At some point or another, you may consider expanding your customer base internationally; a strategy which like any successful digital venture, requires a great deal of forethought, planning and consideration.

Rather than caving to the temptation of believing that an English language PPC campaign will work all around the world – which will more than likely leave you believing that it doesn’t work after all in light of quite a few pounds spent in poorly invested budget – let’s face facts: in most countries where they do learn and speak English, they don’t use it to an extent to be confident in spending money on English eCommerce sites, and will trust a site in their native language above an English one, regardless of price comparison.

Below are some quick tips that you may want to keep in mind when it comes to international PPC campaigns:

1. Research your competition like you would for an English campaign

It’s important to lay the groundwork, get to know the level of competition, then construct or adjust your international PPC campaign accordingly. As an example, traffic levels, variations of keywords and average CPC are not the same in Germany as they would be in the UK, so expect the same diversity within campaigns in other territories.

2. Think like who you are targeting

Your international market may think, and therefore search for things, in a different way. Get inside the mind of the international searcher. The top converting keywords in your English campaigns may not always translate to winning keywords in your international one.

3. Get proper translations

You can use Google Translation Toolkit, but take the translations with a hefty pinch of salt. Try to find someone who can speak and write the native tongue so that they can either do the translations or fact/spell/grammar check your work.

English keywords will have a search volume in non-English speaking countries that is too low to justify the investment, and just blindly translating your keywords without consultation can have seriously detrimental effects to your campaign. How many people in Spain are likely to simply searching for “shoes”? Proper translations will also aid your long-tail strategy and help you reach your actual customer base in new territories.

4. Make sure the entire experience is in the native language

Only translating the keywords is not a story of ‘job done’. If your keywords cannot be found on your website to determine relevance, then all was for nothing, as the low quality score this would provide drives your CPC abnormally high for a low position on the search page.

The landing page, about pages, contact pages, pricing, shipping details and checkout all need to be in the native language. The entire experience should be in the language you’re targeting so that the user is not jolted from the conversion funnel by a page full of language they don’t understand or pricing that isn’t applicable to their needs.

This would seriously affect the trust levels between yourself and potential customer.

5. Traffic may be different, therefore bids might be different

If you did a straight copy of your English campaign and then translated into the other language, take a second look at your Max CPCs and budgets. It’s important to remember that traffic will be different in the other country and your CPCs will be correspondingly different. Different markets have different levels of competition, as do different countries.

In conclusion…

International PPC targeting is not as simple as changing options on your existing campaigns, and can appear to be a rather daunting amount of work and time investment when given proper consideration, however, it has undoubted benefits.

Like any process, it can be broken down into more manageable, bite size efforts. For example, begin your international venture with countries that speak English as a native language, then when translation needs to begin, look at the more common languages in the world first, such as Spanish, French, etc. Then, step by step, your international portfolio will evolve, giving your investment the opportunity to provide a justifiable return.

Remember that marketing is a psychological game played between yourself and your potential customer base, so your website needs, first and foremost, to look professional and trustworthy to whichever market you’re targeting. Would you trust a company whose landing page was in English, but the checkout in, for example, Chinese? Or the entire experience was in a foreign language?

To understand more about the international PPC campaigns we’ve orchestrated here at Silverbean, or to share your own experiences of international digital campaigns, get in touch via the contact form below or leave a comment. You can also engage with us on Twitter.