Here’s a confession: I’m tired of being at home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my city. But not being able to travel to other cities or countries for so long is more than a little difficult. If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably been daydreaming about visiting other countries (or anywhere outside the house, really) for the better part of a year. You’ve probably got fingers and toes crossed, hoping you’ll be able to safely go somewhere this summer.
And maybe you will. But what if I told you there’s a way you could travel without even leaving your home office? Metaphorically speaking, of course… Optimizing your email strategy for global audiences is a bit like traveling – you need to lean into different cultures, learn about local traditions, and maybe even pick up some of the language.
Not sure why you should localize your email strategy in the first place? Pas de panique! We’ll walk you through the reasoning behind globalizing your email, give you insight on email user habits worldwide, and even offer you a few tips on getting started.
Table of Contents
- Why do you need a localized email strategy?
- Creating a localized email strategy
- Staying mindful of cultural differences in your emails
- Understanding the email scene in different regions
- Finding the best time to hit the inbox
- Following anti-spam regulations for your emails
- What to remember
So, grab your Passport, and let’s go!
Why do you need a localized email strategy?
Email can’t be put in a single geographical box. It can be sent and received anywhere and everywhere.
Obviously, different countries have very different languages, customs, and desires. For example, if your email makes reference to United States slang or culture when enticing users to buy something, it’s going to ring hollow for your audiences in France, Russia, and everywhere in between. This principle works regardless of where you are and which region you’re referencing – and your emails will feel awkward and distant to everyone who isn’t part of that region’s culture.
That awkwardness and distance will drive down engagement and conversion which – as you know – only spells trouble for your email program. If you want to be successful, you need to optimize your email strategy for a global audience. This might seem intimidating at first, but the rewards of a globalized email strategy are pretty great.
Creating a localized email strategy
“Localized” is pretty much what it sounds like – crafting messages around regional preferences. Take a look at our data below to see what email users in different countries really want.
Understand email preferences in different regions
Why do people sign up to receive brand emails around the world? Is it because they love your weekly deals? Or do they want to get your updates, even if there’s no tempting promotion involved? Responses taken from our 2021 Email Engagement Report shows that, while there are broad trends for why people sign up for emails, there are significant differences between different regions.
For example, 60.8% of United States email users say they sign up for brand emails to receive special offers, compared to just 48.6% of French users. Additionally, 48.3% of Spanish users sign up to receive brand updates, compared to nearly 20% less in France (31.1%).
When sending, you need to ensure that you’re modifying your strategy for each region’s desires.
Use this data to build a more localized approach:
- United States, United Kingdom, and Germany: More than half of US, UK, and German respondents subscribe to brand emails to get regular offers and discounts, so make sure they play a big role in your email content.
- France: Most French users sign up to get a one-off discount, so keep that in mind as you see your email list grow and focus on strategies to keep them engaged once they’ve used that discount. Highlight your new products and services and offer additional discounts they can use to purchase them.
- Spain: Like everyone else, Spanish recipients also want special deals, but they’re equally interested in your latest updates and brand news. Pair these up with a good promo code and you’ll inspire them to take action.
Your audience may fall along these data lines, or it may have different preferences. No matter what, you can begin by using data and refining as you go along.
Don’t underestimate the power of targeted communications
It’s no secret that different countries will want different things out of their emails – and we’ve got data that proves it. So, how do you adapt your strategy and messaging to appeal to the widest possible audience?
Segmentation based on location is a great way to get started, but is not enough when it comes to creating truly relevant emails that speak to each of your contacts, wherever they might be. At Mailjet, we’re always preaching about email personalization. Everyone likes it, and the data reflects that.
When it comes to what gets emails opened, 83.3% of respondents say that an email that seems personalized to their interest is important – and 43.6% of respondents say that this personalization is actually “very important”. These responses are consistent across all global regions.
You can’t run from the truth – just create relevant email content. Would you want communications that don’t appeal to your interests? Of course not. Use segmentation to break your contact list into different segments based on location or preferences, and add complex personalization through templating language and dynamic content blocks.
