Iterative Approach to Localized Marketing for SaaS & Software

EJ Brown
EJ Brown
December 8th, 2022
Estimated read time: 35 minutes, 9 seconds

As a former agency owner, now the Chief Marketing Officer at FastSpring, David Vogelpohl has helped many software companies scale around the world.

I interviewed him for insights into how to build a global growth strategy, especially when it comes to localization.

We talked about:

  • An iterative approach to localizing marketing efforts
  • A step-by-step guide to looking for regional growth opportunities
  • How to use insights from our 2022 Emerging Customer Markets report
  • Finding regional marketing and localization partners

Listen or stream the full interview or read and watch highlights from our interview below.

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Highlights from Our Conversation

Where Should SaaS Companies Localize [2 min clip]

David walked through a step-by-step process to assess where SaaS and software companies should consider localizing.

1. Start with your existing sales and see where there’s interest from existing buyers. 

David used the U.S. as an example: “You charge in U.S. dollars, your site is in English, but you have people that convert from countries that you’re not targeting. So that would be the first place is to see what interest is already there from existing buyers.”

2. Research what the opportunities are in these regions.

For instance, look at the keyword search volume around high purchase intent keywords. 

“You can even put ads in market, linking to your existing site without localizing anything else, and get a really accurate view of inventory and interests. Also try localizing those ads, so it’s a way to test the waters before things like translation or localizing to local currencies.”

3. Look for existing ecosystems of websites, communities and social presence that exist in that geography around your topic.

“So I can see: is there an ecosystem around what’s happening that I can maybe try to tie into with my marketing?”

Watch the two minute clip for more details.

Note: FastSpring’s Revenue and Subscription Dashboards quickly show our customers where their revenue is coming from, the average order value or MRR per country, promotions performance per country, and more. 

How to Take Advantage of Emerging SaaS Consumer Markets [4 min clip]

In our 2022 Emerging SaaS Customer Markets report, we highlight 25 countries and three regions with emerging consumer markets for SaaS and software sales. 

In this clip, David offers recommendations for when you should consider a proactive approach to breaking into a new market. 

Here’s a quick takeaway from David:

“A lot of these regions are getting more and more penetration into Internet access and digital, and so there’s this bit of a lag effect. And so that opportunity, in my view, will continue to grow. So if you can get a foothold there, and sometimes because people might be paying attention to lower-hanging fruit and bigger markets, you actually might be able to make progress there.”

3. Why Localize Incrementally [1.5 min clip]

So many companies don’t consider localizing because it seems like such a huge undertaking. David recommends localizing incrementally in order to make the process 

“I think the biggest mistake people make is they think like they need the end result to do it, when in reality, there are lots of incremental steps you can take to get there,” he explained.

An easy place to start is to translate a landing page that explains your products and how to get in touch with sales.

Watch the one minute clip for more details on how and why to localize incrementally.

How FastSpring Simplifies Selling Around the World 

Automated Localized Checkout

Consumers often prefer to pay in their local currency or using payment methods that are popular in their region. We’ve found that our own customers who localize their checkout have seen as much as 2x the conversion rate of those who don’t.

FastSpring automatically changes the language, currencies, and payment methods of the checkout experience based on where a customer is located.

FastSpring offers multiple purchase experiences, from a self-serve ecommerce checkout to digital invoices you can send your business customers.

Offloaded Sales Tax And Compliance Management

At FastSpring, we act as the merchant of record for all transactions on your site, making us responsible for collecting and remitting taxes on your behalf. Whether you’re trying to manage reduced tax rates, customized taxation, tax-exempt transactions, B2C or B2B — everything is handled for you.

We also keep you compliant with global online payment, ecommerce, and privacy standards, including GDPR, CCPA, PSD2, PCI-DSS, and local regulations.

Leave the technical challenges of selling around the world to us. We’ll handle all the hard stuff, such as localizing checkout, billing and ecommerce compliance, and tax management — and let you focus on building and growing your SaaS business. Try out FastSpring for free or request a demo to learn more.


David Vogelpohl  00:02

You can even put ads in market linking to your existing site without localizing anything else and get a really accurate view of inventory and interests. Also try localizing those ads. So it’s a way to kind of test the waters before things like translation or localizing to local currencies.

