We asked 44 experts how to deliver better global products last year. Here's what they said...

Read the expertise of the dozens of professionals we spoke to over 2023 about how to improve your global product performance in a single document.

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How to build a global commercial product strategy
What activities drive global user growth?
How to build a global growth taskforce
Tips on optimizing processes and using AI
Making the argument
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Where does this guide come from? 

We’re Global App Testing! 👋

We run outcome-oriented global software testing for the largest software businesses in the world. Last year, we made an effort to learn more about growing your product through a “global” lens. We built a webinar series called The Alignment about global growth. This briefing is based on the 44 speakers who participated in that alignment. We’ve organized and summarized their powerful insights below.

But here’s a self-indulgent spoiler: at the cornerstone of everything is good data. If you’re interested in local growth, you should talk to us about testing.

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Our contributors come from leading global brands

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Chapter 1

Building an international product strategy

Perhaps you have a fully decentralized product adapted for users in every market; perhaps you’re trying to build something globally inclusive which requires less adaptation. But choosing your markets and strategy is the first step. We heard a great deal of thinking around international product strategy based on the specific details of different products and businesses, making it challenging to generalize. But in general, experts identified that businesses failed to appreciate differences in markets sufficiently; struggled to think through full local product experiences; and didn't appreciate the role of local competitors. 

Key takeaways from chapter 1

  1. Global product strategy should be a c-level concern
  2. Your product is less portable than you might think
  3. Focus on a few key markets and think them through
  4. Listen to in-market indicators, but don’t follow them blindly
  5. The framework: include, adapt, intensify
  6. Graft onto local network effects

takeaway #1-1

Global product strategy is a top-level concern

  • Insight by Global App Testing 

Building a global commercial product strategy is very difficult and very important. 

It’s difficult because coordinating the different skills involved makes it challenging: global product teams agreed that “coordinating between teams” is the hardest problem of global product strategy in our 2023 report. It’s also difficult because teams operate in low data environments: 40% (the largest cohort) agreed that they didn’t know what impacts local metrics. (Our State of Localization Quality report

State of Localization Quality in 2023 report - data vs performance

Excerpt from our 2023 state of localization report

It’s important because, as Brian Chesky said, you “can’t just make products for 41-year old tech founders.” Your developers are probably unlike your users, and product / market fit is core to a businesses success. It’s also important because it doesn’t happen without attention. As Doug Kim, Principal Design Manager at Microsoft said, “unless you set out to build an inclusive product, you will build an exclusive one.

You might want your product to be global – by which we mean suitable for users around the world; or local, by which we mean adapted and highly suitable for a specific locale. But without leadership to take your product there, the outcome is likely to mean that a team will focus excessively on activity without a clear strategy in place to deliver local growth.

56% of respondents in our webinar audience poll agreed that their business was focused on “delivery” at the expense of “strategy”.

takeaway #2-1

Your product is less portable than you think

  • Insight from Alessandra Binazzi | Principal Consultant | Global Sights Consulting | David McNamee | Solutions Architect | Phrase

Alessandra Binazzi, Principal Consultat at Global Sights Consulting, told a story about a company she had once worked at: "At ASICS, we acquired a fitness app called Runkeeper to drive the company's digital transformation. ASICS is a Japanese company, and yet Runkeeper really struggled for a long time in Japan. When we started looking at the data, we realized our Japanese users were very different to our US users. They were more serious runners – in the US we penetrated the casual market.”


Lots of interviewees and speakers described a naivety from senior stakeholders; an assumption that domestic products can easily be remarketed to international markets.

David McNamee, Solutions Architect at Phrase, said: "I think being presumptive about portability of your own language is [the most common] pitfall of businesses trying to grow internationally. If you use one of the big global languages… we always talk about – if you use English, which English? How many Spanishes? I live in Florida – I need three.” 

Nataly Kelly, former VP of Marketing at HubSpot, argued: "When you think about finding your next million users, you do need to realize that each of these preferences has truly different needs and preferences. The sooner you begin to do that local research, the better. The big thing I talk about in my book is that users derive value differently depending on what market they're in." 

takeaway #3-1

When planning, pick your markets and think them through

  • Insight from Alessandra Binazzi | Principal Consultant | Global Sights Consulting |  Diego Felix Dos Santos | Director of Product Management | Mastercard | James Atkin | Senior Customer Success Manager | Global App Testing

A number of our speakers over the course of our content this year emphasized the importance of in-market competition as one of the points of difference between local users. This was particularly true of products which rely on defending a market position, or which relied heavily on networks for their viability.

Alessandra Binazzi may have been the first to say it: “Looking at local competitors can be really insightful… especially for B2B businesses.” 

But James Atkin, Global App Testing Senior Customer Success Manager, showed how this kind of thinking can impact strategy around insight. “One thing we notice across our clients is intensive testing towards desired market stage in a few of their key markets. While lots of businesses test extensively across all their markets for quality coverage, you should also identify markets to test intensively. That’s much more cost effective; as it’s cheaper to retain an established position than to create a toehold in a new market.”

Diego Santos, the Payment Product Lead at Mastercard, argued that you should set yourself failure criteria as part of a GTM: “Plan your actions in a best and worst-case scenario. Then I need to know exactly when I need to pull the plug, if I have to.” 

takeaway #4-1

Listen to in-market indicators, but don't follow them without thinking

  • Insight from Nataly Kelly | Independent | former VP at HubSpot

In-market indicators are some of the most important things we can think about when identifying which markets to dedicate our efforts to. It’s one of the ways businesses get pulled into participating in new markets. Leaders from a few businesses mentioned pull-factors leading their internationalization, including Slack, HubSpot, and more. But it’s possible to be too reliant on these. 

Nataly Kelly told one very valuable story: “I’ve seen companies over-rely on market pull signals. They might see a behaviour that [local] users are exhibiting. They think, let’s lean into this market. What’s really really important is to think through the end-to-end customer experience. I’ve seen teams invest more resources because they see [positive local] top-of-funnel metrics."

"But then they realize you can’t just add Brazilian Portuguese into the UI. They aren’t thinking things through. Can we accept payments? Do we owe local taxes? Does this change our company tax structure?” You need answers for such questions, argued Nataly.

