A Guide to International PPC Management

Table of Contents

Many don’t realize that international PPC management requires a multilingual approach with unique personalization.

Showing an appreciation and understanding of users’ distinct language nuances and cultural viewpoints is key to ad engagement. 

To help you tackle global expansion like a pro, we’ve summarized everything you need to know about international PPC management—from creating a global strategy to keyword localization and multimarket performance tracking.

The content of this blog is based on a masterclass with Adriana Stein, CEO & Founder of AS Marketing, and Leigh Buttrey, Head of Client Accounts at AS Marketing. 

The Multilingual Approach to International PPC Ads

Creating an English campaign targeting all markets around the world will 9 out of 10 times result in wasted ad spend and few conversions. 

Simply put, you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

International PPC ads, just like International SEO, require localization. This involves addressing your target audience in their preferred language—cultural nuances and all. 

Without it, competitors are just going to push you out of the race and you’ll never going to resonate with local audiences.

To really see growth in new markets, you need a holistic approach to cover all of the elements below:

What is International PPC?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s define what international PPC is. 

International PPC (Pay-Per-Click) refers to a performance marketing strategy where businesses advertise on search engines (or social media channels) in multiple countries or regions. 

In this approach, companies pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. This method is used to direct traffic to websites, with the ultimate goal of increasing sales, generating leads, or promoting brand awareness on a global scale.

Directly translating keywords and content will usually have very little impact—if any—on international PPC performance.

PPC localization ensures that the translations take into account local search intent, differences in speech and nuances, and the appropriate tone of voice. It also takes into account local messaging guidelines to help target regional differences and resonate with local audiences. 

The benefits include increased relevance and user engagement, improved ad performance and enhanced trust. 

9 Step Guide for Implementing and Managing International PPC Campaigns

To achieve this, most companies need to make some serious changes to how they handle multilingual PPC campaigns. 

So, how do you localize your international PPC ads for new markets? Here are 8 steps to help you create successful campaigns for each new region.

1) Prepare Your Site Structure

When a user clicks on an ad expecting localized content but lands on a page in a different language, it damages the user’s experience. This mismatch results in a higher bounce rate, lower conversion rates, and wasted advertising spend. 

To avoid this, it’s crucial to have a correct site structure, such as using subfolders, subdomains, or new folder structures.

2) Find Local Competitors for All Targeted Markets

The next step is going to be to analyze local ad competitors and look at how local competitors perform against each target market. You’ll have two different types of competitors to consider—direct competitors and paid search competitors.

Paid search competitors are competitors based on keyword match. This means they might not directly compete for attention about the same products or services, but instead, the keyword bids overlap. Even though you may not be directly competing, you’ll still need to analyze these as PPC competition.

During this analysis, you might find that not all competitors have localized sites. This allows you to stand out with your localized site.

For example, here are the local Swedish ad competitors identified for a client of ours. As you can see only 1 out of the top 3 competitors has a .se site. This gives our client a huge advantage when implementing ads to their .se site. 

Image Source: How To Scale B2B Ads Across Multiple Languages and Regions, Search Engine Journal, 2023

You also want to look at what local competitors do for their ad copy. This can give you insight into further building out your competitive advantage based on search volume.

Image Source: How To Scale B2B Ads Across Multiple Languages and Regions, Search Engine Journal 2023

3) Do Keyword Research in All Targeted Languages

After you put in the groundwork, it’s time to move on to keyword research. It’s important to consider both English keyword research and keyword research in the localized language to determine whether PPC ads are beneficial in one or more languages. 

Although it can feel like double keyword research, it’s going to pay off in the long run. It’s also going to help you find local nuances, so it’s worth spending time on. 

Here’s the keyword research that we did for document management in Swedish. 

Image Source: How To Scale B2B Ads Across Multiple Languages and Regions, Search Engine Journal 2023

When we did the same type of keyword research for the French market, we found that “GED” is a common French abbreviation of the word “gestion électronique de documents.”

Image Source: How To Scale B2B Ads Across Multiple Languages and Regions, Search Engine Journal 2023

This is why you can’t just translate English keywords, as some of the highest search volume and conversion-focused keywords may end up being excluded from your strategy.

