Increase international performance with translated ad copy
Did you know only 13% of the world’s population speaks English, with 5% classing it as their native language? English speakers are often guilty of assuming that these percentages would be much higher and it’s naive to believe that you can expand your international reach by just using English ad copy.
Using translated ad copy in paid search campaigns provides a fantastic opportunity to reach customers who speak and search in the native language of the location that is being targeted. A translated website should also provide a more joined-up experience to users whose first language isn’t English.
With more businesses looking to scale internationally, we’ll cover what brands should consider when looking for opportunities to target non-English speakers with their paid search campaigns.
The first thing you should consider is the size of opportunity in each country. One particular way to judge this is by the percentage of the population that doesn’t speak English. Examples of sizeable opportunities are France and Germany where the figure is 61% and 44% respectively, both higher than the average in Europe. With the low percentage of English speakers and the sizeable total populations, these two countries present great opportunities to expand reach by targeting French and German keywords using ad copy in their respective languages.
Furthermore, if your competitors aren’t running any translated activity then this provides an opportunity to enter your ads into auctions which are less competitive than their English equivalent, potentially leading to cheaper CPCs and lower CPAs. On the other hand, this can work both ways. If competitors are running translated activity, then by not only targeting English searches you can get in front of users who may never have considered you as a brand because they have never heard of you or because they didn’t know you could provide content in their native language.
In order to run translated ad copy, it is important to ensure that you either have a fully translated website or at the very least, translated PPC landing pages as this will provide a less dis-jointed user experience and reduces the chance that a user will leave the site versus if you directed this traffic to an English landing page. Translated copy on the landing page will also help your quality scores for your translated keywords, leading to lower CPCs. There is a general reticence to use Google’s automatic translation options for ad copy or website content as it doesn’t always result in being on brand or 100% correct. However, it does create a commercially viable way to test new languages and countries before committing to the costs of native translation and changes to the website.
If you are not a native of the countries you are targeting, then you can find some surprising results, so it’s important to review segments such as regions and demographics for performance. We have found in Germany that in major cities you would be able to bid on German keywords, even though the website was in English, and therefore could reach a wider audience. However, the same tactic did not work in the large rural parts of Germany, where it is not as commonplace to be fluent (or proficient) in English.
What does this mean in practice?
Let’s look at a working example — we have been using translated ad copy for our client Virgin Pulse, a global leader in digital employee wellbeing who work with businesses to give their employees the health and wellbeing solution that they will use and love.
French, German, Dutch and more recently, Polish ad copy is being used across multiple campaigns. English copy is served in each region so that we can also target English speakers in regions such as France and Germany.
Since the turn of the year, we have seen that 26% of generic searches in Germany have been in English. However, in France, English searches make up less than 1% of generic traffic. This highlights that we would be losing out on a significant amount of traffic and conversions if we only used English keywords and ad copy.
One of the campaigns that we run for Virgin Pulse focuses on Hybrid Working. To begin, only English ad copy was used but we saw a significant uplift in impressions and traffic once French ad copy was in place. We have also seen that translated ad copy drives more traffic at a lower CPC and better CTR due to lower competition in the auction.
Google Trends can be used to seek opportunities such as this one as you can compare the demand for an English search term vs a translated search term in a selected country. For this example, we compared ‘Hybrid Working’ with ‘Travail Hybride’ and saw that the French keyword has significantly higher demand. As a result, we added several keywords relevant to Hybrid Working.
We all reach a point with many of our paid search accounts where we consider all aspects of our search campaigns to be very well optimised with no more major opportunities for growth. You might consider expanding into an area like display, which will no doubt drive extra traffic, but not at a conversion rate which you’ve become used to.
There is a general reticence to use Google’s automatic translation options for ad copy or website content, and it’s clear it doesn’t always result in being on brand or 100% correct. However, it does create a commercially viable way to test new languages and countries before committing to the costs of native translation and changes to the website.
By expanding into multi-lingual campaigns, you can generate traffic that is entirely incremental, whilst also driving conversions at a rate which you’re happy with, or potentially even better if there is a lack of competition.
If you’re thinking about scaling your business internationally, get in touch: email@example.com