Haley Osborne
Author: Haley Osborne  |  

Haley Osborne is an active freelance writer with interests in management, web design, and writing. She regularly touches on the topics of self-development and modern trends.


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English remains the linguistic common ground with 1.75 billion speakers worldwide. Still, when you fail to target the rest 5.5 billion people, you’re risking losing  a whopping audience. In the US alone, millions of residents don’t speak English. That’s why addressing cultural and linguistic diversity is vital if you want to keep your subscribers active.

More businesses are going global, and so do their email subscriber lists. It’s virtually impossible to manage international mailing lists manually with no knowledge of local languages or cultures. And that’s when the localization technology comes in handy. Localization solves the problem of international audiences by adjusting email content to different languages and cultural norms.

What is the Localization of Email Newsletters?

Localization refers to the process of adapting content in your email campaigns to make it more appropriate for users in different geographical regions. Many marketers falsely assume that email localization is all about translating email content into local languages. What they fail to realize is that email localization goes far beyond the translation of email content. Email localization helps you to overcome cultural and language barriers. Besides, you can use localization tools to adjust subject lines, copy, visuals, call to actions (CTAs), and email layouts to specific locales. Studies show that companies use localization tools to modify different email components. For example, this research suggests that copy, weblinks, and images are the most popular email elements that are localized.

Source: Lionbridge Global Email Survey Results 

The Goal of Localization and How to Achieve It

Before you start localizing different email elements, it’s important to understand the goal of any localization process. To better market to their customers, email campaigns must target the local features of customers (besides their local language.) That’s why email marketers should aim to understand languages, traditions, shopping habits, and other cultural nuances through localization tools.

The main goal of any localization campaign is to help your business unlock its potential and enable you to cross multiple continents to build and engage your customer base.

Cultural Differences Affecting Online Customer Behavior

To reach the main goal of email localization, it’s important to understand the cultural differences impacting online customer behavior. Regardless of your target country, there are some common cultural barriers you should thrive to overcome through email localization.  

  1. Daily communication style

Every culture has a distinct daily communication style. Some cultures use more direct communication, while other cultural groups prefer a more indirect approach. This is known as the high context vs. low context continuum.

For example, high context cultures favor a more indirect communication style. Speakers often talk around the point, instead of getting straight to it. Alternatively, low context cultures prefer communication that is more linear and direct. Members of the low context cultures value the speed and effectiveness of communication, while words are valued above the context. For example, the Germans prefer a professional and official communication style, while Americans gravitate towards a more casual manner.

While high and low contexts fall on opposite sides of the continuum, most countries fall in between these two extremes. Here’s a great visualization of the high context vs. low context continuum.

High Context Vs Low Context

The stylistic differences can become a major source of mistrust and misunderstanding between you and your customers. Knowing what is expected by your customers is always helpful. That’s why employing email localization is paramount to address the challenges of different communication styles.

2. Personal data protection

With many security breaches publicized by media platforms, consumers globally are becoming more aware of what happens to their data after they sign data privacy agreements.

Here are privacy laws by region data from Consumers International data protection report.

Africa. In Africa 19 countries have enacted data protection and privacy laws, six countries have laws in draft stages, the remaining countries have no related legislation.

Asia Pacific. Australia and New Zealand have legislation around data protection. 15 Asian countries have enacted data protection and privacy legislation, four are in the process of drafting data privacy laws, while others have no legislation in place.  

The Americas and the Caribbean. 17 countries across North and Latin America have data privacy legislation, five countries are drafting their first legislations, while the remaining countries have no data privacy laws.

Europe. More than 90% of Europeans say they want the same data protection rights across the European Union and regardless of where their data is processed. All 27 member countries of the European Union have legislation regarding data privacy and security.

Regardless of the geographical region, it’s fair to say that the general rule is that consumers across the world are becoming more concerned about their online privacy and security.

3. Seasonal sales

Seasonal selling is another factor that is commonly impacted by cultural differences. Seasonal events and peak sales periods are different in various cultures. Considering national and religious holidays, as well as seasonal events, like Black Friday, gives you a competitive advantage as you can market to customers concerning the local seasonal sale cycles. Email localization tools allow you to market to customers with respect to seasonal selling relevant for different countries and cultures. This way, you can adjust your email marketing campaign concerning the local seasonal sale cycles.

4. Color connotations  

Cultural awareness is important when you choose the colors for your email campaign. Members of different cultures perceive visuals differently. For example, in the Netherlands, orange has royal roots and is considered to be a national color. On the contrary, Egyptians associate orange with mourning.  

Source:tripsavvy.com

Colors are commonly used to communicate emotions and values associated with products. That’s why choosing the right color to market to the members of different cultures is an important part of successful email localization.

5. Devices used by customers

Devices most used in different countries is another factor that requires your attention. If you fail to localize your email copies concerning the devices most used by customers, you’re risking losing a lot of potential customers. To help you visualize the gap between popular devices worldwide, here are two examples of the OS versions most used in South Korea and the United States.

