Here’s a truth about people participating in commerce all over the world: they buy and sell products and services with the goal of improving their lives in some way. People operating and owning businesses all over want to grow – the question is where and how. When you’ve got a good thing going, some might think that you can market your product or service in the same way everywhere, but differences in language, culture, and infrastructure are just a few of the aspects to consider and plan for before you start an international expansion of your marketing.

What is Global Marketing?

Global marketing gives businesses and brands the opportunity to grow and expand by going beyond local markets and acquiring customers on an international scale. In the past, the idea of expanding marketing on an international level was reserved for only the largest of companies, but today, social media, digital advertising, and online sales have made expanding into global marketing accessible and attainable for any size business. 

Let’s be clear though, there’s a lot more to expanding into international markets other than selling goods and services across borders. Like all marketing, global marketing requires a foundational understanding of what your consumer wants or needs, promoting and telling your brand and product story, and expanding delivery and production where it’s needed. 

If you’re considering a global marketing strategy, you will want digital advertising to be a big part of how you connect with geographically diverse prospective customers in order to significantly grow your business. Marketing your business into new regions takes thoughtful planning and strategy in order to successfully navigate the changes in language, culture, needs, and cost that occur.

While we here at (un)Common Logic are based in the great city of Austin, Texas, our international marketing passport has more than a few stamps. In over 14 years of running successful international paid media campaigns, we’ve had a front row seat to constant change in channels, best practices, laws, and access.

6 Tactics for Running Successful International PPC Campaigns

We’ve packed light (but smart) and loaded up 6 tactics for going global.

1. Choose Your Target Countries Thoughtfully and Understand Their Laws and Policies

While you’re setting up your first international campaign, humming “it’s a small world after all,” don’t forget that while the entire digital universe seems accessible, the rules beyond borders are very real and can have big implications on your messaging and strategy. Privacy and advertising laws differ by country and change on a regular basis. Delivery, price, ad copy, audience, and more will be affected by the legislation of the country you’re targeting.  Before discussing budget or creative, research what is allowed to save yourself time and future headaches. 

It is important to consider international politics and market conditions when exploring global marketing. Even something as seemingly unrelated to your business as a strengthening of a currency or an election can change the level of success that a campaign has in a particular country.

2. Keep Your Campaigns Organized

If you are targeting multiple countries, your account can quickly become overwhelming and messy. There is no right way to organize your campaigns, but our school of thought is to keep it simple and easy to understand.  Here are a few examples. 

Name your campaign by country. This one seems pretty obvious, and allows you to keep budgets and performance specific within borders. When considering currency, creative variations, and reporting this is often the best way to organize an account. For example, if you’re planning an expansion into Belgium, your account would then include:

Belgium > Brand

Belgium > Generic 

However, if you’re considering expanding to many countries and include both brand and generic campaigns for each country, you could quickly find yourself with 20+ campaigns that can make managing and optimizing difficult. In that case, it’s common to group into regions (example: APAC, EMEA, LATAM).  We recommend region first, but to also include language (if applicable).

APAC >> Brand >> English

APAC >> Brand >> Japanese

It’s less common in the United States, but in many countries marketers find value in running campaigns in multiple languages in order to connect best with all of their potential customers. For example, in Denmark, you will hear mostly Danish, but 86% of Danes speak English as well and depending on your product or service you may want to test advertising in both languages.  For campaign organization and ease of management consider including the language in your campaign name. 

Denmark >> Brand >> English

Denmark >> Brand >> Danish

3. Create Ads that Appeal to Local Culture

Don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s a mistake to assume that even markets located right next to each other share the same characteristics and pain points. You need to understand the culture you are advertising to and tailor your ads accordingly. Humor, art, wit, and way of life can vary drastically between neighboring countries and regions that seem similar from the outside. What worked in one country may not work in another. Localize your global strategy and adopt prevailing marketing practices. Aim to delight your new market with a tailored experience. The storytelling and appeal of your marketing should adjust for the local audience. Successful global brands and companies stay that way by knowing each audience, connecting with them, and providing value – your ads should also do all three. 

4. Speak to Local Concerns and in Local Vernacular

There’s no place like home, and ads that resonate and feel comfortable and natural tend to outperform their disruptive or confusing counterparts. By speaking to local unique needs and concerns, you build trust and brand confidence, increasing your odds of global marketing success. When writing ad copy, focus on connecting with your customer and make your messaging clear and personalized so there’s no confusion about who you are selling to. Language, lingo, and speech patterns go a long way in helping global marketing feel like localized marketing. Go the extra mile and research popular cultural references, events, and holidays to create a truly global, local experience.

5. Advertise Where Locals Are

Obviously Google is massive, but there are localized search engines and advertising platforms available across the globe. Social platform use especially looks different by geography. For example, in many countries around the world, Gen Z searches for products and services in Instagram almost as much as Google, and in India there are several smaller search engines popular for local services.  Understand all the channels available to you and test what works best.

6. Optimize Your International PPC Campaigns and Budget by Country

We’ve mentioned it before, but each geo will perform differently. This is important for managing your budget as your average cost per click and cost per acquisition will vary. Certain countries are much more affordable in reaching your target audiences and alternatively markets like North America are increasingly more competitive. To find what’s normal or average for each location, you’ll need to research costs and competition and then experiment and optimize campaigns by country or region. 

Common Mistakes in International Paid Media

Like traveling, digital marketing works best with research and preparation. Knowing the culture, the currency, and the weather each play a factor in a successful trip. In our experience, the fundamentals of what can go wrong in an international or global marketing scenario aren’t that different.

If you’re following the tips above, we anticipate you’ll have a lovely trip abroad, and avoid these common mistakes:

  • Misunderstanding Your Audience
    • Whether that’s language, culture, or buying habits, failing to connect with each audience and inspire with your marketing will send you home early. Research and preparation will be your best friend.
  • Treating all locations the same
    • Expecting buying cycles, platforms, channels, and messaging to be similar across locations will stunt the growth and success of your initiatives. The upside of going global is the potential positive impact on your business, but it requires effort to give a local or personalized experience on a large scale.
  • Rigidity
    • Exploring territory uncharted by your brand and business requires testing and a level of open mindedness. As markets and audiences expose different needs and values, agility and flexibility in marketing and decision-making become crucial for long-term success. 

Want to be sure your international digital advertising efforts avoid these pitfalls? (un)Common Logic has extensive experience helping businesses with international paid media efforts as part of our pay-per-click advertising approach. 

Contact us if you’re thinking about expanding your digital marketing efforts internationally or have any other questions about how we use digital marketing to help our clients grow their businesses.