Think global when creating your international digital strategy

By Florent Guedon | 09 Jul 2015

In the world of search marketing, localisation is defined as using local language, targeting local people and bidding on local keywords. Previously, many companies adopted a standardised approach to entering new countries; however, competition in local markets has meant that such a strategy isn't sustainable or successful in the long-term, leading businesses to favour a localised strategy. Adopting a localised approach has proven to be successful, but it requires even the largest companies to customise their business strategy in order to fit the unique cultural dimensions of each specific market.

There are several factors to take into account while adopting a localised strategy, each of which will help you to establish the fundamentals of your paid search approach.

Understand your market

The first factor to take into consideration is search engine market share and ensuring your product features on the most popular platform.  Google might be the dominant search engine in most countries, but if you're entering countries like Japan, China, South Korea or Russia, it's important to understand how those engines work differently to Google.

Naver, Baidu, Yandex or even Yahoo! Japan all have their own specifications which will probably require you to tweak your existing paid search account structure (if you're currently using Adwords). However, if you want to use Google's advertising platform in Eastern European and Asian countries, you will have more flexibility as it allows you to apply additional characters on the title and description for ads.

The second factor requires an understanding of the cultural layers that define your target market, making up your audience.

There is an amalgam of different elements, which will strongly contribute to shaping the structure of your account. The more detail and accurate information you can gather, the more advanced your localised strategy will be as a result.

Consider language requirements

To begin with, you need to cover the fundamentals. Language, for example, appears an obvious one to establish, but can often be damaging if underestimated. For example, one of the most common mistakes would be using the same language and content in countries that have dialects or variants of the national language. When it comes to targeting, if you plan to launch a campaign where multiple languages may be required then it's recommended to break them out into separate campaigns for each language and allow Google to detect the user's language preference to display the most relevant ad copy.

Understand your demographics

The final set of elements you would need to cover fall within the demographic dimension. This helps you understand the key characteristics of your audience, such as users' age bracket and geographic distribution.

It's this information that is likely to have the biggest impact on your optimisation process, as it can translate into a more targeted and granular approach. It does so, for example, by restricting the location targeting of your campaigns to the most populated areas. Moreover, it allows you to tailor the tone of your messaging if you want to reach a specific target audience.

Ultimately, in order to run a more advanced localised strategy, you will need to investigate cultural habits and user behaviour. Useful features, such as Google's consumer behaviour tool, will provide you with insights on how consumers purchase through both online and offline sources. The Google trends tool is also valuable as it helps you identify search patterns and user trends.

With a growing number of online tools, it has never been easier for advertisers to gain access to market information. From consumption patterns to demographic data, the ability to convert market insights into campaign settings and optimisation processes enables businesses to take advantage of local insights. No matter what your goal is, whether it be brand awareness, lead generation or just sales increase, you will find that a localised strategy often leads to both performance improvement and cost efficiencies.