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Apr 07, 2008
Blog Post

SherpaBlog: How to Double Your International Email Response Rates

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, Content Director

The dollar is so low right now that people outside of America are viewing us as one vast discount store. We’re the Wal-Mart for the rest of the developed world. For example, hordes of European tourists are buying European antiques more cheaply in Manhattan than they can in Europe.

That’s great news for the US tourism industry as well as for US-based companies that offer ecommerce shipping overseas. It’s also great for B-to-B companies that can offer products and services globally.

Plus, with the Internet, marketing internationally is so much cheaper and easier than it ever was in history. Just don’t make two big mistakes:

-> Mistake #1. Relying on English

Communicating in the English-language alone is rude, arrogant and costs you responses. Just because many of your prospects may speak English as a second (or third) language, doesn’t mean they want to. Be polite. Translate.

Pamela Jacobs, IBM’s Manager of Developer Communications, has been testing English-language vs. native-language emails for countries ranging from Brazil to Russia for several years now.

In every single case, sending the email in the recipient’s native tongue increased clickthrough rates -- often by double or even nearly triple. In Poland, for example, English-language emails got a 4.24% response rate, while Polish-language offers had a 17.43% response rate.

-> Mistake #2. Using an American Translation Firm

Actually, this mistake is really using one central translation form in any one country at all. Unless the people doing the translators are all native-speakers in the language they’re translating and they have enough education/understanding to convey your message properly (not a given), the translations will be enough “off” to hurt response.

Often you need to hire regionally as well -- for example, Mexican Spanish and Spain’s Spanish may require separate translations just as US English and British English often do!

If you’re streaming audio on your site, podcast, video or ad, you’ll definitely need a regional native speaker. For example, French speakers from Paris wince when they hear a Montreal accent, as do Brazilians when they hear a citizen of Lisbon talking.

Lastly, no, don’t even consider using translation software. I don’t care how great the programmers say it is. It isn’t. Not for marketing copy.

Are you an internationally-experienced US marketer? I’ve asked MarketingSherpa’s research and reporting team to start work on a series of special reports focusing on ways US companies can market both to incoming foreign tourists and also to citizens and businesses in other countries.

If you would like to participate as a source and share advice and lessons learned with your fellow readers, please give us a ping!

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