Parlez-Vous Pay Per Click (PPC)? Da, Hai, Si, Oui!

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Synopsis — Pay-per-click advertising is a global opportunity. And like all global opportunities, business is not always conducted in English on the search networks that pay-per-click advertising is placed. Christian Arno, in his article “Parlez-vous Pay Per Click (PPC),” estimates that only about 1/4 of all web users use English as their online language. For those who choose to explore multilingual options with PPC, there is literally a whole world to explore. Arno sets out a seven step process for those interested in exploring the opportunties available to them in non-English language PPC advertising, with plenty of tips to make sure you make the right choices in setting up and following through with your ad campaigns.

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Parlez-Vous Pay Per Click (PPC)? Da, Hai, Si, Oui!

The economic outlook may seem gloomy in Europe and the US, but that’s far from the case everywhere. More businesses than ever are realizing they can massively expand their customer base by using the foreign language Internet to tap into new, emerging markets.

English may once have been the common language of the global marketplace. But this is no longer true. It’s spoken by only around a quarter of web users and this fraction is getting smaller. The number of Arabic and Russian users grew 2501.2% and 1825.8% respectively over the last decade, compared to just 301.4% for English users (Internet World Statistics report). Chinese will likely become the most widely spoken online language in just a few years.

This represents a huge opportunity for PPC and search engine marketers who step out of the monolingual bubble. While the English-speaking Internet is a crowded place, there is much less content in other languages, meaning a lower cost for PPC campaigns, simply due to less competition. Of course, there’s more to running an international campaign than simply translating your ads. But with a little research and effort, doing so will result in exposure to a much larger audience and potentially a far higher return on investment.

Why Run A Multilingual PPC Campaign?

Launching your website in a foreign market can be easier and more cost-effective than you might think. It’s much cheaper to translate and localize your content for a target country than to set up an on-the-ground presence. A 2012 survey by the Common Sense Advisory concluded that translation costs are “minuscule” compared to the potential ROI, with most respondents calculating it at less than 1% of total revenue.

If you are looking for quick results, PPC should be an essential part of your online marketing strategy. While search engine optimization is also important for building your profile, it does take time. In contrast, a PPC campaign is an (almost) instant way to raise awareness of your company and help you climb to the top of the search rankings. PPC is also relatively inexpensive compared to other, more traditional advertising strategies. It’s not surprising that a Practical eCommerce survey found that 87.5% of respondents used it to increase web traffic and believed it was good value for money.

But other research suggests companies are failing to make the most of it. A report by the World Federation of Advertisers found that more than two-thirds of those surveyed lacked a specific strategy toward paid search and did not target budget toward it, thereby missing out on the full benefits of PPC. For international marketing, those benefits include easy-to-track results and relatively low risks, since you only pay once users click on your ad.

Following a few simple steps, and carefully monitoring the results, will help turn those clicks into conversions.

Step 1 — Choose Your Markets

The first step is choosing which countries to target. You might already have an idea of where there’s a market for your products or services. If not, international marketing specialists can advise. Keyword reports are an inexpensive way to discover where in the world people are searching for your keywords and products. It isn’t always the most obvious ones. For example, South Korea is a growing market for Scotch whisky, while South Africa and Russia are also enthusiastic buyers.

Next, research the competition within the market, including the price of PPC for your keywords. A few competitors are usually a good sign a market exists for similar products, but too many can suggest it’s already be saturated.

It’s also worth paying attention to speakers of minority languages within countries. Around 22.5% of Canadians are native French speakers, suggesting a separate French PPC campaign could be worthwhile there. Another example is Spanish speakers within the United States, who command an estimated $1.2 trillion worth of spending power, according to the US census.

Step 2 — Know Your Search Engines

Google may be the world’s most popular search engine, but it doesn’t dominate in every country. The Chinese prefer the home-grown product Baidu, while Yahoo still leads the way in Japan. Depending on the country, many international search engines offer advantages over Google, including a lower cost per click. In Russia, Yandex’s multi-tier bidding strategy makes it easy to bid for a top position, or one in the top three, depending on your budget. Another popular feature is the automatic turning off of PPC if your site crashes or is being updated.

