Many businesses have recognized the importance and value of localization.
The Internet offers unparalleled opportunities to break into new markets, but traditional SEO through localization techniques can be slow to yield conversions.
Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns offer a quick and cost-effective way to break into new markets and increase brand awareness at the same time.
Target Your Markets
Even if you consider your products or services to have truly global appeal, it can help to focus your efforts on one or two target markets to begin with. Don't just go on a hunch, but research your target markets thoroughly. It's important that your products have a genuine appeal within the markets you choose but other factors can be equally important.
- Do you already offer shipping to the targeted country or area and is shipping cost-effective?
- Are you familiar with tax rules and other financial regulations?
- Are your products allowed to be exported into the target market in the first place?
- Do you have support staff available to deal with queries and problems in the language of the target market?
Getting the click-through is only part of the process. You also have to be able to follow through and service a successful campaign.
Consider Different Search Engines
Google is, by a huge margin, the single most popular search engine in the world. It has a global market share of around 84 percent but that certainly doesn't mean it's the only player in town. In some markets local competitors hold comparable or greater market shares.
In Russia, for example, Yandex is the most commonly used search engine. Seznam is not far behind Google within the Czech Republic and China still represents a huge stumbling block in Google's quest for complete world dominance.
Baidu is the most popular search engine in China and is currently the fifth most visited site in the world, according to Alexa. The Chinese search giant is often considered crucial by businesses attempting to break into that vast emerging market.
It's worth bearing in mind however that you'll need a local presence with a Chinese domain website and a valid business certificate issued by the Chinese government in order to open a Baidu PPC account.
PPC rules may also vary between other search engines. So can rates and, even in markets where Google is dominant, local competitors that still enjoy significant market share may offer cheaper alternatives and a higher return on investment.
Choose Relevant Keywords
Keywords are crucial to any PPC campaign. The trick is to take culture, search habits and linguistic usage into account.
If your foreign campaign is an adaptation of a domestic one it can be tempting to think it's enough to simply translate your existing keywords. Unfortunately, what works in one language is not always successful in another.
A native speaking translator and/or SEO practitioner will be able to help you brainstorm alternatives which should then be thoroughly checked using the keyword tools of the relevant search engines. The actual search terms used by native speakers can also be captured using various tracking systems and web analytic platforms.
Refine Your Copy
Just as your keywords need to be carefully considered, so does the copy in the ad itself. With just a few words to capture readers’ attention, you can’t afford to rely on machine translation. This can leave copy feeling stilted, amateurish or even downright misleading. Few people are prepared to trust an ad that doesn't read like it was written by a native speaker.
It’s best to opt for professional translation – or better still, transcreation. This is copywriting in a foreign language, taking the original concept and coming up with a version that’s adapted to the cultural and linguistic expectations of the target market.
It can be difficult enough to come up with effective copy in 25 words or so in your own native language. In order to successfully do so in a foreign target market you will probably need the help of a native-speaking translator who is also well versed in the creative side of copywriting.
Monitor Your Results
Once the ads are live you should monitor them to see how many impressions, click-throughs and conversions each one achieves. Even small adjustments such as altering a single keyword can have a significant impact on results.
There may be other tweaks that can help, like managing the scheduling of your ads. Time differences should be taken into account when dealing with foreign markets as well as seasonal and cultural differences.
Even fluctuations in currency exchange rates should be taken into account. A small change in monetary values can make a large difference to your ROI in a campaign that relies on very small margins per click.