Are You Avoiding These 3 Trouble Areas in International PPC?

You’re the PPC director of your brand’s U.S. division and one day, you decide to see what other divisions abroad are up to with their PPC campaigns. You enthusiastically dive into their account, hoping to see something inspiring. Enthusiasm quickly turns to horror when you see the U.K. office has taken it upon itself to create display ads in colors that are utterly wrong for the brand, and the ad copy is bursting with typos. What do you do?

There’s no question that international brands face huge opportunity when it comes to paid search abroad. The challenge? Managing paid search abroad.

Large corporations often face fragmentation in their paid search efforts. Varying divisions and their different goals, multiple cultures, search engines, languages, targeting options, and so on create a “Wild West” environment that when not handled properly, can go very badly for brands.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the most common problems international brands face in their paid search management. While there are a ton of details when it comes to tactical implementation, this post focuses on the large, overarching operational problems that need to be addressed by brands tackling paid search abroad.

Problem 1: Branding – What Branding?

You can thank your U.K. division for being so creative with that rainbow-colored display ad, and then in the next breath, start talking brand guidelines.

If you have an international brand, chances are you have a brand manager – or at least a marketing director who oversees how the brand should be exemplified both in the communications and the look of the brand, such as brand colors and logos.

If you don’t yet have a branding guidelines document that clearly states the common attributes of the brand and usage rules, that’s the first step. Policing those guidelines comes next.

It’s usually the responsibility of the primary division (like the headquarters) to create a top-down educational processes to get all the divisions and locations up to speed on the brand in order to create a consistent experience worldwide.

The sooner you do this, the sooner you can avoid seeing ads that make you cringe.

Problem 2: Lack of Communication

Your U.K. division has never spoken to your India division about their paid search strategy – and why should they? They have different budgets, and are marketing to a completely different audience, right? Wrong.

If you create an environment where shared learning is core to the paid search success of the brand, it can elevate and unify efforts globally. You may discover that India has been really successful with a particular keyword, remarketing campaign, or quarter; India may learn of new features that U.S. is using that could help them, and so on.

Consider building in an annual review and meeting of all the paid search teams worldwide. Have teams do a basic audit of their paid search accounts (you can see what some of those steps would be here), and then invite teams to convene either in person or virtually to share their wins and what they’ve learned about the market in the past year.

When teams communicate in this way, it breaks down the perceived barriers between locations, and helps align everyone as part of one brand.

Problem 3: Clambering for Budget

Ever get the feeling the U.K. office is creating those rainbow-colored display ads just to spite you, simply because they’re feeling left out? It’s common for international brands to have teams abroad that just don’t feel like they’re part of the company – not only because of a lack of communication, but also a lack of budget.

This is a problem the company has created, and it’s the company’s responsibility to fix it. Every division in each location is important, or else it wouldn’t exist. That’s why these divisions need to be set up for success from the start – and have access to the same resources.

No, that doesn’t mean the satellite office in Uruguay should have a million-dollar budget for paid search, but it does mean that they should have access to the same PPC education.

Consider educating each division’s paid search team on best practices for paid search from the start. Get them up to speed on the latest trends and features throughout the year, and brainstorm strategies for reaching the target consumer at regular intervals. Put continuing education at the forefront so every paid search marketer in each location can perform at his or her peak.

When peak performance is demonstrated, increased budgets often follow.

And sometimes, vying for budget is as simple as making sure the tracking is set up accurately on the website so that the international folks can track and report their efforts accurately.

Keep in mind that there are technical considerations when tracking international accounts, and strategic considerations on what to track, so be sure the PPC managers and the analytics pros are working closely to set that up.

So if you’re feeling left out as the solo paid search marketer of the Uruguay locale, don’t settle – ask for the support you need. And if you’re in charge of providing that support, don’t delay in helping your brand earn more dollars.

In sum, remember that international brands have some extra work to do when it comes to managing paid search. Putting programs in place that empower your staff will empower the brand and ultimately make paid search a more viable channel globally.

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