When launching into a new market, having a well-thought-out digital marketing strategy is vital. Paid search often plays a key role, but what are the key considerations you need to bear in mind, and how can you set yourself up for success? Read on to find out.
Key considerations pre-launch
Understanding your current brand awareness level and the opportunity for your brand in each market is key. By using tools such as Market Finder, Google Trends or the AdWords Keyword Planner, you can get a good gauge of the demand for your brand, products or services, as well as an estimated cost, to help you decide on budgets and channel investments.
Get to know your competitors and keep on top of what they’re doing in each market. They might not be who you picture as a competitor; however that may not stop them from aggressively bidding on the same terms as you!
It is likely that your established competitors have adapted their strategy to the market, so take inspiration from what they’re doing with messaging, languages on site, types of offers, site layout, and more.
Be aware of the retail calendar for each market to allow flexibility in your planning (when do the sales start in different markets), variations in seasonality (summer/winter UK vs Australia, North/South Europe), time differences, currencies, internet penetration, device usage, and so on.
Working closely with your account management team will help you understand who your audience is and how to adapt for each channel. As outlined in Oracle’s whitepaper, “a successful internationalization strategy is more than just language translation and currency conversion. […] Simple changes to sites in some countries can go a long way to improve customer retention.”
This is a big one and, unfortunately, an area that is often neglected. According to a Pitney Bowes study, around 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from websites in their own language.
Although translating your site is already a great step and a must in many cases, the next step is to localise your product or service content in order to reach your future customers. If you speak the same language as them, it will give them that local feeling and they’ll respond better to what you have to offer.
Depending on your industry, you might find that some languages perform better than others (yes, some countries have more than one language or dialect). Again, don’t be scared to test language performance. Some markets are more comfortable with using English than others, but it doesn’t mean that users are necessarily ready to shop in English.
Preferences on language can vary considerably by market. For example, around 90% of Dutch people claim to be able to speak English, but recent tests at Croud have found that Dutch people engaged 73% more with Dutch search ads than English ones.
You may also want to consider offering customer support in the local language, which could help with your customer satisfaction levels.
Each nation has its own cultural differences and preferences, and each market exhibits different customer behaviours. Don’t assume all Europeans shop in the same way. According to Oracle, “local profiles and personalisation, for instance, can help to address variations in how each geographical infrastructure manages technology, legal issues, privacy and security, content, brand, promotions, logistics, and fraud and payments.”
On the subject of payments, according to Pitney Bowes, 30% of global online shoppers say they would be discouraged from completing a purchase on a site which doesn’t offer their preferred form of payment. Make sure you’ll be able to support the market’s preferred payment method, as well as regularly updating your prices in line with exchange rates. If you’re looking to run Shopping activity, ensure that you’ll have a feed for each currency you need.
Make sure you understand each market’s expectations in terms of deliveries, returns and the associated cost, as it could put off many customers if you don’t. Some markets, such as Germany, will have a tendency to order more items, try them on, and send them back, as shown in Twenga’s research below.
Adapt your key performance indicators (KPIs) to each market and channel so that over time you’ll have a better understanding of what good looks like in each market, as well as what’s working for your business (margins, returns, cost). You might want to revisit your KPIs once the activity is more settled.
international ppc tips
Once you’ve carried out the necessary research into each market, including the areas outlined above, and are ready to launch international PPC activity, below are some of the key areas to bear in mind.
1. Don’t focus purely on Google
There are different search engines in different markets so make sure your are present where your customers are shopping. At Croud, for example, we have experts able to manage a wide range of search engines, from Bing, Seznam and Yandex to international engines such as Baidu, Naver or Yahoo! Japan.
2. Do your research – don’t just translate your English account to local languages
Firstly, because often the translations will be inaccurate (too literal) and might not reflect the local search habits. And secondly because local users may use completely different keywords to search for your product or service (even between markets speaking the same language).
3. Understand what’s working for you
If you’ve got existing activity in certain markets, identify what’s been performing well for you and use that as a basis to replicate in new accounts. Saying that, don’t forget to try new things! Over time you’ll get to know which keywords, messaging and offers work best in each market. Testing is imperative so be open to suggestions and adapt your strategy.
4. Be logical with account set-up
Do your research and ensure everyone’s on the same page before setting up your currencies and time zones, as you won’t be able to change these details afterwards.
With naming conventions, adopt a similar structure in all of your accounts to make them more manageable, especially if you’re managing a large number of accounts and/or markets. This ensures consistency between accounts and makes it easier to switch between them and report on performance. Choose simple and universal acronyms, such as country or language abbreviations, engines, campaign type, etc.
5. Automate optimisations
The use of bid strategies and budget management tools will allow you to manage accounts in the most efficient way, meaning you can spend more time developing your accounts and understanding your audiences. Once you have enough data, you will be able to identify markets/accounts behaving in a similar way and tailor your optimisation strategy in a more granular and sophisticated way. Working closely with the engine’s representative, the account management teams will be able to provide the best recommendations on the strategy to optimise the accounts, as well as providing valuable insights for your business.
Other automation tools, such as Dynamic Search Ads, Shopping ads, Display Campaign Optimiser and Universal App campaigns will allow you to test campaigns in new markets. They will also help to expand your accounts and and spot new search trends.
A Multichannel approach
Top of funnel investment in markets where brand awareness is low is essential. You can’t expect to launch your site in a country and expect users to search for you immediately. Depending on your industry and audience target, you may want to use different social media pages or websites to drive awareness. Take advice from our teams to get recommendations!
Set different targets depending on market maturity – newer markets needing much more investment in upper funnel are less likely to deliver a high ROI straight away, whereas mature markets may allow for more refined audience testing and work towards tighter targets.
Get your story straight – be consistent with your messaging and offers. It is key to use the same narrative across all of your channels and website to improve the user’s journey and avoid confusion and misleading information.
To sum up
Research, localise, launch and learn! Set your expectations and test the water. Whilst some markets might give you almost instant results, others might take a little longer. Trust your management team, be open to suggestions and be prepared to revise your marketing plan.
With over 1,200 Croudies from across the globe, Croud’s network of experts help deliver vital local insights, understand customer behaviour and spot local trends. Contact us to find out more and enhance your international marketing strategy.