Having done Paid Search with a B2B focus for quite some time now, I have frequently been tasked with “globalizing” US/Canada-focused accounts. On the one hand, Google makes it easy to internationalize campaigns that are just targeting a couple of countries. On the other hand, it would be extremely naive to target countries such as Romania and Algeria in the same campaign as the US unless there is a compelling business reason to do so (and there generally is not). In this post, I am going to share some tips and tricks in a typical global campaign setup that might help you expand your campaign reach in an efficient and profitable manner.
The first step in internalization is to focus on the primary English-speaking countries and segment them in a logical fashion. I will always do a separate campaign for the US and Canada. I will combine UK and Ireland and Australia and New Zealand. Sometimes, I might also segment out South Africa, Hong Kong, and Singapore, since they are also primarily English-speaking countries.
Then, I focus on logical segmentations in countries where English is not the primarily spoken language. I might combine all of the EU countries together or get more granular than that if the situation warrants (e.g., Germany/Austria/Switzerland, Norway/Sweden/Finland, Netherlands/Belgium/Luxembourg, etc.). I might combine the primary Asian countries together if I do not have a strong Asian focus (e.g., Japan/South Korea/Taiwan). I might combine countries by language (e.g., all the Central and South American countries that primarily speak Spanish). While each country will have both cultural and linguistic differences that will make combining them an imperfect science, for the purposes of an American company looking to quickly expand its marketing and sales footprint, this degree of segmentation will work.
Many clients resist marketing to countries where the primary language is not English, because they believe that a high percentage of the people will not understand the website well enough for it to be actionable. My experience is that almost everybody tasked with looking at your website for the purposes of making a business purchase will know English at least at the “second language level”. For the few that do not know any English, Google Translate will allow a basic understanding of your site. One benefit of marketing to non-English countries is the much lower cost per lead, which makes the leads more profitable when tracked all the way to closed sale.
If you are committed to making a major push into a non-English-speaking country, it will be advantageous to have at least one paid search landing page in the native language, even if it is not feasible to translate the entire site. Google uses a variety of settings to determine which language(s) a user speaks/understands. Even if Google sees the searcher as having English fluency, when you create an advertising experience in their native language, Google will likely favor it and you might achieve a competitive advantage over an advertiser with an English-only experience.
Knowing that it frequently takes time and effort to create a non-English landing page experience, I will often suggest that in the interim, it makes sense to start with non-English ads for non-English speakers that send them to English landing pages. Many have questioned that technique as being weird or incongruous. However, I have worked with this technique for 10 years now, and it has worked extremely well for every client I have tried it with. People who live in non-English companies are extremely used to going between English and non-English during their workday, so they won’t be thrown when your non-English ad takes them to an English landing page.
What is also awesome is that if you are working with a Google Partner Agency, your Google rep will get your ads translated into any language for free if you commit to running Google Ads Campaigns. My experience is that the quality of the translations is generally quite good. Also, companies like Gengo will translate your Google Ads for a very reasonable cost.
This is an under-the-radar issue for marketing overseas that many paid search managers do not necessarily think about. In the US, people assume that both people and businesses have easy access to a credit card. For consumer goods, we have a variety of payment options (e.g., PayPal, Amazon Pay, Google Pay and Apple Pay) that most merchants accept. However, in some countries, people do things quite differently. Visa and Master Card might be accepted outside of the US, but many people do not have access to these cards. In certain countries, bank drafts are more prevalent than credit cards. Also, the payment processor that a business works with has a huge impact on both where it is feasible to market to (and generate sales from) and how much it might cost to process payments from that location. If a business makes it too difficult to purchase from them, the non-US visitor will make their purchase elsewhere.
Also, businesses must be aware of currency exchange rates as well as the cost of doing such an exchange. The functionality to accept payment in Pound Sterling, Euros or other “important” local currencies can be a huge selling point to people in those markets. I have worked with many clients who had no problem generating leads worldwide but had difficulties closing the leads. If you don’t make it easy for people to pay for the products/services in a way they are accustomed to, you will have difficulties running your business in these countries.
In closing, if a company is able to service clients and customers worldwide, Google has made marketing to them much easier. While we cannot assume that prospects in Europe and Asia will view or value your offering in the same manner as people in the US, we can assume that these prospects are quite adept at evaluating US offerings from their “outsider” viewpoint and are also quite able to switch quickly between English and their native tongue while surfing the web for work. Targeting outside the US can frequently lead to increased sales at lower CPAs and higher profitability. So, if you are able to serve people worldwide, now is a good time to begin marketing internationally.