The Beginner’s Guide To Email Localization

Email localization is all about making your email content more relevant for your target audience… but it goes much further than just translating the content.

While the mere idea of running email marketing campaigns in international countries may seem like a scary prospect, especially when you are not even conversational in the native languages of your subscribers, the truth is that it doesn’t need to be as complicated as you might think.

This is why the process of email localization exists.

Many people maintain the idea that email localization is all about translation. While it’s true that consumers are far more likely to buy products being offered to them in their native language, email localization — as we’ll soon explore in greater detail — goes beyond that and aims to create email content that caters specifically to your reader or customer’s needs.

Overview of the State of Email Marketing For 2018

Despite the fact that we are inarguably living in the age of social media, email marketing remains a far more effective strategy for businesses to reach out to customers and build a relationship. So it should come as no surprise that three-quarters of all businesses invest money in email marketing.

In fact, many businesses send marketing emails on a weekly or even daily basis. Roughly 40% of businesses send out at least one email to customers every week, and around 30% do so daily, with larger companies being far more likely to fall into the latter group.

One of the main reasons why emailing remains a core tenant of many small and large businesses’ marketing campaigns is because it can allow you to reach a lot of people without spending very much money, if any. If you get thousands of people subscribed to your mailing lists for free, that’s massive.

But once you have that customer base, the last thing you want to do is just let them sit idly and forget about the fact that they ever signed up. You want to focus on keeping them engaged, and this is where email localization comes directly into play.

Why Localize Email?

So you might be wondering why you should take the time to actually localize your emails…

There’s a very short and simple answer to this: not everyone speaks English. In fact, over 70% of the world’s internet users do not.

And as we mentioned above, people are far more likely to buy products offered to them in their native language. This means that they’ll be far more likely to engage with your emails if they’re presented in their native language as well.

A recent study conducted by the LISA (Localization Industry Standards Association) showed that for every one dollar invested in localization, an average of twenty-five dollars was returned. That’s pretty huge! It’s also an effective demonstration of the financial benefits that come with localizing your emails.

Another reason to localize your emails is to get a higher ROI.  When Neil Patel used plugins in his website to translate them to several different languages, he saw a nearly 50% increase in total web traffic.

Now granted, email localization is about far more than just translating your emails into your customers’ native language, and we’re going to get to how and why in a second. But for now, you just need to know that localizing your emails is almost guaranteed to win you higher customer engagement and earn you a higher return on your email marketing investment.

Where Most Email Marketers Get It Wrong

Where do most email marketers get it wrong when it comes to localization?

Perhaps the most common pitfall they make is is they rely on the original version of the email in English as the starting point. In other words, they’ll simply directly translate the English version of the email and then send that.

This is a perfect time to illustrate how localization and translation are two completely different things entirely.

When you translate an email message, all that you’re doing is translating the literal version of the email and sending it.

Localization, however, is about getting your message across to your target audience in a manner that is not only properly translated but also culturally relevant. That means taking into consideration all of the nuances and particularities of the culture and language of the email recipient.

It’s about considering the way your target customers are thinking, acting, and talking, and it means you need to conform to their beliefs and customs as well.

And this is exactly where most email marketers get it wrong when it comes to localization: they don’t bother even consider the cultural norms of their customers. For example, if you’re going to be marketing to customers in India, you might get higher engagement if you use a greeting like “Namaste” versus “hello” or “hi there.”

The Right Marketing Triggers To Use and Why

Triggered emails (also known as email automation) are automated emails that are sent using marketing automation after specified actions are taken by website users. The reason why triggered emails are so effective is that they are a direct response to an action the user took, so the content will be very relevant to the recipient at that point in time.

There are several examples of times when using email automation is a good idea, including but not limited to:

  • When a visitor subscribes to your email; you can consider sending them a welcome email that includes a free gift such as an ebook for signing up
  • After the customer has purchased a product, you can send them exclusive coupons
  • Sending coupons, promotional offers, and discount codes that are relevant to the location and needs of your customers at regular intervals

When setting up your email automation triggers, you should take into account the differences in the markets though. This is another step in the localization process.

For example, visitors to your site from the US might want to receive a retargeting email after they visit your pricing page with a special offer, whereas a visitor living in Germany might find this invasive and off-putting.

How To Get Cadence/Tone Right

How can you get cadence and tone right in your localized emails?

Since your customers are exposed to dozens if not more generic emails each and every day, this will be a very essential part of your localized marketing campaign.

The last thing you want to do is create messages in your email marketing campaign that sound like advertisements. Instead, try to sound more authentic and personal in your emails, as if there is an actual person behind the email talking to them.

One way to do this will be to act as if you are a resident in the same country or city that your customer is living in. Doing this is also simpler than you may realize. If it’s currently summer in the country the email recipient is in, you can make a reference to the warm weather and specific summer activities, or perhaps an upcoming holiday that is popular in this part of the world.

One more tip to follow here will be to localize your subject line to help get them opened to begin with. Again, you can accomplish this with references to specific people, businesses, or locations in the region. You can take this to the next level by testing 2 different subject lines for the same campaign and send the best performing option to the bulk of your target contacts.

How To Properly Test and Segment Customers Based On Geotargeting

The more available accurate location data becomes, the easier and more effective geotargeting is going to get as well.

Geotargeting simply means that you deliver content to an audience using their geographic location information. It allows you to predict information concerning your customers in a certain area so you can better tailor your marketing campaign, and you can then better segment your email list as well.

Already, over the last few years, people have become much more likely to engage with advertisements, search results, and email messages that are very specific to their location.

According to a study conducted by the Local Search Association, seven out of every ten customers are willing to share their location information so long as they believe that they will be receiving value in return.

How can you properly test and segment your customers based on geotargeting? There are a handful of measures you can use.

The first is you can analyze your consumer behavior from their past locations that they’ve visited. This tells you where they like to shop (and how often), the items they like to buy, and so on. This information alone should make it incredibly easy to segment your email list appropriately.

The next thing you can do with geotargeting is you can use landing pages that are location specific to provide content that should be relevant. In other words, you can create different customized landing pages for different geographical locations.

Last but not least, take advantage of events that are specific to certain areas, such as local celebrations or holidays. You could even consider the weather as a factor as well. If a snowstorm is about to hit, for example, stores would be smart to target customers with warm clothing and snow shovels.

Closing Thoughts

To conclude, email localization is all about the process of creating emails that are RELEVANT to customers based on their geographical locations. Translation is a step of that process, but it is hardly the only step.

Since many online business owners are not aware of this fact, applying email localization strategies and not just translation strategies can help give you a critical advantage over your competitors.

About the author:
Sam Bocetta is a freelance journalist specializing in U.S. diplomacy and national security, with emphases on technology trends in cyberwarfare, cybersecurity, and cryptography.

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