James Atkin described one way to shake out interesting pull signals. “Cross-comparative testing is a data-led approach to understanding your local performance, into which you can test both a great and poorly performing market across all your core flows from functional testing through to UX review.” 



Ask us about cross-comparative testing

takeaway #5-1

Adapt, intensify, and be inclusive

  • Insights from Alessandra Binazzi | Principal Consultant | Global Sights Consulting | Nataly Kelly | Independent

This brief is designed to be a summary – so we’ll stop short of giving a full-blown theory of market entry. But our webinar did give us some starting points.  When evaluating a product for an international market, you should think about design inclusivity, intensification, and adaptation.

Alessandra Binazzi mentioned: “the first principle is simply: be inclusive. Make sure that your product and services are easy to access.” Thinking forward through an access case is a good way to identify some of the lowest hanging fruit in product globalization and to ensure your product is being built with global users in mind. Similarly, in our webinar about design inclusivity, panelists discussed that exclusivity in product design is a kind of technical debt. It’s worthwhile to invest in up-front inclusivity to make less adaptation necessary to begin with.

Intensification refers to an idea Nataly Kelly explores in her blog and recent book. The big idea is that you’re probably already live around the world if you have a website. So you can get out of a launch mindset, and get into a mindset which is about looking, listening, and growing your business in terms of what’s already working for a given group of users. 

Adapting your product or marketing for users is one of the main levers a product team has for local growth. The challenge, which we will discuss in most sections, is how to identify what kinds of product adaptations will drive profit and to build a viable function. Some product theorists are skeptical of product adaptation (“localization”) feeling that it introduces complexity; others prefer a distributed design process to build a product which truly works for everyone. 

The reality is likely to be that, as the prize of adapting your product comes down, your competitor environment will be filled with adaptive products offering users bespoke adaptive experiences. Simone Bohnenberger-Rich, the Chief Product Officer at Phrase, spelled out some of the possibilities of this beyond localization: the sports store which only loads multimedia from your favorite sport.  


takeaway #6-1

Graft onto local network effects

  • Insight from Diego Felix Dos Santos | Director of Product Management | Mastercard

Diego Santos, Product Lead at Mastercard, pointed out that product teams can often forget about a very different local set of competitors and that thinking about markets is a good route to go down. 

He was skeptical of marketing initiatives to enter a new market:

“You need deep pockets to fund [commercial offers] and new users are not likely to stick around when you stop funding them” he argued.

Instead, Diego recommended local network effects. Mastercard regularly relies on network effect for its product advantage; a two-sided marketplace of merchants and users. Famously the reason that a network effect is such a formidable way to build competitive advantage is that it’s so difficult to put together. 

Diego gave his advice: 

“If you’re starting from zero, meaning you have no user base at all… we partnered with a local card network called Mada in Saudi Arabia. The outcome was twenty five million new users for mastercard. Every time they go abroad, it goes through the Mastercard network.” 

Diego tells the story of both Disney+ and Uber Eats in episode 5 of the alignment which have similar stories about grafting onto existing network effects.

With a product like a card network, marginal growth is significantly easier than zero to one. Partnerships are a smart way of getting there.


Our crowd are ready to be your eyes and ears on the ground in any market(s) you require.

Chapter 2

Which product activities drive local growth?

With a market-oriented product strategy and an understanding of which markets are operationally viable for a growth play – it could be time to plan activities. During 2023, we asked our global product experts what activities they had undertaken which had successfully resulted in global or local growth. Here's what they had to say.


Key takeaways from chapter 2

  1. Most businesses don't actually know what factors affect local growth
  2. Consider transcreation + marketing
  3. Consider local device environments
  4. Start with core flows and international payments
  5. Product exclusivity is like technical debt
  6. Build specific hypotheses about specific markets
  7. Local testing can help you identify worthwhile activity


takeaway #1-2

Most businesses don't actually know what affects local growth

  • Insight by Global App Testing 

When you have decided to adapt your product or evaluate its quality for a particular group of local users, a question arises. What actions can you take which will drive local growth? How can you be as effective as possible in delivering actions which will impact growth?

  • 40% of teams, the largest cohort, said they "don't know" what affects their local NPS and revenue, according to our state of localization quality report 2023. Many teams are reactive, several speakers referred to a process which involved waiting for customers to "tell them."

Tucker Johnson, Founder of Nimdzi Insights, also called this out:  “What mechanisms do we have in place to proactively capture feedback from local markets instead of just waiting for complaints to be escalated?” 


takeaway #2-2

Dating app LOVOO found that translations alone drove about 18% but marketing spend increased adoption 10x 

  • Insight from Jessica Grimm, Head of Localization | LOVOO | Brian McConnell,  Head of Localization | Notion

Content localization is inadequate without marketing, argued Jessica Grimm, Head of Localization at the dating app LOVOO. In “high-ROI localization”, she spelled out their findings:

“We ran an experiment. We released [text and image] localization to our app in Turkey without marketing… we could see there was an increase of 18% per week and a distinct buyer increase of 14%. But where the [10x increase] rocket ship starts to appear was when we entered marketing into the picture. So it’s important to note that localization alone does not really cut it… and you have to have marketing spend to accompany your local product localization. You need users to actually find your product.”

Jessica argued that content-based localization served to make the marketing more effective and vice versa.

This was also how Brian McConnell, Head of Localization at Notion, measured success. "They think of [product localization] as a marketing spend in the same way they would billboard advertising". 

Translation ROI

takeaway #3-2

Investing in low-data experiences has a return for the BBC 

  • Insight from Neil Doughty, Executive Product Manager | BBC | Olga Skoczek,  UX Researcher | Global App Testing

Other businesses emphasized a nuts-and-bolts approach to product access and inclusion, particularly when marketing users in countries with older devices, less data, or less spoken languages.

Neil Doughty, the Chief Experience Executive at the BBC World Service, shared his experiences thinking about the BBC world service for local users. 

  • One of the key heuristics the BBC world service uses to think about local product adaptability is the local cost of data in a particular country.

  • That affects the speed at which their application loads, and ultimately the perceived loading speed against competitors. Neil compared Nigeria (where data is expensive) to India (where data is cheap). They look critically at things like house fonts in data-poor environments and minimize complex multimedia.

