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Digital marketing:Using email marketing for international audiences

What you’ll learn

  • how well your email marketing is performing
  • how to localise email content for different markets
  • how you might test messages across markets

Make email marketing part of your wider content strategy

Email marketing is how you engage with your ‘subscribers' — people who have signed up to your email list, and given permission to receive communications from you.

Think of it as part of your wider content strategy. Make sure you know why you’re targeting a certain audience, and how the emails in different export markets will help you achieve your overall business goals.

Assess performance at home to benchmark it abroad

Before creating email marketing abroad, review how it’s working for you in the UK. By using a range of measurements (or metrics) you can set the standard for any new campaigns abroad.

These include click through rates (how many people click links in your emails) and open rates (how many people open emails they receive from you).

You can then use these to compare the success of marketing emails abroad. For example, if you know the average email click through rate is 2% in the UK, you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether a 3% click through rate in Spain is a success.

Understand your audience - and localise content

To do this, it’s a good idea to work with local experts in your chosen market, as there will be a range of cultural factors you’ll need to consider.

Language, and the tone of voice

As well as translating your content into the local language, you may need to adapt or flex the way your brand talks to audiences (the brand tone of voice).

For example, you might find your audience in Germany wants a more formal greeting and sign off in emails. Likewise, if you use humour or pop culture reference be aware that audiences abroad may not respond in the same way as they do in the UK.

Colour choices

The colour choices of your email designs can have wildly different impacts across markets. For example, if you export wedding cakes, white might seem like an obvious colour choice. But in China people get married in red, and white is associated with mourning.


Consider how people in different countries read emails. For example, in counties which use Arabic your customers will read right to left. This means you may need to reformat some of your content and images.

Localise content calendars

If you base your content calendar around public holidays and cultural events, make sure your dates are in synch with the local market.

There's so many points across the calendar where you can tie in an email campaign around peak online activity. And the trick is knowing what these are and when they happen in different markets. For instance, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are at different times in the US to the UK.

International trade adviser

Focus on user needs

Always focus on user needs. Consider every step customers need to take to complete what you’re asking them to do in the email. See if you can simplify anything by cutting out steps or adapting the content – and make sure there’s always clear call to actions.

For example, you might use ‘Buy now’ rather than ‘See our range of products in the online shop’ as a button in an email.

Start small – and test your content

The best way of finding out if your email content is working is by testing it with your customers. But start by focusing on a small geographic region or limited number of customers.

For example, rather than emailing all your customers in France you might trial it with limited numbers in Bordeaux.

That way you can learn from your mistakes with minimum risk, and expand the campaign as you refine your marketing.

And once your marketing is working well in one country you can take what you’ve learnt to create a template to trial in others.

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