Launching SaaS across Different Region of the World Can Be Tricky
There is a lot of really innovative software right now on the market when it comes to SaaS; products often fueled by startups full of new ideas in a time when concepts like artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, social media integration with marketing and more are being experimented with.
If you have an innovative product that is doing well, you may be tempted to expand onto new markets and geolocations. However, just because a product is successful in one region of the world or where it was launched from doesn’t mean this success will translate worldwide.
Users or potential customers have different habits worldwide. In some places of the world, there is more or less capital for investment. Thus, companies – whether enterprises, SMBs or startups – may be more or less inclined to invest in new product ideas for their workflows depending on their capital and revenue they generate. Some regions of the world may also be more tied to the traditional client-server model of computing rather than the cloud, due to slower high-speed Internet adoption or simply the fact that corporate habits die hard.
It seems more places and cities in even countries we would never consider tech-friendly are becoming hot tickets for startup growth and innovation in product ideas. However, many countries are still stuck in the corporate culture and rely on Microsoft Office for almost all their workflow needs. Innovation in software and adoption of SaaS offerings is also not going to be easy in such places.
However, the big hurdle I’ve noticed from personal experience working with a recent Polish-based startup trying to move strongly west – into English-speaking territories of U.S. And the U.K – is impatience and not studying the market ahead of time. A market like the U.S., for instance, has a lot of competitive offerings in the SaaS space in all sorts of apps and financial software offerings. A country like Poland may not.
Thus, a widely adopted SaaS in Poland or a smaller country may face less competition and be highly successful. It can also be marketed on a wide scale even using Google for everyone searching for its term before competition established a foothold. Thirdly, if the company is home-based or based out of a country like Poland, it can implement things that will focus on the country’s financial systems very effectively that may not apply when expanding to other places.
This is why it really paves to research before moving onto another market, even if all you are doing is targeting it with ads and not physically moving your business there or opening up a branch. A good place to start is looking at geolocation hotspots, known as heatmaps. A SaaS company called Mouseflow actually offers a solution in the form of its diagnostic tool.
Mouseflow also highlighted the advantages of using heatmaps for data analysis and diagnostics in a blog article titled The 7 advantages of website heat mapping as a diagnostic tool. The heatmaps are based on data from users’ patterns interacting with the SaaS Web app. There are various metrics that can be considered as well.
Click heatmaps reveal the clicking patterns of your users. Scroll heatmaps expose the average visibility of your pages. Attention heatmaps show which parts of your site are most engaging to users. Movement heatmaps track mouse movements. Finally, geo heatmaps reveal user locations in an anonymized fashion.
The software will allow users to look at a map and see different colored hot spots or cold spots based on geography of users visiting the site or trying SaaS software. They provide a visual method of understanding numbers.
Taken together, web diagnostic heatmaps add significant speed to the problem-solver’s journey. For example, cold spots (areas that don’t get much attention) and folds in the scroll heatmaps quickly identify problem areas. Geo heatmaps instantly reveal the territories or countries where conversions are good and where they are not. In short, heatmaps tell you at a glance what’s working and what needs to be addressed.
One can think of these heatmaps in a similar way to graphs, or visual depictions of hard data. They can make a company see its holes or weaknesses in certain parts of the world with its software offerings before doing a strong launch there. It can be a good idea to do a test launch or a small Google Ads campaign, analyze the heatmaps, than find out where to put the resources into before a stronger launch is attempted.
Many companies rely on beta testers and have users sign up worldwide to test the product for free before launch. Gaming companies do this routinely for their work-in-progress games being developed on Steam in an alpha or beta state that users have Early Access to. This is another great method to see weaknesses or problem areas in one region of the world vs another where the product was successful.
A problem I have seen with a company I worked with here in Poland was that the company did not bother to fully implement a different tax code before starting its Google Ads campaign: sales tax in the U.S. vs VAT in EU. Thus, many users may have been turned off from the software and it will be hard to get them back if they did not even see a sales tax system implemented from the get go.
However, one of the key things I found influencing successful vs slow product launch in a different part of the world was how strong the competition there was. It will be harder to break into a market in a place with lots of competition and lots of free options with already-established product offerings. Also, companies should be aware that advertising may be much more costly in different regions of the world. If there is more competition and the currency is strong in that country with lots of capital for companies to invest into ads, it will be harder to compete in things like Google Adwords (you can read more about Google’s location targeting here.
Sometimes, all it takes is a small mistake or a wrong translation and the system does not make sense in a different region of the world than where it was launched from. Product launches are usually difficult and time consuming affairs, and moving onto new regions is not without its hurdles either. Before running huge and costly Google Ads or other advertising campaigns, it is worth ironing out the kinks and making sure the software has all the ingredients to click in the region it is being launched at. Patience is a virtue in this regard and one some companies or company execs just lack.