Factors to consider when sending e-mail to multiple countries, each with its own language, culture, and social morays.
Last month I was part of a panel on international e-mail marketing at the Email Experience Council's Email Evolution Conference in San Diego. When marketers think about sending e-mail internationally, localization is obviously one of the first issues that come up. The discussion then often moves to the questions of translation and infrastructure support for "foreign" languages. In effect, localization is often equated with translation.
What struck me most during the panel was the consensus that translation isn't localization. The panelists all agreed that localization is vital to international campaigns' success, and they weren't talking about translation.
Localization, effectively, is a form of segmentation. When sending e-mail within a single country with a mostly common language and culture, we know there are significant differences between audiences. We also know that speaking to these audiences individually (segmenting) substantially lifts results. Clearly the same will hold true when sending to multiple countries, each with its own language, culture, and social mores.
Some localization issues that regularly present challenges internationally include:
In a tightening economy, many organizations centralize and close satellite offices to manage costs. What my fellow panelists made clear is that while such centralization of e-mail management can reduce costs and improve messaging consistency, it's essential not to lose the understanding of the places to which you're mailing.
At the end of the day, there's really no substitute for local knowledge to ensure effective international communications.
Until next time,
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Derek is the managing director of J-Labs, Javelin Marketing Group's technology skunkworks, a role that draws on his 20 years of experience and leadership in the fields of marketing and technology. A British expatriate based in Seattle, Washington, Derek is perhaps better known as the founder and technologist behind Innovyx, one of the first email service providers later acquired by the Omnicom Group. An industry veteran and thought-leader, Derek is a regular expert author, contributor, conference speaker, and takes an active role in a number of industry and trade groups.
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