5 Must-Read Answers to Your International Email Marketing Questions

Steven Slasten
Dec. 28, 2015 by Steven Slasten

It’s Marketing 101: getting the right message to the right customer at the right time. As marketers, we think about that in display advertising, we think about it in media placements, and of course we should think about it in email marketing, too.

international email

When it comes to marketing in different international markets, that rule applies doubly. But, let’s face it, for a lot of us, sending email outside of the U.S. and Canada is an intimidating prospect. Too many email marketers try to guess at the privacy regulations, ISP rules, language preferences, and even time zones of their customers. And some email marketers don’t even try. They either avoid international marketing like the plague or—even worse—they ride roughshod over these important issues.

Let’s make this real for a moment. Imagine living in China, and getting email alerts at all hours of the night because marketers in North America either overlook or don’t care about the fact that you’re trying to get some sleep. Would you really want to keep engaging with that company? No! In fact, this very issue has become such a problem that many Chinese ISPs have begun to limit the amount of messages they accept at certain times to avoid their customers being woken up by late-night emails.

So what are email marketers to do? A great place to start is “Your Passport to Global Email Marketing Success,” a recent webinar SparkPost hosted with Dennis Dayman of Return Path and our own Len Shneyder. Dennis and Len shared tried-and-true best practices and forward-looking ideas for sending email outside of North America. The webinar was chock full of great information, and I definitely encourage you to check it out.

I personally was struck by a few questions from the audience that came up during the webinar Q&A. Here’s my take on the what email marketers are asking about sending messages to markets around the world.

1. How do I deal with opt-outs internationally? Is there CAN-SPAM or something similar outside of the U.S.?

Yes. To start, there is CASL, Canada’s ground-breaking anti-spam legislation. You definitely need to read up on that if you are sending email to Canada. (It goes without saying that SparkPost has your back on this one. We recently hosted a fantastic webinar about the ins-and-outs of CASL.) CASL is significant, but many other countries have their own privacy regulations that also require opt-out, such like the EU Data protection directive. Long story short, do your research before you send!

2. How much time can pass between an opt-out request and when it should take effect?

In the world of relevant and modern marketing tools, opt-outs should take effect immediately. There is no reason for delay, and every email you send after a customer has opted out could be a serious black mark on the recipient’s view of your brand. Having said that, you are afforded a grace period of 10 days or so in many national email regulations (though details may vary).

3. What’s the best time of day and day of week to send emails? Does it vary country to country?

Test! Test! Test! We can’t emphasize this enough. There’s no such thing as the perfect time of day—your recipients change, demographics change, who’s receiving it changes, and the importance they attach to it changes. All these things change and are testable!

4. Do I really need to use double opt-in for an international email list?

Yes. Email best practices dictate that double opt-in or confirmed opt-in is the right thing to do. Remember that in many markets, both customer expectations and regulatory policies require much more diligence than the relatively laissez-faire approach to opt-in and list buying that some marketers have taken in the past.

5. How do I keep on top of the changes taking place around the world and different worldwide email regulations?

Several organizations are great resources for staying on top of email marketing best practices around the world. Every email marketer should start following their social media feeds or newsletters—or even consider joining them as a formal member.

Though sending email outside of North America takes care and awareness of audience expectations and international regulatory issues, with the right information, it can be done! Check out the resources I highlighted in this post, and you’ll have a great start to planning a successful international email marketing strategy.

What’s been your experience with international email marketing? I’d love to hear from you. And do check out our “Your Passport to Global Email Marketing Success” webinar. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

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