Olga Skcozek, the Lead UX Researcher at Global App Testing, shared additional thoughts during the webinar on inclusivity and accessibility. 

“I’d like to mention some user segments that often get overlooked in product development”, Olga said. “People with bad internet access, and people with low-end hardware. I want to share one anecdote,” said Olga. “One company I’ve worked with in the past decided not to support Android devices below version 5 in the 2010s… developers and product people assumed there was nobody using such an old system out there. But they got blasted in reviews by many users with older phones.”

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takeaway #4-2

International payments are a good place to start

  • Insight from Alessandra Binazzi, Principal Consultant | Global Sights Consulting | Diego Felix Dos Santos, Director of Product Management | Mastercard | Ronald Cummings-John, Cofounder | Global App Testing

Ensuring payments are available in multiple ways and that all those payments work as expected is an evergreen way to improve your revenue. This may be a good place to start in localization; it’s strictly necessary, it’s difficult to argue with, and it’s easy to impact revenue.

Alessandra Binazzi argued that investing in more payments types worked for the team at ASICS and for the sports site Pinnacle: “Payments are a huge gateway to earn the trust and also the transaction from your low customers. Pinnacle is a sports betting site, and online sports betting sites almost exclusively offer their products in global markets… they offer a wide range of payment options depending on the currency of the local market.” 

APAC local payment options reduce abandonment rates by 32%

Diego Santos, Product Lead at Mastercard, agreed; “If you're talking about ecommerce, right, or [anything which requires] payments, it's really important to understand 'Can I support this payment method?' if you don't take that into account, you're probably gonna miss something and you're going to regret it.” 

But, Ronald Cummings-John CEO of Global App Testing, might have shared the most surprising revelation about payments. He described a customer which had missed a payments bug: “We were working with an ecommerce company, and we uncovered an issue in a French checkout on Android phones. It affected 74% of Android users… and 7% of the French market used Android. It turned out that this was an issue costing nearly £1 million a month.”



Global App Testing recently did a case study with Carry1st, a mobile gaming payments company (not the company described above) in which we helped to increase their checkout completion rate by 12%.

Read the case study


takeaway #5-2

An "exclusive" product generates costs, like technical debt

  • Insight from Doug Kim, Principal Inclusive Design Manager | Microsoft | Olga Skoczek, UX Researcher | Global App Testing

We’ll talk in the next chapter about whether accessibility and localization efforts should be the same function. We’d argue that they are: adapting your product for a particular group of users with a requirement makes sense to put in one place. Speaking in our webinar about inclusive products.

Olga Skozcek identified that exclusivity was a kind of technical debt you can take on. “I think we need to be brave about making the argument for product exclusivity as a kind of technical debt. Products which build in robust inclusivity measures as part of their process become easier and cheaper to adapt and develop. Inclusive product design from the outset is great practice, and you won’t have to take on an expensive project down the line when the laws tighten.”  

“Once you think about different categories of users as investments; the fact that there’s a lot of different user profiles and needs, from everything from language requirements to data environments, becomes an exciting thing – each of these is a potential area for growth.” 

Doug Kim, Principal Design Manager for Microsoft, agreed. “We find that [inclusivity] is not just a compliance thing or the "right thing to do". It can extend the power, reach, marketability of your product… and not only to educational institutions or businesses more driven by inclusivity. But it also puts you on the forefront of ensuring your products serve your customer base.”

He also pointed out that features built for a particular audience can get used more widely than expected. “One of the most obvious examples is closed captioning. It’s something a lot of businesses developed for people who have hearing loss… but is now used broadly by many different people. Maybe you don’t want to disturb your colleagues or wake your children. We have several examples like that at Microsoft.” 

Doug Kim worked on Microsoft's Inclusive Design toolkit, designed to help product designers in any company build more inclusive products. 

Talia Baruch was another advocate of up-front inclusivity. “I would argue that the whole global-ready mindset doesn’t really differentiate between domestic and international. We’re talking about the globe. Right?

Ensure you're accessible and inclusive in all markets you're live

takeaway #6-2

It’s not just about activities and outcomes. You need theories and goals

  • Insight from Talia Baruch, Founder | GlobalSaké | and Former Head of International Product Strategy | LinkedIn |

It’s not enough to think about activities in isolation. More sophisticated teams investigated activities within complex hypotheses about different markets they operated in. 

Talia Baruch, former Head of International Product Strategy at Surveymonkey, described how she thought about planning local activities: “In 2016 at Surveymonkey, I prioritized the UK and Germany as our top markets to focus on. The UK market used the default English version and was an early adopter market. Brand awareness, engagement existed [there] already… the focus was downstream conversion and retention. We’re looking at optimizing experiences for existing users, helping them lift those downstream numbers.”

“Germany is a very different ecosystem. As a late adopter market, very low engagement, the focus was mainly on top of the funnel to be discovered… and quality, customer acquisition. For Surveymonkey that meant a focus on the user journey from sign-up to deploying the first survey.” 



Talia’s approach stood out for the following reasons:

  • It used adaptation selectively based on its goals
  • It had distinct theories for Germany and the UK
  • It proactively tested different approaches (Talia would go on to talk about A/B testing)
  • Instead of running translation as an operational exercise, Talia was driving growth for Surveymonkey

takeaway #7-2

Testing can identify low-hanging fruit for product changes 

  • Insight from Horatiu Marc,  Senior Project Manager | Global App Testing | Diego Felix Dos Santos, Director of Product Management | Mastercard | Olga Skoczek, UX Researcher | Global App Testing

Lots of testing is concerned with identifying growth opportunities by improving the international user experience. Here’s some suggestions from our own speakers from Global App Testing on how to test for low hanging fruit. 

Honeypot opportunities. Horatiu Marc, a project manager at Global App Testing, argued that the way businesses triage and prioritize local product actions has a few blind spots. He observed: 

“[Most businesses] either work forward through a customer story or backwards from a commercial problem when they think about adapting their product. For example, they might think our product needs to be translated into French for French users. Or they might think, why are our signups so low in French markets? Those questions will trigger some thinking and a product team action.”

