Executive summary

When it comes to B2B marketing, emails are hard to beat for reliability and effect. Even with the wide range of messenger and chat apps available for mobiles and desktops, email is still the most effective tool for reaching target audiences directly, and at scale.

If you really want to optimize the return on investment you’re getting from your email marketing efforts with for non-English speakers it makes a lot of sense to localize your content to their language.

A recent experiment we ran showed that writing emails in Thai for Thai audiences more than doubled average open rates, and boosted response rates even higher.

Email is unbeatable for B2B marketing

Emails’ massive usage serves as a quick reminder to how effective and reliable it actually is – In 2018 there were over 281 billion emails sent, and projections see that number increasing to more than 347 billion by 2023.

But emails’ vast popularity is a challenge as well. With inboxes around the world filling up with an ever increasing flood of emails, how do you get yours noticed? More importantly, how do you get your email opened and responded to?

Vimi encourages all our clients to localize email marketing campaigns. Localizing means adapting content and messaging to your target audience. Beginning with language.

English is the language of B2B, isn’t it?

English is the commonly used language for B2B business because in most cases it’s far more likely to be the language everyone understands in an international group. But when you are trying to sell your product or service, shouldn’t you ensure your audience fully understands and embraces your message? What if your audience is more comfortable with Thai, Japanese, or Arabic?

If you’re doing business in Thailand or internationally, here are some statistics to consider:

Acknowledging this reality can make all the difference to your success as other research reports that, of global consumers, 60% rarely or never make purchases at websites that are available only in English.

Local language creates positive experience

As far as Thais and other non-english speaking people are concerned, by providing local language content, you are showing an understanding and a direct interest in that community.

This extra care is well worth it when you consider that a whopping 52.4% of consumers prefer dealing in their native language. It’s well worth noting that while the global average is as above, these numbers change in different countries and can climb much higher for certain markets. The figure for Japan is 70%!

How does Thailand respond to localized content?

Recently, in an effort to boost the engagement rates for our own internal marketing messages we decided to experiment with localized content.

To test what the impact of localization is locally we sent out two email campaigns to the same list, one week after another. The messaging in both emails was identical, with one important difference. The first campaign was in English, while the second one was in Thai.

The results surpassed our wildest expectations.

While we achieved a maximum 31% open rate for the English campaigns, with 0 replies, the Thai emails were much more successful.. Not only did we reach a 62% open rate (100% increase), but we also got excellent engagement, with a 12% response rate.

Our conclusion is that even highly educated and professional Thais, who by and large are more than comfortable with dealing in English, respond far better when addressed in their native language.

Localization requires more than Google Translate

While we all would like to think that localization is easily achievable, it’s still important to acknowledge that, as with all efforts – You get what you give. Don’t get sucked into believing that a single button in a translation app can “localize” your content.

There are plenty of examples out there from the world of branding, from Braniff Airlines back in 1987 inviting travelers to “fly naked” in Spanish (instead of fly in leather luxury seats) to, more recently, Ikea having to review all their product names to avoid double entendres in Thailand. But even minor missteps can lose the goodwill you’ve gained by choosing to communicate in local languages.

You spent so much time crafting your message in English. Your non-English speaking audiences deserve exactly the same level of care. Need help staying on point in another language? Don’t satisfy yourself with risky automated solutions like Google Translate — Vimi’s local copywriters will ensure nothing gets lost in translation and save you from embarrassing mistakes.

More content marketing localization factors

While text translations are normally what comes to mind most often when we think about localizing our content marketing efforts, these are just one of the factors you should consider. Here are a few additional topics worth thinking about:

Images

You may see an innocent picture of a girl in a bikini at the beach. Your email recipient may think it a vulgar example of corruption.

All too often we see international brands “importing” their global Corporate Identity to the local market, and failing to acknowledge that the people in their content marketing materials are all Caucasians, while the target audience is composed mostly of Southeast Asians.

The realities of familiarity bias dictate that there’s a very tangible price paid in lower engagement rates, that could have been easily avoided by doing a photo shoot with local models.

Colors and layouts

It is never a case of black and white when it comes to colors and cultures. Truly. Black may mean death in some cultures while in others the funereal color is white. Blue could be masculine or feminine depending on your audience. Along with colors, you may also want to consider the layout. Even UX design has a cultural component. People from collectivist cultures, such as those prevalent in Southeast Asia, are far more likely to notice background elements in design, than people from analytical “Western” cultures.

Vimi speaks your language!

Localizing your email campaign effectively will improve your audience engagement.

Let Vimi show you how. For over a decade our agency has been helping B2B companies like yours with every aspect of their online presence, from lead generation to email campaigns to web content and app design. And as a multicultural company, we have in-house expertise and experience in creating appealing emails that will attract a wide audience and, in turn, will translate to more business for you! Contact us to learn more about which solution is right for you!