Source: deviceatlas.com
Source: deviceatlas.com

6. Buying behaviors

Buying behaviors and habits is another thing you should consider when targeting members of multiple cultures. Some cultures are more information-oriented and value detailed product descriptions. Alternatively, it’s better to target other cultural groups with the appeal to pathos (or emotions).

Source:charleshstewart.com

For example, residents of Germany and some Scandinavian countries associate ecology and sustainability with high quality. That’s why German and Scandinavian consumers prefer buying organic goods as well as a minimum amount of products but better quality. So, it’s better to target these cultural groups with the appeal to logos.

What to Localize in Your Email Newsletter?

While email marketing makes reaching a global audience easier than ever before, engaging with customers at new local markets requires cultural awareness and localization efforts. To help you get started, here’s a list of the email elements that can be adjusted for different locales.

1. Subject line

The overall success of your email campaign greatly depends on your subject line. In fact, as many as 47% of email recipients decide on whether or not they will open an email based solely on the email’s subject line. So, if you want to draw the attention of your international subscribers, localizing the subject line is an absolute must. Besides, subject line localization will help you increase your click-through-rate (CTR).

2. CTAs

Call to action (CTA) is another email element that must be localized for international subscribers. To understand the importance of CTA localization, let’s hypothesize that Russian, not English, is the world's global lingua franca. Imagine receiving this email from the international airline booking company.

Source: m.seonews.ru

Confusing, right? The bottom line is that you can’t click a CTA when you don’t understand what it says. Imagine the frustration of non-English speakers when they receive promotional emails in English. It’s highly unlikely that they will click one of the CTAs in your email if they can't understand them.

Note that when localized, CTAs may become longer after translation. When you translate content from English to other languages, you can end up with a different text length. If not addressed, this issue can result in truncation, different button sizes, no line breaks, and window layout change. Text expansion is a predictive typing technique that will help you solve these problems altogether.

When localizing email copies, it’s helpful to use different content checking services like Essay Tigers and Grammarly. This way, you can be sure that your content is well written and contains no grammar mistakes despite the language you use.

Make sure that your localization testing strategy leaves more time to adapt to double-byte languages. Double-byte languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, imply that characters are twice as wide as alphabetic characters, such as English characters. This means that your CTAs (and other content) will take more space in the email template. Knowing how to address these nuances will save you the time and effort on the latest stages of the email localization process.

3. LTR and RTL interface

Although the vast majority of languages are written left to right, there are some languages, like Arabic and Hebrew, that use right-to-left scripts. This distinctive linguistic characteristic can be addressed with email localization. Depending on your target country, your emails can display content either left to right (LTR) or right to left (RTL). Notice that all email elements must mirror each other. This can be confusing at first but when you take your time to understand how bidirectionality works, it will eventually make sense.

Source: material.io

You can use this table as a reference when localizing your emails with respect to the content direction.

Source: material.io

4. Local legislation governing the scope of email newsletters

Most laws worldwide require you to inform customers about data processing and collecting activities and policies. It’s hard to stay informed on all local laws that impose your activities. That’s why the best practice is to localize your emails with the strictest applicable regulations in mind.    Use this map to start learning about different regulations that are in place worldwide.

Source: litmus.com

What is Localization Testing and Why Do You Need It?

Localization testing refers to the email testing method that is carried out to verify the quality of your email copies concerning a specific culture or locale. In other words, localization testing helps you ensure your email copies are capable enough to operate effectively in a specific geographic region. Localization involves the translation of all native content into the targeted language(s) and customization of the graphical user interface to make it relevant to the target region. Localization testing enables you to test the quality of translation and other email elements concerning a particular country or region, including: User interface Currency format Language vocabularyDate and time format CTAs

The benefits of localization testing

Localization testing is a cost-effective way to evaluate the capability of your email copies to market to customers in different countries. Besides, by implementing localization testing, you can achieve the following benefits: Reduced customer support costs Reduced testing costs Decreased the overall time you spend on testing Another advantage of localization testing is its flexibility and scalability compared to other testing methods. This means that you can run multiple tests for multiple regions simultaneously.

Conclusion

While reaching the global audience has become easier than ever before in history, many marketers are still challenged to engage with customers in new markets. You can now cross multiple continents to build a customer base, but how do you keep this new audience interested?

Targeting different locales requires you to consider local cultures, context, and nuanced translation of your brand’s messaging. That’s when email localization comes in handy. By localizing your emails and addressing cultural diversity, you can increase sales, boost customer loyalty, and retain more customers. In fact, studies show that for every $1 spent on localization, you can expect a return of investment (ROI) of $25.

Using the tips listed in this guide will help you adapt your emails concerning the cultural overtones of different countries. By testing your localization methods, you can achieve even better results.