Nuts & Bolts: Global Update
E-mail marketing allows U.S.-based direct marketers to reach their target audience in virtually any country and get almost an immediate response. But, sending a global campaign involves a bit more planning than simply translating your U.S. campaign. U.S. firms using e-mail marketing to reach global consumers will have the best chance of success “if they follow the rigorous regulations and best practices of U.S. e-mail, but give equal thought and equal weight to local considerations like content, cultural needs and design,” offers Michael Koziol, executive vice president of the North American division of Nurun, a global company that creates interactive programs for an international client base. Here, Koziol and Sheila Mooney, Nurun’s director of content development, lay out the key ingredients of a successful international e-mail campaign.
• Think like a local. This involves much more than translating your U.S. copy. “It’s all about the cultural context and speaking to the targets in their own language,” points out Mooney. For example, she recalls an e-mail campaign for a high-end cosmetic brand that was marketed to women in Italy, Spain, Japan and France. Not only was the e-mail creative written in the local language of each country targeted, but “we would use different subject lines—and we would push different products to different audiences because each market is different, so the needs are different.”
A good place to start is to create a style guide that sets the tone for copy and design standards for each country to which you market. Then, “stick to those standards so you don’t look like an outsider,” advises Koziol, who says that U.S. companies make some of the biggest mistakes when marketing to our northern neighbor. Because Canada is geographically close to the United States, Koziol says many companies think they can use their U.S. message to communicate with Canadian customers. In doing so, “they miss out greatly and lose an opportunity to really endear themselves with Canada.” For example, in the United States the last weekend in May is Memorial Day. In English Canada, it’s Victoria Day, and in French Canada, it’s Dollard Day. For all of these people, the last weekend of May marks the beginning of summer. But to have resonance, you have to reference the different things they are celebrating, points out Mooney.
• Be consistent. Make sure the vocabulary, tone and style of subsequent customer care communications—whether they are order confirmations, new registration acknowledgments or messages related to out-of-stock items—match the original message.
• Implement U.S.-based e-mail best practices. Koziol recommends marketers stick to U.S. standards for privacy and permission when deploying international e-mail campaigns. “We follow Can Spam with any program we do around the world,” he explains, adding that “if you follow the most rigid rules and procedures, you can’t misstep from a legal or procedural point of view.”
• Deploy campaigns through a credible tool or service. Koziol advises marketers to seek out the support of companies that have the right research and development to stay abreast of changes in the marketplace, and have staff devoted to whitelisting. “You can’t run a good campaign if you can’t get your message to consumers,” he reasons.
—Lisa Yorgey Lester