EJ Brown  00:19

That was David Vogelpohl, the Chief Marketing Officer at FastSpring. I recently spoke to David about global marketing strategies. And as you just heard, he offers some really practical advice for how to identify and act on marketing opportunities around the world. I’m EJ Brown, Senior Content Strategist at FastSpring, we help SaaS and software companies scale around the world. And you’re listening to the growth stage podcast, where we share stories from global SaaS leaders that you can use to inspire new growth strategies in your own business. Hey, David, thanks for joining me.

David Vogelpohl  00:55

Glad to be here. Thanks for having me. EJ,

EJ Brown  00:58

Why don’t you start by introducing yourself?

David Vogelpohl  01:01

Happy to my name is David Vogelpohl. I’m the Chief Marketing Officer here at FastSpring. And really excited to be here today to talk about localization/globalization.

EJ Brown  01:12

Yeah, both right? Globalization, localization. So tell us a little bit about your background, what kinds of software companies have you worked with in the past? And in what roles?

David Vogelpohl  01:27

Yeah, so some of the software companies I’ve worked for in the past. So I worked for a company that provided access to a network called Usenet. And we had software as part of that offering or what’s called the Usenet client. This would have been downloadable software. And then I owned and operated my own digital full service marketing agency. And many of our clients would offer software and SaaS in a variety of ways. There were four unfilled software products and B2B SaaS products and a variety of different offerings. And then, for seven years, the role I had right before FastSpring, I worked for a company called WP Engine. And we had a variety of software offerings, everything from WordPress themes and plugins, a local development tool called Local and then had very SaaS like elements to our offering there. So software and SaaS has been a really big part of my career actually, EJ.

EJ Brown  02:28

So with with both your agency and the other companies that you’ve worked with, what size of software and SaaS companies have you typically focused on has it been all across the board?

David Vogelpohl  02:42

We had some fairly large customers in my agency days, but the majority of them would be be what you would consider in the larger scale, like an SMB software company. So kind of mid size to small even just getting started, which is a lot of the customers that actually use the FastSpring platform. So it was really neat for me joining having a connection to so many similar companies for bypass.

EJ Brown  03:11

Right, makes sense, you know, the customer base. Well, one thing that I love about working at FastSpring is that we have customers who are headquartered all over the world. This is very much a global company. We have our own headquarters or company offices in Halifax, Amsterdam, and what am I missing? I feel like there’s well, and then of course, Santa Barbara. No, I’m new. Yeah. Right. We just opened up Halifax, we’re excited to be expanding in that direction. So similarly, with your agency and working at WPEngine and beyond. What was your global focus, like? Like? Did your customers come from all over? Did you mark it all over? I know that you have extensive background in globalization, but what does it look like?

David Vogelpohl  04:01

In the agency days, we did have clients all over but we’re primarily North American base, we had some based in Europe, I think is I think about like software platform offerings and the clients and companies I worked for, you know, globalization has a big draw, when most companies SaaS and software companies get going, they typically will focus on the either their home region or their home region plus one. So I take an example, if you were a team bill, based in Asia, you would maybe focus on countries or regions or your region there in Asia, but then you might also, you know, launch your product in the United States and Canada. And what happens in these cases, whether you’re focused on one region, like North America, or like, you know, one plus one, like just two key regions, is over time you start to take up the available inventory for attracting new customers. You’re advertised In PPC, you’re advertising on social media and maybe even have affiliates. And you started to kind of fill all the blanks and then you’re in that is optimizations of, we’re trying to get better and better conversions find more and more niche audiences. And of course, one of the biggest ways you can grow is just to expand your geographic footprint. Most services, when they launch the launch, they’ll have their service in maybe one and two languages charge in one currency. And you’ll get customers from other countries that are able to transact in those currencies, even though they’re based in a different country with a different currency. And so you’ll start getting sales from these outside areas. But when really the work comes in is when you’re like, okay, but now I really want to double down, we’re getting a lot of customers from the UK. But we’re charging in dollars, we haven’t really localized our experience, we’re getting a lot of customers from France, we want to do the same. This is where the strategy starts, as people start to think about it, I can get into this particulars, but that’s just to set the stage. That’s generally how globalization would come into play with the brands I’ve worked with in the past.

