Unfortunately for those of us who work in the international space, launching a global PPC campaign is much less successful than doing so domestically? Why is this and what’s to be done?

Culture and language is the answer you’re expecting from me – right? Yes, that’s definitely an important part of the mix, but there is more, much more, to it than that.

Listening to Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, can give us a few clues. I have a sneaking suspicion that he would have also made a great PPC strategist.

Knowing Your Customers And Competitors And That They Are Different.  Source: Webcertain

Knowing Your Customers And Competitors And That They Are Different. Source: Webcertain

I’ve organised this post as a list of tips so you can pick out the important points which apply to you – and ignore the ones you’re confident you have sorted. (Really?)

1.  Understand Your Customer

It’s obvious to understand your customer, and it goes without saying. However, when worrying about “localization” and “Going Local,” we do need to bear in mind that we need to “localize” our understanding of the customer, too. Yes, they are human beings, just like you, but they still operate in an environment where the rules are different and their training and business practices may be fundamentally different.

By the way, in my experience, this oversight is actually most common with western companies who are targeting Europe – because they assume that Europeans must all be the same. Well, we’re not — there, I’ve said it! Targeting a German customer versus a Spanish customer is not the same.

2.  Research Keywords, Don’t Translate Them

I will not give up on this one – despite the fact that the industry constantly drifts in this direction!

There is no one-to-one relationship with keywords. The keyword you think is tops, may not even exist in the market you’re targeting – and sometimes, it will have a completely different meaning. A word which only has one meaning in English, may have several uses in French or Romanian.

No One-To-One Relationship Exists Between Keywords In Different Languages.  Source: Webcertain

No One-To-One Relationship Exists Between Keywords In Different Languages. Source: Webcertain

Translating keywords is just morally wrong. Just because I search for “pumps” in English, doesn’t mean I will search for “pompe” in Italia,n especially as I really meant [scarpe con tacco] or something which you wear on your feet! If you come across someone who suffers from KTO (that’s “keyword translation obsession”) please don’t hesitate to refer them to me, and I’ll put them right!

3.  Don’t Be Lazy, Invest In The Local Search Engine Where There Is One!

If you’re targeting a market where there is an important local search engine, such as Yandex in Russia or Baidu in China, it pays not to be lazy and to have your campaign set-up for that search engine in that market.

Mostly, the reason why people do this is because the search engine’s are different in the way they operate, and so, campaigns have to be re-built to function correctly.

However, what’s a bit a of re-build versus saving the day with your campaign’s ROI?

4.  Is There A Market For Your Product Or Service? Competitors?

You might ask what this is doing amongst a list of PPC tips, but it’s one of the most common reasons why campaigns don’t succeed. Yes, the customers may be very interested in pink ice cream in that market, but did you know there were already 20 suppliers locally and their prices are all lower than yours?

5.  Go Local, But Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater!

A very common mantra is to “go local.” Do you actually know what that means because I don’t? There’s an implied inconsistency in the term in that if you’re “going” local – then you’re not actually local. Should that be “pretend your local”?

Anyhow, it’s much more important to understand and speak directly to the customer than to worry about what this expression means.

And, there’s a trap in “going local,” too. If you work with a local agency, they’ll be able to justify everything they say, right or wrong, by simply saying “That’s how we do things here!” The reason you’re in the market, we hope, is because you offer some added value that the customers will truly appreciate.

So, if you’re “Nike,” for instance, and you’re targeting Italy, don’t try making your brand “Italian” and going local because the Italians will probably be more interested in the fact that you’re involved with sporting events around the world and offer them a solution that their local providers don’t.

In other words, first understand your customers, check to see if they like what you offer and then offer the benefits they like. Don’t try and pretend you’re from around the corner because it’s not going to work!

6.  Oh So Crucial Landing Pages?

In a previous post, I named these “first impression pages,” and I really think that term has a lot of value.

The term “landing pages” means you’ve arrived, now let’s see what we can do with you. “First Impression” means now you instantly see who we are, and we hope you like it. It doesn’t mean, “here’s the only page we’ve translated, now let’s push you into our traditional English funnel.”