“Those are both great ways to think: but over time, businesses fail to look at a third approach – experiment-based optimization for specific user groups. These tend to be comparatively low-effort improvements.  When things don’t get flagged as worrying commercial stats or complained about, they’re invisible. But that doesn’t mean they’re not affecting your bottom line.”

The role of lite insight. Olga described how Global App Testing uses the Scaled Insights team to deliver insight faster UX feedback to users. It’s a non-traditional approach which runs 48-hour fast “pulse check” experiments designed to pair with slower, heavier-duty traditional approach. Scaled Insights allow businesses to iterate in-market without a heavy ground presence and ask real users what they think in a time frame that makes sense.

“The battle between speed and quality has already been solved in software development. The answer is smaller releases, faster iterations… in the long run, much higher quality, much faster.”

Cross-comparative analysis. Diego Felix Dos Santos, Payment Product Lead at Mastercard, pointed out that one way to gauge your targets was to look at “the most similar markets to your target market.” 

By that token, you can also compare different markets from the perspective of function, local performance, UX, competitor comparison, and more, to troubleshoot areas which are not performing as expected with Global App Testing.

Put your local experience to the test, with crowdtesting

Chapter 3

Building a team for local growth

Whether you’re building a localization team, an internationalization team, a globalization team, a global growth taskforce, or something else, thinking about what your team will look like and what it's function is vital planning to undertake before you identify personnel and skills you'll need to execute on the vision.

Here’s some evergreen insights our speakers made about building a global product team.

Key takeaways from chapter 3

  1. Build a team with a point and an outcome
  2. Any "global" product function should be about growth
  3. Build the team your business needs and wants
  4. "Global" happens at both the start and end of the product process
  5. Technical teams are more powerful
  6. Think carefully about using the word "localization" which has baggage

takeaway #1

Build a team with a point and an outcome 

  • Insight from Katell Jentreau, former Globalization Manager | Netflix | Jessica Grimm, Head of Localization | LOVOO | Brian McConnell,  Head of Localization | Notion

One of the biggest risks of your team is that they will become a cost center with no outcome.

Katell Jentreau, former Globalization Manager at Netflix argued: 

“Remember that you are not just a team – you are a function, and it’s really important that you think that way. This is a point I credit to the great Teresa Marshall from Salesforce. We should think of localization, globalization, as a function: it’s not just about building a team which delivers things… it’s about a function which is driving a business to achieve its goals” 

“Focus on impact… how is the business going to achieve its goals? If your goal is to increase revenue in Japan by 10% at the end of the year; how are you going to help achieve that?”

The Head of Localization at Stripe, Zach Duncan, went a little further, expressing skepticism about the idea that a “team” was the best lens to look at global product through.

“[Although] I really like the idea of building a team within this premise… I think that looking through the lens of more of a program and how to maximize overall effectiveness with all resources available is going to yield a better result”, Zach argued.



Finally, Yngvild Trøan, Localization Manager at Deliveroo, described how she has worked to get out of the translation fulfillment role which many localization managers don’t like.

"If you're working in a business that's relatively new to localization, chances are that the localization team was recruited to fill a specific business need overlooking translation during an expansion period… I think a majority of localization professionals know that we can contribute so much more beyond just project management. If this sounds like you, you're probably gonna want to redefine the localization team purpose, align it with the business needs, and start building and developing a team to deliver on that purpose.”

takeaway #2

This function should be about growth

  • Insight from Brian McConnell, Head of Localization | Notion | Katell Jentreau, Independent and former Globalization Manager | Netflix | Alexandru Dochian,  Senior Project Manager | Global App Testing 

If you have a global team which is cross functional, you should put it in part of the organization targeted on growth. Brian McConnell, Head of Localization at Notion, pointed out (of localization teams):

“It's a bit of an oddball function… it could end up in product, it could end up in engineering, it could end up in marketing, and my experience has been that it's really important to be in a part of the company that's focused on growth. Where you don't want to be is in an organization that's going to view localization as a cost center, because then you're just going to constantly struggle to get resources.”

When asked directly, webinar participants in our third webinar: driving localization speed and scale agreed that teams referred to as “localization” teams are better to sit in commercial parts of the business than operational parts.

Katell Jentreau, former Globalization Manager at Netflix, agreed: “If international growth is not a priority for the business. It's going to be a lot more difficult … one of the main reasons why I joined Netflix was that I knew that the company was almost hundred percent focused on international expansion.”

Alexandru Dochian, Project Manager at Global App Testing, described how teams which are more outcome-focused use testing and interact with his work at Global App Testing, differently: “Because that team is setting their own agenda, they’re more likely to be hung up on the question of what’s the smallest amount of work we can do for the biggest impact to that metric? Their relationship with testing is not adversarial… we’re partners in attempting to identify areas for growth.” 

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takeaway #3

Build the team your business wants and needs

  • Insight from Oleksandyr Pysaryuk, Senior Manager, Globalization Technology | GitLab | (when interviewed: Localization Technology, Shopify ) | Katell Jentreau, Independent and former Globalization Manager | Netflix 

In an early interview with Global App Testing, Oleksandr Pysaryuk – then Senior Lead, Localization Technology & Operations at Shopify, now at GitLab – was asked directly the biggest mistake he saw people make when they get into the industry. He identified that often, when you’re forming a function:

“It’s easy to want to do things the right way. The localization way. But you’re employed by a business.” You need to bend your process to what suits the business goal, argued Oleksandr.

Oleksandr described that at a previous employer (HR & Payroll Software, Ceridian) he had shifted into a technical internationalization role and built an enabler department. He had done this because Ceridian boasted a large number of local product managers and was essentially a decentralized product. 

Katell Jentreau, former Globalization Manager at Netflix, giave the bigger picture:

“Businesses will change. They will tell you suddenly that they’re going to launch games, or a new feature, and whereas nobody was thinking about that before, all of a sudden you need to drop everything. I would go as high as the mission of the business. I spent a long time at Netflix. Everybody at Netflix knows that the mission is to entertain the world. And that tells you a lot in terms of what your job should be.”  

takeaway #4

Invest in globalization at both ends of your product process

  • Insight from Daphne Chou, Localization Operations Manager | Riot Games | Natalia Martinez, Localization Operations Program Manager | Google | Francesca DiMarco, Head of I18n and Design Program Management | Pinterest | Carrie Fisher, Manager of Globalization Services | Subway 

There are two ways to think about ensuring a product is working for a particular group of users. The first is “localization”, the process of adapting a product built for domestic users to local users. The second is what we would call “globally inclusive design”, product design which de-centres domestic users in your product design and development process at the start. Lots of localization practitioners described that there was not globally inclusive enough. 

