5 Tips for Expanding Internationally with Paid Search

With many UK brands now seeking growth through international expansion, we take a closer look at how brands can successfully expand their international operations with Paid Search and Display. Focusing on international campaign management and execution, this article offers our top tips on running effective campaigns targeted to different territories.


Please click here to see our earlier article on 5 Tips for Introducing a Brand into a New Territory.


Our top 5 tips for international expansion

1. Decide which countries to target

When expanding internationally, a good starting point for advertisers is to research which territories are likely to perform well:

  • Use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner with its Traffic Estimator function to find out the level of brand awareness of your brand in a target territory by estimating the average monthly impressions your brand may receive.
  • To gain further insights on new territories, we would suggest that you create a worldwide brand campaign targeting all countries and all languages, while being careful to exclude any territories where you already have campaigns running. By running a worldwide campaign, you will be able to assess which locations drive the most traffic and sales. Let the campaign run for at least 2 weeks and you will see the territories which are performing the best. The highest performing campaigns should then be separated and optimised individually.


2. Find the right keywords

Building a strong keyword list for your campaign will help you ensure that your ads show to your target customers as they search for specific terms or visit certain websites. To find the right keywords for your campaign, we would suggest you:

  • Use keywords which perform well in the UK as a starting point, as these are likely to perform well in international territories too. Start with exact match keywords and then expand into phrase match keywords. This will allow you to see which terms users are searching for in a particular territory and therefore enable you to grow the campaign.
  • Expand your keyword selection further by using Google’s Keyword Planner to see which keywords are likely to drive the most impressions for a given territory. We have found that misspells of brand terms and products names tend to perform well in international territories and can be effective in driving more traffic to your website.


3. Localise your language

When running multi-language campaigns, it’s important to ensure that your ads resonate with different, local audiences:

  • Ensure you use a reliable translation service to accurately and appropriately translate your ad copy. Consumers are less likely to click on ads which do not read well.
  • Separate campaigns by language as this will allow you to target consumers who speak a local language differently to consumers who speak English. This is particularly important for UK brands that are looking to tap into the lucrative expat market. It is worth noting that there is no conclusive link to show that consumers will always prefer to click on ads in their local language, therefore this important to test ads in different languages across all target territories.


4. Drive more performance with effective ad copy

There are many factors which should be considered when creating ad copies for an international territory. Each territory will vary and react to ad messages in different ways:

  • Test different types of ad copy as small changes to ad copy can have a significant impact on CTR. For example, we performed a split test adding ‘/au’ at the end of the display url for an international client running campaigns in Australia. CTR for this ad copy was +17% higher than the ad copy without ‘/au’ at the end of the URL. In another test, we trialled different discount codes for a retail client who was trying to improve performance in low converting territories. By using discount-led messages in ad copy we were able to increase CTR by +22% in these territories.
  • Research the preferred terms and phrases used in your target territories, for example use “Shipping” in ad copies for the US rather than “Delivery”. It is also important to understand seasonality factors and key dates for your targets territories, for instance Christmas Day is on 7th January in Russia.


5. Don’t lose a sale due to poor landing pages

When trying to drive more onsite conversions, it’s important to test the most effective landing page for your target territory. There are a number of different ways to optimise landing pages:

  • Localise the language of the landing page to the territory that your campaign is running in. We tested a simple localised landing page in the US against a UK landing page. The localised landing page had a 95% higher conversion rate than the UK landing page.
  • In territories where you are receiving a large number of clicks through to the landing page but a low number of sales, test a localised landing page with images of local currency and clear messaging on local delivery options as this should improve conversion rate.



To sum up

In conclusion, knowing which territories already have a strong brand presence is key in generating sales internationally. By creating a worldwide campaign you will be able to understand which territories have higher traffic and sales volume and build campaigns accordingly.


