SaaS Localization: A key to Global Expansion
By: Hassan Ahmed
The amount of effort that goes into creating a SaaS product is unprecedented. Years of relentless hard work, with numerous challenges curbing the progress, is an expected route that every entrepreneur has to take. And that is without the guarantee of success. Globalization has opened doors for any person who is willing to take a chance on his business idea. However, if a few people are entering a door, the chances of them crossing each other while passing the threshold of that door are considerably low. But if hundreds of passionate and enthusiast businessmen are endeavoring to pass that door, the chances of none of them getting by are considerably high. And the few lucky ones that do get through the crowd and enter the door, are left with a lot of bruises and emotional stress.
This is what globalization has done. Though it has given an opportunity to people regardless of their race, gender, nationality, and social status by allowing them to offer a product or service in the free market, it has also elevated the level of competition. And the chances of becoming successful are minute.
There are cases, where some organizations defy the odds and are able to create a successful SaaS product. So what is the secret sauce in this situation?
The answer lies within the process of SaaS Localization. When entrepreneurs are given the option to expand their business globally, they always tend to look upon the option with a frown. And the reason behind that frown relates to the extensive hard work that is required to do it effectively. There is no limit to how much a business can expand in the global market since customers can be reached in any market or region of the world. But the issue is pertaining to the process of localization that needs to take place if market penetration has to be successful.
In this article, we will discuss the significance of SaaS localization, and how can it be made successful.
Global Expansion; the dream of every startup:
The reason the economy in the 21st century is doing so well is because of globalization. The consumer market has also expanded. And the reason behind this notion is that the needs and wants of the people are different in every region and culture. This gives businesses the opportunity to specialize in that market and create a specific product that caters to the specific need, enabling the growth of multiple startups.
So people claiming that Globalization has done more harm than good, are only seeing one side of the story. Because, if globalization did not exist, your SaaS product would not be able to penetrate foreign markets. It’s imperative to understand that the consumer is not only restrained to the first world countries only, rather they are dispersed into the third world nations as well. So it does not matter if it’s a major city or small rural location, consumer potential exists everywhere. So if you are willing to create a product that can reduce human efforts and improve the lives of the citizens of a small community, globalization can help you reach that market due to the advent of the internet. Hence, the e-commerce platform is the future of the business world. It can connect world communities and further strengthen the global economy.
From the consumer perspective, globalization has given them a higher purchasing power. Now they can surf the internet and select a product or service that suits them. So a consumer living in the rural areas of Pakistan can actually purchase a product from a multi-national company operating in the USA. This is the power of globalization, where anybody can utilize the internet for his or her benefit. Hence, this is a motivating factor for startups and entrepreneurs to create a SaaS product that is accessible to every potential consumer on a global scale.
Differentiating Translation and Localization
The only way that you can introduce your product or service to a new market is if you translate your content into the language of the target audience. The reason behind this notion is the fact that people tend to understand and relate those things that they understand. Hence, nothing can grasp their attention other than their native language. However, if you are trying to translate your content, the biggest challenge for you will be to select the language that you will eventually translate into. Many organizations fail to strategize their goal according to this aspect, and hence dive into translating their content into the wrong language, without doing any sort of research. And thereby do not achieve any results.
Before you even attempt to translate your content, priority should be given to understanding the concept of localization. And what the dimensions are pertaining to this tenet. This will give you an advantage before you attempt to start the process of translations. And also give you the chance to make all the necessary changes and alterations that can eventually assist you to save a lot of your time, money, efforts, and resources.
So in the process of localization, you try to mold the product or service that you are offering, so that it can be accepted by the target market. So everything has to be adjusted so that it can be adapted by the audience. The first thing it involves is to change the language. But before changing the language, the translator needs to understand the cultural and linguistic nuances, preferences, and intricacies of the society. Because only then he can do justice with the translations, by omitting or adding content that might sit well with the people of that society. The second step would be to adjust all the codes of your SaaS product so that it can function properly. Meanwhile, you also have to take into consideration that the features that you might be using on your SaaS product might not be available in the market. And last but not least, your marketing tactic will also vary.
Marketing is the process of creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging information that can provide value to the consumers and society as a whole. In this process, your aim is always to think about the customers first. In the process of localization, you cannot utilize a universal marketing strategy. It has to be according to the need of the target market. For instance, if you are offering compliance-based training to UK citizens, you cannot maintain the same tactic for a Pakistani market, since there is no compliance-based training there. Moreover, if you are offering courses to people so that they can obtain a license to sell alcohol, the marketing strategy that you will use over here will be different from the marketing strategy you will use for offering safety courses.