Remember that each search engine will tend to have different rules, with some penalizing activities such as irrelevant keyword use. Take time to familiarize yourself with these to avoid any expensive mistakes.

Step 3 — Choose Your Keywords

If you’ve already optimized your website for local search engines, you’ll know which keywords your target customers are searching for. If not, a little research is needed. It’s usually not enough to simply translate English keywords, since they won’t necessarily be the same in every country. For example, a direct translation of “car insurance” in French is “assurance automobile,” but the most commonly searched for terms are “assurance auto” and “assurance voiture.” Another example is that many Italian web users tend to mix English and Italian words in searches.

There are some useful free tools, including Google’s Keyword Tool and Google Global Market Finder, which can help identify keywords. Once you’ve drawn up a list, it’s a good idea to check it with native speakers. They can advise which words are most likely to persuade a user to click on your ad.

Don’t forget that negative keyword matches can be an effective tool to save from you paying for irrelevant searches. For example, if your company exclusively sells tennis equipment, search engines can include the keyword “racket” but not “squash racket.”

Step 4 — Grab Users’ Attention

With only about 25 words to play with, creating compelling copy is a must. There’s no point cutting corners and relying on Google Translate or similar tools to translate your English ads. It’s essential to strike the right tone with readers and to be culturally appropriate. An ad that appeals to American shoppers won’t necessarily work in the Middle East or China. The best option is hiring multilingual copywriters or marketing professionals to rewrite and localize your ad to avoid making a faux pas — or worse still, simply being ignored.

Step 5 — Get The Landing Page Right

Getting a user to click on your ad is only the starting point. The landing page needs to be attractive, professional, and well-written to ensure you don’t lose those hard-won clicks. Most of all it should fulfil the expectations raised by the ad.

Many of us have been turned off by websites in poorly written English. Native-speaking copywriters can ensure the copy is word-perfect and has an authentic local feel. Ideally, you should have dedicated local websites for each country, with in-country domain names. This gives users more confidence in your site, and will allow you to tweak it to each market.

Consider which products to display on the landing page, as well as the images, colors, and overall impact of the site. Fine-tuning your site to a particular culture takes some work, but is worth the effort.

Step 6 — Close The Sale!

Make sure it’s as easy as possible for a website visitor to turn into a buyer. Research the most popular payment methods in your target countries. You might be surprised to learn that French buyers still tend to use checks, while Germans are often reluctant to give their credit card details online. In other countries, bank transfers or PayPal are popular ways to make secure online purchases. And of course, ensure you display prices in the local currency and have facilities to accept payments. Make shipping costs realistic, and be aware of any different consumer laws.

If you can’t afford to have in-country sales staff, save costs by ensuring all enquiries are by email. Free translation tools can help you understand the gist of messages, while a freelance translator can ensure the replies are fluently written.

Step 7 — Monitor And Measure Results

As with any advertising campaign, it’s vital to monitor and evaluate the results. You might find you need to adjust your keywords, or even your targeted search engines depending on how they perform. Fine-tuning campaigns can take many forms. For example, Google and other search engines allow geotargeting of cities and regions within countries, as well as specific languages. As your campaign progresses, you might find it worthwhile to target some ads more specifically.

Finally, as with any advertising campaign, measure your ROI for each PPC campaign. You might need to adjust your spend accordingly. Successful marketing in foreign languages can be trickier than English, and it may take time to get it right. But eventually it can bring much higher payoffs, and give your business exposure to a global audience.

In short, treat a foray into international PPC as you would any campaign, with a focus on all the aspects needed to bring about success. By paying attention to the cultural and linguistic aspects of your target country, you can expand your business and reap the benefits of a worldwide market.

About the Author

Christian Arno is founder of Lingo24 (usa.lingo24.com/), a professional services provider with clients in over 60 countries and a turnover of $8 million in 2010. Follow Christian on Twitter: @Lingo24chr.

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  1. Parthesh Thakor

    Helpful