Top tips to create successful international PPC campaigns

Top tips to create successful international PPC campaigns

One great advantage of PPC advertising is that it is a very easy, quick and cost-efficient way to test and tap into new foreign markets. A common pitfall, however, is that many businesses and search marketers see their international PPC campaigns as simply an extension of their domestic campaign. This less than ideal approach often ends in disappointment when the new campaigns do not deliver the desired results. Below are a few things to bear in mind in order to create and run successful international PPC campaigns.

Extensive keyword research

hUnfortunately it’s not as simple as just translating your English PPC keywords to break into a new foreign market. Even keywords that perform well in your English-language campaign might not deliver positive results when you translate them into another language. Instead carry out extensive research and factor in differences in your target audience’s search behaviour. This means incorporating abbreviations, synonyms, colloquialisms and regional variations. Also be mindful that in languages where special characters like accents are used these are keyword defining. For example café and cafe are considered as two different keywords and will trigger ads separately and therefore vary in performance.

To build out your keyword list, your English keywords are still a good starting point, but also make extensive use of the different keyword tools that are available and by all means consult a native speaker if possible as they will know best about linguistic idiosyncrasies in their mother tongue. Once your campaign is up and running, perform regular search query reports and continuously refine and optimise your keyword list.

Getting the ad copy right

Copywriting flat illustration conceptFurther to having a thoroughly researched keyword list it is crucial to get your ads translated properly, meaning by a native speaker or a professional translator. Do not rely on translation tools like Google Translate or direct dictionary translations as these cannot live up to the standard. Badly translated ads will look untrustworthy, therefore users will be reluctant to click on them which then results in bad quality scores, higher cost per clicks and ultimately a poor performing campaign.

When translating ad copy one common problem is the tight character limitations in Google AdWords. This is particularly tricky as other languages tend to be a lot wordier than English, so trying to squeeze (for European languages on average 25%) more content into your headline and description lines is quite a challenge and one reason why you often hear the term “transcreation” rather than translation in this connection.

Further to this, culture and context of the targeted country need to be taken into consideration. To get a feel for what might work, it is worth checking what sort of messages and calls to action your competitors are using. You will find that some messages might work very well for some countries but not so well for others. For example when working on an international PPC campaign, we found that whilst in other European countries, the “great brands” and “low prices” USPs worked best in the ad copy, in Germany the best results came from the ads emphasising the “high quality” of the products.

Localised landing pages

When reaching out to online users in other countries to promote your Brand, services and products, your website needs to be set up for this. You can have the most meticulously researched keyword list and professionally translated enticing ad copy, if the content of the landing page is not consistent with the language used in your ad, the majority of the people is just going to leave the landing page straight away. To establish trust with a potential customer the whole experience needs to be coherent, therefore your website content should be displayed in the language of your respective target audience, showing the correct currency and go in line with what you state in your ad copy.

Helpful tools for extra insights

carpenter_toolsThere are a few great tools out there that can help you with your market research and give you an indication of search trends and user behaviours in foreign countries. Google Insights, Google Trends and the Google Consumer Barometer are three of the go to places on your quest for deeper market knowledge.


A few more things to bear in mind…

Be aware that PPC campaigns targeting other countries will not deliver the same results as you’re seeing from your domestic campaign. There are a lot of things that are out of your control which will have a considerable impact on your campaign results: competitor landscapes, search volumes, seasonality, internet penetration and average cost per clicks are just a few factors that vary greatly from country to country.

As with all PPC campaigns, it is all about testing, refining and finding the right balance for each market. Rather than diving right in and launching multiple international campaigns all at the same time, it might be a better idea to just tackle one market at a time and then gradually expand as you see the desired results.

If you’re considering conquering new foreign markets through PPC advertising, contact us! We’ve got plenty of experience in managing international campaigns and also have native speakers of German, Dutch, Spanish and French in our midst as well as great affiliations with a professional translation agency.

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