When it comes to localization – and culturalization – successes, VSCO comes to mind immediately. As a photography app with an impressive existing following spanning the globe (with over 2 million members), they wanted to do more. They’d been pitching for the same target audience, with the same messaging, all over the world. But there was more to be done. It was time to focus in on each geo and give it the love and attention it deserved.
The one thing that becomes clearer the more global your audience is, is that different cultures behave differently, they like different things and they use certain features differently to others. What works for one audience will not necessarily work for another. Potential users in each country have distinct preferences and use cases. The app storefront for each country needs to be catered to them and their needs specifically. Each country is inherently different. VSCO had the goal of increasing their reach in specific geos and came to us at StoreMaven to help derive a testing strategy that could inform how best to understand and approach each market’s unique characteristics and the factors that drive their usage of the VSCO app in the first place.
VSCO’s philosophy is all about putting the creator on a pedestal and that bodes perfectly for building a unique vision and positioning for each country’s peculiarities and quirks.
And how do you begin to do that? Like this.
Conduct, Develop, Test, Analyze
With our guidance, VSCO’s marketing team started off with tailored research looking at the cultural uniqueness of each market, of the various competitors, identifying key feature usage, and which behavioral patterns should be targeted in their messaging. This feeds the next phase of developing hypotheses. The better the research, the more valuable the insights you can glean will be.
At this point, together we built a specific plan for each market (Sweden, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and more), based on insights from the research, previous observations, and in-app metrics. We then went on to the creative and audience planning stages, constantly pushing to stay true to the VSCO brand. Designing creative assets for a brand like VSCO takes a trained eye to enhance functionality and social messaging. Each set of assets need to be culturally relevant and in accordance with the country’s aesthetic trends whilst staying true to the distinct VSCO brand identity.
So what does one of these well-researched hypotheses look like? Let’s look at an example.
VSCO noticed that Sweden has a very sophisticated and professional approach to photography but Russia was more interested in the social media aspect of the app. This was supported by in-app metrics showing a high use of the ‘Share to’ feature.
The specific hypothesis expanded the general message using portrait photographs (which are highly popular on social media sites) combined with messaging that focused on the UI for social sharing.
But good research doesn’t eliminate the need for testing
We’d done the research but we needed to check our assumptions and trust the users themselves. After putting this hypothesis and others to the test, we saw some great results in different markets, including:
* 30.8% uplift in conversion rates in Japan
* 23.2% uplift in conversion rates in Sweden
* 16.1% uplift in conversion rates in South Korea
More importantly, even in countries where the results weren’t as conclusive, they led to additional hypotheses for future tests to drive further improvements to conversion rates. Testing is an iterative cycle that rests on research. The more you learn about your users (especially from inconclusive tests), the better refined your hypotheses become and the greater learnings you’ll uncover in the long run.
The only thing you need to make sure you have in place for an iterative testing strategy is a sturdy testing mechanism. VSCO’s marketing team now has just that and is able to constantly solidify their market understanding, optimize their strategy, and enjoy future success in more markets across the world.
To read the full case study, see the beautiful creative asset design process, and learn more about VSCO’s testing strategy, click here.
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Contributor: Matan Naim