Gartner predicts that the Software as a Service (SaaS) market will surpass $22 billion by 2015. Innovators and early adopters that implemented a SaaS model in the early years had a built-in competitive differentiator. They really didn’t need to think about different ways to attract and retain global customers because SaaS put them one step ahead of the competition and enabled them to win more business. They could get by just fine by communicating with prospects and customers using only the English language. After all, English is the common language of business people, right? Not anymore.

To stand out from the competition, in 2015 and beyond, companies must be able to personalize and customize the SaaS user experience with translation and localization. There are three key factors driving this change.

First, SaaS is rapidly gaining in adoption, and what once helped companies stand out from the pack is now becoming commonplace. Simply having a SaaS offering is no longer enough. What is the new differentiating factor? Delivering a customized user experience through multilingual content, which will close more deals, both with existing customers and new prospects.

Second, the middle class is changing and high-volumes of customers with money to spend in Asia and emerging countries are now coming online. In the past, SaaS vendors could reach a large majority of the world’s online wallet using a limited number of languages. Just as we saw in 2014, in 2015 we’ll also find the number of languages required to reach the same global market share will greatly increase. And many SaaS companies will turn to translation and localization to take advantage of new markets coming online around the world.

Last, but not least, consumers are demanding content in their native language. In a Common Sense Advisory study of 2,430 web consumers in eight countries, 72.4% of respondents said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. The same study found that 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price, and more than half of consumers are willing to pay more to companies that provide information in their language. This solidifies the trend that has been emerging over the past several years — localized language capabilities have moved from “nice-to-have” to “must-have.”


The Many Benefits of Global SaaS

Due to the shift toward cloud-based SaaS, every company that sells a SaaS product is global by nature. One of the great advantages of SaaS is that it dissolves geographic borders, so carving out more revenue from international markets is easier than ever before. But, there’s a distinct difference between being a global business and doing business globally. To run a truly global business, you must reach customers around the world with content that fully reflects the way they live, act, and speak. Localizing the SaaS experience with translated content can help companies:

Sell more to existing customers. Whether you work at a B2B or B2C company, you most likely have customers in other countries or customers in the U.S. who speak English as a second language. Making your SaaS offering available in other languages provides tremendous upsell potential and enables you to capture a greater share of the global market. Providing software in customers’ preferred languages can make a huge difference not only in purchasing decisions, but in account retention.

Charge more for global offerings. Multilingual content greatly benefits your customers, and many will be willing to pay for it — just remember the Common Sense Advisory study statistics. Many companies actually recover the cost of localizing their product by packaging it as a premium offering, or limiting the language options to certain customers. Some companies even charge an additional fee for each language or a block of languages.

Stay ahead of the competition. Localizing your software offerings can serve as a major competitive differentiator, even against local competitors in other countries. Remember, just as you can use localization as a competitive advantage, so too can your rivals — so beat them to it!


Start Small

Taking your SaaS offering global may seem like a tall order, but it doesn’t have to be. Start small by designating only certain content for translation, or limiting translation to select languages. If your model involves converting visitors from your website into a free trial or a paid subscription, check out your analytics to see what percentage of customers are coming from other countries. Looking at the global traffic you already have can help you prioritize language selection.

Most importantly, take confidence in knowing that the days of traditional, manual translation processes (think endless spreadsheets of content in need of translation) are over. Translation management software enables companies to deliver high-quality multilingual websites, mobile apps, and other digital content faster, easier, and more efficiently than ever before.

Providing a locally relevant user experience for global customers will be one of the most effective ways to drive business and stay ahead of the competition in 2015. And, while it may require an upfront investment, the return on investment will make it all worthwhile. Translation is a revenue-enabler and the key to unlocking new markets.