However, you can do a lot with landing pages. If you’re concerned that your site, translated or not, may not deliver, why not create a much more detailed and long landing page which tells them all the things they need to know?

If you’re doing this, you need to junk that concept of only giving them the links we want them to click to convert. You need to do a different and more complete job than you would ever think necessary in your usual market place.

7.  Check Regulations And The Law!

You definitely need it to be legal or it really isn’t going to work! Not only are your competitors going to try and make things as difficult as possible for you – and you just handed them a weapon – but you’re going to find that what search engines allow you to do doesn’t mean that it’s OK for you to do them.

Trademark law in Europe, for example, does not match up directly with Google’s policy. You may be able to set the campaign up in the first place, but leave a space on your desk for the hefty wad of papers that’s going to land there with a great thud from someone’s legal team.

8.  How Many Of Them Search In English?

Oh boy, do I really have to keep dealing with this one? Seriously! A better way to phrase the question would be, “Are there enough searches in English to get me some non-converting clicks so I can burn through my budget quickly enough?” I’ll move on.

9.  Your Logistics – Can You Actually Deliver?

What have logistics got to do with PPC? Let me explain. The first time someone orders something from you and you take three weeks to deliver when their normal supplier manages it in two days, is the last time that customer is going to order from your site. But, if you have a nice site, they’ll probably still keep visiting. They may even look for a “New speedy delivery” message to decide whether they want to spend much time there.

And, if you keep on failing to satisfy the speedy delivery need, well, they’ll even get bored with visiting!

And, don’t forget the logistics of your campaign. Sun Tsu would have have told you, you need to keep your army fed, and that means make sure the samples, brochures, collateral and training are all available to support your roll out strategy.

10.  Check That The Benefits You Offer Are Still Relevant

You know your product so well – that’s great! But can you put yourself in your customers shoes, sitting in his or her world and imagine what it means to them? A crazy example I know, but if you’re selling umbrellas to Saudi Arabia, the benefit of keeping the sun off might be more relevant than the rain! Again, it really keeps going back to jetisoning your assumptions and getting to know your customers all over again!

11.  Don’t Use Irrelevant Symbols To Back Up Your Case

That badge or logo you were given by the association you pay your membership to, is not going to cut any mustard in a new market. Irrelevant badges are worse than no badges at all because if your badges don’t say, “You can trust us,” then you can’t. Take them off, throw them away and think again about how you can build new trust with your new target customers.

12.  Whose Brand Is It Anyway?

Even if you’re a small player, you probably have some brand value in your market at home. Take account of that now before you spend money where no one has ever heard of you?

I’d strongly recommend that you assess which market has the best potential for your future expansion – allowing for the impact of losing your existing brand power. If you don’t have it in the markets you’re going into, take it easy, launch into these markets one-by-one, not all at once.

13.  Is Seasonality The Same?

We’ve just come through Chinese new year – an event which has a huge impact on what goes on and what gets bought in China. It’s roughly a month after the western Christmas. Then, there’s Ramadan later in the year, and Diwali, and many other festivals.

Think that they don’t apply in Europe? Try making any progress during Carnival week in south Germany or Austria. The customers are probably not thinking about buying right then. (Difficult when you’re wearing comical costumes and dancing in the street!)

14.  Do Offers Mean The Same Thing?

Check that your promotional offers make sense. Twenty percent (20%) off may have zero impact if everybody is already saying that in the target market. Free delivery may be meaningless where no one charges for delivery.

15.  Don’t Use PPC Experts From The US To Launch Your Campaigns Without Additional Support

Your existing agency may be doing a fantastic job, and you like working with them. Great. But don’t let them loose on an international campaign without checking that they really know what they’re doing. One thing that clients often don’t do, but should, is to specify that you want to work with your agency but they need to find proper support and partners. They can do this, and it may be a great solution for your campaign.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Beginner | Channel: SEO | How To | How To: PPC | Multinational Search

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About The Author: is a linguist who has been specializing in international search since 1997 and is the CEO of WebCertain, the multilingual search agency and Editor-in-Chief of the blog Multilingual-Search.com. You can follow him on Twitter here @andyatkinskruge.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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