Obviously, just like with any communication, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to email. Find out what your audiences want, and target them accordingly.
Staying mindful of cultural differences in your emails
We all know that different countries have different ways of living life, especially through communication. And we don’t just mean language – you can’t simply change “soccer” to “football”, and expect that your work is done. Dive into the culture and etiquette of various regions.
Customs and culture
Again, this isn’t just about switching some words around. It’s about understanding holidays, events, and perspectives. Celebrating German Unity Day with a sale will confuse non-Germans, just as sending out a Fourth of July message will fall flat with anyone who isn’t from the United States.
What is cause for celebration, discussion, and promotion in different regions? What should be handled with care and respect? What is considered taboo or disrespectful? Don’t create an email gaffe just through lack of research or double-checking.
You’re not just a brand, you’re a cool brand. So you decide to promote a new global product sale with a really punchy subject line, like “Damn. That’s one hell of a sale!” As long as it fits your brand style, it’s cool, right?
Not necessarily. Just like with cultural customs, what’s considered fun, funny, and casual in one country’s email etiquette may be considered rude, insulting, and cringeworthy in another. Whatever you do, don’t trust Google Translate.
Spend some time researching and gathering data on what kinds of messaging appeal to your regions. It may mean switching up your messaging significantly, but it’ll be worth it for better engagement and conversion rates. And remember: when in doubt, play it safe.
Understanding the email scene in different regions
Okay, once you’ve got your content and style down, all you have to do is press send whenever, right? Nope. There are some tips you should be aware of before sending your mail into cyberspace.
Identify the top email clients across different regions
The first thing we should understand about global email is the difference in the email clients people use. Our email engagement report found some surprising variations in the clients people use.
While Gmail is still king in all the regions surveyed – at least half of all users in every country have a Gmail account – there are smaller providers that take second and third place in each region. Here’s what you should know for each country:
- United States: Three-quarters of US users use Gmail, with Yahoo coming in second at 14.2% of users.
- United Kingdom: After Gmail, UK users are more likely to use Outlook (30.6%) than Yahoo.
- France: The French also put Outlook in second place (19.7%), but local provider Orange beats Yahoo with 9.1% of users.
- Spain: Like the UK, Spanish users like Outlook as a second choice (20%) over Yahoo (2.9%).
- Germany: Finally, Germans prefer local clients (Web.de and GMX, with 12.6% and 12% of users) for their second and third options.
This data reveals to us that, as with content, there’s not exactly a one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to optimizing your emails for a certain client. Targeting your emails for preferred clients based on each region will lead to better-looking and better-performing emails. For more tips on maximizing deliverability for email in the top global clients, check out our Top Email Clients of 2021 post.
Get to know your competition
Nowadays, it’s not surprising that most people, regardless of where they live, receive lots of email. According to our research, US users tend to receive the most emails, but most respondents reported impressive inbox volumes, with the majority of each region receiving 20 emails a day or more.
Here’s how many emails respondents in different regions say they get each day:
Understand the risks
It’s especially important to change the focus of your emails if you’re trying to to maintain or improve your deliverability. Different places deal with unwanted mail uniquely, and charging ahead with generic, unasked-for messages can hurt your deliverability in multiple ways, as shown below.
For example, the French are 27.5% more likely to just ignore an email they didn’t sign up for than others, while US users are 33% more likely to mark it as spam.
En serio, just target your emails. It’ll save you lots of trouble in the long run.
Finding the best time to hit the inbox
Not surprisingly, all these emails correlate to some fairly frequently email-checking. The majority of respondents check their email at least twice a day, with a general quarter checking more than five times per day.
However, even all that frequent checking doesn’t mean that your email is going to be opened or engaged with (especially among all those daily emails). For best results, you want to make sure that your email is sent right when your recipient is most likely to check their mail – so you’ll be sitting pretty right at the top of the inbox.
Finding the best time and day to send an email
When do people check their email? While there are some differences between countries, our data reflects broad global trends around mail-checking habits.
Here’s what to know about each country:
- United States and United Kingdom: The most popular time to check emails in the US and UK is the morning (44.8% and 41.4% respectively), with a further third checking in the evening.