When optimising your international campaigns it is important to take into consideration the differences between the different territories. By adopting some of our recommendations to help localise your campaigns to each target territory, you will be well equipped to run successful international Paid Search campaigns. Good luck!


Case Study: Building a new customer base in the UK

We are pleased to share a new case study of our work with well-known international travel brand, Sunweb. Adopting a new approach, we integrated Paid Search and Display advertising to help effectively reach a new audience and successfully help build a customer base in the UK.



Sunweb are a leading international specialist tour operator. They have an established customer base in Europe and were looking to increase brand awareness in the UK and build its customer base locally. They appointed us to help them achieve this through Paid Search and Display advertising. We believed that we could use an integrated Paid Search and Display advertising strategy to increase brand awareness and drive incremental bookings in the UK.


Our Approach

Sunweb has some brand awareness in the UK, and as such already has some existing traffic to the website from UK consumers. To capture this existing search traffic, we launched a Paid Search campaign promoting Sunweb’s holiday services through a series of text ads. Messaging was designed specifically to drive consumers directly to the website.


To expand reach further, we implemented a Programmatic Display prospecting campaign promoting Display ad placements on contextually relevant websites. This approach was designed to target new consumers who fit a pre-defined audience profile, who we believed would have an active interest in the type of holiday being offered by Sunweb.


To drive more online bookings, we analysed campaign conversion data to pinpoint the times at which most on-site conversions were made. Using this data, we commenced a retargeting campaign to pursue our target consumers at times when we knew that they would be most likely to convert.



The campaign has been a great success. Since launch, UK revenue has increased by +96% and bookings by +36% month on month. At the same time we have also managed to decreased cost per acquisition by 73%.


For further information on this campaign, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by contacting Digby at [email protected]


4 Search and Display strategies to support new store openings

A new store opening can be an exciting time for any brand, and brings with it valuable new business opportunities. However, the challenge for brands is how best to take advantage of this business opportunity and drive more sales activity as a result.


Paid Search and Display advertising is a great way to support a store opening. Compared to other marketing channels, Paid Search and Display advertising allows you to be highly targeted, enabling you to quickly and effectively target the right audience with the right message at the right time.


We recently supported a retail client with their launch of eight new stores across the UK over two months. Below are the Paid Search and Display strategies we implemented to help them maximise this business opportunity:


1. Incorporate store locations in your Paid Search campaigns: Ensure you expand your Paid Search campaigns to include new location variations as this will enable you to show the most relevant ads and landing pages from location-specific searches. While search volume on the location-specific keywords may be low initially, they should increase over time when awareness of the new store increases. We saw store location searches increase by up to +48% during the first week of each store opening.


2. Target interested prospects with Display Remarketing: Use a landing page with new store messaging as a way to attract and remarket to potential customers. By visiting that specific landing page, consumers will have inadvertently shown their interest in the brand and this will enable you to target them with relevant ads and new store promotions while they browse other pages on the internet. Compared to other Display campaigns, the Remarketing activity drove up to +54% more visitors to the client’s website.


3. Use RLSAs (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) for further reach: Incorporate RLSAs into a Paid Search strategy, similar to Display Remarketing. This will allow you to pre-qualify an audience with the ability to change ad copy depending on the nature of the consumer’s search query. For example, ad copy can be adjusted based on whether they have visited the store location page. Incorporating a new store location in ad text or sitelinks will make the ad more relevant to the consumer and assist in driving awareness of the store. We have seen this activity increase CTR by +32% and decrease CPCs by -18% when compared with generic activity.


4. Use Google Scripts to prompt a response: The Google ‘countdown’ Script in Adwords is an excellent tool to help build a sense of anticipation and urgency to a new store opening. Use this Google feature to countdown the days and minutes until your new store opens to create a buzz and sense of excitement. We tested this approach during our client’s store openings and saw CTR increase by +28%.


5. Take advantage of location extensions: Update location extensions within your Google Places account or manually within your AdWords account. This will ensure the location extensions on your ads remain up-to-date. We found that clicks on these extensions increased by up to +47%, after each store opened.


