Running an international email marketing program comes with it’s own challenges. No uniform international audience exists and culture and markets are different once you cross the border. This can mean the content and tone of your email newsletters needs to be adjusted per region.
And there are even more challenges. What to consider in international email marketing?

1. International Inbox behavior

Inbox behavior isn’t the same in all countries. This can be see when comparing results from email campaigns between different countries. An average open-, click or conversion rate in one country is not a benchmark for other countries. Why? For starters, this has to do with the local opt-in laws and the cultural differences in the use of work and personal e-mail. So don’t be led astray by international benchmark. Average email marketing statistics never tell the whole story.

Tip: When you split your stats geographically, use your own stats and, if you must, local competitive benchmarks to see which regions are doing best or worst.

2. Striking a global vs local balance

The balance between local and global is an important issue for most businesses that have an international email marketing program. Do you use one central “marketing hub” and  run all the campaigns from there? Or regulate or provide materials from a core team. A third model can be every country for itself.

Shifting more emphasis to local can result in better fine-tuned messages and offers. If the knowledge levels about email marketing are the same, this will probably give you better results. But it also means more work (in total) and therefore more costs.

Email marketing ROI

The last couple of years there has been a bigger emphasis on Return on Investment (ROI) of email marketing. This means if extra costs are made, they should be in balance with the added revenue. The bigger your subscriber base per country, the more profit you will have from localizing your email marketing, you can make that ROI calculation yourself.

Tip: There are no laws about going either totally global or totally local. You can pick and mix, use the centralized campaigns where you can and go local where you will expect the highest impact, both in quantity as in margin per sale.

3. Data quality across countries

Most companies apply more than one tactic in promoting their list and have several places where people can sign-up for their e-mail list. For instance you can sign up via their corporate website, but also on seperate landing pages, via third party promotions, etc. They are actively trying to grow their e-maillists by promoting it.

The way you collect your subscribers is often different per region, which has a direct impact on the quality of the email signups. Once a business starts to grow into other countries, the subscribers there are also more recent than the overall list in the “home country”. Newer subscribers perform better. The age of the subscribers create different levels of engagement with your email program.
Tip: Look which regions are falling behind in data quality / quantity and optimize subscription methods.

4. Business models and email marketing

Your business is different per country. Email marketing is an extension of your companies’ presence, brand and other marketing efforts. So if your brand is strong in one country and not so much in another, that is going to influence your results. Plus the landscape is different per country. Media consumption is different, other competitors and other types of advertisement. This means you might also want a different approach to email marketing per country. It makes a big difference if a company is the market leader or a new name to the market.

Tip: Look at your business and the market per region. This can give indications if the approach needs to be altered for certain countries.

In conclusion: International email marketing

A company that does international email marketing, can get higher efficiency by for instance centralizing IT infrastructure, campaigns and designs. But be aware that regions have their own tastes, preferences and ways of working. Some national e-mail dishes are more spicy or sweet, while others prefer more subtle flavors. Know your international audience and serve your emailings accordingly, or they might not resonate.

What have you learned from running an international email marketing program?

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