International email marketing: How to use Klaviyo segmentation and workflows to improve the customer experience

| By Kelly Vaughn

International email marketing: How to use Klaviyo segmentation and workflows to improve the customer experience

How you utilize email marketing is a major aspect of the customer experience, and this can often go under the radar when it comes to international customers. You’ve got workflows for abandoned carts, segmentation based on browsing, and a campaign schedule set up - but have you considered how these will be viewed by your international customer base?

By digging deeper into segmentation and customizing workflows, you can make your email marketing a part of your customer experience strategy and better engage your international customers.

Why you should develop an international email strategy

International ecommerce is a growing market. In 2020, global cross-border ecommerce sales grew substantially. To illustrate just how much, year-on-year cross-border ecommerce sales in the US in January 2020 grew by just 1%, in April 2020 by 7%, but in May 2020 grew by 42%. While the impact of factors such as the coronavirus pandemic are clear, this growth has only boosted consumer awareness of international ecommerce opportunities. As more consumers drive international demand, the more merchants will want to enter the international market. With more competition on the global stage, Shopify merchants will need to be able to differentiate themselves in as many ways as possible and one such way is being able to personalize their email marketing.

Customization and personalization is important to potential and existing customers. They like to feel like your brand cares about their needs, and part of those needs will relate to their location. Email marketing is a huge owned marketing platform with over 4 billion active users and is a direct line to your most engaged audiences, and a lack of personalization will be obvious and frustrating for them. If you send an email campaign about a flash sale, only for the customer to log on to your store and see that it’s not actually available in their location, that’s a pain point - and an easily avoidable one at that. By utilizing the tools available to you in Klaviyo using segmentation and workflows, you can easily avoid those pain points and show your audiences that you care about creating an inclusive and personalized experience.


Start with your data

If you’re already in new markets and shipping internationally, then chances are you have a lot of subscribers in different countries. It’d be difficult for any size of business to try to tailor content to every single market in the world, so you need to start by looking at your data and prioritizing based on existing and potential opportunities

What to do if you have multiple storefronts

If you already have multiple international storefronts on Shopify, then you need a Klaviyo account for each storefront - you can have up to 9 expansion stores in Shopify for a total of 10 stores. This essentially forces segmentation onto your audiences, so you won’t need to do it manually for those storefronts. Look at the data for each of these stores - which has the highest traffic and conversion rate? Are any of them seeing significant growth? Look at search traffic coming to your domestic storefront, as well as customers purchasing through this instead of your other international storefronts - are there any patterns?

You may only have a couple of storefronts, or utilize all 9 expansion stores; in either case, decide on the markets you’re going to focus on as a priority based on traffic and sales data. Group the rest of the markets you currently ship to into an international segment. That way you can create specific content for your key markets, and develop some more general content for your other international markets.

What to do if you have a single storefront

Look at both your email subscriber geographic data, as well as the geography of your Shopify customers. The reason for looking at both is that you may have lots of subscribers in France, but your Shopify sales data tells you that you have a lot of existing customers in the UK. You should also look at which regions and countries you already cater toward - do you offer your store in other languages already? You want to strike a balance between your existing strategy and customers, and subscribers.

From here, you’ll want to create a list of your priority markets, and group the rest into regions and create these segments in Klaviyo.

Note - if you’re going to target specific countries within the EU, it’s worth including them in an EU specific segment to ensure GDPR compliance. You can always separate them off for campaigns and workflows later. 

How will you segment further?

Within your main audience you may already have segments based on VIP status, Average Order Value, Lifetime Value, etc. Therefore you’ll want to consider which segments you’ll want to also use for your international audiences, and how you’ll use these. Which are the most valuable segments for you to include when it comes to international conversions? 

The reason these will need to be separated from your main subscriber base is that you likely won’t have the same offers and benefits to these groups of international customers as you do for those based in the same country as your store. For example, if you’re based in the US you may have a segment that offers them free shipping when they reach a certain LTV - this offer may not be feasible with your profit margins if that customer is based in Australia. Therefore, you want to exclude international customers from that segment, and create new segments for your key markets. 

New subscribers

So you’ve segmented your existing subscribers, now it’s time to ensure any future subscribers are organized into the right segments. Segments are dynamic, meaning they’ll grow as more subscribers meet the conditions of that segment. Therefore when you get new customers, they’ll be added to your list, and if their location meets the criteria you’ve set they’ll automatically be sorted into the relevant segment and be sent the right content.

