One key aspect of successful marketing is understanding who the customer is and what they want from you and what kind of role your product or services will play in their lifestyle or goals.

Fully understanding this requires a combination of empathy and thorough research. And when there’s a language barrier between the customer and the business, things can get quite complicated.

Web 3.0 has given us a whole new range of tools and methods to grow our business at a local and at international scale. For those who are working to expand to reach a new demographic in a new region, marketing to them is the most affordable and easiest it has ever been.

But the fact that costs have gotten comparatively low doesn’t mean that cross-cultural marketing is a simple, one-off task, that requires no resources.

For instance, the reason why we consider international marketing closely tied to multilingual marketing is the fact that, depending on the country, 50%- 85% of consumers won’t give the time of day to a product that is not advertised in their native language. This already makes it clear to us that linguistic assistance will be vital for our international marketing efforts.

In this post, we’ll focus our attention on one of the most powerful methods around, email marketing and what one should have in mind when using it to reach foreign audiences.

For a few years, email marketing has had the highest ROI among marketing methods, and it’s expected to increase its efficiency in the next few years. This can be attributed to several factors, two of them being:

The ubiquity of email

Social media marketing naturally divides our audience by platforms. For you to reach potential customers, they must have decided to be on that platform, to begin with.

This preference for certain platforms is especially relevant when dealing with international audiences. As a recent Hootsuite report shows, trends in social media use vary considerably by country.

But email is equally relevant around the world, and across demographics: students need it to communicate with their teachers, most of the workforce need to have an email account for work-related reasons, and some people still use email to communicate with their family and friends. In fact, 293.6 billion emails are sent and received every single day, and this number is expected to keep growing.

Permission marketing

Almost all marketing funnels place email marketing somewhere in the middle, considering email subscription forms the door that acts as a walk-through to become prospects.

One of the reasons behind this, and why email marketing is so powerful, is that it begins with the potential customer consenting to receive targeted content. Your target audience is inviting you to send information they find valuable directly to them. They’re telling you they want what you have to offer.

These are three aspects of your campaign you’ll need to pay particular attention to, to be able to evolve your relationship with your prospects, across languages:

Segmentation & Targeting

Correct segmentation is always crucial. Even more so when it comes to multilingual campaigns. Proper segmentation can be the difference between sending someone an email in their language and alienating them with a message they cannot understand.

There are many ways to segment your audience by language. For instance, let’s say you have a landing page with a signup form, maybe you’d like to gain subscribers both from Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America and from the United States. The landing page should be available in English and Spanish.

You can use conditional content, displaying different text on each section of the landing page, depending on the user’s browser data or timezone. Consider adding a “Language” field as an option in your signup form.

To learn more about how to create conditional content, you could read the relevant documentation from your email marketing automation or landing page creation tool.
MailChimp, ActiveCampaign and most major email automation tools offer you the resources to create multilingual campaigns through conditional content.

Of course, once you’ve got a well-segmented list, it’s time to create targeted content for these two different partitions of your audience.

Localized Content

Multilingual email marketing campaigns can’t be carried out in isolation.

Let’s continue with the example introduced in the previous section: Our bilingual landing page will work far better if it’s part of a bilingual website, and emails to the Spanish-speaking prospects will be far more effective if they offer or link to content that is in Spanish as well. Even if you offer customers the same content and deals across languages, language translation might not be enough to engage foreign customers.

At Day Translations, we do multilingual marketing, not only for our clients but also for ourselves.

Content we send our email subscribers (such as our “10 things you didn’t know about Spanish” infographic) is localized and sent to prospects from different regions in their preferred language.




The aforementioned graphic in the both Spanish and its original English.

Our recent expansion to China also demanded localizing content. Adapting presentations such as our AI Case study from the original English to Mandarin Chinese with very careful terminology management made it possible for us to attract clients in the sector.




The first page of our AI Case Study, in its original English as well as in Mandarin Chinese.

Localization goes beyond translating words and involves taking care of formatting, tone, and imagery, to make sure your brand resonates with your foreign prospects as much as it resonates with your original target audience.

While translation is neutral and, sometimes, indifferent to culture, localization is deeply intertwined with it.

Our example is an instance in which a localization expert could do wonders. When we’re dealing with Spanish-speaking audiences from Latin America, we should be careful not to use slang from specific countries or regions. Keeping our Spanish as a well-balanced neutral can make us inviting to audiences across the region, but it can severely limit us when translating metaphors or wordplay.

A localization expert will have enough cross-cultural understanding to use the resources of your target language to recreate the meaning and effect of the original words within their original context.

Results & Actionable Information

Research is not a one-off task, and your campaign’s planning stage isn’t the only time you’ll need to do it.

While an obsession with data can be counterproductive, potentially hampering your creative instincts, measuring results and using them to guide your next move and refine your campaign is crucial.

When working with multilingual campaigns, you key metrics are the very same metrics that you consider when working with monolingual campaigns (open rate, click-through-rate, bounce rate, conversion rate, list growth rate, when and how many people unsubscribe, etc.)

What changes is that you shouldn’t only evaluate them over time and with themselves, but also with your other campaigns.

Metrics are actionable information. Everything we learn about our campaign can become a tool to optimize, refine and scale it. But, when it comes to multilingual campaigns, knowing what the next step could require cross-cultural expertise that we don’t have or can’t find in-house.

Should You Call A Specialist?

It’s clear how this could go wrong. A lot could be lost in translation. Events or cultural changes in your target culture could require a bold new strategy that, being busy with other aspects of the business (or with your local target audience), you might dismiss.

Whether you can take cross-cultural marketing into your own hands depends on several factors: To what scale do you want to take the project? How big is your marketing team? Are you and are they bilingual and in touch in your target culture? Are you willing to allocate resources to target this new demographic?

If you have the resources, but not the cross-cultural knowledge to effectively approach this new demographic, calling in a third party who is experienced in multicultural marketing and can assist you from the research stage onwards is probably the best option. Their expertise could be the difference between a solid investment and an unnecessary expenditure.

Summary

Running an email marketing campaign fully localized to your new target audience can be key to establish a rich, long-lasting and profitable relationship with them.

Remember to:

  • Adapt your message so it’s targeted and relevant
  • Design localized landing pages
  • Properly segment your audience
  • Provide localized content
  • Measure results and use your data to understand more about your audience
  • And be willing to call a specialist experienced in your target culture to help.

Are you considering multilingual email marketing? Have you tried it? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

About the Author

Aaron Marco Arias is a writer and marketer working at Day Translations. He’s interested in culture, language, art and the markets of the future.



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