May 17, 2011
How To

Global Email Marketing: 3-part campaign sent in six languages averages 28% CTR

SUMMARY: Perfecting an email marketing program is a never-ending process. You learn from each campaign and apply those lessons to improve results.

Check out this global email campaign, sent in six languages that averaged good open and clickthrough rates, but did not drive many conversions. Next week, we'll provide expert analysis on how this email campaign and others can be improved. But first, let’s take a look at a wealth of metrics for this multilingual marketing campaign.
by Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter


The marketers at Slow Food, a global nonprofit organization, had a big event coming up and needed to generate interest. Slow Food has 100,000 members and its mission is to promote "good, clean and fair food for all."

The upcoming event was the fourth meeting of Slow Food's Terra Madre network, a group of influencers in the food supply chain. The event was scheduled for Oct. 21-25 in Turin, Italy. Slow Food wanted to generate support for the event and its organization through email marketing.

"We have a lot of experience in printed material. We are less experienced in email marketing," says Paolo Di Croce, Secretary General, Slow Food International. "We have a monthly [email] newsletter to update members about the network and what's going on in different parts of the world, but it's relatively new for us."

Di Croce and his team felt that the upcoming Terra Madre event would be a good time to launch their first promotional email campaign. With supporters in 153 countries speaking a multitude of languages, the marketers had their work cut out for them.


Starting in August, the marketers planned to send one email per month for the three months leading up to the event. The messages would be translated into six different languages and sent to Slow Food's members and email subscribers.

Here are the steps they followed:

Step #1. Segment audience by language

Slow Food's audience spans the globe. The organization can communicate with members in at least a dozen different languages but wanted to limit the scope of the campaign to six: English, Italian, Spanish, German, French and Japanese.

The audiences speaking these languages, Di Croce felt, would have a combined size large enough to make the effort worthwhile, and would be culturally receptive to interacting with an organization online.

Having been established for more than two decades, the organization maintained an internal team of translators who could craft clean messages in a variety of languages. The marketers were able to leverage these internal resources for the campaign.

- Translated from English

For each mailing, the marketers planned to send the same message to the entire audience, but translated into each subscriber's preferred language. Di Croce's team avoided translating from Italian (the team is based in Italy) and instead started with English as it would transition more clearly to the other languages, he says.

Step #2. Explain the organization and event in first email

The first email, sent on Aug. 27, announced the event, explained it, and described the Terra Madre network. Key features of this message:

- Announcement

The top portion of the email featured a small Slow Foods logo, but was mostly branded with a Terra Madre-focused banner. The email addressed the subscriber by first name and quickly announced the October event and the types of people attending. The email's footer featured the Terra Madre logo and event date.

- Explain the organization

The email's central portion listed four bullet points describing Terra Madre as an international network of people as well as an event.

- Call-to-action: Learn about Terra Madre

At the bottom of the email, a button and a link encouraged readers to "Dig Into Terra Madre." Clicking one of these elements brought readers to a landing page where they could learn more about Terra Madre (more about the landing page in a moment). The email also featured a screenshot of a video that, when clicked, took readers to YouTube for viewing.

- Landing page

The email's main call-to-action was to "dig into" (or learn more about) Terra Madre. Clicking the email's button or link brought readers to a landing page with the following features:

o Paragraph description of the video
o Eight-minute video description of Terra Madre
o 24-page document description of Terra Madre
o Button to donate to the organization

Step #3. Encourage membership in the second email

Slow Food sent the second message on Sept. 24, about one month before the event. The message was designed to encourage subscribers to help grow the Terra Madre network. Here are its key features:

- Graphical layout

This email shared the same header graphic and colors as the first message, but had much less textual content. Instead of copy, it featured:
o Quote from a Terra Madre Member
o Large graphic to symbolize global interconnectedness
o Call-to-action button: "Help Us Grow Our Network"
o Footer image: Terra Madre logo and event date

- Call-to-action: Grow audience

This email's call-to-action was to "help us grow our network." The message first addressed this goal in its subject line: "Let's work together to grow Terra Madre's network"

The email's messaging and imagery suggested the importance of having a network. Finally, the email's call-to-action, encapsulated in the button, encouraged subscribers to help grow the network.

- Landing page

After clicking the email's large graphic or button, subscribers arrived on a landing page that reiterated the message to "help us grow our network."

The page features the same colors and fonts as the email, and gave visitors two options:

o Click to join the network - begin the process of becoming a Slow Food member, which requires a $25 donation

o Spread the word about Terra Madre by sharing a link to the landing page on a social network

Reasons to take action were provided for both options.

Step #4. Request donations in final email

The marketers sent the third and final email six days before the event. The message suggested the world had a "paradox" caused by a having greater number of overweight people than people suffering from hunger. Recipients were encouraged to "help stop the paradox."

Here are the email's key features:

- Mixed layout

This email featured both text and large images, making its layout a hybrid of the previous two messages.

Graphics included:

o Similar banner to the two previous emails
o Large image of a scale to symbolize the "paradox"
o Stamp image: "Help Stop The Paradox"
o Button: "Take Action Now"
o Footer image: Terra Madre logo and event date

The email's copy included:

o Two statistics to outline "paradox"
o Sub-headline: "Raise Terra Madre's Voice!"
o Stats on food production

- Call-to-action: donate

Clicking the email's "take action now" button brought subscribers to a landing page to donate to the Terra Madre network. The page was hosted on Terra Madre's website, described the network, and mentioned what visitors' donations would help support.

The page included a short form to make donations. After clicking "donate now," subscribers were brought to a checkout process to complete the transaction.

The three-part campaign had good open and clickthrough rates compared to Slow Food's average, Di Croce says. You can see peaks in performance for select languages in the stats below.

Average metrics for all three emails across all six languages:

o Open rate: 30.92%
o CTR: 27.85%

Despite relatively good interaction rates, the emails failed to deliver an appreciable increase in donations or memberships, Di Croce says. Regardless, he considers the campaign a good start.

"It was very important for us to start [in email marketing]," Di Croce says. "I am confident that in the medium term this will become much better."

- Highest performing languages for each of the three emails:

> Email 1 - Dig into Terra Madre

Spanish: Open rate: 37.02%, CTR: 48.92%
French: Open rate: 26.98%, CTR: 46.63%

> Email 2 - Grow Terra Madre’s network

Japanese: Open rate: 36.59%, CTR: 50.0%
Spanish: Open rate: 32.52%, CTR: 39.94%

> Email 3 - Stop the paradox

French: Open rate: 43.34%, CTR: 33.85%
Japanese: Open rate: 40.24%, CTR: 39.39%
German: Open rate: 44.36%, CTR: 31.33%
Spanish: Open rate: 31.85 %, CTR: 36.90%

- Expert conversion analysis

But why did Slow Food see this paradox in its marketing campaign? Good intermediate metrics, but weak overall results?

Be sure to check out next week's Email Marketing article for an analysis from a MECLABS optimization expert on how to improve this email campaign and others. (Note: MECLABS is the parent company of MarketingSherpa)

Useful links related to this article


1. Email #1
2. Email #2
3. Email #3
4. Landing page #1
5. Landing page #2
6. Landing page #3

Members Library -- Email Marketing: Double-send strategy boosts donations 55%

Email Marketing Tests: What to do when a radical change produces negligible results

Email Marketing: Testing subject lines

Email Copy: Half the words, 16% higher clickthrough rate

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