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.


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:


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.

  • Brandstrup

    Internationalization or localization (depending on your angle) is tricky, and issues pop up everywhere. There is one last thing missing from the package. I’ve noticed that Campaign Monitor tags like <$currentmonth$> only displays dates, names of months etc. in English. Could you consider adding something like a LCID to the tag such as <%currentmonth:LCID=1030;Format:MMMM%> so we can have month and dates in our own language, please?

  • Brandstrup

    And isn’t it awful. You do good and release a new feature. First thing that happens is that people ask for more. I’m sorry.

  • Juanzo

    Having the application translated would allow many of us to provide your awesome service to our clients; keep us updated!

  • Emil

    Keep in mind that non A-Z 0-9 characters in your subject line may cause spam filters to trigger with Campaign Monitor.

    When sending for clients who needs a subject line with åäö (swedish speical letters which works fine in UTF-8) we usually switch to Mailchimp. They are doing something with their subject that works better (passes the spam filters) when using special characters in the subject line.

  • Brian Barker

    Don’t forget Esperanto as well !

    During a short period of 122 years Esperanto is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide, according to the CIA World factbook. It is the 22nd most used language in Wikipedia, ahead of Danish and Arabic. It is a language choice of Google, Skype, Firefox and Facebook.

    Your readers may be interested in the following video.

  • Nicolas

    I second this feature request. I cannot understand how a big company like yours did not think about other language versions ?! Scripts like Magento / WordPress … do it well and there is no problem.

  • Jennifer

    agree with post one. Also to add further, if a recipient has an accent in their name, it will not be parsed correctly.

  • Vitor Junqueira

    This is great news but our issue is on having multiple languages for the same campaign: here in Luxembourg you have 4 official languages and customers communicating in up to 10 languages.
    Is there a chance to have the Preference center related to the subscriber rather than to the CM user account? or maybe to the subscriber list?

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Hi Vitor, that’s a great suggestion, so we’ve taken note of that. Having it linked to the campaign/subscriber list would probably be the more practical option, so we’ll certainly explore what we can do there.

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Oh, and Brandstrup – sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier. That’s solid as well – we’ll certainly look at how we can make dates more flexible. It’s good that you mention that, as it’s a seemingly small detail that can make a huge difference for non-English speakers!

  • Jonathan

    I’d like to second Vitor’s proposal. We send different messages to different subscriber lists in different languages. Setting the language on a client level doesn’t help.

    Thank again for a great product!

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Jonathan – Thanks for the feedback, I’ve added your vote for this, too. It makes loads of sense, so we’ll certainly look into it further.

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