to be realistic about all the investment that will go into localizing your product and if it’ll be worth your efforts.
If you haven’t taken any steps to expand internationally yet, you may want to start with fundamental steps and work your way up to SaaS localization. It goes without saying that the best place to start is translating your website.
As we’ll see later, website translation is an effortless way to reach international audiences quickly, and it will help you build a strong foundation for your SaaS localization strategy.
What are the main types of SaaS localization processes
It’s clear that SaaS localization is a comprehensive process. But what are the main localization areas you should focus on? Let’s take a look at the most important ones and understand their implications in your software localization strategy.
Your website is the primary touchpoint for most of your international users. While domestic users have many different ways of hearing about you (word of mouth, traditional marketing, etc.), the majority of international users will likely find your software through online search.
So reaching foreign customers without translating your website first is an unrealistic objective. But luckily, website translation can be implemented quickly and easily with the right tool.
Another advantage of website translation is that it allows you to convert international visitors even without having to localize your software. And realistically, a complete SaaS localization project might be unattainable or even unnecessary for many businesses.
So if you don’t have the means to invest in SaaS localization yet, website translation is the most effective way to tap into new markets and capture international leads that have sufficient language skills to benefit from your software.
See how SaaS company REVIEWS.io used Weglot to translate its website and grow in the German market.
Linguistic localization is the translation (and sometimes the transcreation) of the written content in your software. From the navigation menu to the tooltips, no text should be left in the original language for a seamless user experience.
Pricing is an important consideration for customers (the pricing page is probably one of the most visited pages on your website, right?). When you just convert to local currencies, your product positioning can completely change depending on the market. So make sure to account for the purchasing power of your target demographic when defining a local pricing strategy.
Payment system localization
Preferred payment systems vary greatly depending on the country. Even if you accept widely used payment systems, you can still miss out on many local customers. In addition to the different payment service providers, offering alternative payment methods like wire transfer or digital instruments like cryptocurrency could be attractive to users depending on the market.
And considering that most users pay through your website, ensure that the relevant pages are translated completely and that all the available payment methods are indicated clearly.
Complementary features might be needed to make your software functional in a new country. Or on the contrary, certain features might become irrelevant and disrupt the user experience. Therefore, the functionality of your software and its capabilities should be revamped within the unique working systems and procedures of a new market.
This is where the feeling of familiarity and ease of use come into play. No matter how efficient your SaaS tool is, users won’t be able to benefit from it if they can’t navigate easily. So you should consider regional norms, aesthetic preferences, usage habits, and thought processes that impact the perception of the users to create an intuitive interface.
SaaS tools rely heavily on visual elements, and they can cause confusion or even offense if not localized. For example, icons can be used to represent different features or have negative connotations in different cultures. You might need to create new assets or change/remove them completely.
Product marketing localization
Your product marketing strategy should also be tailored to the localized version of your product and be optimized for international audiences. From positioning to website content, product marketing plays a key role in how SaaS companies perform in new markets.
Software and hardware customization
The technical infrastructure and requirements can also vary depending on the region. In that case, it’s necessary to internationalize your SaaS product’s software and hardware in order to achieve optimal performance.
Common SaaS Localization mistakes
Starting off without a strategy
Product owners might be tempted to dive into localization without a clear understanding of their growth potential. Choosing a region based on its proximity, popularity, or ease of adaptation might not yield the results you were hoping for and cause you time and resources.
Similarly, aiming for too many different regions at once can dilute your focus and efforts. This is why you should thoroughly consider your business goals and limitations before defining your localization strategy.
Not planning for maintenance
It’s a common misconception that localization is a one-off mission. In reality, SaaS localization workflow is a continuous process that evolves over time with your product and the region it’s intended for. So all the steps that are taken for the initial adaptation should be periodically repeated to keep your localization up to date.
Ignoring local user behavior
User behavior is molded by cultural norms and habits, so it varies significantly in each country. Although it’s not easy to identify the differences in user behavior, ignoring this aspect altogether will result in a poor user experience.
