5 tips for starting international PPC
Be ready to watch for nuances of your targeted regions and adapt your strategy on a regional basis as you begin to track performance.
Expanding marketing efforts beyond your home country can be an exciting step. However, branching into new regions with PPC entails much more than simply copying your campaigns and changing the geographic targeting.
Don’t rush into setting up international campaigns until you’ve thought out budgeting, channel allocation, account structure, localization, and unique regional concerns. In this article, I’ll expand on each of these points to help you establish a framework for beginning to target other countries.
Budget for different costs by country
CPCs and CPMs to compete in ad auctions vary widely by country. You can get a rough estimate for projected spend in Google search by adding your keywords to Google Keyword Planner and setting the region to the country you’re planning to target. However, these estimates can be off, and you’ll get the best idea of average CPCs/CPMs once you actually start running a campaign and see actual figures.
In addition, costs for customer acquisition also will likely vary by country. If you’re just starting to advertise in a region that’s not familiar with your brand, you can often expect higher CPAs.
However, you might find the opposite to be true if CPCs are lower in that region. I recently launched a LinkedIn campaign in Latin America for a client, and we found that CPAs were less than half of our averages in the United States due to significantly lower CPCs.
Also, pay attention to CRM data to measure lead quality. While they may be cheaper in a region, a lower percentage of prospects may actually be the right potential customers. You’ll ultimately want to look at metrics like cost per qualified lead and cost per completed sale to determine what CPAs to aim for in your campaigns.
Research top channels by region
Consider what search and social channels people use the most in the regions you’re looking to target. Targeting Google alone will exclude a significant number of users in several countries. For instance, Yandex covers 44% of the search engine market share in Russia, and Baidu has 66% of the market share in China.
StatCounter is a good site to start for research (with the caveat that no stats are going to be 100% accurate), as well as talking to contacts on the ground in regions you’re looking to target. Representatives at ad platforms may be able to assist in providing stats on regional usage, as well.
Plan for account structure
Separating campaigns by country, or by overarching region, allows you to better control bids and segment out reporting. This tactic also prevents countries with cheaper CPCs and high volume from cannibalizing spend, giving countries that may have higher CPCs, but quality leads, a chance to perform.
Separate geographic campaigns also allow for more accurate usage of time-based bid modifiers. If you lump the Europe and the US into the same campaign, and lower bids during the night in the US, you’re effectively also lowering bids during the workday in Europe. Keeping those regions in different campaigns allows you to apply hourly bid modifiers without worrying about hurting performance in time zones several hours away.
You should also consider billing needs when deciding how to segment out accounts. Particularly for enterprise-level companies, payment often needs to come from different divisions by region. Using separate ad accounts may be necessary to ensure you can use different billing sources for each division.
Include asset localization
Make sure to localize copy for the people you’re aiming to reach. This work may entail translating keywords, ad copy, and landing page copy into another language.
Or, you may be targeting people who already speak English but use different words based on regional dialects. For instance, if you’re selling diapers, you’ll want to refer to “nappies” when advertising in Britain. See how the wording on these example results pages vary for the same product category between Amazon US (“diapers”) and Amazon UK (“nappies”):
Be sure to adapt for regional spellings, as well. For instance, a call-to-action to “View Our Catalog” should say “View Our Catalogue” in Britain. Have a copywriter familiar with regional dialects scrub through your copy to look for words, spelling, and colloquialisms that might not make sense for the area you’re targeting.
Identify unique regional concerns
Simply copying and pasting a campaign over to another region (even after a localization process) may not prove effective. Different areas of the world may have needs for unique services and varying behaviors as they engage with the sales funnel.
For instance, a cybersecurity company may see interest in DDoS-related services surge after a particular country experiences attacks. Or a ski supply store may see sales pick up as regions approach their colder seasons.
Finding these concerns should entail a combination of talking with your contacts within the business who have experience in the region, as well as researching search trends by month and by region. Google Trends can be helpful to pinpoint overarching seasonal trends.
For example, see below how searches for “heater” peak at opposite times of the year for the United States vs. Australia. If you’re selling heating units, you’ll obviously want to take into account the weather by region when marketing internationally.
Next, think about user behavior in different regions. I’ve found that in some cultures people are more responsive to talk to a salesperson sooner, while in others they may be more likely to want to simply read content first. You may need to refine your sales funnel and how much content you’re offering people at the top and middle of the process to see what works in each area.
This step may take some testing to determine what works best. At the end of the day, don’t assume that your perfectly refined funnel in one region will translate perfectly to another region.
Start planning your international campaigns
Ready to take the next step beyond marketing in your home country? Take these steps to build your plan for expanding into international PPC. Think through the nuances of the regions you’re targeting and the assets needed to adapt. Finally, be ready to watch the data and adapt your strategy on a regional basis as you begin to track performance.
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