Carrie Fischer, Director of Localization Services at Subway, told a story about how she had localized the Subway rewards program. The marketing team had named it "the MVP" after "Most Valuable Player" – a term used in the US associated with baseball and American football. In order to generate something more appropriate for local 

Natalia Martinez, a Localization Operations Manager at Google, pointed out during our 2023 interview (when she was working as a Terminology Manager) that “It’s difficult to persuade people to think of global terminology first. People write in their domestic language first.”

When talking to other localization managers focused on tail-end adaptation, Daphne Chou described the role of advocacy and analysis in solving this: 

At Riot Games, we have a dedicated team like localization and production that work very closely with our game team to make sure that the internal collaboration, and that the early conversation is happening upstream.” 

Francesca DiMarco, the well-known Head of Internationalization at Pinterest, found in our 2023 interview that focusing central business intelligence analysts on international users was a fruitful place to start.

 “We’d work with the analysts… so I’d work with our team of [business] analysts and ensure they had analysts dedicated to international.” Then, based on international sentiment analysis, “we’d have to persuade our PMs [Product Managers] to develop one feature rather than another.”

slilde 20

Our second episode of the alignment was all about team-building; you can watch it below.

Watch the episode


takeaway #5

If you want the team to have teeth, they need access to developers and technology skills

  • On background | Multiple interviewees and speakers

This guide is primarily intended for localization as a function of product, not of marketing. One theme which frequently came up in supporting conversations was access to developers. This creates complexity as the developer has to manage their relationship with the core engineering team; but also gives the team which commands the power to amend things.

Within a product department, teams which do not have any access to developers are sometimes unable to drive the changes they want to see for a local group of users. (Multiple stakeholders said on background that having direct control over engineers really enabled them to work and drive impact in a way they hadn’t before.) 

takeaway #6

Think about how to address that the word "localization" may turn people off 

  • Insight from Nataly Kelly | Independent 

The final thing to think about when building a globalization taskforce is your relationship with the word “localization.” To explain what we mean by this, author and influencer Nataly Kelly said:

“I think a lot of times if you have a localization role, you spend so much time trying to explain what you do and trying to get people to understand what it is that you do that sometimes we're bad about not listening enough. I am constantly saying, try not to use the L word when you’re talking to someone in sales or marketing. They’re going to instantly put up barriers.” 

Throughout our webinars and events, which have been attended by lots of localization heads of and managers, people complained about the difficulty of engaging different departments; a lack of interest in the program; difficulty borrowing resource across needed; and an attitude that a localized product is a “necessary evil”, building complexity into a product where it should not be.


takeaway #7

Ensure your teams are cooperating

  • Insight from Robert Bauch, Manager, Product Program Management | HubSpot 

Robert Bauch was part of the team which internationalized HubSpot in 2013. He said that his biggest tip for the launch was to cooperate.

“One of the big mistakes we ran into initially was that we defaulted to the idea that we needed a monolithic solution… to solve for speed and scale across all our organizations. As we rolled it out initially, we started to realize that we were meeting some needs in the organization, but not all needs. We had to take a step back from that mistake, focus on alignment across the company.”

For Robert, it was alignment itself which delivered growth.



Nataly Kelly said the same thing: "“I think it’s super important to align the product strategy with the geo strategy with the corporate strategy [...] In my time working at a large public company, sometimes I found that an element of our corporate strategy would be something I could hitch my international wagon to – as a topic du jour. Say we were trying to grow a certain area of the business… I’d say “oh, well in this market we have fewer local competitors for that. It’s a ripe opportunity to focus effort there. That made it much easier to do more of an intensification across the market while fuelling the company goal.”


Talia Zur Baruch, Founder of GlobalSaké and The LocLearn School offered a practical way to create alignment.

“I found that internal evangelism is the hardest part of our job. One thing we did [at Surveymonkey] was to create a Tiger Taskforce with representatives of the stakeholder leads from each function across the company come together weekly to discuss and align on the horizontal cross-functional international efforts."

“Our goal is to deliver products that are discoverable, usable and valuable for the diverse populations of the world. That means redefining, in some priority target markets, What problem we solve for (value proposition repositioning), Who we optimize the solution for (addressable segment), and How we define and measure success (KPIs).”

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Chapter 4

Refining process and using AI

Once you’ve thought about how a taskforce or function could work, you might draw a distinction: between the MVP function and something which is truly scalable. Here’s everything our speakers said about scale: how to go faster, further, and incorporate AI.

Key takeaways from chapter 4

  1. AI translations are often good enough
  2. AI can analyze and assess content
  3. Scale-ready teams automate their processes and set themselves up to handle "plan B" instances
  4. More mature teams proactively investigate and iterate in local markets
  5. The best teams think about CX in addition to UX 

takeaway #1-4

Translators may tell you that machine translations aren’t good enough. In many cases, they probably are. 

  • Insight from Fei Liu, Head of Digital Content Localization | RS Components | Stefania Russo, Head of UX Content | Glovo | Robert Bauch, Manager, Product Program Management | HubSpot 

Fei Liu, Head of Digital Content Localization at RS, put her head above the parapet to say that they did not run internal QA on all their content.  “You may want to review everything [which gets translated]... but do you actually need to? There’s a fundamental difference between wanting and needing to review” a piece of localization. 

Fei argued that you can identify content by risk and opportunity when you have a piece of content you need to review. The guiding principle “would ultimately be that we do whatever is right for our customers, or our customers’ customers.” 

Stefania Russo, the UX translator at Glovo, said she made an “access- guided” decision to roll out a machine translation of the Glovo app into a tourist-heavy part of Spain when she became aware that there were barriers to users. “We implemented a machine translation solution which helped us break the language barrier and make the product way more accessible… which had a positive impact on conversion, market penetration.” 

