Top tips for improving your international PPC campaigns

Rob Laver | 12th May 2022 | Paid Media

Reaching international customers, and expanding globally, is fast becoming a key objective for many growing companies – and capturing paid search traffic is a great way to gain exposure. 

Choosing the right search engine

Google covers the vast majority of search traffic in English-speaking countries, but as you set your sights overseas, you’ll almost certainly need to run campaigns in markets where English isn’t the first language. To uncover local traffic, you’ll want to consider Naver, Baidu, Yahoo, Bing and others in your paid search strategy.

Expanding overseas doesn’t necessarily mean you need to target countries as a whole – in the same way that the entirety of the UK doesn’t always need to be targeted. It’s fine to focus on the larger cities, but the goal should always be to connect with select locals and drive localised traffic.

Your keywords/ad copy/landing pages must be optimised to engage your target audience. Looking beyond translations though, your content must account for local phrases and colloquialisms. In the same way, different cultures have different associations with certain colours and tone, which needs to be reflected in your creative assets too. 

Global search engine market share (Source: Jimmy Data)

Market behaviour 

Before launching campaigns abroad, it’s important to assess competition in the region – look at the number of advertisers, the tone of copy and even advert formats. There are lots of tools available, such as ISearchFrom, which allow you to adjust your SERP to other regions. Also, Google has different digital tax requirements for different countries, which you need to bear in mind when planning budgets.

Connecting with the local audience is key, although you’ll be targeting on a larger scale: so evaluate how strongly your brand resonates with your intended audience. To encourage consideration – and later, conversions – it’s worth looking at the role of brand building internationally. Display and video advertising are two powerful forms of PPC that boost brand awareness. While they may not generate results on their own, if brand awareness can be tied to your existing activity, your adverts will resonate with more users with a purchasing mindset. 

Distinctly’s International reach

Account structure 

As Google continues to evolve into a more complex, machine learning-led entity, it’s becoming increasingly important to choose the right campaign structure. SKAGs held the throne for the better part of a decade, but advertisers are now starting to see better success with STAGs or even Hagakure. 

Building campaigns internationally is no different. You’re looking for a structure that gives you a strong foundation for control and specialisation, but also allows for clear reporting, budgeting and account management. CPCs – all around the globe – are becoming increasingly volatile, so it’s important to pick the right structure and commit to it across your campaigns.

Average CPC by country
Average CPC around the world example (Source: WordStream)

In summary

There’s a lot of work to be done outside of PPC to ensure your product/service is a good fit to expand internationally, such as understanding general export conditions. However, as a starting point, it’s easier to gain a foothold in markets that have fewer barriers, be it language, location or otherwise. Doing so will give you a stable baseline from which you can evaluate performance later on, once you expand into markets further afield. 

Google Ad’s latest changes to automation and campaign types (dynamic ads/shopping campaigns) have made it easier than ever to advertise globally. However, it’s still up to the advertiser to ensure campaigns are built on a strong foundation,  setting them up for future success and real growth overseas. 

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