Not including all touchpoints
Users interact with your product in many different ways throughout their journey. Some of these interactions might not be as prominent as others, but nevertheless, they should be as important when it comes to localization. From onboarding to notifications, every localized touchpoint contributes to a seamless customer experience.
And most importantly, your website is a crucial touchpoint that assists customers throughout their journey. For international users who may require more guidance, a multilingual website is a useful resource that provides them with essential information as well as product support. So the importance of website translation in SaaS localization can’t be underestimated.
Software layout issues
Text expansion is an often overlooked factor that can break up the software layout. Especially when it comes to menus and buttons, text can overflow and make your tool challenging to navigate. And keep in mind that different language orientations (e.g., English is written from left to right, whereas Arabic is written from right to left) have huge implications on the software layout and it might even be necessary to design a whole new interface.
Using text in media elements
Although media translations can be easily managed with localization tools, creating new assets can be time-consuming. This is why separating text from graphics is a highly recommended SaaS localization practice that’ll save your team a lot of time.
Handling tasks manually
As you know by now, SaaS product localization is a comprehensive and technical process. Trying to handle it manually doesn’t only leave room for human error but also wastes the time your team can use to focus on the core business.
Investing in tools that are specialized in SaaS localization won’t only ensure that you take all the necessary steps in the right way and accelerate your workflow, but it will also allow you to go further in your efforts.
How to implement a localization strategy for SaaS products
Market research and planning
As a first step, you should identify your target markets. The most profitable global markets will differ for each business, so don’t blindly copy other companies or make decisions based on generic advice.
The key data that should guide you is the demographic of your current website visitors or user base. Chances are you have visitors from overseas or users whose native language is different from your software’s language. By localizing your software, you can easily improve their user experience and get a head start in a local market where you have brand awareness.
Once you determine your market and audience, do thorough research to understand the characteristics of your target. Having a clear idea of the different SaaS localization components we’ve mentioned earlier will help you get started.
Building a team and defining roles
Building a SaaS product is a team effort, and so is localizing it. To build a localization team, you should define all the localization requirements and assign them to suitable team members.
Your localization team can include roles such as localization manager, international marketing expert, translator, developer, or designer, depending on the localization areas and the extent of the project. These roles could be filled by current members, or you might need to work with external parties for linguistic or local expertise.
It goes without saying that the translation process will be an important aspect of your SaaS localization project. However, the exhaustive requirements of adding different languages can quickly become unmanageable when done manually.
Moreover, software translation encompasses a wide range of content, like the text on the software itself, product support documentation, notifications, popups, emails, and invoices that need regular updates. This is why using translation management software for a number of these points is highly advisable.
Adaptation of cultural elements
From visual components to numerical formats, every element constituting your software should be revised from a cultural perspective. You might be surprised to learn that even the simplest details can impact international users’ perceptions.
For example, date formats can cause serious confusion if not localized. Or it’s possible that users’ expectations can be influenced by cultural habits when receiving support. In any case, accounting for these differences will improve user experience and prevent future headaches for your team.
Localization of features
The capabilities of a SaaS product are determined by the environment in which it is used. Business models, industry standards, regulatory requirements, and operational behavior can require you to optimize the features of the software.
SaaS localization aims to give users the impression that the product was built specifically for them. Adapting product features to provide a seamless experience within cultural context is one of the most effective ways to achieve this goal.
Maintaining and improving the localization process
The performance of your SaaS localization project will depend on its maintenance. Starting off with excellent execution is easy, but keeping it up is difficult. Especially if internal upkeep is taking a lot of time and resources.
Keeping a long-term plan in mind and being realistic about maintenance requirements from the outset is essential. You should also monitor the performance of the localized versions of your SaaS product and optimize your efforts for the best results. Once you achieve an efficient system, you can easily add more markets to your roadmap and expand globally.
SaaS products can significantly enhance their reach and gain a competitive advantage with an efficient localization strategy. With the help of dedicated tools, this benefit is easier to achieve than ever before. You can start now by instantly translating your SaaS website with a 10-day Weglot trial today.