One way to roll out a translation you have lower confidence in is to be honest with users about it. For this very playbook, we used a 95% video transcription tool offered by Wistia. Wistia presented the tool honestly (i.e. they identified it was not 100% accurate) and even paired it against a premium human service for a dollar per minute of transcript. Users may prefer to choose an imperfect automated translation, as long as they understand what they're getting.

Robert Bauch, Product Program Manager at Hubspot, described in our 2023 interview how they had implemented machine translation at HubSpot (in 2013, when such systems were inferior).

The HubSpot system pushed automated product translations to software text strings and then invited a human reviewer to get eyes on the product within 48 hours. This allowed the product team to move at the speed they needed to; while maintaining the quality they needed to.

takeaway #2-4

AI is useful to analyze content, not just write it 

  • Insight from Nora Duong, Senior Localization Program Manager | Tesla | David McNamee, Enterprise Solutions Architect | Phrase TMS | Tomas Franc, Solutions Architect | Lokalise

Two short-term use cases of AI, unrelated to the production of content, are the analysis of content. First, identifying the most appropriate content for a particular reader. Obviously search engines are using advanced AI to improve search results all the time, but there’s no reason you can’t do that on a smaller scale, argued Nora Duong, Localization Manager at Tesla:

"Your content should be designed for automation… we decided to take our localization to another level, and to streamline our localization knowledge.” 

Different ways of doing this could include training an AI bot to speak on behalf of your business, revolutionizing the role of chatbots from glorified inline menus to genuine systems of listening to identify the best articles better and handle requests and suggestions more accurately.

Another use case for AI is translation QA. Tomas Franc, a Solutions Architect working at Lokalise TMS system identified that AI can help QA. 

"In terms of localization maturity it’s about monitoring your content quality…. Being able to invest a reasonable amount of effort and money into maintaining and monitoring the quality of content and the quality of the process.”

And David McNamee from Phrase, a TMS system and GAT partner said something similar.

"Everything that goes in that’s been driven by AI is in some way trying to make the translations that are created better, whether it’s quality assurance testing which has been automated because LLMs an interesting judge of translation quality… because they can help raise red flags more effectively.”
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takeaway #3-4

A scale-ready team automates process and troubleshoots plan Bs

  • Insight from Reiku Knickerbocker, Lead Localization Project Manager | Slack | Talia Baruch, Founder | GlobalSaké | and former Head of International Product Strategy | LinkedIn

One of the standout answers on any question came from David McNamee. He was asked what a “scale-ready” localization team looks like. He described it in some detail:  “From a localization perspective, you know the process you’re going to execute. You know how to measure that effectively, to quickly identify exceptions.” But lots of it is about a plan B, he argued.

 “I’ve been delivering technology solutions for 30 years now. And you sit down, you have a wonderfully designed process, which looks great on paper – but when you start to do it in real life, the world comes to get you very quickly."... “Being able to manage those exceptions. Understanding that they’re going to happen. Having a plan for addressing them” is the most important factor in a scale-ready team, David McNamee argued.

Daphne Chou, Localization Operations Manager at Riot Games, argued:

“To streamline and centralize processes is really the way to do it… understand where you are able to identify pain points, and once you do all of that work around standardization and processes, if you’re lucky enough to have engineers working for you, then you can take another step and begin to automate your assignments, vendor routing, that sort of thing. It will help you speed things up and ensure more consistent delivery.” 

takeaway #4-4

Maturer teams proactively investigate as part of process

  • Insight from David McNamee, Enterprise Solutions Architect | Phrase TMS | Daphne Chou, Localization Operations Manager | Riot Games

Throughout our series, participants were advised that product globalization teams put too much emphasis on delivery at the expense of effectiveness in a highly diverse global customer environment.

One business which spelled out its pre-launch research was Slack, which hired Reiko Knickerbocker to take their product live in Japan. Reiko is Japanese, but launched the following investigation:

“To enter the Japanese market in the best way possible, we needed to understand Japanese company culture and work style, their tools and offices… the product team wanted to know about any risks with our current product and service. I wanted to figure out the right Japanese tone of voice… the US Slack had a very friendly TOV which was beloved by US users because it was different from other [B2B] softwares.” 

Reiku pointed out that Japan can be a more formal culture when it comes to work. But she didn’t want to lose the essential character of the Slack brand. 

“I verified the politeness level… but one surprise was that a fully translated app was unnatural in Japan. Users said it didn’t feel natural when translated 100 percent into Japanese with no English words. So when a word is more common in English than Japanese, I left that word in English intentionally.” 

Some high-performing teams use existing data as their basis for proactive investigation. Talia Baruch, Founder of Global Saké, said:

“Really, you want to country – slice and dice… and for markets which are a higher priority, or large countries such as India, you should even drill further down by sector, by region, or states. I would do a lot of SQL queries to the data warehouse… it’s how you slice and dice that data” will get you the insight you need.

takeaway #5-4

The goal should be to bring local iteration to local markets

  • Insight from Abbie Sparks, Senior Customer Success Manager | Global App Testing | Ronald Cummings-John, Cofounder | Global App Testing 

Abbie Sparks is a Senior Customer Success Manager at Global App Testing. She told us about a global product leader at a large startup and how they solved the “speed / quality” tradeoff.

“[The client] told me that this battle has already been solved in software development. This is the area that agile iteration comes from, and the best practice of that… smaller releases, faster iterations, and faster feedback loops to get something closer to what your clients want. In the long term, that leads to higher quality, faster.”

“She runs localization from a leadership perspective. To me, the question of how to localize faster is about how you can get to the voice of local customers faster. How do you scale that level of feedback?”

Ronald Cummings-John, the CEO of Global App Testing, said something similar during an in-person  alignment event. The cost of translation, the cost of programming, and therefore the cost of adapted software experiences is going to come down because of the AI breakthrough. But what has not yet been solved is the way to get feedback in local markets faster. 

takeaway #6-4

Think about CX as well as UX

  • Insight from Selase Dela-Brown, Product Manager | Vodafone | Eugene Kuznetsov,  Product Lead | Holland & Barrett | Giulia Tarditi, Head of Global Experience | Qualtrics

Selase Dela Brown, Product Manager at Vodafone, spoke at the alignment event in London; along with Giulia Tarditi, Head of Global Customer Experience at Qualtrics; as did Eugene Kuznetsov, Product Lead at Holland & Barrett, a wellness retailer. 

