Contrary to popular belief, not all people in the world, or at least not all internet users, speak English. In fact, the majority of them communicate in languages other than English.
A study by CSA Research shows that 55% of consumers are more inclined towards making a buying decision if the product description on the website is in their native language. If you want to improve sales, translating content in other languages would be a great start. Because the same study found 90% of shoppers choose their native tongue whenever the option is provided.
Going by the books – it is pretty evident that you must speak the same language as your customers for your business to be successful.
Make way for email localization in 2021
The fastest and the most efficient way to communicate with consumers is email. With roughly 306.4 billion emails sent and received each day in 2020, the platform is undoubtedly an international phenomenon. Plus, every $1 invested in sending emails results in an ROI of $42.
Today, most companies have a global recipients database, enabling them to promote their products or services on a larger scale and boost sales. CampaignMonitor’s Covid-19 email marketing benchmark report found that more people have started opening their emails during the pandemic than ever before.
As email proves to be more critical to the success of a business, your business can leverage this user behavior to increase its brand awareness faster than ever. Localized digital marketing in 2021 will boost your sales, and email localization is an integral part of it.
Where marketers and businesses go wrong: Email localization mistakes
Before we enter the nitty-gritty of email, here is one thing to note: email localization goes beyond simple translation. It pertains to specifically adapting your company offerings to cultural, linguistics, technical, and other locale-specific customer expectations and preferences.
Translating an email copy written in American English into Mandarin will not cut it—if the context still reflects American sensibilities. That means you must consider all the nuances and particularities of the culture apart from the email recipients’ language.
Unfortunately, only 25% of companies keep in mind such regional differences while creating content and drafting emails. There is a need to spread awareness about localization and implement it in the right way.
This guide predominantly shares insights into how you can excel in email localization. Your journey begins with focusing on these five elements:
1. Copy considerations
There is no surprise the first step towards engaging your global customers is to overcome the language barrier. As explained earlier, Google Translate is not the solution to this problem.
Make writing multilingual email copies mandatory for your campaigns. Build a team of native writers based on the geographies you serve to get your emails’ tone and context accurately. Your email content must emphasize on:
a. Correct messaging
Popular business communication platform Slack is winning the email localization game. The messaging is courteous and empathetic. That means, it respects the cultural expectations and preferences of its users. In Japan, for instance, it is essential to be generous but not necessarily polite.
Slack’s messaging, which translates into “Good job! Looking at the scenery is good for your fatigued eyes,” is respectful but not necessarily polite. Users in the UK may feel offended by this messaging.
Similarly, whenever Slack loads, it shows a message: “You look nice today.” This, when translated in French or German, may lose its playfulness and positive sentiment. Therefore, in French, it becomes “We are here to help.”
Understanding how people from different countries communicate is essential if you want to make your email localization work for your brand. Slack does it well, and serves as an inspiration for email marketing ideas.
b. Video localization terminology
In continuation to the above point, if you are sending marketing videos (product demo videos) via email, you must become familiar with the vocabulary and the speaking nuances of that region.
Instead of being a word-to-word translation, you could use InVideo, as the online video editing tool to create engaging stories .
c. Subject line
The worst email localization mistake you could make is translating the subject line. Once translated, it could lose the meaning and in the worst case, may not even fit the 50-character limit imposed in email inboxes.
For example, “Try our new product” in English is only four words.
However, in Vietnamese, it means “Hãy thử sản phẩm mới của chúng tôi.”
In Russian, it is “Попробуйте наш новый продукт.”
None of these subject lines would fully fit when viewed from a mobile device. Therefore, create different subject lines in other languages. Keep them short.
d. Call-To-Action [CTA]
Just like subject lines, CTAs can also pose a problem from a design perspective. It is best to use words that are widely spoken in the target country or region and which also fit aesthetically in the email. Facebook does it brilliantly for its sign-up process.
Though the translated words are different, they mean the same and thus help the user finish the platform’s sign-up process.
2. Email aesthetics
Think about all the elements that go inside an email – photos, color preferences, social media links, and of course, text. Once the latter is sorted, the next step is to design the email and nail the visual marketing strategies because that is the first thing your recipients would see on opening the email.
An average American consumer is okay looking at swimsuit pictures in a newsletter, but the same would be considered offensive in Middle Eastern countries.
Similarly, if your email contains images of the beach but targets a landlocked nation, your email would not do justice to the recipients.
Or, if your email includes a photo with ethnicities underrepresented in the target region, it may look irrelevant.
Being culturally sensitive and conscious about who you are emailing is of vital importance in an email marketing strategy.
b. Color palette
It is no secret that color is perceived differently worldwide. While red is associated with purity and matrimony in India, it represents danger and caution in the Middle East. In the West, green is synonymous with progress, luck, and the environment. However, in China, it is a sign of infidelity.
