How to Localize your SaaS Application: Best Practices

19 mins read

Key steps for SaaS localization

As a SaaS business grows, it becomes more important for you to make your product available to users all over the world. As more and more customers from different locales come in, you might start to wonder how to tackle SaaS localization and translation without creating extra work or complicating the processes that already work.

No matter how much content you have and how many people are creating and editing it, with the proper infrastructure and tools, it is possible to create a multilingual product that will help you win customers speaking different languages and grow your business. Translation and localization can be automated, so there’s no copy-pasting for you.

This article will cover all you need to know about localizing SaaS applications and how to do it with Crowdin.

What Is SaaS?

Simply put, SaaS products can be accessed via the Internet instead of being installed on your machine. This makes software much more accessible to a broader range of users.

Why Should You Localize Your SAAS Application?

Software as a service (SaaS), also called on-demand software or cloud-based software, has become very popular and is used by many big and small businesses. Most SaaS companies use English as a primary language for their products. Since not all customers speak English as their first language, they want to use SaaS apps in the language they prefer. This is what drives the discussion about localization.

Let’s talk about how localizing SaaS can help your company.

Remove language barriers to improve user activation

Language, and cultural barriers can make it hard for your SaaS product to reach users in other countries with the same success as solutions available in the local language.

Localization lets you communicate better with your customers and stay close to them. The first steps in introducing users to your product are a localized website and user interface. To improve the onboarding process, you can localize the onboarding messages and emails to guide customers through your product in their language.

Build trust and better relationships with customers to reduce churn

When done right, localization is a great way to win the trust of local customers and get more people to use your product or service in local markets.

If people are already using your product, it’s your task to keep them happy. At this point, you can provide support in their native language. This includes help articles and blog translations. You can also create multilingual chatbots or implement live chat translation. This way, your current customers will feel cared for, and you’ll be able to build a stronger relationship.

Stand out from your competition: gain a competitive edge

Typically, when choosing a product, people test several solutions. They start a free trial, watch demos, and review your website content. Make your product stand out by making it available in your customers’ language. Soon, providing a product in several languages might not be an advantage, but it will be something users will expect by default, so start preparing now.

Localizing for local languages also gives companies a competitive edge because you can communicate with locals better and get them to use your product even if they don’t speak the source language of your product.

Spend less (and boost your revenue)

If you localize your SaaS product, you can make much more money. The more markets you go into, the higher your profit margins can get.

But you can only get all of these benefits if you use the best SaaS localization practices. We’ll discuss this later in the article, but let’s look at one example.

Such a simple thing as reviewing content before localization, or even better, writing content with localization in mind, can save you a lot of money. This way, you can ensure you’re not translating duplicate content or confusing translators with typos in the source text.

Writing for international markets has its own rules. Writing in plain, straightforward language is better in an active voice. This way, it’s clear for translators how to convey your message. If you avoid ambiguity, it will take you less time to separate pieces of content, which will speed up the process.

What to Consider before You Start Localization

Once you decide it’s time to reach new markets and improve conversions in the ones where you’re already present, you should create a plan for your localization initiative. As it might be tempting to localize into as many languages as possible immediately, we recommend setting your priorities before diving into this adventure.

Here’s a list of things to consider before you start your localization project:

Choose the markets you want to target

There are at least two ways to start:

  • You can enter entirely new markets where you have no customers yet. This would definitely take more time and effort, but results in the form of revenue can also be great.
  • Or you can see where your product is already present, but the conversion rates are not what you want. This way, you already have some data to which you can compare your results.

You need to choose specific locales and translate the text carefully. For example, if you have a big market in China or Japan, it makes sense to put Chinese and Japanese translations at the top of your list.

Here are some strategies you can consider for choosing target languages:

  1. Leverage Google Analytics data. You can check which languages are the most common among your website visitors and bring you the most traffic. If you’re using universal Google Analytics, go to Audience > Geo > Language. You can also filter by Bounce rate using the same report to see for which languages it’s the highest, so you know these people leave your website and don’t see their language on it.
  2. You can run a survey in the UI or on your social media, asking your users which language they expect the most. It might not be the most accurate way, but it’s definitely a quick way to get answers.
  3. Market research. If your analytics team has already decided which markets you’re targeting - what is left is to choose the most common languages there and start your project.

Choosing what to translate

First, you must decide what and how you want to translate. Text is still the best option, but you could also localize pictures or videos. This would be a big plus because it would show that you have a unified approach to localization. It would be easier to update the translations if the service offered content made on the spot and pulled from an API.

Make sure that as many translation strings as possible are taken care of. It wouldn’t make sense to have translations that aren’t quite right or are missing in many places, like buttons, labels, or modal messages. A translation management system can help keep track of messages that need to be translated.

What type of content to localize in the SaaS product:

  • Website
  • Global SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Blog and help articles
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Make adaptable design
  • Text on pictures and video subtitles
  • Chatbots and live chats.

Read more in our previous article about how to make your product multilingual to increase your multilingual marketing strategy, and localize each type of content with the help of Crowdin.

Organizing a translation team

All parties involved in the localization process should be in sync with each other. For example, you need a localization manager who is in charge and has the final say on software requirements and technology decisions.

You can invite translators and proofreaders you already work with to your organization or project. These could be

  • In-house translators
  • Freelancers
  • Translators from the translation agencies you already work with
  • Crowdin’s translation agency partners
  • MT
  • Communities

Crowdin Enterprise makes it easy to combine different approaches because each project has its workflow. Each workflow step can be given to a different person or vendor so they can work independently. Depending on the type of content or product you want to localize, you can use different methods to translate it.

