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5 tips for launching a successful international PPC campaign

Posted by Chirag Dattani on September 3rd, 2014 at 10:16 am

In the quest of marketing their products/services globally, many companies have attempted to enter foreign markets with a standardized approach without understanding the cultural factors or user behaviors. Global Search Engine Marketing is arguably more challenging, complex and more than just translating the Keywords/Ad Copies into the local language.

Here are 5 tips that will not only help you succeed in the global marketplace but also help alert you to some of the most common mistakes that advertisers make while entering into a new market.

1) Know your market:

One of the first steps in the process, which is extremely crucial while entering into a new market is to know and understand the target market and audience. It’s no secret that you should have a unique strategy when entering into a new market, as the strategy that is used for marketing the products in your home country may not necessarily work in another country. Some factors include:

  • Target Audience
  • Age Group of the Online Population
  • Languages Spoken/written along with different dialects
  • Search Engine Market Share (Choose your weapon)
  • Competitor Landscape
  • Cultural Habits
  • User Behavior

These all play a big role in making the program successful in any country. As they say ‘One size does not fit all’. Understanding your target audience demographics helps you determine exactly what approach to take for your products or services to be successful.

It’s like knowing more about the neighborhood before buying a new house so that you know exactly where you will be investing your money!

2) Local is the new Global!

In the world of search marketing, we define localization as using local language, targeting local people and bidding on local keywords! While companies take a standardized approach as they enter into a new market and are uniform to minimize costs, localization is highly recommended to be successful which entails the need for adaptation and customizing strategy to fit the unique dimensions of each specific market.

3) Setting Goals and Measurements:

Like any other Marketing initiative, it is imperative to set clear defined goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) before launching a campaign. Whether it be Brand Awareness, Lead Generation or just higher Sales, it is important to know what you want to accomplish and how you will measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

4) Implementation Guide:

  • Account Setup - Time Zone and Currency: Due to differences in time zones of the country while launching an international campaign, the best practice is to have the account in the local time zone - if you plan to go dark on weekends or for a holiday, then automated rules can be used in Google which uses the account time zone to make the changes. Additionally, paying the bills in local currency is advisable to avoid currency rate fluctuations on a daily basis.

  • Keyword Research/Expansion: Once you have the list of keywords ready to be translated, use that list and run it through Google Translate and then Google Keyword Tool to get a basic understanding of the volume and cost per click for keywords. One thing to note though, is that Google Translate will provide you literal translation of the keywords and may not provide the commonly used phrases in that country with attention to local culture. The rest of the keyword research process is standard - expand your keyword list based on search terms you find in your Search Query/Analytics reports, test new ones, and update your list of keywords with the best performing ones.

  • Campaign Targeting: If you are launching a campaign in multiple languages then it is recommended to have separate campaigns for each language. For instance, if you are launching a campaign in Canada then have one campaign targeting ‘English language with English Keywords and Ad Copies directing to English Landing Page’ and another campaign targeting ‘French language with French keywords and Ad Copies directing to French Landing Page’ to have the best possible user experience. Google will detect user’s language preference and show the most relevant ad copy to the user.
  • Additional Character Limit: Google AdWords allows using additional characters on the Title and Description for ads targeting Eastern European and Asian Countries, which helps in creating effective PPC ads as some of the foreign characters take more space for each character than English. You can use this by checking a small check box about character limits in the Ad Copy tab while creating an Ad Copy.
  • Use of 'Dynamic Search Ads' in Google: Google’s new ad format – Dynamic Search Ads is becoming increasingly popular which helps you understand the category/queries that users type in to search your products/Brand. It’s similar to a 4th Match Type which Google uses and creates ads dynamically by matching the user query with the content on the page if you are not already bidding on the exact term. We can all agree that we will never have 100% coverage on keywords if we have a large set of products/services that are offered. DSA helps in acquiring the appropriate traffic for some of the low funnel keywords for which creating its own campaigns and buying those keywords would be an unnecessary investment.
  • Differences between engines: Google is the dominant engine in most countries but if you are entering into countries like Japan, China, South Korea or Russia, it is important to understand how these engines work differently than Google. For e.g., Naver interface is completely in Korean and doesn't have Campaigns (only Ad Groups) and no Broad/Phrase Match Type option (only Exact) v/s Yahoo! Japan which doesn't have a editor tool to make bulk changes.

5) Most Common Mistakes:

  • Translation: Sole use of ‘Google translate’ or another translation software when entering into any international market. Meaning of keywords might change totally once translated with the fear of writing something offensive to the local audience. At the same time, merely translating English keywords into the local language might miss the cultural factor. Using a translation service agency is recommended to have the cultural nuances figured out.
  • Language/Content: Using the same language/content for users who speak variants of languages in different countries. For instance, using the same Mexican Spanish verbiage/content for all Spanish-speaking countries including Mexico, Spain and Argentina.
  • Local Search Engines: Not advertising on the local search engine and just on Google. Although Google is dominant in the US and most other countries, it does not have a similar market share across the globe. Baidu, Naver, Yahoo! Japan and Yandex are amongst the other top search engines that are popular in their respective countries. Leaving out the main Search Engine means targeting half the audience.
  • Identical Strategy: Using the same strategy as used in the US market likely won’t work in any other market most of the times. It is advisable to use a localized approach and make sure to take each country at a time, study the local market and build a strategy accordingly.

In conclusion, to be successful in the online market place globally, you need to approach each market separately and uniquely which not only requires a great handle on linguistic research and translations but also, more importantly, entails a level of trust with consumers by understanding cultural nuances.

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