Author Archives: Rae Steinbach

Rae Steinbach

About Rae Steinbach

Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined international relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to New York City to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food and writing.

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How to integrate cultural distance into your app development

Localization Basics, Technology

It is only natural for a company to focus on its home country when they start developing an app. It’s the market you are most familiar with, and it is where most of your current resources are deployed. However, if you want to continue to grow, and expand the relevance of your app, there may come a time when you need to consider moving into different regions and countries.

More than 5 billion people use mobile services and more than half of those devices are smartphones. When you consider the fact that only a fraction of the world’s smartphone users live in the US, you can see that there is massive potential for growth when you decide to start pushing your app into new markets.

If you are planning to market your app internationally, you have to consider the differences between the people in different markets. Beyond differences in language, people in different places have different cultural values and they respond to messages and imagery in different ways. This is what is known as “cultural distance” and it should be one of your top considerations when developing an app for different regions.

Internationalization

Internationalization is the process of creating an app in such a way that it can be adapted for users in different countries and regions. If you plan to market your app for an international audience, this should be a part of the development process. If you are working with an existing app that was not coded for internationalization, your development team will need to go through the app to separate the content portions of the app from the code that makes the app function.

Along with the internationalization of the app itself, you will need to globalize the efforts your company puts into supporting the application. You will need to look at how you want to position the app in different markets, your advertising efforts, the need for staff in different regions and the potential that there may be legal concerns that come with moving into new markets.

Localization

Under ideal conditions, localization will come after internationalization. This way, your app is adaptable for different countries and regions. You’ll be able to make it so things like text and other content can be switched out based on the international market of the user. Not only that, you will have laid the groundwork to move the app into these new markets.

Language is one of the more obvious concerns when it comes to app localization. While English is widely spoken throughout the world, it is not the native language of most people, and most app users prefer an experience that is in their native language.

While it may be tempting to use some type of machine translation, it is recommended that you hire human translators when you localize your app. Some of the machine services do work well, but they are also prone to mistakes. At best, these mistakes will be embarrassing; at worst, they could damage the reputation of your company.

Beyond language, you also need to consider cultural context when localizing an app. This is where cultural distance will play a role in app development.

Accounting for culture

Culture has a significant impact on how people view the world. Translating your app might put the words in the language of your target country, but that does not mean you are sending the same message or speaking to the audience in the most effective way.

Even when translated word for word, some content might have a very different meaning in different places. Obviously, a common turn of phrase in one country might seem like nonsense somewhere else. You also have situations where a translation retains its meaning, but the message might be received negatively in a different culture.

The same is also true for images. An image that evokes positive feelings in one culture might be negative in another. Furthermore, you might have images that work well in one culture, but they just don’t convey any kind of meaning in a new market.

When you are working to localize an app for a new market, you have to think beyond translation. How will the messaging carry over? Will the images have the right impact on the new audience? These cultural differences are important for businesses that want to operate in different countries.

Cultural distance examples

A good example of cultural distance is between those that are individualist as compared with those that are more collectivist. Individualist societies value being self-sufficient and favor the rights and needs of the individual over that of the broader society. In collectivist societies, the group takes priority over the individual and people are more reliant on each other. 

Another example of cultural distance is the acceptance of indulgence. In some societies, people feel freer to express and act on their desires. On the other hand, you have societies that are more restrained. In these societies, people are expected to have more control over their desires. 

These are just two examples of cultural distance, but there are many more that may need to be considered. As you assess a new market, consider the cultural differences and account for them by adapting your messaging and the imagery you use. You may even need to change the way your service functions to account for cultural differences in some places.

As a final tip, keep your eye on things like international downloads, engagement, app analytics, and user feedback. There is a chance your efforts at localization won’t be perfect for some regions. If you notice problems with the analytics, engagement, or user feedback, it can be the first sign that you got something wrong.

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Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined international relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to New York City to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food and writing.

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In the future, smart homes will differ from country to country

Localization Technology, Personalization and Design

The mystical world where anything that connects to the internet — including the appliances, devices and machines used in our homes and workplaces — will become ‘intelligent’ enough to preemptively service our needs is fast approaching. Referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT), some designers are expecting to see more developments and changes to the concept of the home in the next ten years than we’ve seen in the last ninety.

Yet the integration of these technologies vastly differs across the world, with each nation taking an approach to hire a programmer for IoT development in their own way. In fact, the use of this technology can even be manifested differently between neighboring cities.

Purchasing power only partly explains this divergence. Cultural preferences and different prioritization for various areas of our lives are all shaping which smart home technologies of the future we’ll be presented with and eventually adopt in our homes. We can see the beginnings of this now, with curated product lines for individual markets.

Consumer priorities for smart technology across countries

In the United States, many of the technological advances for the home are driven by convenience. Technology that takes care of location-specific tasks like kitchen appliances that order, prepare and bring food to the table would be expected to be wildly popular in the American market.

There would, however, be a few localization anomalies appearing in health-conscious states such as California. In these cases, technology focused around supporting an active lifestyle, like automatic climate controls or fridges that prepare healthful drinks after a workout, would be expected to be more successful.