Considering all these factors, you can never be successful with your global expansion, until and unless you implement a proper localization strategy. Because localization will embolden your product’s image in the eyes of the consumer. Nonetheless, you need to incorporate the following steps to increase your chances of success;
Think Big to Grow Big
One key aspect that differentiates successful businesses from unsuccessful ones is the vision and mission of the organizations. Successful global expansion is the direct consequence of the vision that the organization sets for itself. If the management has always aimed for global expansion, then right from the beginning of the company’s journey it will align its strategies accordingly. They will think big in order to be big. The fact that an organization wants to just serve one start of the society is a myopic way of seeing things. Your SaaS product should be for the world community and not just one locale. However, it’s also important to understand the diversification and differences in the different regions of the world. They are not the same, but it’s a matter of conceptualizing the cultural intricacies and adjusting your product accordingly.
Looking For The Right Customers
There is no one specific strategy to look for the target audience or find out your potential customer. But in reality, if you are just beginning to launch your startup company, then you are actually at an advantage. You might not even have to look for customers in foreign markets, but you can start right from where you actually live. If you see there is potential demand for your SaaS product, then there is a high probability that the foreign market is also filled with potential customers who are looking for a service that caters to their specific needs. If you are successful with your local audience, the chances are high that it will be successful in another market as well. But there is no guarantee. It all depends upon the quality and utility of your product. On the other hand, there are cases, where a product miserably failed in its local market but was hugely successful in a foreign market. The reason behind this aspect is that you may never know which region has a demand for a particular product or service, but since it was never offered to them, they did not know they needed it. Nonetheless, it’s part of your global expansion research.
One of the best strategies that enable organizations to expand their businesses worldwide is to open their offices in different parts of the world, which will eventually become their target audience. This will give them the opportunity to sell their product directly to their target audience. Moreover, this will allow us to deeply understand the ins and outs of the market and how are the consumers responding to their brand’s presence in their hometown. Furthermore, it will also give them the chance to increase the employment rate by offering jobs to the local people. Meanwhile, the best talent from both regions will help the company to move forwards efficiently. And create a more diverse group of workers that in the true sense are a global company.
One important aspect that startups have to ponder upon is the fundamental element of segmentation. Segmentation is when you divide your target market into various strata. And then you offer your SaaS product specifically to that particular locale. However, this aspect requires more research and specialization. You cannot think outside the consumer mindset. However, if you want to create a generic product that caters to every stratum of society, then you have to strategize accordingly.
Your strategy will also be shaped by the language you are translating into. If it’s for a generic segment of the market, then you have to provide multiple-language for the global audience. However, if the target market is a niche, then you have to find the native language of that niche market and understand the history behind it so that when you offer the SaaS product to that audience, they get the feeling that it was made specifically for them. This will also create stronger brand loyalty, and will automatically increase customer satisfaction. And if you are able to enhance those aspects, the profit margins will be higher as well.
You may have heard the term globalization, but the term glocalization might be considered new. It may seem like a made-up term, but in its entirety, it’s actually quite a smart and strategic maneuver and is utilized by a lot of startups.
As per this strategy, your SaaS product is made available everywhere and in every new market, with little adaptations and changes here and there to fit the needs of the target market. So what you do is make your product flexible so that whenever a change is needed to make, you do not have to start making changes from scratch. So you hire freelance professional human translators from around the world, or in this case from that market. And whenever a change is needed to be made, you utilize his services there and then.
Moreover, in this endeavor, a lot of firms try to inculcate a translation management system into their operations, so that they can reduce their human efforts. And save that time to devote their attention to customer care and service. And that is something that allows organizations to sustain in the marketplace for the long term.
Every business startup aims to go big and conquer the world, but a few are able to turn that dream into a reality. But the ones that do, try to focus upon localization.
Localization is what enables companies to successfully penetrate foreign markets. But it’s not as simple as one might think it to be. A lot of time, effort, and resources go into the processes, and even then there is no guarantee of success. Nonetheless, it is the best option out there if you want to expand your business or SaaS product to a global level.
In this article, we tried to glorify the importance and utility of localization. And how it should be implemented. If startups carefully study this article, it can honestly benefit them, or at least, give them the motivation to strive towards expansion.