5 Essential Steps to Marketing an App in Europe (and Other New Markets)

By Marco M. Gerlach | November 12, 2018

Marco is the Director of Growth, EMEA at Mobile Trend GmbH, a leading mobile entertainment app developer and service provider. Marco has been leading growth at Mobile Trend for the last 2 years, adding to over a decade of experience in entertainment and media.

Learn more from his Mobile Hero profile.

As the Director of Growth at Mobile Trend, I’m tasked with growing our mobile apps in EMEA. We develop and monetize several apps from the Mobile Trend’s own app catalog, but our main focus is on dating apps like Yoomee.

We first launched Yoomee in Germany, and have expanded throughout Europe — with more on the way. International expansion is key to our growth, and through managing Yoomee’s growth in EMEA, I have learned several lessons about driving the best mobile user acquisition results in foreign markets.

Using our Yoomee app and the dating app vertical as our example, let’s dive into the essential steps to take when expanding your mobile growth strategy throughout Europe.

1. Gauge the Market’s Demand for Your App

The first step is to figure out if the given market can yield enough potential for your product or service. For example, if a US-based dating company plans to expand into EMEA, they need to know which countries are most engaged when it comes to online dating on mobile and at what scale.

The EU is the most penetrated mobile region in the world. A whopping 84% of the EU population are mobile service subscribers and, thanks to 4G technology, it’s predicted to grow to 86% by the end of 2020. While it may be tempting to enter the region quickly, marketers need to carefully construct their campaigns and target the right countries for the best chance at success.

2. Lawyer Up!

The second step is to lawyer up! Let’s again consider a US-based company that wants to penetrate the EMEA market. EMEA trademark rights can easily vary from country to country and become a serious obstacle for your successful growth. For a smooth transition, get a well-versed international law firm that can cover you and your property.

Companies that aim to grow in the EU must also consider the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), as it is complex and contains very specific provisions regarding many details of data processing. Analyze the GDPR closely to determine what consequence this new data privacy act entails for your specific business model and data processing.

3. Localize Your App and Ad Creative

The third step is to localize your app in each country and region. The best market and economic research is not enough if the message doesn’t reflect regional differences.

If colors play a significant role in some countries, find out which colors amplify the message or feeling that you want to convey to your audience. The same holds true for symbols.

While your brand name or slogan can work in your native territory, it can create all sorts of problems in other languages. For best results, generate regionally geared ad creative, with orientation, sizes, formats (images and videos) and copy variations that maximize reach and performance within the target region. Thanks to this approach, we improved our regional conversion rate up to 180%.

4. Target the Right Users

The fourth step is to consider mobile density and apply the right targeting and creative approach.

Take India, for example, with its 1.3 billion people and paltry 28.5% smartphone penetration. There is definitely room for growth given the country’s sheer population, but, again, here cultural nuances come into play. When looking at the way India’s people view “dating” as an idea, it can become tricky. Compared to US or EU, dating in India is not about exploring different relationships and seeing if you truly vibe. The focus is rather on meeting the right person directly and getting into an exclusive relationship, ideally followed by marriage. This region is great for arranged marriage services, but not for dating services — at least not yet.

When looking at Hungary in comparison, we found a much greater growth potential for dating services with a very active dating culture in that region. However, the performance of our ad creative was not great. Through A/B creative testing, we determined that Hungarian users engaged faster and at a higher rate when shown a profile-like ad creative versus the more “glossy” ad creatives that worked fantastically in nearby regions.

So, while the smartphone density of a given region plays its part in our evaluation, it also comes down to the correct localization when you want to reach the right individuals.

5. Get Your Pricing Strategy Right

Step five – currencies vary, and so should your approach to pricing. Converting currency is by no means free of charge, which can quickly cut into your hard-earned profits. While currency is one issue, the other is regional income levels of your target audience.

For example, while South Africa has great engagement with our campaigns, it is a prepaid card heavy region with a drastic difference in annual incomes compared to other geos. We also saw that user engagement largely varies throughout the user lifetime. So we optimized our payment methods and restructured our pricing for the region to improve the user experience and monetization – while also bringing stability into the fold.

In conclusion, expansion is not to be taken lightly. While EMEA might be considered an easier ground for expansion when compared to APAC, localization is the focal point for any product or service. Before diving head first into the half-unknown, craft a well-rounded strategy. Gauge the market’s demand, use trusted partners, localize your app and ad creative, target the right markets and users, consider regional pricing strategies, and test, test, test! Done right, you might find a new region which exceeds your wildest expectations.