Conversely, in Japan, it is not so much convenience that consumers are looking for, but technology that assists in caring for a growing elderly population. Considering they have one of the highest life expectancies among all developed nations, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Here, the IoT is expected to outfit people’s homes with appliances and new technologies such as companion robots that are aimed at caring for elderly relatives. These bots will also be able to provide remote monitoring facilities and complete household chores like cleaning.

Other countries like the UK have a higher uptake of smart energy meters that allow adopters to visualize their consumption and automate the billing process with their energy provider. Spain and Italy, meanwhile, have shown to be more attracted to smart watches.

Integrating smart technologies

One of the biggest challenges to the adoption of smart technologies in homes across the world is not so much the natural disinclination we have to changing our behavior, but more the infrastructure it relies upon. Additionally, the ability for different appliances and devices to “talk” to each other can bring about difficulties as well.

For example, your smart meter needs to be able to talk to your home climate control device to ensure that the device isn’t racking up a massive bill at the end of each month. You could also imagine this situation with your fridge and oven, where the former makes sure the oven has preheated to the right temperature by the time the food is ready to be cooked.

While brands are getting better at allowing for interoperability of products, the infrastructure it relies upon — internet connectivity — is somewhat lacking in varying degrees across nations. While more than 51% of the world has some sort of access to the internet, many developed countries including the US, the UK and Japan still lack 100% broadband coverage. This blocks large parts of their populations from ever being able to access smart home technology.

Once governments in these countries make good on their promises of universal broadband for all, not only will communication and the workplace be completely transformed, but home tech will take off in a number of different areas to service the priorities of each culture.

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Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined international relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to New York City to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food and writing.

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Five ways to localize your email marketing strategy

Marketing

Although email marketing can be extremely effective with the right strategy, it’s not always easy to connect with your audience. Across a wide range of industries, the average email open rate is about 32%.

Customers have a lot of other content vying for their attention; they’re not going to read everything that reaches their inbox. Even reaching their inbox in the first place can be difficult, with the heightened security of spam filters and email list attrition rates creeping up. First, use an email verifier tool to get to your customers’ inboxes, then consider the next steps of your email marketing strategy.

If you’re having trouble getting readers to actually open your emails once they’ve landed in inboxes, you may benefit from implementing a localization strategy. Your audience is simply more likely to engage with your content if it’s tailored to their specific needs. The following tips will help you better understand how to plan your next email marketing campaign so it’s properly localized.

Adopt a personal, authentic tone

Customers are exposed to plenty of generic copy every single day. They often dislike emails that sound more like ads; that’s why it helps to use a more personal tone.

You can achieve this in several ways. For instance, instead of listing the company name in the “from” line, you might consider listing the name of a prominent individual at the company, so long as the name would be familiar enough to your customers to get their attention.

You can localize an email by acting as though you’re also a resident of the same area your customer lives in. Email content from Fitcenter, for example, made reference to the cold weather in the recipient’s area. This feels more personal because the content seems like a neighbor sent it.

In the body of the email itself, make sure your copy sounds like you’re contacting a personal friend, and not just another one of your customers. One marketer experimented with a template that was designed to mimic the experience of receiving an email from a friend or family member. The result: a 57% open rate. This personal feel evokes the experience of corresponding with a local business owner.

make sure your copy sounds like you’re contacting a personal friend, and not just another one of your customers Click To Tweet

Send locally relevant promotional offers

Sending coupons, discount codes and other promotional offers is a smart way to get your customers’ attention. Just make sure the discounts you send are relevant to their needs and location.

For example, if you operate brick and mortar stores, send coupons that can be redeemed at a nearby location. If you sell apparel, don’t send discounts on heavy winter coats to customers who live in typically warm regions. You’ll have to do some research to ensure your customers are getting relevant promotional offers, but the payoff will be worth it.

It’s also important to understand that where your customers live isn’t the only factor to consider when localizing an email. For example, The Bowery Presents sent users who had seen concerts in New York City emails about future concerts in the area. When a New York City-based user bought a ticket for a show in Boston, the emails also included other Boston shows, as the recipient would clearly be traveling there. Consider where your readers will be, not just where they are.

Use social media

Sharing emails or offering discounts to customers who sign up for your mailing list on social media is another smart localization strategy to adopt. With platforms like Facebook, you can also post ads or boost posts, targeting potential customers in specific regions of the world. Some of those readers might share them on their own social media accounts, boosting your local influence in that area.

Localize your subject line

A recent study analyzing the impact of different email subject lines on open rate confirmed that localizing the subject line is a very effective tactic for marketers. If the content is relevant to a local branch of your business, include that information in the subject line. If it isn’t, simply include the name of a specific state or region. Then, send the email to customers in that region.

Segment your list

In general, segmenting your email list so customers receive content tailored to their needs and tastes is key to a strong email marketing campaign.

There are many different ways you can choose to break up your list. Consider segmenting it by geographic location or language. This will ensure that your audience consistently receives emails relevant to their area and culture.

Again, email marketing can still be extremely effective; you just need to plan your strategy before implementing it. By localizing your emails, you’re much more likely to to deliver messages your customers will actually read.

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Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined international relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to New York City to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food and writing.

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