The talk gave a very interesting insight into the role of CX and how to leverage local teams.

Eugene Kuznetsov spoke about the importance of dogfooding, particularly for omnichannel. He talked about leveraging local Holland & Barrett teams to get their reviews and understanding of the local system; and how that had driven a better UX for Holland & Barrett particularly. He argued that answers from colleagues could be more helpful than answers from the public in many cases.

Selase Dela-Brown talked about product globalization as a project and the importance of thinking through the detail of CX, as well as UX, and “keeping the machine oiled”. For Vodafone, ensuring that local teams were equipped with everything they needed to offer a service which was suitably standardized and differentiated in different areas, was key to the job. 

“Localization is the less well-known cousin of CX” , argued Giulia Tarditi, Head of Global Experience at Qualtrics  

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Chapter 5

Measuring your success and making the argument

Finally, making a strong internal argument for your function and measuring your success against clearly-defined goals is important to rinse and repeat the process. But how do you do it? 


Key takeaways from chapter 5

  1. Most businesses can't actually isolate the impact of a particular action
  2. A blend of commercial and operational metrics is best
  3. Analysts will do a better job of calculating ROI
  4. Our most frequent insight: talk like the people grading you 
  5. Data needs a job: a job needs data
  6. How to assess your local product value and quality

takeaway #1-3

Most global teams can’t actually measure the value of specific activities

  • Insight from Tucker Johnson, Cofounder | Nimdzi Insights (credit to Jeff Beatty,  Executive Director, Product Management - Globalization | The Walt Disney Company | and Global App Testing analysis

We’ve argued that localization teams should be commercially-oriented teams with a point, an outcome, and a plan to get there. This was the consensus from most of the leaders we spoke to… but there was also some ambivalence around measurement and goal setting. 

Partly this is to do with the difficulty of understanding local markets. Remember, the largest cohort of teams say they don’t know what impacts local revenue including when they are targeted on local revenue increases according to our 2023 state of localization quality report. But it also comes down to the unsuitability of ideas like “ROI” to capture actions which only work as part of a joined-up approach between departments. 

In his talk during our alignment episode on high-ROI localization, the founder of Nimdzi Insights Tucker Johnson quoted two of the most well-known figures in product globalization on the topic for his speech. The first was Nataly Kelly, who had appeared in other webinars.

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takeaway #2-3

A blend of commercial and operational metrics is best 

  • Insight from Miguel Sepulveda, Globalization Director | King | Julio Leal, Head of Localization | Spendesk | Brian McConnell, Head of Localization | Notion | Tucker Johnson,  Cofounder | Nimdzi Insights

Lots of our speakers cautioned what they saw as excessively operations-focused departments failing to look out for the value of their work. It was the advice of several professionals to ensure you measure and communicate commercial goals.

Below is an excerpt from Miguel Sepulveda, the Globalization Director at King Games and owner of the yolocalizo blog:

“There are metrics where we track and report to leadership… metrics where localization is contributing to growth; which can help explain the added value of localization. So for example, the average revenue per user locally; customer retention rates per market; monthly and daily active users by country. Once we have identified the right metrics, the other two that we need to consider are the tools, how we will communicate them. There’s a long list. You should use the same tools as your company data team and pass it to the data center.”

“If you think about when we report the number of linguistic bugs, it doesn't provide insights into our contribution to global growth."

Julio Leal and Tucker Johnson both spent time on this point as well. The only person who made the opposite case was Brian McConnell, Head of Localization at Notion, who said:

“It's unfair to be graded on economic metrics because localization is just one factor in your success in a market. I would highlight Japan as an example… I generally prefer to be graded on operational metrics. And then, you know, the marketing team, that's the team that gets graded on revenue metrics.”

Metrics by Nimdzi

takeaway #3-3

Analysts will do a better job of calculating cost and value than localization professionals 

  • Insight from Miguel Sepulveda,  Globalization Director | King | Julio Leal, Head of Localization | Spendesk | Brian McConnell, Head of Localization | Notion | Tucker Johnson, Cofounder | Nimdzi Insights

At HR software Ceridian, Oleksandyr Pysaryuk used an ROI professional in another department to calculate the ROI of his actions. He argued that it was a waste of his time to calculate something so abstract, and that their ROI expert would do it better. Pinterest and HubSpot both described using analysts to calculate not only the opportunity but the effectiveness of different actions in global product localization, an arrangement which works for them.

One of the standout answers to any question was Tucker Johnson, the CEO of Nimdzi Insights’, answer to the question “I am concerned that my efforts in product localization is having a low return on investment. What should I do?” 

Tucker Johnson answered: “Build relationships with someone in finance or analytics. Seriously – you’re going to need that data. You have to have the cost information… make friends with someone in the analytics and data team. When you have the data, you can begin making assumptions around cost and begin to plan to improve.” 

Besides the difficulty associated with ROI, there is also the question of interest. As one localization professional said:

“Sometimes I'm joking that we need to do localization impact propaganda.”

In some cases, questions asked about what works to drive revenue sometimes got mistaken for a question about how to take an argument to a business. Both are obviously important, but the challenge of separating out the impact of localization alone can make it easier to think in terms of advocacy.


takeaway #4-3

Our most frequent insight was that you should talk like the people grading you

  • Insight from Ronald Cummings-John, Cofounder | Global App Testing | Oleksandyr Pysaryukm Current: Senior Manager, Globalization Technology | GitLab | | Katell Jentreau, Independent - former Globalization Manager | Netflix |  Julio Leal, Head of Localization | Spendesk | Giulia Tarditi, Head of Global Experience | Qualtrics | Adam Zabel, Senior Account Executive | Global App Testing

Lots of speakers gave the insight that you should talk in terms of what your managers, your stakeholders, and your local teams value. We’ve put down some of it here:

You should talk like your managers 

Ronald Cummings-John, CEO of Global App Testing, opened with it on the very first episode of the alignment. “People get relegated to the person they sound like,” he pointed out. “People who end up in senior positions talk like that… so you need to think through what you’re doing from the perspective of senior management and see it in those terms.”

