Over 230 countries, 6,700 languages, 147 currencies, 24 time zones… And you were worried about the catchiness of your email subject line?
The digital economy is unavoidably global in nature. Yet launching international email marketing campaigns is still uncommon. Part of the reason is that it is not a simple undertaking. Countries show various levels of email marketing readiness, consumer acceptance, and business sophistication. The most frequent question I get from U.S. companies is this: Where should I take my email marketing campaigns next? Well, let’s find out.
The Democratization of the Global Economy
The growth of e-commerce has brought a substantial reduction in the cost of entry to global markets. For the first time, small and large businesses alike are able to extend their e-commerce operations overseas. Suddenly, companies must decide whether and how to use email marketing in international markets.
Companies that market aggressively to prospects and customers by email are anxious to spread their activities outside North America for undeniable reasons. According to United Messaging, “there are more electronic mailboxes outside the U.S. than within it for the first time in the history of the electronic messaging market.”
Overview of the Globalization Process
If you are a multinational company with offices around the world and are being asked to develop a global email marketing strategy or think about new markets where your company should be competing, take a step back and think about how to best approach this globalization process.
The keys to an overall globalization strategy are flexibility and adaptability. Planning for today’s market reality is not enough; an effective international strategy must be able to react to and accommodate the shifts and bumps that are inevitable when competing on the global stage. Let’s take a look at market selection and e-internationalization, two steps you’ll need to follow.
Step 1: Market Selection
Choosing and prioritizing new markets is the first, critical step in the globalization strategy. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Which countries are strategically important to my growth plans?
- Which countries show the highest Internet-access growth rate?
- Which countries should I rule out, and why?
Some countries may have insufficient e-commerce adoption to justify an email strategy. So where should you go first?
Scale and growth are important parameters. Internet growth has been strong primarily in Europe, Asia Pacific, and some other developing regions, but not quite as much in the most populous areas, such as Africa and India. Obstacles are mostly economic.
The cost of connecting to the Internet remains the most predicable variable to email usage. As many countries deregulate their telecommunication sectors, costs are beginning to decline. Look at PC and Internet access, and you will discover that Western Europe is rightfully attractive to email marketers, followed by Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific. According to eMarketer’s recent eGlobal Report, Western and Eastern Europe users combined should outnumber adult Internet users in North America as early as 2002.
U.S. companies should consider pursuing the following markets based on their number of active adult Internet users: Japan (17.7 million), the U.K. (16.1), Germany (15.1), Canada (9.7), China (8.3), Korea (6.8), France (6), Italy (5.4), and Australia (4.1). Taiwan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Brazil also have sizeable Internet markets (all above 3 million users). Geography, demographics, email readiness (usage, access, speed), operational costs, and economic potential are all important selection criteria.
Although these considerations are only the beginning of your international strategy, you will soon discover that they have important implications when we begin to talk about e-internationalization.
Do your homework, and pick the countries with the highest return on investment (ROI) potential.
Step 2: E-internationalization
Let’s assume you have identified a few countries and are ready to define your strategy. E-internationalization is the process of developing an email marketing strategy for multiple countries. To optimize such a strategy, you must find a balance between time to market and operational excellence. Your business objectives (short term or long term) should drive that decision. Consider the following parameters that will provide a strategic framework for your email marketing campaigns:
You have the ability to reach customers all over the world. But between your business and its global destiny lie challenges that go beyond simple translation. It’s time to speak the language of e-internationalization.