EJ Brown  06:10

I think there’s a common idea that startup culture in particular. Startups like to talk about the SaaS and digital software, it is global from day one. And they talk about it that way is that you, there’s unlimited growth possibilities, because from day one, if you’re online, you can find customers from all over the world, or customers can find you from all over the world. And I’ve always found that to be just a little misleading, because while it’s true, there’s so much work that goes into creating a product that’s optimized for global markets. And I think that’s a little bit of what you’re talking about with the different stages. Anything you want to say about that about just sort of this idea, or or even a myth that SaaS and software are global from day one.

David Vogelpohl  07:05

Every good myth has like a seed of truth. So I think like the the one true part of that statement for me is the ability to distribute your product to the four corners of the earth without having to facilitate infrastructure and logistics and things like that. And so I think like, in that way, it is very core to that truth. But to your point, like delivering ones and zeros isn’t really the trick, it’s delivering something meaningful to the people that are using your software, SaaS. In the product sense. This could mean all kinds of things from the way you approach your UX, certainly language in other aspects of localization. And certainly, depending on how your software SaaS operates you might need, you might need particular local features for that particular region. Obviously, FastSpring as a company, we have particular features like payment methods we support and other currencies and things like that, that are particular regions. And so you may very well have this from like the product perspective. Now, from the marketing perspective, of course, there’s a lot that goes into it. There’s everything from obviously, like, you might say, like light global personalization, or should I say regional personalization, geo-personalization, where you might do everything from like localize your phone number, localize the addresses, people see localized forms that route to specific teams, if you’re doing things like lead gen, certainly localizing currency is a big part of that localizing language could be a part of it. But it’s like this incremental step towards getting closer and closer to the regions that you’re targeting require. Now, a lot of people … most of my experience has been going from North America into other regions, I’ve experienced it from the other way around, but the majority of it has been North America to other regions. And so what a lot of people do is start with English-speaking regions, and then and then branch out to regions where English is commonly spoken in your space. So for example, the Netherlands and Germany, when it comes to web technologies, a lot of people involved with web technologies do speak English. So you can actually have success in Germany with an English website. But to really lead in, you’re going to need a German website. And then that opens up opens up the door to like, well, does the software come in German? And does the support come in German? And there’s, there’s this kind of layers of aspects to it. But those are the components, at least as I think about going into market in a new region.

EJ Brown  09:39

Do you have any stories of things that surprised you as you worked on breaking into new markets from a marketing perspective?

David Vogelpohl  09:48

I’ll rewind the clock back right. So don’t judge too much by the things that surprised me. But I think the nuances between languages, you know in English in the United States, we often use Z’s for words like realization, and international English, would use an S. There’s also the notion of UK English. So I think, you know, one quick win, especially if you are a US based company is localizing for your English site for international audiences using International English. And there’s more to it than just swapping Z’s for s’s. But it’s not as massive as like a translation into a new language, maybe for you might be French, and then various languages, there’s also very material differences. So the difference between the different flavors of Spanish that come into play, French is also a good example of that. And so understanding like what flavor you’re localizing into, and the fact that there’s nuances between languages. I think that was surprising for me. I think the other thing that was surprising for me was how complicated and long it took to launch new currencies and overalls, massive teams coordinating everything from local bank accounts, to tax compliance to the systems really just to support all that and integrate it in with homegrown payment platforms. It was very complex in certain situations to get into new markets with new currencies. And so FastSpring, of course, it’s very easy, because it’s already all configured into the system. But that was one of the things where I was like, Okay, let’s go into a new region, or new currency, got it. And it’s like six months later, after the company has been turned upside down, boom, we got it. There was a lot of effort to get there, like put off a lot of other things we could be doing. So that definitely stood out to me from the past.

Jera Brown  11:42

That’s interesting. Yeah, so you’re talking about, if you’re a US-based company, or even really a Canadian-based company, and native English speaking, headquartered in a native English speaking area, it makes sense to start with other countries where the primary business language is also English. And those are easier ways to expand. We recently hosted a couple of conversations, live conversations about global pricing strategies, especially in this time of heavy inflation, with our chief product officer, Kurt Smith, and one of the things that he was talking about was the difference between companies that start out in the US and companies start out in Germany, that they really have different expansion models, because if you start in Germany, or you started in Italy, you pretty quickly have to expand to other European countries, because the countries are smaller, the overall TAM is smaller, whereas if you’re in the US, you can start to stay there for a while and still continue to grow. And it feels like those have to be two different models of localization that’s necessary, depending on simply where you’re headquartered?

