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Developing new markets in a structured and plannable way.

How internationalization works.

The app business is a global business with almost endless growth opportunities. But what does it really take to open up new sales markets? In this article, I would like to share my approach with you, which I have successfully applied to numerous apps. Let's go.

French Soccer Fans

It usually starts with the localization of your app. Even back in my Apple days, I advised many app entrepreneurs to localize their app into as many languages as possible. And that alone is a considerable effort, because with every additional language, the app UI, all content and all other touchpoints with customers such as websites, customer support, responses to reviews and much more have to be localized and constantly kept up to date. What's more, you need to switch your internal communication and documentation to English now at the latest, if you haven't already done so.

The localization effort should not be underestimated, but more importantly, it should also be worthwhile for you.

Once you have your localization system under control, you will notice that the following happens: nothing. How many of you (German) readers read the Austrian Standard or the Swiss Tagesanzeiger, both of which are in German? Exactly 😉. Localization is not nearly enough to open up new markets in a planned and structured way. Exceptions are usually games such as Brawl Stars, Candy Crush or Subway Surfers, whose mechanics work worldwide and which can be scaled through pure performance marketing. For most apps, market research is required to understand market-specific and cultural characteristics, the competitive environment, willingness to pay and much more, and to identify the most promising markets before you start your performance marketing machine and perhaps get downloads, but no active users.

Only when you have this information are you in a position to evaluate a market and compare it with other opportunities. Unfortunately, I often find that decisions are made based on gut instinct, only to realize afterwards that there is an unattainable local competitor, a lack of acceptance for the existing business model or regulations that make success in the chosen target market almost impossible. Here is an example of a market evaluation that I prepared for a potential market entry in France:

Market Fact Sheet - Example France
Market Fact Sheet Example
Download PDF • 111KB

Once you have properly researched, evaluated and decided on a new market, you need a go-to-market plan that is specifically developed for this market. This should answer, for example, which regions or metropolitan areas you will focus on in order to reach a critical mass of users, which networks, partners and marketing channels are suitable, as well as which channels and social media platforms you will focus on with which messages optimized for the market. Without a well-thought-out go-to-market plan, you can buy users, but they will not convert into active users. And only active users will ultimately convert to your potential premium offer.

Once the go-to-market plan is in place, you should finally derive a roll-out plan from it, which serves as a central control and tracking tool. This contains specific targets and answers to what you want to achieve with what means and in what time frame. The more precise the plan, the easier it is for market managers to implement it and the better you can compare market performance with other target markets and adjust the plan if necessary.

Here is a summary of my four steps for opening up new sales markets:

1. Market Analysis

An analysis of the most important market data such as demographics, purchasing power, specifics of your app's vertical, tech/communication/media usage as well as the app market and competition.

2. Market Evaluation

A market evaluation based on the information from the market analysis. I use a scoring model for this, which I assign different weightings depending on the app category and where I end up with a specific "market attractiveness score" (see example above for France).

3. Go-to-Market Plan

Once you have decided on a market entry, the next step is to create a go-to-market plan. What are the must-haves that you need to clear up before you invest even one euro in marketing? What resources do you need in-house and/or externally? Which regions, partners, channels, networks, core messages are the focus?

4. Rollout and Measuring

Based on the go-to-market plan, you define a rollout plan that can be processed in a structured and measurable way. What are the targets? How will they be measured? Who in the team is responsible for what? Without a clearly defined rollout plan, your internationalization efforts will remain rather uncoordinated because you cannot track and measure what works and what does not.

Here is an overview of my approach to internationalization:

4 steps to develop new sales markets
how to enter new markets
Download PDF • 88KB


Let me summarize: Localization is only the first step in opening up new sales markets. You need a system and a structured approach to open up new markets in a predictable way and yes - as always, a good portion of "rolling up your sleeves" and "doing" is also part of it.

I hope I have been able to whet your appetite for more and would be delighted if one or two of you finally put your long-cherished internationalization plans into action.

With that in mind… ciao, adios, au revoir, hej da und güle güle! 🌎



PS: In my internationalization workshop, I will help you to develop an internationalization strategy and derive concrete next steps. Please contact me if you are interested.


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