If you are to boldly go where no competitor has gone before, PPC campaigns can be an effective way to test drive a new market. If you are ready to embark on such a journey you should keep a few things in mind. Four top tips are listed below.
Webrepublic currently manages PPC campaigns in over 50 countries. While most of our campaigns run on Google, some rely on Bing, Yandex, and Baidu. Knowing these platforms' peculiarities, and having insights into cultural codes has proven to be crucial when it comes to exploring vast unconquered markets – there are 2.7bn earthlings that have access to the internet. If you have only focused on the 6.75m surfers in Switzerland so far, then this presents a huge potential for growth. Even if you target a niche player in an emerging market, say China's Qihoo, their 10% domestic market share means reaching almost ten times more users than there are in Switzerland.
There's no doubt, entering new markets can boost your business substantially – to succeed however you will need a smart, holistic strategy. When you start thinking about the digital aspects of your strategy keep four things in mind.
- Be aware of possible local meanings and connotations of words. A "beamer" for example is a projector in Switzerland and a BMW in the US. Your Account Manager needs excellent language skills or else your AdWords ad texts will confuse your audience or irritate the people you are trying to do business with. Let native speakers take care of your key word research instead of trusting Google Translate.
- Apropos Google. Depending on the market you target, you’ll want to rely on other platforms. You want to sell Swiss Caviar in Russia? Use Yandex, their market share tops 60%; Think Chinese should know about your Fair Phone, advertise on Baidu, you'll reach 67.7% of the Chinese internet users. But don't forget: these search engines are quite different from Google and so are their PPC tools.
- Mind mentality. Culturally determined differences in user behavior can be foreseen to a certain extent. Be prepared for regional peculiarities while thinking about the products you will sell, your website's information architecture, and user experience. Assume you were to sell mass customized t-shirts in China through your dedicated online store. You would have to mind the subjects printed on your tees, as well as the sizes: an American "L" sure isn't the same as a Chinese "L." Your would have to handle payments in Yuan. You would have to offer new payment options – while Visa and MasterCard are credit card juggernauts in the western hemisphere, UnionPay dominates in China.
- Use the Force – wisely. To strive for instant world domination might break your neck. In the beginning, it might be a good starting point to target various regions simultaneously. As soon as you have statistically relevant data regarding your campaigns performance, you should adjust your campaign by focussing your resources on the most profitable regions. Using a PPC campaign to test drive a new market can be highly efficient, as it is agile and transparent.
Stick to these four top tips and your international PPC strategy will already cover four basic and important international online marketing aspects. Use Google's Global Market Finder to get a rough idea of where your journey might lead you – however keep top tip 1 in mind. Or talk to us. We have successfully managed international projects and since August 2013 two Webrepublicans are among the few official Yandex Experts in Western Europe.