You don’t have time to hire someone to translate the content of your software. Crowdin Language Services lets you order translations with just a few clicks.

Investing in software for localization

Last but not least, another SaaS provider can help you with localization needs. This means you can buy specialized software to speed up the localization process and meet your needs as you go. For example, you might have only a few tasks in your plan. As your business grows, you may need to change your plan to include project management, integration with other systems, a translation memory, etc.

Localization software enables businesses to centralize and automate their translation and localization workflows.

In short, localization software includes things like

  • A cloud-based shared workspace for all parties.
  • Notifications for stakeholders about changes in the status of software localization.
  • Support for all common file types.
  • Software development kits or APIs are used to connect to the company’s existing systems.
  • Software strings can be quickly and automatically imported from code repositories and exported when localization is done.
  • Ability to look at translations of software before putting them online.
  • Statistics about how well the software is localized.
  • Keeping track of terms.
  • Checks for quality assurance.
  • UI strings that need to be translated could have visual references.
  • The ability to translate content by machine.

On the surface, there seem to be a lot of different SaaS (software as a service) localization solutions on the market. However, not all localization software is created equal. Some are made with translators and their needs in mind, while others are made for developers or UX designers.

But if you want great multilingual content, choose the universal all-in-one solution for localization, like Crowdin, which is easy for everyone on the team, including the product manager, developers, translators, decision-makers, and others. Also, make sure it meets your business goals and quality standards.

Learn the key steps for the SaaS localization with the help of Crowdin.

Best Practices of SaaS localization with Crowdin

Now that you have your list of priorities and are ready to start translating, you need to prepare. Here are the most critical steps to reaching that goal with the help of Crowdin:

Automate localization

The best way to save time is through localization automation. A localization management platform like Crowdin helps you automate processes. Crowdin has over 450 apps and integrations that allow you to connect all of your tools to the content, send sources to Crowdin, and receive automatic translations back into your tools without copying and pasting. So, translators always have access to new content, and you get translations into the system, where you create content.

Connect to the tools you already use

Crowdin offers integrations with tools for localizing different content for your SaaS product, there are integrations in such categories as:

If you use Crowdin Apps to connect all the tools you need, you can set up continuous localization processes for any content you need to translate. Websites, blogs, onboarding materials, how-to articles, social media campaigns, and much more. SaaS localization might seem hard, but if you make a plan with the right tools and resources, it could help your business for a long time.

Provide translators with productivity tools

Translators can work on Crowdin in the Editor. The Editor gathers all the information the translation teams might need while working on the content. MT and TM engines’ suggestions, comments, search, filters, context, file preview, and terminology are all in one place. In addition to the usual features, you can add apps from the Store to the Crowdin Editor to make it more powerful.

Give more context for the better quality of the translation

Whether you do the translation yourself or hire a team, the quality of the translation will depend on how good the team is. Still, even the best translators might get the sources wrong if they don’t have enough background information.

  • When you set up a localization project, you shouldn’t skip the step of providing context. Crowdin gives you several ways to explain the context of a translation.
  • In Crowdin, translators work in the Online Editor. Along with fields for the source and translated content, there is a field with the context added from the comments to each string in the codebase.
  • Also, if any screenshots you uploaded had a string tag, the screenshot will be shown next to the source string. Find out more about how you can use screenshots to localize applications.

Run QA checks to ensure your translations are correct

Have a team of testers do both automated and manual localization testing to ensure everything is going well. Tell them to look for unusual situations when the text is too long, has memorable characters, finds the correct locale, and the images load correctly. Check to see if the text is shown slowly or if it flickers. You should also see if the currency and number formats suit the target region. For auditing, they need to report all the necessary test cases.

One of the last steps in the translation process is usually proofreading. Once the translation is done, a proofreader can look over the text to find any mistakes and fix them. You can turn on Quality Assurance checks that help you make sure your translations are correct, precise, and free of mistakes to make things easier.

Try automation of localization to speed up the process

A lot of automation and continuous delivery are used in the SaaS model of agile application development. For your translation pipeline to be agile, you must add tasks and events that help you deliver the final product. Things like version control, git-ops, chat-ops, and webhooks can help you get ahead of the competition in a big way.

Continuous localization makes sure that the localization process and the development process are both going at the same time. The localization software automatically finds new and changed strings and sends them when they are ready to be merged and published. It makes your localization workflow more efficient and gives you more options.

Learn how continuous localization can benefit each team in our FREE e-book. It includes our own experience and thoughts about this approach for each department, as well as the thoughts of more than 10 experts in the localization field.

If you want to find a good technology vendor to help you translate your SaaS content, you can:

  1. Sign up for Crowdin’s free trial to see how the platform works.
  2. Book a Demo with one of our experts and get answers to all your questions to make localization easier.
  3. Watch a recorded on-demand demo whenever you want to learn about the platform’s main features.

Wrapping It Up

Since SaaS companies work well across borders, anyone on the planet should be able to get in touch with your company. The main difference between companies that offer localization and those that don’t is that the latter don’t have a strategic plan for making their user base accessible to everyone. This happens more often with essential services, where the choice of words depends on the area. By giving your users content that is more relevant to their needs, you give your SaaS platform a significant advantage over the competition and make it more credible.

Ready to translate your SaaS content?

Automate localization of SaaS products. Try Crowdin.
Julia Herasymchuk

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