Today’s post comes courtesy of Christian Arno, founder of translation company Lingo24
The advent of the internet has made the global marketplace more accessible for businesses of all sizes. There’s more to making the most of the opportunities it can offer however than simply setting up a single monolingual website and waiting for the traffic to roll in. English remains the single most widely used language online but it still represents only around a quarter of total usage. Various studies have also shown that web users who speak English as a second language also place more trust in websites written in their own native language. More than half of internet users across the European Union regularly visited foreign language (i.e. mostly English) sites but only 18% said they would make online purchases from a site that was not in their own native language.
The benefits of multilingual and fully localized websites are becoming more recognized but organic SEO, especially when trying to break into a foreign market, can be slow to yield results. PPC or pay-per-click campaigns can provide a low-risk, cost effective way to start getting conversions and increase brand awareness within a new market.
Focus your efforts
Even if you offer a product or services that you consider to have cross-market or genuinely global appeal, it can help to target one new market at a time. Market research to ensure there’s a demand for what you have to offer is crucial but there’s more to a successful campaign than simply getting a click-through – you also have to be able to service your customers effectively. If you don’t already offer shipping to a particular market you’ll have to research shipping options and costs, as well as relevant areas of tax law and import regulations. It can also help to have staff who speak the language of the target market in order to provide support, deal with queries and assist with the processing of orders.
Remember Google isn’t the only search engine
It’s an undeniable fact that Google is a true behemoth of the search engine world and will be the focus for most PPC campaigns. Depending on your target market however, you may also want to consider local competitors. Baidu, for example, is the most widely used search engine in China and is in fact the fifth most visited site in the world according to Alexa’s rankings. Alexa also lists Soso as the most popular search engine in South Korea while Yahoo! Japan rules the roost there.
Choose the best keywords
Once you’ve chosen your search engine it’s time to research the keywords you’ll use within the campaign. You don’t have to ditch previous efforts – existing English language keywords can serve as a jumping off point but don’t forget that straight translations might not yield the best results. A literal French translation of ‘car insurance’, for example, is ‘l’assurance automobile‘. Running this through Google’s keyword tool, however, indicates that the term yields very poor results, with alternative terms such as ‘assurance auto‘ or ‘assurance voiture‘ being much more successful. Colloquialisms, abbreviations, regional variations and other alternative terms may all have a bearing and it can help to hold brainstorming sessions with the help of native speaking before testing what these throw out.
Consider translation issues
PPC ad copy depends on impact. It has to grab the viewer’s attention and convey the important information in an extremely limited space. There’s a definite art to composing a PPC ad but what works in one country might not in another. As with your keywords, a straight dictionary or machine translation is rarely the best option. Working with native speaking translation professionals who also have experience in this kind of campaign can allow you to transcreate rather than simply translate – adapting the copy for a new audience while retaining the tone and essential message.
Monitor your campaign
A PPC campaign is more of an ongoing process than a one-off event and you should carefully monitor your performance, making tweaks and adjustments as and when they are needed. A relatively minor adjustment like refining keywords can have a huge effect on a PPC campaign and this can be even more marked in foreign language and multilingual campaigns. It may also be the case that your chosen search engine or engines are not as effective a platform as you first thought. Checking click-through rates and visitor behaviour will give you invaluable information about the effectiveness of your approach, allowing you to make any changes when and where they are necessary.
Conducting an international PPC campaign can be challenging but it can also yield great results, not just in terms of direct sales but also in building your brand in a new market, giving you a platform from which to try other marketing approaches.
About The Author
Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, one of the world’s fastest growing translation companies. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 180 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV, World Bank and American Express. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.