International paid search offers the unprecedented ability to break into new markets with low upfront costs. However, a common mistake made by marketers when expanding to a new country is that they only translate ad text without taking into consideration all of the additional complexities involved.
An international campaign is not simply an extension of an existing local campaign. It has its own currency, language, culture and demographics. The campaign has to have the ability to customize parameters for local tastes and also to create common data that can be rolled up to a central location for analysis and optimization.
Here are seven tips that will help marketers successfully expand their paid search campaigns based on experience with global retailers and agencies in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific.
Choose your targets carefully. Search engine marketing makes it easy to expand to every location, but analytics need to be checked carefully to identify visitors who search in English no matter where they are located geographically, whether from Berlin, Russia or Beijing. Make sure you have an accurate set of data before you strategize for a new country.
Always begin your campaign with a global plan. Once you have a representative selection of data, you can optimize on a country-by-country basis. This strategy will help you ensure that your campaign strategy is rooted in solid facts and your paid search budget provides a strong return on investment.
Manage the money. Having a common basis for currency is critical for conversion attribution and analyzing ROI. In the ideal case, all currencies will roll up to a master currency that is the most convenient for you. All values should be recalculated on a daily basis to avoid false conclusions due to widespread currency fluctuations.
There are tools out there that enable you to consolidate all currencies automatically to better evaluate ROI on a country-by-country basis. Look for the tools that provide the most convenient methods to produce the reports you need.
Make sure nothing is lost in translation. People don’t trust ads that sound like they are written by a non-native speaker. However, native speakers alone can’t do the work as well as native speakers with paid search experience. In addition, little things that give the local flavor such as accents, spelling and whether or not numbers are separated by commas or periods can also have an impact on search results.
The best way to check translations is to benchmark your ads with competitors and see how the top ranked ads are written.
Harvest local keywords. Keyword research should reflect the local culture of your target market. It is important to understand which words have the most positive association and are the most “clickable” in the given context and location. The best way to include what locals look for is to capture their actual search queries and turn those into effective keywords. Search queries can be captured using most tracking systems and web analytics platforms and added automatically to keep ads on target.
Take into account different demographics. Do not assume that different countries have the same culture and internet usage habits as others. For example, in markets where internet penetration is particularly low, ad scheduling doesn’t always work the way you might expect since many people can only access the internet at work. Don’t forget to factor in different work weeks, work hours and seasonal differences. For example, summer vacation in Australia occurs during the middle of winter in the US.
Always produce reports that will enable you to see consolidated data by different time periods and days of the week to identify patterns that are unique to individual countries.
Advertise on local-market search engines. It is very easy to go multinational without branching out beyond Google, but remember that there are local search engines out there with huge market share, such as Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China, that can help expand your market reach. Even though time investment in local search engines may feel like a big hurdle, often local search engines are less competitive and offer higher ROI.
Use local search engines as well as global ones, but make sure that you have integrated reporting to monitor and fine tune your results on a global basis. There are platforms that can provide a consolidated interface to manage campaigns for global and local search engines.
See the whole picture. To optimally manage your program, it is better to be able to analyze results based on each location, region and geography across search engines and languages. At the same time, enabling rollups at different levels can provide the right amount of granularity so account managers at every level can track and fine tune performance.
Make sure your tracking system is flexible enough to give you the data that you need in order to manage multi-national campaigns effectively.