David Vogelpohl  13:00

Well, you hit the nail on the head, European businesses totally have to exist from the beginning, often, especially software and SaaS companies, with kind of a globalization view. Now, most European businesses will support of course, the Euro, but may be more … or are more likely, I guess, to support multiple currencies. Certainly multiple languages very, very common, particularly on their front facing website, even documentation … support, I don’t know enough about but I would, I would go out on a limb and say again, they’re more likely to provide support in multiple languages. The biggest market for SaaS and software’s the United States and North America in general. And so if you’re starting a SaaS or software company in Europe, here’s a really, really good chance that from the very beginning, you’re going to be targeting the United States. And so this was what I was kind of referencing earlier in the responses when I was like, you might start by targeting one plus one region. It’s like, again, in software and SaaS, it’s like the US as such is the biggest target. And so if you’re launching outside of that region, chances are you’re going to do your native region and then also target the US. But because of that nature, companies founded in Europe and companies founded in places like Asia and Africa, often have a better handle on things like globalization, which can give them a strategic advantage over the North Americans who often have a more difficult time figuring it out, just because they can get pretty far in the beginning without having to do it. They just won’t get as far as they need to without embracing globalization. That’s been my experience.

EJ Brown  14:47

That makes sense. So you’re a growing SaaS company or software company and you’ve gotten to the place where you’re supporting multiple regions that have given you that really stable growth platform. And now you’re looking at new growth opportunities, potentially new regions to break into or localize. And more efficiently. What are some of the steps to figuring out what those new markets should be like? What new markets would have the best ROI and where to start in the localization process?

David Vogelpohl  15:23

Well, the first step most people take is to look at their existing sales, because again, if let’s all use the US as the example, but this could be true for any location, but you look at you charging US dollars, your site is in English, but you have people that convert from countries that you’re not targeting. So that would be the first place is to see well, what interest is already there from existing buyers. The next step down, I think, for me would be to understand well, what is the opportunity there in order to gain attention. One thing that I would look at would be keyword search volume located in this specific countries, for high purchase intent keywords, you can actually search for the English terms that will give you a good clue. And then you can fairly easily translate them into the local language, and then also start to look at available ad inventory for that, if you use, it depends on the country, and what is the dominant search engine, but I’m going to assume for a minute, it’s Google because it’s a nice convenient example. You can even put ads in market linking to your existing site without localizing anything else, and get a really accurate view of inventory and interests. Also try localizing those ads. So it’s a way to kind of test the waters before things like translation, or localizing to local currencies. And then the other thing that I like to do is I like to see like, what ecosystem of websites communities social presence exist in that geography focused on that language or that topic? So I can see like, is there an ecosystem around what’s happening, that I could maybe try to tie into with my marketing partners is another good one to look at their views those extensively to break into new regions. But that’s some of the research techniques I’ve used in the past to identify like, what do we focus on next, something in, in a similar language to what your site is built in? And obviously, is the low hanging fruit? And then from there really following, you know, where are your existing customers buying from even if you haven’t localized for them yet?

EJ Brown  17:29

I appreciate that. It’s very tactical. I’m curious about tying that into the research that we just published around these new, emerging SaaS Customer markets. So a quick explanation we looked at, oh, go on, you had a thought? No, no, go ahead. Okay. Quick explanation, what we did, we took our customers revenue. So basically, you know, we support we help SaaS and software companies sell around the world. So we looked at where their customers were buying, and then looked at emerging countries with the highest growth rate in revenue or in sales from 2019 to 2021. And then looked really at where those regions where those countries were, you know, were clustered and found three big regions that we saw high growth rates in Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. And when I did more, digging into why, it seems like one of the big reasons is, you know, these are emerging global markets where more and more people are coming online, and becoming higher tech consumers. So I’m curious in like, if these are areas where you might not be seeing sales right now. But they’re potential markets, because there’s more new potential customers like, what do you do about that? And how do you figure out whether that these new regions are worth your time and investigating?

