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International PPC: 10 things to consider before launch

international PPC campaign

When you decide to promote your products or services in international markets, there are specific issues to consider which might not have been relevant to your PPC advertising in your home market. In this post I will talk you through some of the points you should consider before launching your PPC campaigns into new markets, to ensure you will have the best chance of achieving your goals and objectives.

Audience behaviour

audience behaviour

Internet penetration

In each country there is part of the population which has an internet connection and another part which does not. In some countries, the internet population is so low that digital advertising may not seem worthwhile. However, the population of internet users is growing in most countries. When you dig deep, you can be surprised by the growth rate in markets you have not even thought about and uncover new opportunities.

Language targeting

Language targeting sounds simple but a lot of times it is not. The language target settings are different in each search engine. For example; Yahoo Japan is only in Japanese; Bing has separate ad language, account language and product language settings (with only a short list of available languages); and Google Adwords language target settings refers specifically to the language settings in your clients’ Google accounts. This means an English user living in Spain and using English as a predominant language in their Google account, can be targeted by choosing the English language setting and the Spain geographical setting.

Other aspects of this topic are the languages spoken in the country. In Canada you may choose English targeting because obviously everybody speaks English in this market. However, users from Quebec would use French. There are also large communities of immigrants: Germans, Italians, Chinese and so forth. Some of them might set up their Google accounts in their mother tongue. A good strategy can be to target all these languages or at least target English and French, in separate campaigns.

Popular search engines

Of course, first establishing which search engines are used at all in a market is the first step, but it is also important to understand the mentality and behaviours of users in each search engine, as this can differ. For instance, if you plan to sell an app you need exposure in front of savvy users who will be interested in such a product. Which search engine does this audience browse the most? In the Russian market, the users browse Yandex, Google and a few other local search engines. Google’s users in Russia tend to have a more technological mind set, so although Yandex has a clear predominance in this market, it might be beneficial to run campaigns in both search engines initially to compare performance.

Product suitability

product suitability

Obviously, you would not try to sell central heating units in Ecuador but not only obvious factors such as climate influence product popularity. Other factors like local culture, religion and mentality are well worth considering as well. If the market is traditional the presentation of a new brand or a new product concept may be a challenge. More focused geo-targeting can be a good idea when your product is intended for a very specific audience; like trips to the holy land for Christians for instance. You may want to advertise such a tour in places where there are large religious communities.

Payment methods

payment methods

Not everybody pays with Visa and MasterCard so it is important that you understand how your customers will choose to pay in each country and offer appropriate payment means.

There can be specific challenges in different markets: Did you know that the Argentinian government intervenes in online payments to overseas companies? Online purchases from foreign websites are difficult to make in Argentina and a lot of times are denied due to government policy. I refer to all means of payment: PayPal, credit cards, debit cards, direct debit and so forth. If you plan to advertise your product in Argentina, it is a valuable piece of information and similar issues can happen in other markets too so it is worthwhile doing your research.

Keyword research

keyword research

Search queries

What exactly do the users type in order to find your product? The smallest change in a keyword can equate to a huge difference in all aspects of your campaign: cost-per-click, search volume and of course ad exposure. For example, let’s compare the keywords [private tutor] and [private tutors]. [private tutor] in the UK market costs about 75% less than [private tutors] and its search volume is also about 75% lower than [private tutors]. So you need to consider all of the variants and alternates of search terms, to ensure you have the best chance of reaching your target audience, at the lowest cost. This is one reason why only a native speaker, who inherently understands the language, should conduct keyword research.

Another consideration is the local search habits. In some markets, most internet users would type long-tail search queries. In other markets, the users would type a two-word search query. For example, in the UK a search query like the following is quite common: [luxury spa resorts in the south of tenerife]. In Israel an equivalent search query would be [בטנריף ספא] – or in English – [spa in tenerife]. Users may simply type the name of the brand which can sometimes pose a problem! [hoover] is a good example. Although it is a name of a brand it also means “a vacuum cleaner”. If you sell another brand of vacuum cleaners you may want to use this keyword but you need to be careful as using a competitor’s brand as a keyword is against some search engines policies, in some markets, e.g. you cannot use your competitors’ brand keywords when you use Google Adwords to advertise in Australia. It is also normally a low performing keyword because of low relevance to your website and if it does trigger your ads, they will show in a lower ranking than your competitors’ ads.

Keyword search volume

Keyword search volume shows you the level of demand for your product (or service) or in other words how many potential clients are waiting for you in this market. In Google Adwords this data is based on the average keyword performance over the last 12 months. It is important to note that it can change according to local holidays and festivities, climate and culture. Key search volume for [women’s swimsuits] can have a low search volume in France from October to April but in South Africa this keyword will have the highest search volume during the same period of time. Did you know that, traditionally, pineapple sales in Spain are sky high towards Christmas? The same goes for honey sales in Israel in September to October. So you have to consider that you cannot always expect the same results from the same set of keywords all year round.

Your website and presence

your website presence

Local law and search engine policy

You need to be aware that new search engines and new markets may have a different policy about products and website content. The selling of your product by a foreign company (that is you!) can be illegal in order to avoid competition with local businesses or may just be banned for local and international companies alike. Maybe the requirements for the website content are different and maybe it takes much more time to actually have your website approved by the search engines. In Naver (the main search engine in South Korea) the approval of a new website might take up to two weeks while in Yahoo Japan or in Google it takes about a week.

Content translation and structure

This is one of the most important things to consider. As I mentioned earlier in the keywords section – each market has its own mentality. Therefore, word-to-word, direct translations of text, whether keywords or website content, is not a good option.  The best decision would be to leave it with native speakers who are professional content writers.  Your website may need restructuring as well due to the requirements in different markets. For instance, if you are selling holiday deals you might need to change the types of deals and the contextual and image creative when advertising in religious countries because the local users are not likely to respond well to the typical beach holiday photos.

Click-to-call tracking

Will you have an office with customer service in each country? If so, you can add a click-to-call extension to track and measure how many people are contacting you via phone as a result of your ads. The level of the business support you will be offering your clients is undoubtedly one of the top factors to influence the results of your campaigns. If you cannot provide customer services in the local language, then that may impact on the overall success of your campaign.

To sum it up, I honestly believe you should set your expectations realistically. From my experience, the better prepared you are, the better the results are. Businesses whose expectations do not meet reality are the ones who get poor results. Nevertheless, if you follow the above and can respond to all the questions in this post you are probably not one of them. Good luck in your new ventures!

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Dovrat Levy

PPC Specialist at Webcertain
Dovrat is a PPC Specialist at Webcertain Media. She works on international accounts, closely analysing performance data and optimising performance. She was born in Israel and has lived in Israel, Holland, Spain and England. She has 4 years in-depth experience in paid search, specialising in Google Adwords. Dovrat has set up and managed campaigns across markets and verticals in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Romanian, Arabic and Russian, covering Europe, America, Australia and Asia. Dovrat holds an Hons degree in Music from Rotterdam University (Holland), a CELTA certificate from the University of Cambridge (England) and is a qualified Google Adwords professional.

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One Response to International PPC: 10 things to consider before launch

  1. […] International PPC. It's tricky – especially when you're just starting out in a new country. Here are 10 tips to consider before launching your campaign.  […]

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