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A New Year, New Markets & New Keywords
As we kick off the new year with replenished budgets, many of you are using your pot of gold to kick off new markets. Over the past few months I have surveyed over 150 companies on how they manage their keywords. The research will be presented in a forthcoming article.
In the process, I received numerous questions about keyword research for entering new markets, expanding existing campaigns and using search for market research. The following are the most common questions I received that will hopefully help you get the new year off to a prosperous start.
Launching A New Search Market
If this new market uses a similar language you can often share any existing research with them. Be very careful and ensure that you are only sharing this as a guide and not a mandate to use these words.
Some markets will welcome these lists since they often do not have the time to do extensive research themselves. In other cases, they may view this as corporate meddling or an attempt to drive the message.
There are many great articles on the keyword harvesting process within Search Engine Land’s Keywords and Content section that can get you and your local team started.
It is critical in new markets that you brainstorm with your local market team, sales reps, vendors or anyone speaking the local language to start the list.
A huge problem in new markets is that your product may not exist so translators may not know what to call your product.
In some languages like Japanese the product category or product name can be expressed in a phonetic version of the language.
If the product has never existed there may not be and keyword opportunity to compare so you may need to try to associate it with something they have in the market to allow you to be in the consideration set of alternatives.
Global, Regional Or Local Words
This is a major challenge to multinational companies. It is easy in a market like Japan or Thailand where that is the only place that speaks the language since the content you have is your keywords universe.
If you decide to expand into Australia or Singapore it is often easy to take the US or typically the UK list of words and use them. Trying to target a specific market with a regional site is a big challenge.
Let me say this clearly, there is no country or language called APAC, LatAm or ME. Unfortunately, companies in their haste to launch in new regions often create a regional site to represent their products in the region. These are often launched in English for APAC, Spanish in LatAm and Arabic in the Middle East.
Beyond the obvious local filter challenges with Google there are cultural and linguistic problems, which has been well documented in other articles. Where you can avoid regional or global sites you are better off if you can and have local market sites adopted specifically for them.
Too many times, companies have a “global site” which represents all countries that do not have a country site and then a local country site that is fully customized for the country. If you are taking a single global or regions site approach you need to determine what is most common regional language.
One option is shown below where the company took the most common variation of terms across German speaking markets and launched with those common variations and slowly started expanding the local variations into the unique sites. This allowed them to launch reaching a more focused yet wider market.
Brand Awareness, Leads Or Sales
What is your business objective in the market? Alignment of keywords to the phases of your purchase cycle can help you be successful. In my research, less than 10% of companies have done any buy cycle alignment of keywords and only two companies had done it outside the US.
Understanding the intent of the searches and the phase of the buy cycle – are they just researching, comparing prices or looking for availability especially in new markets can help you select the best words and achieve your goals faster.
Typically, during this “test” phase of a new market focusing on converting words will show success faster and allow you to validate your business case. Once you get additional funding you can start expanding out into the other categories of words.
I am not discouraging the use of head and category keywords since these can help you generate brand awareness. I had a case with a large PC maker that primarily bought their brand keywords in PPC since it allowed them to achieve overly restrictive ROAS goals.
In two new emerging markets this strategy failed as the words generated few impressions and even fewer clicks on their ads. They then adjusted the campaign to include category words like laptops and desktops and they not only had high click rates but fairly high conversion rates that they did not experience in other markets.
What we later realized was they had little to no brand recognition in the markets and as people were exposed to the products via these category word searches they liked the products and actually converted.
As traditional advertising was added to the market and brand awareness improved their brand-centric terms started converting at a much higher rate. So we need to understand what our goals are as well as the market’s and management’s ability to cooperate with that goal.
Market Opportunity Review
A tactic that trended highly in my survey was the use of Search Marketing to do market research and test the waters in a new country. One of the features desired of a keyword management tool was the ability to understand opportunity and keyword variations in emerging markets.
For example, at Global Strategies we did market research for a large electronics company and found significant opportunity in Thailand for blenders and bottom freezers in Uzbekistan that did not show up on any “traditional” research or even reports from local sales reps.
Online, we used the local variation of category words like refrigerators and other household appliances to understand keywords variations. In these cases, the demand and specific attributes jumped off the page. This resulted in the company doing test marketing in these areas and being quite surprised with the results leading to both market and product expansion.
A key thing to remember when using search data for market research is to think like the consumer. Starting with category words allows you to see the variations that will naturally appear in the local market.
It is natural for you to think narrowly about your product or service because you are an expert on it. If you are like most companies, your list of candidate keywords contains all the words that you and your team would use to search, but it is probably missing a bunch of keywords your customers actually use especially if they don’t know your products exist.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.