How Paid Search can support your international growth ambitions

Jérémy Courty
October 3, 2023

Have you been asked to launch in an international market but you haven’t got the insights to decide if this is the right decision for your business? Don’t know where to start?

That is a common challenge faced at many e-commerce brands.

Being equipped with the right data and insights to plan international activity isn’t always easy. It really is about articulating your growth plan to stakeholders and understanding the role of paid media within your marketing mix. 

The main pain point is often setting the right KPIs and being clear with the fact that success will be widely different.

Understanding your customers within your core market is hard enough, let alone in an international market. So before even jumping in a specific market ask yourself the right questions:

  • Do you have the capacity to localise your site? (e.g. payment methods)
  • How will you logistically ship overseas? 
  • Have you considered the regulatory issues like taxes and legal duties?
  • What is your main objective for making the jump?

Answering those initial questions - and many more - will help formulate the reasons why going international might be the right - or the wrong - move for your brand. Not being clear on your international goals and not having the buy-in of the entire business is likely going to lead to failure.

Our approach at Genie Goals

  1. Leverage your data

Your data is gold and if you are already accepting international orders, use GA4 to understand the scope of the opportunity

  • Where is my traffic coming from and which channel is it coming from?
  • What’s my CVR like?
  • And most importantly, what actions do users perform once they are on site?
  1. Use tools such as Google Trends, Market Finder, to understand global trends and barriers to entry

All of these tools are free for everyone to access. They will help you understand where your product ranges are in demand and where you’re most likely to convert users based on your site capabilities.

  1. Use us

As a premier partner agency, we’re part of the Google International Agency Growth Program so we can guide you through the process and give you Market insights to ensure you make an informed decision.

The main objective is to avoid making assumptions on which country you should start to export to.

We will analyse demand data for your vertical - say home & garden - globally, without any specific markets in mind. We use signals such as interest and more importantly interest growth as well as advertising cost.This effectively ranks markets based on where we see the highest growth for your industry and how expensive it’s going to be to advertise on Google versus your domestic market.

  1. Rank those markets from low hanging fruit to high barriers of entry and match those against your internal data

At this stage you are already formulating a few ideas - perhaps you already know that you can’t enter the US because you don’t have the logistics in place yet or because CPCs are too high. Or perhaps France sounds like a good idea but you’re unsure if you need to translate your entire website, and the associated cost.

  1. Categorise those challenges into 3 main business units;
  • Localisation - does my site need to be translated? Have I got the right payment methods? Do I need different seasonal imagery and messaging?
  • Logistics - how can I ship there? Which partner should I use? How should I handle returns?
  • Customer care - how do people reach out to brands in those markets? How should I address local customers?

So, how does this work in the wild?

With one of our Homeware clients, the idea of exporting in the US was a decision made by the business internally. We were able to support in setting the right set of expectations based on the level of cost to enter the market (CPC) and competition. This ultimately informed our funnel strategy and before any paid activity was launched we had a clear understanding of what good would look like.

With another client, within the luxury fashion space, they requested support in reviewing their German website. The idea was to understand current pain points and reasons why customers might be dropping out at the basket stage. With the support of Google, we conducted a path to purchase analysis which flagged multiple areas; 

  • Localisation - conflicting messaging on site, use of English and German language.
  • Payment methods - bank transfer was no longer an option despite being the payment of choice in Germany.
  • FAQ pages & trusted logos - either not answering the right questions or not being displayed throughout the checkout process.

In short

By following this clear framework you will set yourself and your business up for success. You’ve outlined to your board a clear objective and set clear and realistic KPIs.

And remember, don’t launch in the US because someone said so internally. Only do it because you’ve done your due diligence first.

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