But what about subscribers that don’t come through orders? The easiest way to do this is using a location specific sign-up form. Create a form for your key markets and set it up so that it only displays that sign-up form in that country then add this as an “and” condition to the segment for that market.

If you want to create a more general international sign-up form to capture and sort markets that aren’t your targets, you can do this by creating a sign-up form and setting it up to exclude the country you’re based in. This will then only display that sign-up form to international visitors. This allows you also to customize any incentives you offer for capturing new subscribers, such as discounts. For example you may not want to offer an incentive at present to your domestic subscribers, but you want to offer a 10% off code to new subscribers in a key market. 


Translate your most important workflows for key markets

If you already offer language options on your store, then you should carry that part of the customer experience through to your most important workflows. The most important flows you should have set up for your international markets are:

  • Abandoned Cart
  • Welcome series
  • Browse Abandonment
  • New customer thank you

Localizing these workflows will immediately show subscribers in those markets that your brand cares about their needs and interests. Ensure you employ the services of a professional translator or interpreter so that the nuances of your brand’s tone and voice are carried through to the target language. A machine translation will be clunky and won’t pick up points of grammar or interpret idioms or turns of phrase. Translation services can be expensive, therefore we recommend prioritizing your highest converting workflows first. 

Branch your workflows for wider markets

For those markets you aren’t focussing on and won’t be translating, you can branch your existing workflows. Branching means you’re using a conditional split and creating unique paths for that workflow depending on a specific property about that subscriber - in this case, their location. For example if you’re based in the US, you may want to offer different incentives for customers who have abandoned their cart domestically than you would to international customers. In this instance, you’d create a conditional split that would use the subscriber’s location to determine how they’ll progress through the workflow. This ensures that different markets get the right messaging. 

You can also use this branching technique in the workflows for your key markets. For example if Canada is a key market for you then you could use a conditional split to separate off those customers who live in Quebec so they receive messaging in Canadian French. Another example may be if you want to send different messaging to purchasers vs non-purchasers in their welcome emails. 


Exclude international audiences from primary market campaigns

It might seem counterintuitive to actively exclude audiences from your campaigns, however this plays a key role in customer experience. We’ve discussed already how it can be disappointing to a customer to receive information about products or sales that aren’t actually available to them, so excluding them from key campaigns avoids this situation. 

Campaigns from which you should exclude international subscribers.

  • Market specific product launches
  • Sales that are exclusive to your primary market
  • Shipping offers or discounts exclusive to your primary market
  • Pop-ups or events in your primary market

List-wide campaigns in which you should include international subscribers:

  • Operational information e.g. holiday closures or inventory delays
  • News and announcements about your brand

You want to ensure that every subscriber only receives information that is relevant to them. By carefully tailoring which campaigns they receive, you avoid disappointment and improve their experience.

Create international market specific campaigns

The next logical step from the last point about campaign exclusion, is to create campaigns that are market specific. These might include shipping offers to specific countries, sales, promotions, or new products. If you’ve got something exciting for your international audience, make sure they know it’s just for them. 

If you are able to hire a translation service for your key markets, this would be highly beneficial to your country specific campaigns. For the rest of your international audience, using your native language will be fine - it would be extremely difficult to translate every campaign for every country your subscribers may be based in.

Consider your audience’s preferences

This is a step further when it comes to localization - considering the preferences of your international audiences. 


Say you’re a merchant based in California and you want to send a campaign to your subscribers in the UK. Sending it at 5pm seems to make sense, however that actually means it’s 1am in the United Kingdom - not the ideal time for those subscribers. Schedule your campaigns to times that actually make sense for that audience’s timezone.


Different countries and regions have different seasons and holidays, so being sensitive to these is important. For example if it’s summertime in Canada it doesn’t make much sense to advertise winter coats. Or sending product recommendations about Mother’s Day to UK customers in May when they celebrate that holiday in March. Take note of the seasons and holidays of your key markets, and send relevant content to your subscribers based on these. 

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences can be tricky to navigate, however an extra touch of sensitivity to these depending on the markets you’re focusing on will always go down well with your subscribers. For example if you’re focussing on a very conservative country, there may be products you wouldn’t want to promote there. Or perhaps your email templates use colors or language that wouldn’t be appropriate in your target audience’s country. 


The customer experience is all about making each customer feel valued whether that’s making it easy for them to navigate your store, tailoring product recommendations, or making sure a welcome email is personalized to their location. The more you can do throughout their journey to make a great impression, the more likely they’ll be to become a loyal customer and help spread the word of your brand beyond your borders.

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