4 International SEM Tips to Bolster Your Global Agenda

International Search GlobeMany global companies manage paid search from one ivory tower, setting policies and even creative from HQ to be spread across the lands. Others manage in geographic silos, with local marketing teams running their own accounts with their own budget, often using completely different agencies and technology partners.

This leads to a lack of standardization, missed opportunities to leverage best practices, and significant inefficiency. Oh, and reporting? A mess.

Yes, some elements do need to be localized, but ignoring the commonalities and decentralizing too much isn’t the answer. After all, just because the Web is worldwide doesn’t mean everyone everywhere uses it the same way.

So how should search marketers approach this global challenge?

Parlez-vous Search?

An obvious difference is language. Clearly, if you build your account in English, you can’t just target all countries and expect it to resonate. Nor is a simple translation of all your creative the answer.

Your brand means something different to people in different parts of the world. Your customers likely engage online differently based on where they are as well. Does the balance between quality and value look the same everywhere? Maybe not.

But the language issue goes much deeper. An English phrase can have a very different meaning in England as it does in the U.S. And finding the French version of a similar phrase is an entirely different challenge.

While you can mandate messaging to some extent, it’s important to recognize what’s working differently in different places. Whether it’s having local boots on the ground or simply doing your homework, you can avoid embarrassment and increase your ROI. There are a number of ways to go about this, depending on your scale, budget and the complexity of your campaign.

You can always consult your engine reps for advice and maybe even some services to help you spend more, or you can work with local resources – whether agencies, translation services, clients, or otherwise.

What’s €8.00 Divided by $3?

Managing ROI can get a little trickier when you throw in a bunch of different currencies. Never mind that your conversions can be tracked in different units; you may find yourself paying for media in one and tracking sales in another – all in the same market.

Getting your IT folks to add in logic to convert all sales into a common currency unit may be easier said than done. Barring that, make sure that whatever agencies, technology, or spreadsheets you’re using to are able to normalize your revenue. The critical piece is making sure you have this not only for reporting purposes, but for optimization and real-time media mix decisions.

What’s the Time?

Marketers in the U.S. are accustomed to accounting for different time zones. And, fortunately, the engines make it fairly straightforward. But when the sun never sets on your online empire, you have to account for a lot more than just three hours (all apologies to Hawaii, but “five hours” just doesn’t make the same point).

Make sure your:

  • Reporting trues up by day. Ideally, this is resolved by technology, as opposed to a lot of remapping in your analytics.
  • Accounts are set up in the engines and any third-party platforms you use.
  • Partners – agencies, technology partners, etc. – get it right the first time.

You may also run into differences in a standard week – does it start on Sunday? Monday? These discrepancies aren’t unique to paid search, but they are often new challenges for those who specialize in search.

Setting a Standard

Then there’s basic standardization. What do your employees in Spain call “Spain”? If your US team builds campaigns or runs reporting on Spain, how do you match that up to “España” or “espagne”? If you don’t think this through, your analytics folks may have your head.

Pick one version and stick with it globally. “Spain” may not play well in Madrid, nor “España” in New York, but a compromise will ensure accurate data and fewer headaches for all.

A Nice Problem to Have

No one should really bemoan the fact they have customers in multiple countries. But if you don’t think through the challenges ahead of time and plan accordingly, you could be in for major problems. And a problem in any language is something to avoid.

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