You should talk like your business

Oleksandyr Pysaryuk, Head of Globalization Technology at GitLab, was the first to make this point in his interview in early 2023.

“Talk like your organizational language. If it’s product and technology obsessed, you should create a roadmap. You should never shut up about the roadmap.” 

“If the product priorities are around launching new features, make sure your conversations with them describe how you’ll help. If marketing is working hard to increase organic traffic on their websites, show them the value that your team can bring with a proper SEO localization strategy. Ultimately, all you wanna prove is full alignment with the metrics under KPIs.”

The reverse approach would be to make sure you join a business which thinks like you. This was the argument of Katell Jentreau, former Globalization Manager at Netflix.

Katell Jentreau said: “one of the main reasons why I joined Netflix, at the time, was that I knew that the company was almost hundred percent focused on international expansion… this is where the growth would have to come from because internally, it was not at saturation but it was close to it.If international expansion, international growth is not a priority for the business. It's going to be a lot more difficult to have this conversation with leadership.”

Julio Leal, Head of Localization at Spendesk, agreed: “If the product priorities are around launching new features, make sure your conversations with them describe how you’ll help. If marketing is working hard to increase organic traffic on their websites, show them the value that your team can bring with a proper SEO localization strategy. Ultimately, all you wanna prove is full alignment with the metrics under KPIs.”

You should talk like the teams you're trying to sell to

Giulia Tarditi, Head of Global Experience at Qualtrics, talked about “playing the why game” in our in-person  alignment even tin London 2023. The idea is that toddlers like to play the why game, where they continue to ask why – but that adults are more likely to come and lecture incumbent teams on what they should be doing. 

Adam Zabel, Senior Partnerships Manager at Global App Testing, infused talk of internal sales with advice from a sales manager. “If you're attempting to articulate the value of localization without prioritizing how your team directly aligns to what the business cares about the most, you're not going to succeed. That brings me to your value story… ask yourself what they care about, and how they’re measured.” 
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takeaway #5-3

Think "value" over "quality"

  • Insight from Miguel Sepulveda | Globalization Director | King | Tucker Johnson | Cofounder | Nimdzi Insights 

Two speakers made near-identical points about value vs quality. Miguel Sepulveda, the Globalization Director of King Games, said: “Localization teams tend to focus on quality while senior management prioritize value. So we need to move forward and move towards demonstrating growth, which is the key to effectively communicating our team value to senior management."

Tucker Johnson, Founder of Nimdzi Insights, said: “Not to say that those aren't related concepts. But they are different. So rather than focusing on quality, we're focusing on what is the value that our localized products are bringing to our end customer.”

Adam Stead, the host of all episodes, pointed out that this had changed the way businesses think about their QA, too:

“I particularly love the point about moving from quality to value. I think that as a QA organization… we think a lot about quality, but that mirrors the journey of lots of teh kinds of test our clients do with us. Many of them operate on a quality-first paradigm, but a value-first paradigm is equally valid as a way of identifying product areas to troubleshoot and improve.” 


takeaway #6-3

Slice and dice to find the right story to enable you to work

  • Insight from Horatiu Marc, Senior Project Manager | Global App Testing | Nataly Kelly, Chief Growth Officer | Rebrandly | Talia Baruch, Founder | GlobalSaké 

Earlier we heard from Nataly Kelly, who argued that “sometimes I found that an element of our corporate strategy would be something I could hitch my international wagon to – as a topic du jour. Say we were trying to grow a certain area of the business… I’d say “oh, well in this market we have fewer local competitors for that.”

Lots of the most impressive individuals we spoke to were highly data-oriented. Talia Baruch “spent a lot of time with Metabase” ; Francesca Di Marco “ensured an analyst was always focused on international”.

Understanding your performance everywhere unlocks real and measurable effectiveness. 

Talia Baruch explained how she took a company from a place of skepticism around international using data.

“In all international markets because they saw that more than seventy percent of their revenue was in the US/Canada and only thirty in international. But looking at that data and slicing it by country, I actually saw that the percentage of their paid pro paid professionals out of the total market is very different by countries. In Japan, Germany, and Spain, I think it was double the percentage of the US and Canada. It told a different story. It gives you a different metric, a different understanding of our gaps.” 

takeaway #7-3

Data needs a job; a job needs data

  • Insight from Horatiu Marc | Senior Project Manager | Global App Testing 

Horatiu Marc works on some of the world’s biggest product localization teams via Global App Testing. He described his past experiences gathering data for multiple teams to use and how he had improved effectiveness.

“One of the biggest challenges I’ve heard from clients is that they collect data but it doesn’t find a job. That means that nothing happens after collecting it – nobody cares about it. One of the things I’ve learned here at GAT that sometimes everything starts from the wrong place… instead of starting with that information, you should probably start with what can actually help internal teams.” 

“We’ve solved the issue at GAT with better and deeper listening. We target our UX researchers and testers based on the priority of issues for specific stakeholders amongst our clients, and deliver suggestions based on an impact framework informed by our client.” 

“If you involved in data collection never forget that client mindset – think about thee decision points your stakeholders will need the information at.” 

takeaway #8-3

How to assess your local product value and quality

  • Analysis from Global App Testing

Across every effort to drive local effectiveness and grow globally is data. And one thing which has become clear over as we ran more alignment episodes and several interviews that we ran is the centrality of data to any global product strategy. 

We’ve heard that businesses do all kinds of testing to enable global growth:

  • You’re forming a market theory and it would help to review your existing experience for local users. 
  • You want to compare your experiences in a market you’re winning vs one which you’re finding harder. 
  • You’re running A/B testing approaches but you want faster data and a thorough explanation of the result. 
  • You need to quality check a new feature like a local checkout or payment gateway or low data version of your app.
  • You’re experimenting with mass AI-translation rollout and you’re not sure what an appropriate quality strategy looks like. 
  • You’re trying to measure the effectiveness of your actions in a global product team.

All of these require a robust, scalable, practical approach to testing which is cost effective and can get your product to the correct users, in the correct places, using the correct devices, environments and hardware.


Global App Testing can help. Our 90,000 testers around the world can undertake a mixture of localization, strategic and functional testing to help you drive global growth. 
So if you’re curious about how we can help you achieve global growth. Fill out this form and chat to a member of our partnerships team.

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