Internationalizing an Email Program

Place yourself in the shoes of a large brand interested in expanding their reach internationally. 

What would it take to expand their current domestic email marketing program into a global program? What would need to change? Where would you start? What resources must you leverage? There’s quite a bit to consider – and we have answers.

This solution for creating emails that allow brands to support their customers in their chosen language is built within the Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) email platform and leverages the data structures and scripting languages that make it one of the most flexible platforms on the market. Through the use of Data Extensions (think database tables) and AMPScript (SFMC’s programmatic scripting language) written in reusable Content Builder Code Snippets, Trendline has developed a system that supports as many languages as you can translate across the entirety of your email program.

Grow from small scale one-off emails

Before we get ahead of ourselves, we must acknowledge that some use cases will only need to account for one-off or small scale efforts. In these instances, content can be handled directly in your HTML or by placing AMPScript within a code snippet. 

While this is effective for smaller scale campaigns, managing an internationalization at a scale of 150+ emails in multiple languages, across multiple journeys, and a stack of triggered sends requires a thorough, large-scale internationalization strategy. 

Evolve to a large scale internationalization

Our two key pillars for a successful large-scale internationalization strategy? Flexibility & Organization.

A flexible approach accounts for new journeys or email streams and new individual emails to be added as needed. It also allows for easy updates not only on the email level, but system-wide.

Likewise, organization is key – managing content of this volume can be tricky, especially if you cannot find the content you need to update. That is why we use Data Extensions to manage the content of every supported email and language. We also use Data Extensions to hold other important information that will account for most of our flexibility.

Use Data Extensions

We use the term Content Data Extension to identify the Data Extensions that hold all of the content for every email in every language supported. This is essential for proper organization and efficiency with large-scale international campaigns. These Data Extensions use the combination of the Email Name and Locale to identify the specific row of the Data Extension to use so that the AMPScript within the email will know exactly which content to use. 

The other main use of Data Extensions is what we call an Email Catalog Data Extension. This Data Extension acts as a complete reference of all supported emails and languages. In addition to being a reference, it holds the names of the Content Data Extensions where that combination can be found . This allows the AMPScript responsible for identifying the correct content to pull the content from the appropriate Content Data Extensions. This is the foundation for your system that provides the flexibility and organization necessary for success. 

Write AMPScript

As we implement these types of solutions, we like to let AMPScript do all the heavy lifting. With the creative use of a few AMPScript functions and the Data Extensions outlined above, we can create a reusable Code Snippet Block that automates the entire process by including it in every email and handles:

  1. Identifying the locale of the subscriber based on their email address
  2. Identifying the correct row within the Email Catalog Data Extension
    1. Along with the Content Data Extension names to pull content from
  3. Execute Lookups based on:
    1. The Data Extension names from Step 3
    2. The Email Name from Step 2
    3. The locale from Step 1

Build email templates

With the goal of flexibility and easily adding emails to the system outlined above, most of the elements are designed to be fully dynamic – meaning they don’t need to be altered for every email. Keeping flexibility in mind, we can include the main AMPScript Code Snippet as a Content Builder Reference Content Block which allows for all updates to be made to all of your emails from a single source (if you are building HTML emails you can use ContentBlockById AMPScript to achieve the same functionality).

There are some bells and whistles built in that do require adjustments per email. Through adding in an additional Code Snippet at the top of your emails, AMPScript variables can be used set by the end user (email name, toggle for staging/production content data extensions, etc) to alter some of the logic used in the main AMPScript Code Snippet. 

The Trendline Way

In short – it is possible to expand a successful domestic email program into a successful global email program. Though challenging, managing the program across many languages and locales can be accomplished with the help of a flexible and organized solution predicated on the foundation of thought out Data Extensions, AMPscript and HTML.

If you’d like to learn more about our Solutions Consulting team, contact us


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