Best Practices for International Email Campaigns
Millions of marketers across the globe today are competing for clicks in the inbox, yet a growing number of them have yet to adapt strategies built on best practices.
International email marketing is more than importing a list of email addresses from your database and sending a message to customers and prospects on another continent. International email marketing requires taking the time to understand the unique requirements of your subscribers in every country and building campaigns that serve their needs as well as comply with local laws and regulations.
While I'm not a legal scholar, let me share some quick insight on the legal landscape in terms of international email. It’s pretty simple and can be summed up in one word — permission. Effective and legally compliant email campaigns are founded upon customers or prospects giving you permission to send them email. While it’s a simple concept, many marketers are so eager to build their email lists that they often don't get permission. This doesn’t work in the U.S., and it certainly doesn’t work on the international front.
3 best practices
Here are three additional elements marketers should incorporate for effective international email marketing campaigns:
1. Get informed. In addition to learning about the unique legal requirements in each country, get familiar with the language and people of each country. Understanding nuances will help you avoid the pitfalls of mistranslated words or phrases that can cause embarrassment and damage a brand’s reputation. The classic example here is Chevrolet, which was marketing its new Nova in Mexico. Great idea, but Nova translates into “won’t go” in Spanish. Take the time to engage experts in each country you're marketing in to help you avoid similar mistakes.
2. Get personal. Honoring personal preferences in email is essential, but with international email marketing it takes on an even higher degree of importance. Beyond powering messages that feature relevant content for each subscriber, make sure the message you send reflects the realities of that subscriber’s location. A “winter sale” campaign developed in Europe and sent to subscribers around the world doesn’t work too well for subscribers in Australia, because it's summer in Sydney when it's snowing in London. Also, be careful when using broad references to seasons or holidays in international email campaigns.
3. Get through. Email campaigns are only effective if they reach subscribers’ inboxes. While there are a host of tips, techniques and tools available to boost deliverability internationally, the fundamental component of getting your message delivered is permission. Give your subscribers a reason to look for your messages and add you to their address books or safe sender lists. Relevant, personalized and compelling emails get opened and drive maximum return on investment.
Peter McCormick is co-founder of ExactTarget, an on-demand email and one-to-one marketing solutions firm. He also serves as the general manager of ExactTarget Global in London, leading the firm’s international operations. Reach Peter at email@example.com.