David Vogelpohl  19:15

Yeah, I think again, like from my perspective, it’s like, what’s the lowest hanging fruit first, like, where should you spend your time? But if you look at global technology companies, I mean, companies like Google met a tick tock, so on and so forth, are very focused on these regions, again, because it’s one of the kind of easier ways to open up a new market and in a sense versus in areas you may have already gained dominance in now, as I think about your go to market strategy and like, do you focus on North Africa? It depends, I think, also in what you’re selling. I think in the hosting business, which I was in for a long time, you know, there’s a lot of opportunity in places like that there’s big companies with big websites to host and so I think, you know, depending on and your software SaaS offering, it could very well be that that’s a place that’s worthy of focusing on we have FastSpring customers in some manufacturing, I think equipment design software, you know, you betcha in North Africa is a great place to think about a good market strategy there. And I guess the other thing I would put out there is that you’re, for me anyways, you hit the nail on the head, which is that a lot of these regions are getting more and more penetration into Internet access and digital. And so there’s this bit of a lag effect. And so that opportunity, in my view, will continue to grow. So if you can get a foothold there, and sometimes, because people might be paying attention to lower hanging fruit and bigger markets, you actually might be able to make progress there. And I’ve actually had a lot of success bringing brands internationally. Because not, at least from the US perspective, not a lot of brands focus on it. And so I think if you’re looking for opportunities, it could very well be the case. But I think you also need to take into account like the total addressable market, and your time and investment. And then, you know, when you localize something, particularly around language, you’re committing to do that forever, in a in a sense, you know, as your website evolves, you need to keep up with it. And so I think, like having a balanced approach for where you invest your time makes sense. But you know, particularly in some of these fast growing regions, there’s a lot of opportunity there. And there’s not always a lot of people taking advantage of it. And that’s not a bad situation to be in when you’re looking for new levers of growth for your software, SaaS business.

EJ Brown  21:36

One thing I noticed when I was researching these particular regions, is that part of the growth is because they’re venture capitalists that are taking new interest in them and providing new funding sources for these countries. In particular, I’m thinking about, well, actually, both Southeast Asia and Latin America, we see more US funders that are crossing borders and creating new funding opportunities. And I think it’s an interesting way of like looking at where for, especially for B2B companies, where’s new growth possible?

David Vogelpohl  22:15

Yeah, I mean, it’s a great point, because it’s not just internet access, or access to computers. It’s also kind of the development of the digital economy in some of these growing regions. And so they’re, you know, foreign funded, locally funded accelerators, venture capital funds, and other type of investment in kind of growth vehicles that allow more and more digital companies that come to be. And so while you might think like, how do I break into that market, if you’re in the B2B space, and these types of companies are of interest to you, I don’t know maybe your marketing analytics tool or something like that, there’s a lot of growth there. And there’s a lot of people establishing natively grown companies that are servicing these markets. And so it’s not as the number of eyeballs and participants increase in more and more sophisticated ways, with digital in the internet, there’s a ton of opportunity that local companies are taking advantage of, you know, as you pointed out in the B2B space, that that can be a tremendous opportunity. And that was kind of what I was getting at with like the hosting businesses, there was B2B. And so if you have, you know, large companies and small regions, and you’re focusing on large companies, then that could be a big opportunity for you. And so the same could be true. Again, I kind of give the manufacturing, what was it manufacturing equipment, design software example, company like that is going to be focused globally, no matter what. And it may very well be extremely valuable to focus in regions. But again, the rise of investment, the rise of accelerators, in like the startup and software space, there’s a ton of opportunity out there.

EJ Brown  23:52

Let’s go back to the commitment angle, you’re talking about the wind you localize it, it’s sort of a forever commitment that you need to keep localizing This is not a one and done activity or process. And it reminds me of the conversation that we’re having earlier than about finding regional partners that can help with that work, both localization partners, or marketing agencies that really know the areas well, and you know, and there’s others. So talk about that process about finding and forming solid relationships that help you maintain and expand your brand.

