Evernote is a productivity app that delivers on its motto to help users “Remember Everything.” Evernote users can capture notes, files, and photos in one place, and sync content between iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch for convenient access.
With an approach attuned to the needs of users across markets, Evernote has grown into one of the most recognizable productivity apps in the world.
Localizing Evernote for Japan
From its earliest days, Evernote was built to be a global product that could support localized content. As a result, users outside of the U.S. now account for approximately 75% of Evernote’s user base, and global expansion has become one of the company’s most important growth channels.
Very early on, Evernote noticed a spike in its user base in Japan. "In the beginning, when we didn’t have a lot of resources for market research, we just listened to people. We found out that in Japan, people were using Evernote without us actually doing any marketing towards them. And we found that they were using it in interesting ways," says Joshua Zerkel, Director of Community and Training at Evernote.
The company quickly sent a team to Tokyo to interview Japanese users. The team gained a better understanding of Japan’s unique culture, its users’ needs, and local usage behaviors, and then used those insights to create a fully localized version of the app. Even the small change of adjusting currency within the app from U.S. dollars to yen resulted in a significant increase its subscription conversion rate.
Realizing Japanese users valued different features from U.S. users, Evernote completely rewrote its Japanese app description to reflect local priorities. "In Japan, we know that organization is a big value that people hold, and so on the App Store, one of the things that we did was rewrite the actual description of the app to focus more on things that resonate in Japan," says Zerkel.
“Whether it’s screenshots or even things like metadata, making sure that those make sense in the local language will be critical to the success of finding your app,” says Zerkel. “So spending some time on those simple things can make a big difference down the road.”
The company embraced Japan’s culture of face-to-face communication, and would meet with influencers and active users every three to six months. “What is most important is your attitude — to learn from the users, learn from the culture, learn from the market," says Hitoshi Hokamura, Special Advisor to the CEO at Evernote. "That will be the source of love for your product."
Says Zerkel, “Evernote has become the go-to app for personal organization in Japan, and that is all a result of us really listening to the needs of the market and localizing for them.”