Internationally, search engine marketing (SEM) is still one of the most successful online marketing activities, but brands that want to advertise on a supra-regional level must consider a few things:
1. Identify the potential of the target market: Consider the different market sizes that must be set in relation to the results. The reach in Singapore and Malaysia or Indonesia, for instance, vary considerably because of the respective population. Hence, the population density, in combination with the online / mobile penetration, forms the first parameter. In addition, you should find out about the extent of product search (e.g. Google, Baidu, Bing Shopping) within the search engines. Competitive pricing is of course a prerequisite for a listing in the product search.
2. Google is NOT everything: At least not in the world of search engines, as globally neither Bing nor Yahoo should be neglected. In fact, Bing is constantly gaining in importance, like Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China or Seznam in the Czech Republic, as they are the first choice in these countries, even before Google. For a first, rough budgeting, put the search volume in each individual search engine in proportion to the average click rate prices. Tools, like the Google Keyword Planer or comparable support from other providers, are certainly helpful.
3. Speak the language of the customer: Do not take the easy way out by assuming that English is the least common denominator and understood by everyone. And even if that is so, users feel more at home in shops when they are welcomed in their mother tongue. Advertisers should also remember that the buying behavior can be quite different, depending on the country: While the Asian online buyers are very price-sensitive, trust in the dealer plays a more important role in European countries, like UK or France, where online shoppers are very brand-conscious. And I think I don’t have to mention that "Sale" would not be a particularly good catchword in France, since it means "dirty" in French.
4. International campaigns need international staff: You are surely familiar with the situation: Your call to the call center is going around half the world and is answered somewhere by a very friendly person, with whom the communication is unfortunately painstaking because you do not speak the same language. Therefore, native speakers should be at work.
5. Look closely at your competition: Who are the on- and possibly off-line competitors in the individual countries? Are they pure players or rather large mail order companies? How do the competitors work in the search area? Are more top generic keywords, such as "ring" or longtail keywords such as "wedding ring diamond gold" used? What are the differences in the portfolio and pricing? Shipping costs also play an important role in the texts, since they tip the scales. Likewise, you can place your unique selling propositions (USP) texturally in the foreground or provide them with higher bids to stand out.
6. KPI control: Based on traffic and conversions, concentrate first on balancing which ad position is the most efficient. One thing certainly applies, the more traffic, the faster it can be optimized for conversions. In smaller markets, it is advisable not to use the complete keyword set, since long-tail terms such as "small handbag cream" form too little search and corresponding validation volume. Here, you should first concentrate on terms like "handbag", even if they are by way of comparison more expensive. The goal must be to get good positions quickly to speed up the optimization process as fast as possible.
7. Fast and convenient branding: The continuous increase in brand awareness is often the greatest challenge in internationalization. Besides the ongoing performance campaigns, targeted push measures should be used to spread the brand as widely as possible in the desired market. For branding purposes and for brand building, display and video ads are known to work well. But keep in mind not to think in siloes for a proper evaluation and consider cross-channel marketing. Only then can you gradually optimize the individual channels in detail. The range and quality of the channels can vary of course from country to country.
8. When in Rome, do as the Romans do: Celebrate the festivals as they come and they can fall on different days in different countries. In Spain, for example, most gifts are not available until 6 January, the day of the Three Kings, and not on Christmas Eve as in many other countries, like the US or Germany. Shops in Spain, therefore, have a longer time to draw attention in the festive season. Apart from holidays, of course, seasonal differences (such as summer and winter season) as well as different holiday seasons must be considered. Besides, right from the start, you should be aware that it probably won’t be easy to transfer your experience from your core market to other countries. The results in the target market will initially not be comparable to the successes in the main market. Above all, do not fall for the temptation to take same conversion rate for granted! If a brand is not yet known in the target market, the conversion rate will logically be lower in the beginning.
By Daniela La Marca