On a typical day I can receive anywhere between 100 and 300 business related emails. Throughout the world on average over 100 billion business emails get sent every day to over 900 million different email accounts. That’s a lot of email content!
Although slightly tarnished by spam, email still remains part of most digital marketing strategies for many businesses. Over the years, we’ve worked with a number of digital marketing agencies, helping them with the supply of translated versions of their email campaign material. Gathered from this then, here then are my top 5 tips for successfully localising your email marketing campaign.
1. Ensure you are not breaking the law. Because email marketing relies heavily on data for its transmission (i.e the email addresses of recipients) email marketers need to ensure they do not in any way flout any data protection or privacy laws in the various markets where they are running campaigns. Unfortunately there are no universals when it comes to global data protection laws and what might be permissible in one country might be totally unacceptable in another. Draw up a list of the countries where you will be running your campaign and check regional/local laws relating to data protection and email marketing.
2. Form and function. Unless you are planning to send out individual prospecting emails using an email client such as outlook, the chances are you’ll be designing and building the emails in HTML and then distributing them using a distribution service like mailchimp. Many of these such services provide templated emails, but in my experience, for brand consistency etc, email marketers will want to design and build their own bespoke HTML emails. Typically HTML emails are built using tables (rather than cascading style sheets), so its important to consider any language specific requirements when you’re designing bespoke layouts. Obvious things like text direction needs to be considered but also word growth and whitespace which will vary depending on which locales you’re targeting and which languages are spoken there. If you’re using a distribution method like mailchimp ensure you check the language will be supported – mailchimp supports over 25 languages.
3. Content and text quality. Its surprising how often we receive (unsolicited) prospecting emails from language service providers and freelance translators purporting to be experts in language who are looking for work, whose emails are appallingly written. Writing compelling email content that encourages the reader to not only open the email but also follow up is an art and a science that all email marketers should aspire to. If there is one thing that puts potential customers off doing anything with an email (except pressing delete or moving it to junk) it is poorly written content. Ensure all of your content is fully and professionally translated (including any links in the body of the email, subject line, forwarding options, auto responses etc) and then get that text checked and tested. Unchecked, sloppy text that is written badly will only lead to poor response rates and zero click throughs.
4. Think how your localised email will look when it is being read. Many of the best practises that apply to email marketing in general can also be applied when localising your email campaign. All new campaigns should be thoroughly tested prior to being sent out. Emails should be read on a range of different email clients to see how well they work in different situations. Email marketers who are looking to localise their campaign should test their email on any regionalised version of email clients in use (i.e. a French version of Outlook etc) and on email platforms that are widely used in the locations they are targeting (such as mail.ru in Russia). Investigating platform (screen, mobile, tablet etc) usage in the regions being targeted and then testing for this. An HTML Arabic email may look excellent on screen but might not look so hot on mobile and tablet.
5. Be prepared for follow up. Sometimes when I receive marketing via email, it seems to me as if the sender did not intend for me to do anything other than read and delete their message. This is wrong and email marketing should be seen as part of the ongoing communication with prospective/current clients and customers. If you send out communication via email expect it to be responded to. Email marketers who are localising their offer should be prepared to receive follow up requests and queries from their efforts and should be able to respond to them in the most appropriate way (i.e. in the source language of the response). Having a system in place that allows for this might be part of a globalisation initiative where you have staff who speak specific languages ready to respond to queries that arise from email marketing. If you don’t have such a system in place make sure you have potential partners lined up who can help with translating and understanding the nature of the requests and then follow up as needed.