Going global with paid search marketing is a tantalizing no-brainer for most companies – particularly when they consider the growth of the Internet outside North America. According to Internet World Stats, North America has 272 million Internet users with a penetration rate of 78%. By comparison, Europe has 476 million users with a 58% penetration rate, and Asia has 922 million users with a penetration rate of only 24%. Although Europe and Asia may never reach the penetration rate of North America, they obviously have plenty of room for growth.
Many companies currently using paid search marketing in North America recognize the benefit of making that global leap. Some companies have international PPC campaigns in a few English-speaking countries and a couple of foreign-language ones, if they have the resources. Still others are managing campaigns across the globe in dozen of languages. But take heed: regardless of a company’s global aspirations when entering foreign markets, it must be prepared! Half-baked campaigns may tarnish a company’s global reputation and diminish future earnings.
The first indication that a company should plan to go global with its PPC campaign is a reasonable amount of traffic from other countries in its server logs. But that does not mean that company should go global immediately. There are several things to consider when entering foreign markets, including cultural and language differences, import/export regulations, tariffs and duties, and currency exchanges. The ease and low cost of entry of having a web site leads many companies to take the leap without doing any market research.
In the rush to globalize, companies seem to take shortcuts and compromise normal business sense. Putting country flags on a web site and using machine translation do not make the content culturally relevant. Showing prices in US dollars instead of the target country currency just won’t do the job. And having a drop-down box of all the countries in the world won’t make the web site global. Browsers who do find the company’s site most likely won’t return if they’ve had a poor user experience.
Instead of launching a hasty global conquest, companies should first consider these topics:
1). Do you have a language- and culturally appropriate web site in your targeted global market?
2). Do you know the search engine market share in the market, and can you pinpoint which search engines are right for your target audience?
3). Have you done keyword research in the target market, and have you accounted for local preferences?
4). Have you written ad copy that resonates with customers in the market and not just translated your current ads?
5). Do your landing pages match your ad copy and deliver a culturally appropriate message?
6). Do you have tracking in place, and are you measuring conversions and not just traffic?
7). Does your shopping cart make it easy for users to conduct business in their country?
8). Is there a sufficient variety of payment options familiar to your prospective customers?
Going global with paid search marketing requires preparation and commitment and is not for the faint-hearted. Not until companies understand the market nuances of a foreign country and plan appropriately should they proceed. So get ready, get set, and then go – global.
– David Temple, Global Director of Business Development, PPC Associates
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