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A simple framework for optimising your international PPC campaign workflow

Recently, I attended an intensive three-day course in International PPC at the International SEO School in Barcelona. Admittedly, there may be some vested interest here, but this was hands down one of the best educational experiences I have had in a long time.

By looking at both the strategic and managerial perspective, as well as delivering actionable tactics and best practices, the course brought clarity into how all the different facets come together when doing PPC on a global scale.

In this post, I will focus on a session from the course which presented ways to organise international campaign teams and projects. The session in itself is too comprehensive to be covered in-depth in a single blog post, but the following will try to provide you with a rough framework for organising your international teams and projects through the use of a timeline. Specifically, we will be looking at the four elements below:

  • Central or local task?
  • Who?
  • How to?
  • When?

A little background… From mutual adjustment to standardisation

Small businesses that operate in a single market and have all staff based in one central hub can to a greater extent run operations through informal communication and mutual adjustment between employees. However, as organisations grow bigger and expand into new markets such an approach becomes less feasible. Basically, as the scope increases, so does the need for standardisation.

Relating this to search marketing, international organisations will typically have multiple PPC campaigns targeted at different markets that run simultaneously. Failing to create a solid and unified foundation for those campaigns will have a detrimental effect on work processes and end results. In other words, having a clearly defined framework, which remains unchanged across all your international campaigns, is essential for improved productivity and quality.

Ok, so how could this transition from mutual adjustment to standardisation play out in practice?

International PPC Timeline

Central or local task?

For international SEM campaigns, ideally you would have an entire multilingual search team in-house available to you every day. In reality, that does not work as you would need people to sit in the local markets as well.

Clearly defining which tasks should be dealt with centrally and which are local will significantly improve workflow. A rough breakdown could go something like this:

  • Structure and control are centralised themes: Structure is a centralised theme and can be applied across countries and regions. Tasks like defining strategy, setting up keyword categories (e.g. Brand, Product names, Product Category, Consumer Needs), reporting, and managing client relationships can be structured and dealt with centrally.
  • Keywords are local: These should be researched and selected by native speakers, rather than chosen through a translated version of an English keyword set list (or any other language).
  • Ad copy is cultural: And should therefore also be written in the local market by natives. Ad messages do not resonate equally well with all people.
  • Landing pages: Along the same lines, landing pages are created and inserted into a specific cultural, linguistic and competitive environment. Language structures vary and cultural schemes largely impact on performance – what works well in one country might be utterly ineffective in another. Consequently, this is a task that belongs to natives as well.


Once you have outlined the basic tasks that go into any international PPC project, it is time to decide who is actually going to perform those tasks. Defining specific work tasks for the people involved in your PPC campaigns – be that Account Managers, PPC Specialists, Native Copywriters, CMOs and Search Strategists – will leave no doubt as to who is responsible for what.

How to?

Having written documents such as guidelines and best practices for the different tasks will help deliver consistent, high-quality results. As a rule of thumb, you should create these kind of documents for everything that can be replicated across campaigns and projects. For example, you could have separate “how to” guides for working with Baidu, Yandex, and Naver.


The final step is to decide in what order everything should be done. Obviously, things like strategy and budgeting go into the initial phase, whereas ad copy and landing page testing will be something which is undertaken once the campaign is launched. Listing timeframes and deadlines for each deliverable will again help in bringing clarity to the overall project and improving workflow.


Projects obviously differ from one another, and this should be reflected in your timeline. But working in a systematic and standardised way, such as the one outlined above, will invariably deliver better, more cost-effective end results for international SEM projects.

Have I missed out on something important? What other aspects can and/or should be standardised for international SEM projects? Add your suggestions in the comments below and help in making this article a useful piece for international campaign management.


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Immanuel Simonsen

Research Manager at Webcertain
As the Research Manager of multilingual web marketing agency Webcertain, Immanuel heads up the company’s global market research activities and large content marketing projects. He is the author of several reports and guides, including ‘The Essential Guide to Rel-Alternate-Hreflang’ and ‘The Webcertain Global Search and Social Report 2013’. Apart from being a tutor at the International Marketing School -- teaching online marketing professionals on business opportunities around the globe -- Immanuel is a regular speaker at the International Search Summit, a leading event series dedicated to multilingual search and social media marketing.

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