Feb 5, 2010

Automagic Email Translation in MailChimp


Update (9/2/2016): A lot has changed in the past 6 years! Please visit our Knowledge Base to learn more about translating campaign contenttranslating signup forms and emails, and managing international subscribers.


Now you can now simply check a box in MailChimp, and we’ll automatically translate your email content for you with Google Translate. How do we know which language your recipients speak? That’s actually the easy part. We’ve been detecting your subscribers’ language preferences and then auto-translating your signup forms for quite some time.

Now, we’ll handle your email content too. Here’s how you do it…

First, you’ll need to go to your list, then click on the "forms" link:


In the form designer, check the box to "auto-translate:"


Click the "Save" button, and you’re done.

There’s nothing else to do. Design your email and write your content in whatever your preferred language. When you send it, we’ll automatically translate it to the default language of each recipient.

Here’s my campaign in MailChimp:


and after I send it to my list, a recipient with Korean set as their default language sees it like this:


It’s translated from tippy-top-to-bottom.

lostNo, automated translations aren’t perfect. But have you ever traveled afar, and needed help from a stranger? You at least made an attempt to speak their language, right? They appreciate the attempt. Much better than you blabbering on in your own language, and assuming they understand you. If you’re lucky, they actually tell you "Don’t worry, I speak English (or whatever) and then you can ask them your question. But starting off in their language is just being courteous.

Same thing here. Your subscribers navigated your website and can probably speak your language (well enough to opt-in to your list). But why not make that first inbox impression a nice one? If they prefer, they can click your campaign-archive link at the top of the email, and see your campaign in its original language. In my case, that Korean-speaking recipient would just view the online version in English.

If you run an e-commerce or eBay store, and have an international audience, this is a great option for you, especially since your emails are probably mostly composed of product images and prices (not so content-heavy).

While we’re on the topic of translation, now’s a good time to go into your list settings, and turn on your campaign archive toolbar. It will appear at the top of all your archives (for that list), and allow your recipients to then translate back to any other language you want (and share with friends, subscribe to your list, and view past issues).

You also might want to look into our translate merge tag, which you can place in your emails and let recipients manually choose when to autotranslate.

Down the road: segment by language

Since we store each recipient’s default language preferences, the obvious next step for us is to allow you to segment your list by language, and send your own human translated versions. This would be for those cases where it’s essential to have perfect translations.