Email Marketing Tips for Reaching an International Audience

Targeted, cheap, fast, trackable and with more reporting than traditional offline direct mail techniques, email marketing is used extensively by international marketers.

But although why is an easy question to answer, how is one that causes more headaches.

By rushing into email and not using recognised email marketing service providers, many appear to be successfully conducting successful strategies. Dig deeper and it is a different story:

Building a database for the future

Marketers have adopted recent EU legislation that ensure individuals "opt-in" to your messages and respect data privacy. The flaw is in how much data people are collecting. By not integrating data capture techniques for mailing address, telephone and fax number, a company becomes hostage to always using email marketing.

Industry unsubscribe rates are reported as between 0.2% and 5% (MarketingSherpa). Over time, without investment in an acquisition programme, your database will dwindle. Integrating data capture (often after first contact) of additional contact details provides an alternative communication channel when the email route is ended.

The appropriate message

The fundamental question is whether to begin an email newsletter programme or to adopt promotional adhoc messages. Most favour the newsletter route, committing to:

  • Reaching critical mass: Get enough volume and the list will self-breed through recommendations. Not get enough and your list will degenerate meaning expensive list acquisition programmes.
  • Content: you are locked into providing regular, high quality content that people value. Although good content is expensive, it has a clear association with your brand.
  • Timing: you commit to providing a regular communications. Having a newsletter of only two issues suggests you have nothing to say.
These factors come down to resource. Managing an email newsletter programme is not the low cost, low risk activity that many marketers believe it to be.

So does this mean that ad hoc promotional messages are key? Industry research conducted by Marketing Sherpa shows that email newsletters have a 10 times lower unsubscribe rate (0.20.7% for newsletters and 25% on adhoc/alerts) meaning email databases will last longer with email newsletters. This is particularly relevant in industries with high email address acquisition.

For a time sensitive product such as an event or a topical report, getting an immediate response is key. Consider EasyJet. Their entire business model is uniquely disposed to tactical promotional pushes and not a longer term CRM process. Indeed, SpeedFerries recently recorded a 400% leap in sales off the back of a promotional email marketing programme.

Dan Murphy, eBusiness Director for Informa Telecoms & Media, an international publisher has launched a daily newsletter to keep in contact with prospects that its small sales team can't reach. "there is no other way we can communicate so quickly and effectively across the world. Indeed, although the editorial investment was considerable, awareness is up and prospects now contact us with their research problems".

Considering objectives and available resource is key before committing to an email newsletter programme.

Sent in the right way

Broadcasting email communications appears simple, but unfortunately it is not.

Spam filters, black lists, white lists, ISP blocking (international and individual counties) sender certificates and improvements within email clients like Outlook constantly hit the headlines. Indeed, email marketing agency, Digital Impact reported the average European deliverability rate is only 91.5%. Without relationships with each ISP and an appropriate tracking mechanism, knowing whether your communications are getting through is impossible.

You can undo investments in your brand very quickly with email marketing. A person's perception of your brand is reinforced by every message you send them. Delivering non-optimised messages with mixed up 'broken' html means your brand integrity is being compromised.

Marketing to people in their own language is common practice amongst international marketers. Using the correct language character-set when sending emails avoids your messages being delivered as question-marks.

Using email marketing fulfilment agencies to broadcast optimised messages to your database allows you to be confident that your recipient receives what you intend them to see.

Refinement and tracking

Integrating the email reporting into your management information systems is key. From better profiling in CRM systems for account management to closed loop ROI tools, understanding the real impact of your email marketing programme should be in the context of your entire marketing objectives.

Many international marketers are at different stages of using email marketing. Almost all are using it, but how they're using it is in need of further thought. The international marketers' journey into email marketing has only just begun.

More information about our email marketing broadcast services

Adestra provide welcome tactical advice and input on our clients email marketing program. For more information about how we can work together with you to improve your email marketing, please contact us and ask us about our email marketing services. Our web address is

Paul Crabtree is presently Marketing Director of Adestra (, a UK based digital marketing agency that specialise in inbound and outbound email, fax and SMS broadcast solutions. Adestra's client portfolio includes many UK based publishers including Janes Information Group, Informa, Lexis Nexis, OUP, Blackwells and others.

Previous to this role, Paul was responsible for heading-up online marketing for Informa Telecoms' publishing division working on a portfolio of reports, newsletters, ad-led vehicles and the industry portal

Paul will draw on his 5 years of focused experience in working in online marketing for publishers.

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