David Vogelpohl  24:31

Yeah, so we’ll talk about the partnerships through the we’ll start with the lens of like actually achieving localization and then we can talk about like business partnerships maybe sounds good at the end of this. But I think one of the things I’ve always done is I’ve gotten into new markets is talk to the partners who are already in that market that already do business with the company I’m working for with, I try to understand how they see the market. I try to understand what they think we should do kind of collect all that information and inform how we go to market. So that would be the first thing is listening lead with your ears, then we need to like do stuff. And again, things like channel partners and stuff. Well hang on for a minute. But one of the things we need to do is we need to localize our website, maybe that means translate our website, you can hire translation companies, and there’s a variety of them. I’ve used, and a variety of others really, what you’re looking for are native speakers of the language. And I what I found to be best in the past is to try to have the same person do the translations, as much as you can’t No, granted, people come in and out of roles. But instead of getting a different translator each time, you can also hire people like in the country to do this for you, or native speakers of that language. But having that consistency is going to be really important, especially with software and SaaS, where there’s like a lot of technology, jargon, and like knowing when to translate something or when to use the English version of it, you can set essentially like a vocabulary that defines that. But that consistency is really important, especially when you talk about technical topics. But I think like number one, when you think about translations is to have a native speaker and a consistent native speaker, you can hire, you can hire a contractor, you can use a service, but you might have issues with that consistency over time. If they have a big, you know, kind of group of translators that might be servicing your brand. You can hire local ad agencies. So if you’re doing things like PPC, sorry, paid search or paid social, hiring a local ad agency can be incredibly helpful there to help manage those campaigns in your local market, definitely recommend that if you’re considering it, I wouldn’t be too afraid, though, of having your existing paid media team manage those ads in that new market, the biggest nuance to it will be the language side. So you’ll need to have them work real closely with your translators to get the right ad copy and market. But the same basic principles of digital media apply there. I think you would also want to look at partnerships with you know, like I mentioned before, publications, communities, other ways to kind of get your message out, depending on what marketing language you’re targeting, you may start to run into people who don’t speak the native language you’re used to. So for me, it would be English. And if I was going into I don’t know, Japan, I might, I shouldn’t be shocked if the advertising manager at a publisher doesn’t speak English. And so you just need to be aware of that and be able to either accommodate it by hiring people internally that can speak and communicate around these ad buys or forgoing the opportunity. You know, there’s like I said, there’s different levels to localization, not just when your outward experience, but in how your organization is structured. And then finally, there’s things like channel partners or referring partners, I’ve worked with a lot of businesses where their products were used by agencies. And so if the client didn’t speak English, in that case, then it didn’t matter because the agency did and they could handle all the elements that were required to use that particular tool in that particular case. You can also go to market through people that might resell your software SaaS, in the merchant of record model that FastSpring is that’s actually kind of how FastSpring works is is or is how it works is as a reseller. And that’s what allows us to obfuscate or just eliminate the need to file and remit sales and VAT taxes. And so you can also go through channel partners that might be I don’t know, like a system integrator. And every time they set up a system for someone, they could sell your software SaaS along with it. These are different aspects of partnerships that I’ve either experienced or LED or seen other people find success with

EJ Brown  29:01

so many possibilities. I forget actually what you said, which led to this thought. But when you’re starting to localize in a specific place, there’s often significant cultural differences just across a country to take into consideration and I did a quick Google search. So this is the snippet. I’m not sure how up to date it is but how many native languages are in India alone. And according to the first search result, India has 22 separate official languages. It’s home to 121 languages and 270 mother tongues. So it mean if you’re localizing in India, you start with Hindi, which is probably the most common language, but then if you’re attempting to reach more consumers, then there’s so many layers of localization that you can do to broaden that reach. And it’s

EJ Brown  29:59

Yeah, But it’s quite quite the possibility.

