As many of you may know, I recently (June 2012) changed jobs and have been so busy learning new systems, meeting new clients and focusing on items at a much more global scale then I have in the past. In my new role as Director of Global Delivery Services at Experian CheetahMail, I have started to become much more involved in international delivery items, as we have offices in every continent.
When speaking with global clients, this expanded reach has brought a number of items to the forefront of my thinking. You see, as the digital world continues to flatten, and companies continue to expand their international footprints, email marketers must really examine who they are and what their goals are for reaching out to customers located across the globe.
I was recently reading a blog a friend of mine writes about Yoga (http://charmedyoga.com/2012/08/15/who-are-you-exactly/). In it, she talks about the topic of knowing who you are. I realized that the topic isn’t just related to Yoga, it is related to everything, even digital marketing. You see in marketing, you not only have to know exactly who you are as a brand, but what you are trying to accomplish through your digital marketing efforts. Think about your brand for a minute….are your brand’s marketing campaigns simply around selling more products (we all know this is the ultimate end goal) or are there other marketing efforts that are important to your brand? Are you trying to inform people of your company’s thought leadership, explain new ways for them to use a product they already have purchased, or maybe even entertain customers with clever tactics within your digital campaigns so your brand is top of mind when they are ready to purchase?
So what does figuring out who you are as a brand have to do with international email delivery? Everything. You see once you figure out who you are as a brand, you then must determine how that fits into each possible market you are sending emails into. Just because one form of messaging works here in the states doesn’t mean that it is going to be positively received by your customers that are in Europe, or even the Asia Pacific regions. This is an important factor to remember. When it comes to many of the international ISPs, their systems are not as sophisticated as many marketers are used to here in the U.S., such as Yahoo! and Gmail. Most of these international ISPs are not quite to the level of being able to implement feedback loops, let alone create reputation systems based on engagement. Many of the international ISPs focus on the same information that the U.S.-based ISPs do (inactive users, complaints and spam traps), but they haven’t gotten to the level of sophistication as their U.S. counterparts.
By now you might be thinking, this is good news, if I don’t have to worry about engagement, my job should be easy—let’s start sending. Not so fast my friends. It is still extremely important to make sure that you are sending these customers what they want and what they expect from you and your brand. Because many of these international ISPs don’t provide feedback loops, it is harder to understand and monitor when you are receiving higher complaints than expected.
In order to be best prepared when you are sending to international customers there are some items that I always suggest my clients focus on. Not surprisingly, many of them are the same things you would focus on for US based customers, but:
- Monitor your unsubscribes more closely. I am a big believer that most people by now know that the unsubscribe link is located somewhere at the bottom of every email. What you have to take into account are the “lazy” people that don’t want to scroll down, and instead will simply mark you as SPAM. With the lack of an established feedback loops, you have to assume that if your unsubscribes begin to significantly increase in any way, your complaints are likely doing the same.
- Open Rate is also extremely important to monitor, but remember this can get tricky. Because all (at least the ones I know of) systems track opens based on an open pixel, if the user doesn’t have images turned on, their open will not be recorded in your system. When reviewing open rates, you should always look at them from a trending standpoint. This allows you to see if there are any major changes, rather than just small changes in images being displayed at various ISPs.
So remember, it is always a good idea to take a step back and understand who you are as a brand and what you are trying to accomplish with your digital marketing dollars. Once you have that figured out and you are deciding to move to a more international effort, make sure you are focusing on the right metrics in order to be able to monitor your campaigns.
Good Luck and Good Sending.