- France: A similar number of French users check their email in the morning (41.7%). But the largest number of French users check email in the evening (44.0%). Whatever you do, avoid the lunch break – it’s sacred.
- Spain: If you’re sending emails to Spain, avoid the evening as much as you can – only 12.3% of users check their mail then. Spaniards prefer to check their emails during the morning.
Germany: German users most often check mail in the evening – though almost never before bed.
While these are the times people check their personal mail, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the times that drive actual engagement in each region. To pinpoint which days and times promote higher open rates and click-through rates, we looked at our own sending data.
Globally, we found that the best time to send an email for maximum open rates was 15:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), with engagement predictably falling the farther the time fell from 15:00.
Click-through rates also peaked at 15:00 UTC, showing that this time is pretty optimal in terms of maximum engagement.
You can easily convert this time to your own timezone (for example, it’s 11:00 AM for Texas-based Pathwire) and automatically send mail to different regions. Also, you can use a tool like Mailgun’s Send Time Optimization to target users on an individual level based on when they’re most likely to engage with your message. No mess, no fuss.
When it comes to the best days to send an email, the results are pretty predictable. You can see by the data above that while 15:00 UTC may be the best time overall, the best days tend to be midweek – Tuesday through Thursday.
This is a pretty sensible finding considering many countries typically work Monday to Friday. Of course, as we said earlier, one size doesn’t always fit all. If you’re emailing customers in a region with a different standard working week – like Israel – adapt and send based on when they read your messages. Sending at 3 PM on a Sunday? Why not?
Following anti-spam regulations for your emails
You’re done. Your emails look great, and you know exactly when to send them.
Not so fast.
Do you know what GDPR is? What about CAN-SPAM? These are just a couple of the data privacy and consumer protection laws you must be mindful of when sending emails. Some regions may have specific data collection rules, and others may not. When in doubt, check your region’s (and your audience’s region’s) laws and your email service provider’s terms of service to make sure you’re in compliance.
Here’s what you should know for sending to each region:
- European Union: When sending to countries in the European Union (like France, Spain, and Germany), you must be mindful of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR strengthens data protections for all EU citizens, and requires companies (like email marketers) to obtain consent when gathering or using email data for commercial or marketing purposes.
- United States: When sending to the US, follow the CAN-SPAM Act and local state data protection bills. The CAN-SPAM Act creates regulations around commercial email to protect users. This includes rules like sharing your location with users, not using misleading subject lines and including opt out links in emails. Various states in the USA are enacting their own data protection laws, so you should be mindful of those local laws as well. For example, when sending to the state of California, you also should follow the California Consumer Privacy Act. Virginia also has passed the VA Consumer Protection Act.
- United Kingdom: Although the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU following Brexit, it still upholds the UK GDPR, which gives UK email users the same rights as users in the EU.
Always check to make sure you’re following all regulations in any country you’re sending to. Non-compliance can mean fines, having your emails blocked, and more, so make sure you’re staying on the right side of the law.
Okay, now you’re done.
What to remember
Email can be more complicated than you think, especially when it comes to sending messages across the globe. To make things a little easier (and to keep your email program healthy), here are a few things you can do:
- Give your audiences what they want. Does France want discounts? Does Spain want product updates? Find out what each region is truly after, and deliver on what they signed up for.
- Know your cultures. Be careful when it comes to being humorous or edgy. Research your audience and celebrate holidays appropriately and with the right tone.
- Send your emails at the best time. For the best open and click-through rates, stick to around 15:00 UTC, and aim to send a campaign in the middle of the week between Tuesday and Thursday.
- Understand email regulations. Whether you fall under GDPR, CAN-SPAM, or more (or all), make sure you’re emailing responsibly and following all accompanying laws. It’ll save you trouble in the long run.
Now that we’re back from our trip across the globe, these tips should hopefully give your email program a boost and help you engage audiences across any region. Refine your email strategy in a way that works for you, and be rewarded – no matter where you are in the world.
Download our full email engagement research report here for more insights on email in 2021 and beyond.