Anna Levitin on the Nuances of Localization, Working With Different Markets, and More

Anna Levitin on the Nuances of Localization, Working With Different Markets, and More
24 April, 2024 • ... • 3760 views
Diana Kussainova
by Diana Kussainova

Email marketing is where business meets communication, and as any other form of person-to-person interaction, it is nuanced and complex. Anna Levitin believes it even has a lot in common with cultural anthropology!

Read this interview to learn how an academic background can help you at work, how to adapt your email marketing strategy for different countries and make multilingual campaigns. Plus, get some tips for picking an ESP and other MarTech tools.

Anna Levitin is an Email & Marketing Operations Lead at Powtoon.

Anna Levitin’s profile photo
Source: Anna Levitin

Professional journey

You have an academic background in cultural anthropology, so how come you became an email marketer? Tell us more about your professional journey.

There is more in common between cultural anthropology and email marketing than you might think! Both fields revolve around analyzing people’s behavior. During my expeditions to the rural areas of the former USSR, I wielded pen and paper as my tools. Now, in email marketing, I leverage dashboards and numerical data to analyze and segment audiences.

I embarked on my marketing journey with traditional media like TV commercials, radio, and newspapers, gradually transitioning into the digital field. Throughout my career, I’ve overseen various marketing channels, including PPC, affiliates, and SEO. However, working at a travel start-up made me realize nothing brings me more satisfaction than cultivating relationships, personalizing messages, and retaining users. Discover more about my journey in this article.

How has your academic background helped you become a better email marketer?

I wrote a piece on how my degree helped me become a better marketer. Needless to say, for a long time, I was convinced that my education had zero connection to my current profession. But my academic degree has proven instrumental in understanding diverse cultures, a skill that now comes in handy as I engage with users from Vancouver to Canberra.

In general, quality education not only gives knowledge but also equips individuals with an advanced set of tools for continuous learning.

In changing your career path, what challenges have you experienced? In what ways did being a non-native English speaker make it harder or easier for you?

The majority of the challenges I faced were connected to the new countries I was moving to. Throughout my life, I have lived in Russia, the USA, and Israel. Each location has a unique set of cultural rules and traditional patterns, in addition to the obvious differences in language, weather, and ethics.

If you are a non-native English speaker, it automatically implies that you speak several other languages. Being a multilingual person who uses four different languages on a daily basis gives me the ability to connect with people on a deeper level.

I appreciate Roger Bacon’s quote about foreign languages: “Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom”.

Email marketing

You have experience and expertise working with many different channels like social media, PPC, SEO. What role do you think email marketing has compared to other channels you have worked with?

I like to think of marketing as a beautiful, expansive garden. Some individuals are responsible for delivering seeds and ensuring their germination, while others dedicate their time to the care and nurturing of the growing plants.

PPC, SEO, and social media play essential roles in acquiring new users and bringing them into your garden.

Email marketing involves finding an individual approach to each flower and tree, providing each one with the specific care it needs. Occasionally, we may inadvertently overwater them or deprive them of sunlight. Flowers may not unsubscribe or complain, but you get the analogy.

In your experience, do you think most C-level executives recognize the value of email marketing? And what can one do if they don’t?

Unfortunately, a significant number of C-level executives don’t fully appreciate the value of the email channel. Our goal is to highlight its importance.

I employ three key strategies to demonstrate the significance of email marketing:

  1. Revenue impact. Provide concrete examples of successful campaigns that have resulted in increased sales and profitability.
  2. Customer engagement and retention. Email serves as a tool to build lasting relationships with customers. Showcase examples of reduced churn, increased customer loyalty, and improved Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
  3. Data-driven insights. Highlight the power of email marketing analytics and its ability to influence users’ decision-making.

A helpful tactic for me is to align an email initiative with a business goal that holds high priority and budget.

When you are in search of a new MarTech solution, whether it’s an ESP or another tool, how do you go about selecting them?

The main question to ask is: what does a new tool unlock for the company?
How will the new technical solution help your department contribute to business goals?

Simple task: write two columns. In one, list technical and business goals; in the other, list platform features. Have you managed to match each feature to a goal? Get this tool now!

What are the most important features you look for in an ESP?

Following the previous question, it varies based on company goals. It’s more about the use cases that the solution helps solve rather than specific features.

Here are a few main directions:

  • Multilingual and omnichannel capabilities
  • Easy integration with other MarTech stack
  • High level of customer support in the relevant timezone
  • Company’s roadmap and product development
  • Marketers-friendly solution. Ability to track new data without dev team involvement

I like features like STO (Send Time Optimization), AI copy suggestions, and dashboard visualization.

Having experience with diverse markets, can you outline the challenges when working with different countries and languages?

When working with different countries, it’s often considered only to translate the message. I keep emphasizing that localization is much more than just translation.

Understanding the meaning of specific colors or elements is crucial. Not all holidays are relevant to every country. For example, in Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday the 13th, Tuesday the 13th has the same meaning. In Italian culture, it’s Friday the 17th.

Some days in the year are less appropriate for communicating with the audience. For us in Jewish culture, this is Yom Kippur when the majority of people fast and pray.

Creating right-to-left (RTL) emails in Arabic or Hebrew can be a challenge for developers and designers. Keep an eye on the preheader placement, footer, and top navigation bar if you have one in the email.

There are more aspects to consider, such as currency and pricing, as well as regulatory compliance.

Can you share tips you’ve learned from working on multilingual email campaigns? How can marketers optimize their efficiency?

  1. Create a spreadsheet with commonly used phrases in all languages, such as “Sale up to XX%” or “Buy Now,” tailored to your industry.
  2. Keep a record of the legal footer in various languages and note any differences for different countries.
  3. Foster relationships with Customer Success Managers (CSM) or customer support native speakers to assist with urgent translations.
  4. Incorporate national holidays from relevant countries into your work calendar.
  5. Provide individuals an option to receive emails in different languages. For example, residents in the Netherlands can change their language preference from the default Dutch to English.

How do you see the future of email marketing?

I see a bright and shining future for email marketing! AI will play a bigger role, not only in content ideation but also in analyzing and optimizing performance.

On a career note, I expect more people to join the email profession, such as email developers, strategists, email content creators, and designers.

From a technical standpoint, I anticipate ESPs optimizing their platforms for marketers, offering customized solutions to provide marketers with more independence from development teams, especially regarding data-driven insights. Who knows, maybe in the near future, on top of ESP, CDP, CDMP, we will have a few new technical solutions.

What brands or companies do you think nail their email marketing?

I really appreciate Grammarly for Business; they provide excellent engagement reports and analyze weekly and monthly activities.

An email from Grammarly for Business with a weekly writing update showing productivity, mastery, and vocabulary among other characteristics
Source: Anna Levitin

Casper, a sleep products company, is a great example of cross-selling complementary products. Surprisingly, they have some interesting content about mattresses!

An email from Casper explaining the technology behind the mattresses’ coolness
Source: Milled

What’s one thing every email marketer or newsletter author should or should not do?

First of all, everyone should start a newsletter, or at least begin collecting email addresses and consider potential uses for them later.

For those who already send out emails: Do not cry over unsubscribed users. Monitor, analyze, and prevent, but never take it personally.

24 April, 2024
Article by
Diana Kussainova
Writer, editor, and a nomad. Creating structured, approachable texts and helping others make their copies clearer. Learning and growing along the way. Interested in digital communications, UX writing, design. Can be spotted either in a bookshop, a local coffee place, or at Sephora. Otherwise probably traveling. Or moving yet again.
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