Tips for Paid Search Bid Optimization to Boost Global PPC

February 7, 2020
Contributed by Gartner Digital Markets Analysts

Here’s advice to better manage linguistic and cultural differences and increase your international sales.

Language can be strange and confusing, and things that matter to a specific country often go beyond the linguistic and into cultural. This is important to keep in mind if you’re planning to launch an international pay-per-click (PPC) campaign and generate more leads abroad.

Without clear knowledge of the nuance of local languages, cultures and business practices, it can be a struggle for businesses to know whether or not they’re optimizing their international PPC bids.

Let’s take a deep dive into what it really entails to get the most out of your international campaign.

Do you need a translator to sell to customers abroad? Watch this video for tips on international communication.
Attention to detail is the key to quality clicks when it comes to translation

Depending on where you’re from, you might refer to carbonated soft drinks as “pop” or “soda” or even “Coke.” This is an example of localization: how linguistic specifics vary by region. Localization matters because advertising in a specific region but using the wrong term can alienate you from your leads.


Four ways to address localization concerns
  1. Translation software. These systems can range from cheap to costly, and the efficacy of what they can do varies accordingly.

  2. Translation services. Though more costly than translation software, this option lets you actively communicate with translators to adjust your content.

  3. Partner with local marketing companies. This carries all the benefits of translation services but can be more cost-effective and brings insight into marketing in specific regions.

  4. Hire PPC managers. Ultimately the most effective of these four options. Not only is it these managers’ job to know the local language and effectively market in the regions you’re targeting, but it’s also their job to know how to manage a successful PPC campaign.


Ensure high-quality clicks with long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are an important factor of SEO and PPC campaigns. They’re three to four words long and specific enough to generate higher-quality traffic.

Higher-quality traffic brings leads who are more likely to click through to your ads and become customers, as their queries are more closely aligned with your product.

That means that you have to identify your client’s search intent, and in this case, identify it in a foreign language. The four translation options listed above can help, but if none of those are right for your business, don’t give up, — we have five tips to help.

How to identify your most relevant long-tail keywords:

  • Take a look at your local competition. How are their products used? What exactly do their clients use their software as a solution for?

  • Study your competition’s marketing campaigns. How do they sell themselves? How do their customers find them?

  • Use analytics to analyze click frequency for various long-tail keywords to see which are the most selected in specific fields.

  • Use query reports once you’ve started experimenting with your text to see both your negative keywords and what possible searches led people to click on your ad.

  • Be aware of character limits in foreign languages, especially ones that use other alphabets.


Think beyond the link

Getting leads to click on your link is only half the battle in a PPC campaign. You also need to make the appropriate adjustments to your landing page, specifically, your calls to action (CTAs).

As much attention as you paid to the copy of your ad itself, you must also apply to the content on your landing page.

CTAs can be tricky, as it’s difficult to determine what information particular regions are comfortable providing. That’s less of a translation issue and more of a cultural one.


Embrace cultural differences when developing your PPC campaign

To effectively market, you need to understand who you’re marketing to, what matters to those buyers and how other products in their frame of reference are marketed.

“[L]anguage goes beyond the words — it’s about culture,” says Lazhar Ichir, CEO of, a digital marketing and brand management platform. Ichir expanded his company into both Spain and Germany and initially attempted to translate the same copy into both using low-cost translation software. When that didn’t work, he changed tactics: “German ads performed better with a more imperative copy, while Spanish ads did well with exclamations and expletives.”

This is where international buyer personas can come in handy. These personas can include information such as “Who typically makes the business decisions?” and “When are their typical working hours?” as well as “Do they make business decisions on desktops or on mobile?”

Developing personas can guide how you direct your marketing, what times you focus your heavier bids for keywords and how you design your landing page.


How does advertising and branding work in your target country?

There are two important components to this question: How marketing typically functions in your target country, and how your brand is perceived there. Numerous PPC channels are used around the world, and not every nation ranks Google AdWords at the No. 1 spot.

This is something that a PPC manager and local marketing teams can help you with. It’s also incredibly important to adapt your marketing strategy toward both what works in that country and what matters to the people in that country.


Pay attention to how much you’re spending, but don’t let budget stop you

We've previously written about using a flexible budget with your PPC campaigns. This can be even more important when focusing on bid optimization for an international PPC campaign.

Lazhar Ichir came to his realization about different buyer personalities in Spain and Germany after testing out different types of keywords. He used a flexible budget to ensure the freedom to play around, and it paid off. Ichir and topicseed began by: “Testing several creatives and copies and remov[ing] underperforming ones. On Facebook and other obvious social networks […], we increased the CTR by about 25% using the domestic language. And then, after changing the copy multiple times to fit the local culture and energy, it was an additional 15%.”

The lesson here is to be prepared to spend a little more as you home in on your best keywords and copy to increase your international conversion rates.

As a final note, be sure to pay attention to the fluctuations in the exchange rate between your native currency and that of your product’s new home. Otherwise, your bids will be either too big or too small, neither of which is a good place to be if you want to optimize your international PPC campaigns.

Read more about answers to the top three challenges in global expansion.

Get the Gartner Digital Markets Newsletter

We value your privacy. By submitting this form, you agree we may use your information in accordance with the terms of the Gartner Digital Markets Privacy Policy.