How to approach a localized international email marketing campaigns?

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Expanding your business into international markets can provide lucrative opportunities. The US may have a huge share of the global market, but there’s still 75% of the world economy available for business transactions, goods, and services in other countries. China already outpaces the US in terms of the purchasing power of its residents. How do you tap into these markets?

Well, the first step in any good email marketing campaign is ensuring your message gets delivered. Use a tool to verify email addresses to make sure the localized content you’ve worked so hard to create actually reaches its intended recipients. By being strategic, understanding the local culture, and speaking to people on their own terms through your email content.


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Take a language-first approach

English may be widely spoken throughout the business world, but as a percentage of first language speakers worldwide, it falls to fourth after Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish. The first step in any global email marketing strategy should be securing content translation services.

Taking away the language barrier immediately removes a communication hurdle. You want your potential customers to focus on the products and services that are highlighted in your emails – not slowly parse through English because it’s their second language.

Language service providers offer translation services that can make your marketing strategy reach your intended audience. They offer advice on cultural differences and understand the nuances of visual imagery so as to direct you appropriately for crafting your emails.

As an easy-to-understand example, US English and UK English have variations in vocabulary that instantly tell a reader who the intended audience is. If you’re in the UK reading an email with the word “truck” instead of “lorry,” you know immediately the true target of the message is a US reader.

When you move into other countries, the local dialects expand dramatically. German, for example, is spoken across Germany, Austria, and Belgium. However, local cultural differences inform idioms and vocabulary significantly.

Even within Germany, dialects shifts occur in Standard German across the country. A language service provider can provide advice on the demographics of the people who speak these multiple dialects to inform your email marketing strategy based on your target audience. For example, they’ll help you determine whether your content should be solely in the standard, “official” language of a country or differentiated by region.

Consider cultural differences

With the widespread reach of Western advertising and entertainment throughout the world, it’s difficult to remember that the tone of this content can be off-putting in other cultures. Nike, for example, proves how to adapt to these differences by altering their ads depending on the culture.

DivanteNike campaign adapted to youth culture in London. (source)

In London, they ran a campaign that resonated with youth in the city because of the people they depicted and the style in which it was filmed. You should do the same for your email content and adapt it depending on the target audience and where in the world they’re located.

When Connox ran a localization campaign and translated their site’s German content into English, French and Danish, they also experienced immense success. Beyond simple language translation, they updated payment methods, privacy and security language, delivery times, and more to make them familiar to the local audience. As a result, Connox has enjoyed an average increase of 20% monthly ROI.


Cannon online store available for french customers (source)

Eastern Europe is more conservative than Western, and the Middle East can be more conservative still. As a business that wants to appeal to new customers, the last thing you want to do is inadvertently offend them.

A similar issue arises in visual imagery as well. Whether you are sending emails to audiences in Europe, the US, or Asia, you want imagery that reflects the local population in order to achieve the marketing hook of relatability. When consumers feel they can identify with or recognize the images used, they feel more loyal and connected to your brand

Use help of language service provider

Language service providers are businesses that provide a service. Your best approach to hiring one for your email strategy is similar to how you would hire any other outsourced staff. Things to consider are the language markets you are interested in, and the language service provider’s success and experience in acquiring clients for these target audiences.

Feel comfortable asking a localization service for a “test-drive” with sample email content for translation. Pass the sample on to an objective third-party who knows the local language and culture to gauge accuracy and success. Paying for a small sample first can save you money later if you discover the language service provider is not a good fit for your email marketing strategy.

Also consider regularly incorporating your translation service provider into your marketing strategy meetings. Including them in meetings a few hours a week or month can integrate them as a part of your team and make it easier to work on the same email messages you want to send across all your markets.


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Published August 14, 2018