David Vogelpohl  30:03

Yeah, I’m familiar with that on India, I don’t know any orgs that have shared optimized for 22 languages within one country, most of them tend to, you know, go, you know, I don’t know German, English, French, Spanish, so on and so forth, and have variety in that way. I believe Hindi is kind of, I guess, relatively universally read. But I don’t know, I don’t know that much about India localization. So I guess I won’t guess the core of your question was really like, around cultural differences. And so within region, you definitely can have cultural differences. And I think it depends on the size of the country and the country you’re targeting. So like, in the US, you have like the west and the south and the north and the Midwest, and, and depending on what you’re offering, could very well warrant being regionalised, I guess, if you were selling photography, software, and you were selling even into places like the UK, which is a relatively small place, you might want to favor localized images based on where the person you know, or at least where their IP address lives. And then in larger regions, you could also have that same effect, which could take the kind of form of images, it could take the form of an actual language or jargon. The biggest thing, I think that I think about cultural differences is really, you know, understanding that you have a frame of what design in words mean based on where you’re from. And that doesn’t always translate into another culture. And so color is a great example of this and some culture, red means death. So if you have your CTA is a red button in countries that observe that or feel like, you know, I guess where Red is recognized as a color that represents death, well, then you need to accommodate for that. So it’s more than just localizing language. It’s also localizing layout, color and other aspects of the user experience based on the kind of cultural frame that the person is coming in from. And I think it’s just important as marketers or people focused on growth and globalization, your frame of reference is totally different than theirs. And so it’s really helpful to have people with that local frame of reference, review your content, review, your designs, provide feedback, because if you just go in and change the words, then you’re very likely to miss something that can be very negative to your brain.

EJ Brown  32:31

So I know that a number of language service provider companies, they do more than just translation, they can provide cultural edits and consultations and other things like that. Are there any other tips to making sure that you’re you’re catching everything, when you’re starting to build this localization strategy?

David Vogelpohl  32:54

In terms of catching everything in terms of like, Did I do a good job or not at that localized experience I built, the first level is find a native speaker who lives in the location is the ideal if you have a local speaker who lived was born in the location and now lives in your location. That’s okay. But of course, you’re looking for someone preferably on the ground, you’re looking for someone you can trust, you’re looking for someone who knows your industry a little bit. This is really where partners, I think freelancers and contractors can also come into play. But you’re looking for someone familiar with your industry, or at least could get really familiar really quickly. And I think if you have those three things, native speakers reviewing your content, people that live in your location, reviewing your content, and people with familiarity with your industry, or can get very familiar with your industry, if you do those three things, then you’ll have the best localization product as a result. But if you’re missing anyone, they don’t know your industry, well, they’re going to miss jargon, they’re going to miss when you should translate, you know, one term into one language or leave it in the root language. If they don’t live in the country, they might miss something that has happened since they left. And then certainly if they’re not a native speaker of that language, they’re just not going to normally be as proficient as native speakers in terms of accurate translation. Those are my three rules.

EJ Brown  34:23

Those are good. Is there anything else that you find that software companies in particular often miss in the localization process?

David Vogelpohl  34:32

Companies will often delay localizing currency I think that’s a big one. It’s also can be one of the harder ones to implement. People often overthink it too and not realize that there’s incremental steps to test whether globalization or localization is a localization would work for you in any particular market. So I talked about localizing imagery localizing phone numbers. These are relatively easy, simple approach. pitches that can help you gain success as you kind of build up towards a more kind of full featured localization presence. Another thing that I like to do again, I talked about placing ads in things like Google advertising for search, even localizing the ads, but not the landing pages, again, just kind of incrementally measuring, like, what can we do? What interest is there? If we translated and converted better? Would it be worth it like that kind of thing. You can also start by translating just your landing pages and have like almost like a hello page and a particular language. And I’ve written them in the past, where it’s like, this isn’t exactly how it was worded, but like this page is in French to the whole rest of the websites and this other language. But here, let me give you a summary of how our service works. So sometimes you can leverage methods like that to make progress in the region without like, we don’t have time and budget to translate all of our website and how we don’t have a local support team that speaks that language. I guess we can’t do it yet. I think the biggest mistake people make is they think like they need the end result to do it, when in reality, there’s lots of incremental steps you can take to get there.

EJ Brown  36:11

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Anything we missed?

David Vogelpohl  36:16

I think that’s it. I mean, I think the number one thing for me is I found the globalization to be a powerful part of my marketing toolkit. I’ve had a tremendous amount of success there in my career. I think that orgs that aren’t paying attention to it are doing themselves a disservice. And there’s a ton of opportunity there. So I think it’s a critical part of how SaaS and software companies need to grow.

EJ Brown  36:40

Thanks again for talking to me about this. I love this topic.

David Vogelpohl  36:44

Yeah, me too. This was fun. Thanks for having me.

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