Guest Column | July 19, 2021

Global Email Campaigns Landing Flat? Here's How To Create A Better Culture Fit

By Mary Dolan, Pathwire

Custom Newsletter typing email

“Culture fit” isn’t just a term used in recruiting. Emails possess or lack culture fit, too. Take, for example, a brand that wants to promote its product in a new region. They want their emails to stand out and are experimenting with punchy subject lines. Since the writer is a native English speaker, they try to translate their zesty subject line to French using an online translation tool. Only, instead of coming across as bold and daring, the literal translation could be seen as offensive to a French reader. 

Or another brand may be looking to broaden their horizons in a Mother’s Day campaign and promote their product around the globe. But overseas, the dates for Mother’s Day differ from country to country – whether it’s May in the U.S, Canada, and Japan, or March in the U.K and Ireland.

Brands that hope to reach a global audience have to do their research and must gather the right data to ensure their messaging is appealing to their desired regions. This may mean switching up messaging significantly, but it will be worth it for better engagement and conversion rates. Here are a few things brands should consider when optimizing their global email strategy.

Research The Markets, Then Research Some More

As in the opening example, it is so critical to stay mindful of different cultures when creating and sending email content, especially if a brand wants to be humorous or edgy. Most things won’t land the same way in Europe as they would in Asia or America. Email marketers should ask natives what sounds right when translating from one language to another. They should also research holidays, events, and perspectives their audiences honor and then adjust the language and strategy accordingly. What should be handled with care and respect? What is considered taboo or disrespectful? Lack of research or double-checking can create unwanted email gaffes, which lead to lower click-through rates and engagement.

Along the same lines, different areas of the world use varying email clients (i.e., Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook). Targeting emails for preferred email clients based on each region will lead to better-looking and better-performing emails. Pathwire’s research revealed that Gmail is the most popular email client overall, with 65.3% of global respondents using it. But when it comes to second-choice providers, different locations had different favorites. In the U.S., Yahoo is the second-choice option for personal emails (14.2% of users). In Europe, Outlook is the more popular second choice in France, Spain, and the U.K. (with 19.7%, 20%, and 30.6% of users respectively). Yahoo is a distant third in all European countries, with a single-digit presence in each location. 

In Germany specifically, Web.de and GMX far outpace both Outlook and Yahoo. And considering most people, regardless of location, check their email on their mobile devices, email senders should create content that translates well visually when viewed on these carrying mobile interfaces.

Understand Email Regulations

There are many data privacy and consumer protection laws to which brands must adhere in every corner of the globe. Some regions may have specific data collection rules and others may not. In the E.U., email senders must be mindful of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that requires companies to obtain consent when gathering or using email data for commercial or marketing purposes. The U.K., while no longer part of the E.U., still upholds its own U.K. GDPR regulations.

Email marketers operating in America must be knowledgeable on CAN-SPAM Act and local state data protection bills. The CAN-SPAM Act creates regulations around a commercial email to protect users, such as requiring companies to share their location with users, not using misleading subject lines, and including opt-out links in emails. On top of CAN-SPAM, various states in the U.S. are enacting their data protection laws. For example, California has its own California Consumer Privacy Act and Virginia recently passed its VA Consumer Protection Act to further protect its residents. Businesses should always rigorously follow regulations in any country to which it’s sending emails. Non-compliance can mean fines or having emails blocked, so staying on the right side of the law is non-negotiable.

Send Emails At Appropriate Regional Times

A recent Pathwire study showed that the best time to send an email for top open and click-through rates was around 15:00 UTC. However, email habits vary significantly across regions and what works in the U.S. might not be as successful in France.

How many times per day do you check your email? Even if you’re more focused on email sending than receiving, we’re guessing you click-through to your inbox at least a few times a day. And you wouldn’t be alone.

The majority of global respondents in our 2021 Email Engagement study check their email at least twice a day, with a quarter checking more than five times per day. However, even all that frequent checking doesn’t mean that an email is going to be opened or engaging, especially among all those daily emails. For best results, businesses should make sure that an email is sent right when a recipient is most likely to check their mail.

In the U.S. and the U.K., the most popular time to check emails is the morning (44.8% and 41.4% respectively), with a third checking in the evening. German users most often check email in the evening – though rarely before bed. In France, the largest number of users check email in the evening (44.0%) but are hardly ever on their email during that sacred lunch break. In contrast, when sending emails to Spanish recipients, companies should avoid the evening as much as possible as only 12.3% of users check their mail then.

No one wants their email campaigns to land flat with a global audience. It’s always a good idea to research global audiences before investing time and money in a new email campaign to make sure it resonates in the best way. Refining the message, choosing the best time and presentation for an email, and making sure the campaign adheres to regional mandates are keys to successfully engaging new and existing customers.

About The Author

Mary Dolan is a Content Specialist at Pathwire.