McDonald’s is known for its culturally sensitive branding. So, when it replaced its red logo with a green one to promote a more eco-friendly image in Europe, it was not surprising. The food chain also swapped its traditional red backdrop for a deep green. Some franchises in France and the UK already use the same color scheme.
McDonald’s also rolled out a few advertisements designed in green color, with no logo or name of the brand, to appeal to the environmentally-friendly European customer base.
It would take some research, but it is necessary to use different colors and imagery in your email relevant to the target location.
3. Legal implications
Every business wants to avoid being penalized or blacklisted. That is why you need to abide by your email service provider’s anti-spam policy. However, you must also pay attention to the electronic messaging and marketing laws applicable in various regions.
Here are some famous email laws that have created a buzz in the market previously:
The GDPR was rolled out in 2018 to give more control to their citizens over how their private information is collected and used by businesses. Meaning, you cannot randomly email EU residents without their permission. Proper opt-in/opt-out consents have to be taken.
Similar to GDPR, CASL provides strict instructions on gaining opt-in consent to email subscribers. You also have to provide a simple opt-out option to revoke the recipients’ authorization to use their personal information.
The Spam Act clearly describes what constitutes “commercial email,” prohibiting sending unsolicited emails with an Australian link.
Therefore, depending on the country you target, consult your email service provider about the rules and regulations prevalent in that region to avoid landing in a soup. Penalties are huge, so ensure to avoid the email marketing mistakes.
4. Prioritize the time zones using a CRM
Imagine you live in Sydney, and you receive an email on Thanksgiving from an American company you have subscribed to at 5:30 am a day after Thanksgiving. Is it not a marketing fail? It is.
Apart from thinking about how you want to communicate, court, and nurture your target audience, you also have to think about “when” you do.
All your customers, irrespective of where they are based, have the right to receive the same emails, adequately translated and designed, at a time most relevant to them. That is where EngageBay CRM can help in scheduling emails beforehand to send them at an appropriate time.
Research shows that Tuesday, Thursday, and Wednesday are the best days to send the email. It is not surprising that people hardly open their emails over the weekend.
However, instead of assuming that culturally-different regions will respond to your emails in the same way, A/B-test your emails—send them at different times on other days to see when it fetches you the most optimal results. Track your open and click-through rates and then optimize your send time.
5. Email signature
The words you use to sign off your emails are just as important as the primary email text, imagery used, and the subject line. For example, an email signature with “Regards” or “Best” is pretty common in the USA, while the British may prefer “Warm regards” or “Kind regards.”
Brazilians, on the other hand, prefer ending an email with a verbal equivalent of a hug. But that would seem awkward if used for the audience in the Middle Eastern or even China and India. In Nigeria, the email sign-offs include prayer verses.
You must make sure that your choice of words does not leave your email recipients baffled, offended, or unimpressed. Even the littlest of gestures matter in building a loyal and ever-lasting relationship with your customers.
Four quick tips for localizing emails
1. Define and segment your target customers based on the countries they belong to or the languages they speak. For instance, you might have to localize email content for the Spanish-speaking population in the US to expand your customer base.
2. Once your target regions are decided, hire a translator or a localization company to help you correctly translate the email content. You must make sure you get someone on board who has real and extensive translation experience and is not just a simple native speaker. The person should get the message across while keeping the branding and tonality neutral.
3. Give your email translators as much context as possible. The content translation would only be effective if the translator understands why the email is being sent, what purpose it is serving, and who will read it.
Whether you have in-house support, or you outsource, before they start translating, send them the original email design and copy to know how much space they have for each element and thus adjust it accordingly.
4. Don’t miss out on video email marketing to boost your engagement, click-through and open rates. You could localize video content including e-learning and explainer videos, advertising and promotional videos and brand, product and service videos.
5. Going a step ahead, you could offer a loyalty/rewards program to boost the enrollment for localized emails. Xoxoday Plum helps you localize rewards based on a global catalog that spans thousands of products, vouchers, gift cards, reward points and experiences.
Summing it up
Your business offering’s overall value can be negatively hampered if the messaging does not appeal to the target customers. By sending localized emails, you open doors to communicating with people in their language—something that they will appreciate.
Plus, this type of diversification in your marketing efforts sends a positive message to your customers and shows that you care about them and you as a company are approachable. This favorable brand shakedown will boost sales and customer loyalty and help you improve your bottom line.
Sure, email localization may seem like a complicated process. However, as an integral part of your email marketing and digital marketing strategy, it gives you a competitive edge over other brands in the market.
For best results, analyze your regional email campaigns separately and then segregate data to see which emails perform better in which regions. You will not get email localization right the first time. That is why it is necessary to test the ground and see what works for you.
About the author – Priyanka Desai is the founder of iScribblers, a content marketing and link building agency helping SaaS, technology and B2B companies.
You can reach out to her on LinkedIn.