Have you seen the movie Sex and the City 2? Let me quickly recollect it for you. There are four woman friends – Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. They are four cosmopolitan English speaking women with great accomplishments in their respective fields. They all are from the USA and love fashion. They share an ‘all for one and one for all’ kind of friendship.
In a strange mix of events, the friends find themselves in Abu Dhabi for a PR campaign requested by Samantha’s client – a Sheikh. While enjoying their vacation the girls (that’s how they refer themselves) happen to go to the souk, the famous local shopping street.
At the souk, they find mostly Arabic speaking merchants. A few manage to speak very broken English. There is this particular incident in their shopping experience where they speak something and the merchants understand it to be something else. Language becomes their primary barrier. This particular sequence of events is a comedy of errors that’s a must watch for any movie lover. There is really no way to write about it without diluting the fun part. Go watch the movie for yourself.
What if the girls knew Arabic? It would have made their shopping experience easy. (Although, the fun part would have been lost!)
It is a similar case with email marketing for non-English speaking customers. No, I don’t mean it is fun. What I mean is that the customer’s experience with your company is not smooth.
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The entire globalization bit has made business easy with countries you didn’t bother to know about before. Governments across the world have made business overseas a lot easier than before.
This open field of opportunity provides a huge base of customers no matter what business you are in. But, it’s humanly impossible to really go out there and everywhere to interact and engage with your customers. But you will still need a tool to make contact with them, nurture and convert. That’s where email marketing helps big time!
The only important change you need to make for emails to your overseas customers is to change the language from English to that of a natively spoken one.
How does changing the language help? It helps in the following 5 ways:-
- Anybody in the world feels comfortable when spoken to in their language. This is the reason why President Obama chose to open his speech in his India visit with a Namaste!
- An email in the native language breaks the first barrier to communication.
- Your customer feels valued as you took the time and effort to write in his/her language.
- Local language emails build trust.
- Native language emails make communication simple and create a good brand experience.
These five benefits are really hard to ignore for a serious businessman.
So how should you go about email marketing for your non-English speaking customers? Here are a few things to do.
1. Segment and Target Your Email List
The very first step to do is to segment your overall email list into country-specific or language-specific groups. For instance, if you are dealing with the South Americas, segment your entire South American email list into separate country lists like Brazil List, Peru list etc., or by language Portuguese, French or Spanish lists. This segmentation depends on the nature and intent of the email marketing campaign.
Send out targeted promotional emails to these segments instead of generic ones. In the sense, create targeted emails for each segment, while keeping in mind the communication needs of that segment. One very basic thing to do is to add an international keyboard to draft messages in the native language. This will take care of most of the communication needs.
2. Individualize Emails for Non-English Speaking Customers
Let’s say you have a gold mine of a Peurto Rican directory of email lists. You have got this wonderful copy of the email with beautiful images and concept that you want to share with them. You sit down to create your email. You have even added an international keyboard to help create the email copy.
After all these efforts, if you find that a particular character is not supported and the display is going all wrong, it can be quite disheartening! This is where you need to use Unicode characters to create your emails.
Unicode characters in simple language help you write in the foreign language. They even help in putting in a few accent character or emoticons.
Integrate email sign up forms that support Unicode character entries. Whenever a non-English speaking customer enters his/her data, it’s all stored accurately for re-use.
You can use this data to send individualized emails even addressing with the first name of your customer.
3. Choose the Right Email Client
The popular email clients like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook support the use of foreign characters. There are others like AOL which do not support. Before you set out to send your emails, it is important to choose the right email client. Do your bit of research to see which email client will support the specific language audience you have to cater to.
A foreign language email cannot be created in an external document like MS Word and then pasted in your email. It has to be created within the email to support all the special characters. So the email client is really very important.
Once you have done all these things, conduct a simple A/B test on your emails and look at the responses. This important step will help you avoid unnecessary trouble later on. It will also help you rectify any mistakes or make the email for your Non-English speaking audience even better.