How to: Conduct Foreign Language PPC Campaigns

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Was one of your new year’s resolutions to make more money online with more visitor conversions? If so, then 2011 might be the year for you to expand your web presence to the foreign language internet.

English is rapidly being overtaken as the lingua franca of the web, as foreign languages are seeing massive growths in online use. For instance, Chinese use online grew by 755% and Arabic by 2064% between 2000 and 2008, compared to a 204% growth for English. That means that if you want to be a part of the biggest growth markets online, you need to think beyond English.

It’s surprisingly easy and cost effective to localize and optimize your website for foreign markets – a multilingual SEO expert can provide you with all the guidance required. Once you’ve launched your optimized foreign language websites, though, you want to start seeing results quickly – and organic SEO takes time and patience to build conversions.

That’s where a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign can help – it’s an essential part of any global marketing communication strategy, being the fastest way to get to the top of the rankings, build brand awareness and generate qualified click-throughs. Handily, it’s also a very affordable method of advertising. But how do you go about managing a PPC campaign in a language you don’t speak? Here are five tips to get you started.

1) Choose the right search engine(s): Different search engines are dominant in different countries (Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China, etc), so you will need to conduct some research into your demographic(s) to decide which search engine(s) will be the most effective. A niche search engine might be more cost effective for your market. Each search engine also has different rules for PPC, such as whether you are penalised for irrelevant keyword use, so it’s worth familiarising yourself with the rules of each search engine before you begin.

2) Choose the right keywords: If your foreign language websites have been correctly optimized then you should already have your list of comprehensively researched and analysed foreign language keywords. If not, then you need to have a native-speaking translator translate your English keywords, brainstorm alternatives and then research their effectiveness using a keyword research tool. The trick to foreign language PPC is taking culture and context into account to pick the keywords that are most likely to elicit a click-through from the reader – this is best judged by a native speaking SEO expert.

3) Creative copywriting: Now, the crucial part – writing your ‘25 word or less’ ad copy. Again, culture and context is crucial here to make sure you strike the right tone with readers – the tone you use for an effective PPC ad in the UK will be very different from the tone for Germany. Your best bet is to write your ad copy in English and then enlist multilingual marketing professionals to produce a Transcreation of the advert copy, to ensure your ads are optimized for every language and culture.

4) Manage and monitor: This step is the same as for any PPC campaign – once the ads have gone live, you’ll need to regularly monitor them to see how many impressions, click-throughs and conversions each ad is getting. You’ll also want to keep an eye out to prevent click fraud – multiple clicks from the same IP address. The difference with multilingual campaigns is that you will be managing campaigns across several search engines and languages and may need the assistance of a language professional for translation and comprehension.

5) Measure: The final, crucial step, is again the same as for any PPC campaign – you need to measure your ROI for each campaign and adjust your spend accordingly. With foreign language campaigns, you may find that your keywords need more refining than for your English campaigns – you may also find that the search engine which is most effective for your demographic is not the one you originally anticipated. This is why constant PPC monitoring is essential, and is the key to generating greater conversions, greater turnaround, and greater revenue in 2011

Christian Arno
Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a global translation company. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 200 employees spanning three continents and clients... Read Full Bio
Christian Arno
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  • smith greal

    We all know about PPC and campaigns within it. We all manage it every day or week or month depending on when we started. But the thing is campaign management is an important aspect in making loads of cash online.

  • Dario

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  • Michelle Farina

    It’s very important to cater to a global audience, especially if you have an ecommerce website, you can very easily double your profits by offering at least 1 other language other than English…. like Chinese for example.

  • Dan Wan

    Hello Christian, I have been stopping by this blog and would like to thank you for your efforts in helping me conduct my own ppc campaigns. Your advice is very valuable and has many of the benfits.

    Thank you very much for your help!


  • Juliet P

    Hey thanks for posting this stuff. Forgien markets are not something many people tap into and it’s a goldmine. Great post and thank you for sharing this!

  • Nigel m

    Hi Christian – 20% of the market comes from the United States – If those in the US are only focused on United States customers they are leaving 80% of consumers behind.

    Great article – thanks for everything

    Nigel :)>