4) Create Ad Copy Based On Local Nuances

Once you’ve got your keywords and know who you want to target, it’s time to move on to building out your ad copy. Make sure you’re localizing ad copy for: 

  • Brand messaging guidelines
  • Google Ad character limits 
  • USPs
  • Pain points
  • Cultural nuances, both within the language and keywords targeted

5) Develop Targeted Landing Pages

Localizing landing pages is similar to localizing ad copy. You need to make sure you take into account the various keywords necessary to maintain a high-quality score, in addition to: 

  • Pain points
  • USPs
  • Imagery
  • Social proof from target markets
  • CTAs based on operational differences

These variations will likely require you to create landing pages that look slightly different across each market. In doing so, you can better highlight the regional differences and resonate more with your audience. 

For example, in France, they tend to prefer things that are visual and aesthetically pleasing, while in Germany, people want tons of information readily available and less imagery. 

6) Structure Ad Groups Based on BOFU, MOFU & TOFU

Then, start by organizing ad groups based on purchase intent. This will cover the three sales funnel stages—BOFU, TOFU, and MOFU.

BOFU targets those ready to make a purchase, MOFU focuses on those considering their options, and TOFU aims at raising awareness among those who are just beginning their search. 

When users are ready and looking to make a purchase, the keywords should be conversion-focused and the landing page should be structured to make the conversion as easy as possible. The user intent can vary slightly, however, so be strategic here. 

For example, the example for France below is based on the keywords revolving around “compliance management systems.” This is a localized BOFU ad group.

Image Source: How To Scale B2B Ads Across Multiple Languages and Regions, Search Engine Journal 2023

 If you add the word “best” in front, it becomes TOFU and requires a new PPC campaign.

If you’re unsure about purchase intent, google the keyword and see for yourself. Check what shows up in the SERPs and you should get a pretty good understanding of the sales funnel they’re in.

7) Retarget Users to Convert Later

80 – 90% of the time, your audiences aren’t going to convert the first time around. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get them back to your website without retargeting. 

Retargeting ads help keep your brand and products/services at the top of your audience’s mind. It can be done pretty much anywhere and has several benefits. 

Localized retargeted ads can help increase direct website traffic and branded keyword search volume from display ads, as opposed to direct click conversions.

Here’s an example of a localized retargeting ad template: 

Image Source: How To Scale B2B Ads Across Multiple Languages and Regions, Search Engine Journal 2023

8) Track Individual Market Performance

Yet, at the end of the day, international PPC management is all about trial and error. 

In order to see what’s working and what’s not, you need to track performance in each individual market. 

What you’ll realize is that some international PPC campaigns will perform great, while others won’t do so well. You can see how the two markets vary below between German (DE) and Sweden (SE).

This is why it is important to separate campaigns based on markets. If your campaign is global-wide, the results in one market can be downward sloping, while the overall performance is upward sloping. 

Having both campaigns and reports separated by markets, allows you to manage and optimize your campaigns with ease. 

9) Forecast Individual Market ROI

Finally, you’ll want to connect foundational marketing KPIs to revenue growth in order to justify the resources required for international PPC management. You can use the chart below to help determine your expected revenue growth over the years.

German Complex B2B Example
Monthly Paid Traffic20,000
PPC Traffic Conversion Rate1.5% conversion rate benchmark
Free Trials / Demos300 per month
Average Contract Value$7,000
Lead to Close Rate5%
Deals Closed15 sales x $7,000 in Average Contract Value
Gross Revenue$105,000 per month

Getting Strategic About International PPC Management

With that said, each market and industry has variances, which can make it difficult for one set of guidelines to be applied across various regions. 

If you’re interested in knowing the ROI calculations for your international PPC initiative, reach out to us below. We’re happy to help calculate your ROI for free.

About the Author

Louise loves to see the big picture as much as she loves to deep dive into the nitty gritty. Holistic marketing strategies to carefully chosen words, nothing is too big or too small.

Real people, real results, real international market growth

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