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Given that we’ve got customers in 187 countries worldwide, we commonly get asked questions about sending multilingual campaigns using Campaign Monitor. The good news is that for a lot of languages, this isn’t a problem.

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In this post we’ll skim over some of the basics of sending a campaign in a language other than English and provide a few practical tips along the way. Note that a lot of this is for the benefit of folks using non-Latin characters – if you’re happily sending your emails in a Latin alphabet language like Bahasa Malaysia, then keep doing what you’re doing!

Using non-English characters in a campaign

One common issue that comes up when folks start creating HTML emails in languages other than English is character encoding. In short, there are a whole bunch of encoding standards floating around on the web today, to cover character sets like Simplified Chinese (GB2312). Campaign Monitor sends campaigns in UTF-8, which thankfully, has a lot in common with most of them.

Perhaps the best reasons for using UTF-8 are:

  1. It covers a lot of different character sets. UTF-8 works great with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cyrillic, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Extended Latin, African and Latin American symbols and more.
  2. Email client support is strong. Despite Microsoft products having a preference for Windows Latin 1 (ISO-8859-1), most email clients display UTF-8 like a charm.

Unfortunately, Hotmail offers poor UTF-8 support, so we use ISO-8859-1 encoding when sending to Hotmail recipients. Keep this in mind when running your design tests.

Using UTF-8 in your emails

Have you always wanted to know what that meta tag is all about in your HTML email code? In this instance, we’ll be using it to declare that we’re using the UTF-8 character set, like so:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type"
content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />

Double-check this line, as it’s not uncommon for editors to use alternate declarations like charset=ISO-8859-1 or charset=US-ASCII as their default.

Also, while some folks strip the <head> section of their email code out altogether, it’s essential to have this, especially when using a visual editor like Dreamweaver. Trust me, I’ve made this mistake more than once.

Don’t forget to set the file encoding as Unicode (UTF-8) when saving your files, usually in “Save as…”. If your HTML editor doesn’t support this, open your HTML file in a plain text editor like Notepad or TextEdit and save it using UTF-8 encoding. Getting this wrong can result in your non-English characters becoming scrambled when you close and reopen your files.

Once this is done, add your content and send as you please. You don’t need to specify that you’re using UTF-8 from within Campaign Monitor.

So, how about key pages and custom fields?

A bit of good news is that we’ve translated our Preference Center and Forward to a Friend into 27 languages. Here’s a basic example in Hungarian:

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You can also customize your subscribe process and set your own unsubscribe confirmation page to reflect your language of choice.

To top it off, Campaign Monitor also uses UTF-8 encoding for its custom fields, which means that subscribers can update their details in your Preference Center using a language other than English.

And on that note…

I’d like to wrap by saying that working with character sets can be hard, but that doesn’t mean that you should be hard on yourself – a lot of non-English character display issues are the result of factors on the subscribers’ end. For example, if a subscriber has their browser set to an alternate encoding like GB2312, then there’s a good chance that things may not display as desired when they view their webmail.

Finally, there have been requests for non-English versions of the application – and we’re listening. Although there are no firm plans for the interface to be translated as yet, we’re certainly not sitting on our hands when it comes to making Campaign Monitor accessible to non-English speaking clients and subscribers. Many thanks to everyone for their feedback on localizing Campaign Monitor and stay tuned to this blog as we improve our international language support.

Wait one moment! Do you speak Czech, Estonian, Slovenian or Thai? We need you to help us translate our Forward to a Friend and Preference Center pages. This task will take only 5-10 minutes and comes with a nice reward, so please help us localize our key pages.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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