By integrating Paid Search and Display advertising in this way we helped to drive higher levels of performance and effectively support our client’s new store openings. This is an approach that we would recommend for any brand that is looking to help build awareness of a new store, create a sense of excitement to the upcoming opening and stimulate new business interest.


We are always happy to help, so please do get in touch if you would like support from us to help ensure that your new store opening or venture is a success!


Good luck!



New Whitepaper – Drive international growth with Paid Search and Display

By 2020 over £28 billion in UK online retail will come from international consumers. This is the staggering figure predicted by recent research from OC&C Consultants and Google.


For UK businesses with strong brands and high export potential, expanding into new territories offers great potential for growth.


However there are many obstacles. Our newly published Whitepaper explores how UK brands can maximise the international opportunity using Search and Display advertising. Click to download our Whitepaper here.


This Whitepaper explores the scope for international expansion and the best approach that UK brands should take to help maximise their potential internationally, through Paid Search and Display advertising.


Through practical steps, the Paper discusses how through Paid Search and Display advertising advertisers are able to drive incremental revenue whilst building their brand’s profile and gaining valuable business intelligence of a new target market.


As a first crucial step, brands must choose the right advertising platform and approach for their campaign objective, from the myriad of advertising options available. For example, brands need to understand which search engines dominate in their target markets and select the right one.


Once brands have established which platform and approach will work best for their target market, they must then focus on localising their marketing activity so that the consumer experience is relevant to the local audience. Exploring the theme of localisation further, the Paper explains that localisation is not just about translating marketing messages into the local language. Localisation is about making your marketing campaigns relevant to a geographically, linguistically and culturally specific audience. This can only be achieved by understanding your local customer, your local competition and applying those insights into your campaigns.


The Paper concludes by advising advertisers to take the time to research their local market and develop the right approach to their advertising campaign. By doing this, advertisers will be in the best position to effectively build a brand abroad and drive more international sales as a result.


There is clearly a real opportunity for brands to drive growth and profitability by looking to new international markets. Given that 40% of all online UK sales in retail are anticipated to come from abroad by 2020, it is the brands that invest in this opportunity that will get ahead and stay ahead. To read the paper in full, please click on this link;


For further advice on developing and running international online marketing campaigns please do contact us, we would be happy to help! Call Digby on 020 7186 2111.


The Importance of Relevancy for Google PPC Ads

Keywords to describe digital objects

Case study: researching the effect of keyword relevance on ad copy performance

We recently did a test to discover what effect relevancy has in Google’s algorithm, as we wanted to see what difference a ‘good’ PPC campaign has with relevant keywords and ad copies as opposed to a ‘bad’ PPC campaign where the keywords and ad copies did not match.

We created a Mythical Brand to demonstrate the differences in the ad copy and then analysed how effects on Click Thru Rate (CTR) Average Cost Per Click (CPC) and Quality Score (QS).

The keyword we were looking at was ‘Mythical’ and below are the ad copies we used.

Ad copy one

Mythical brand keyword test

Ad copy two

Mythical brand second test

You will see how in the ad copy 1, the keyword ‘Mythical’ is used in both the Headline, Description Line 1 and the Display URL. In ad copy 2 the keyword ‘Mythical’ is only used in the display URL.


The table below shows the differences in CTR, CPC and QS from the two ad copies. You will see that when the keyword is not included in the ad copy then CTR drops dramatically, CPC’s increase and Quality Score drops from 9 to 4.

Effects of relevance on ad copy click through

Net Media Planet Tip – make sure you are using the keyword in the ad copy in order to get the best results for your PPC campaign.

Best way of doing this?

Try setting your campaign structure so you have 1 keyword per ad group on your top traffic terms, to ensure that your headline is bolded in the ad copy which will improve overall CTR for your keyword.

Image credit: Cambodiaforkidsorg