April 15, 2010, 12:00 AM

Most e-retailers selling internationally use paid search to drive traffic

Two-thirds of web retailers that generate more than 10% of their revenue from international markets use paid search to drive users to their e-commerce sites, according to a new report.

Two-thirds of online retailers that generate more than 10% of their revenue from international markets use paid search to drive users to their e-commerce sites, according to “Search and E-mail Marketing Tactics to Attract International Online Shoppers,” a new report from Forrester Research Inc.

“Online retailers’ reliance on paid search to drive international users to their web sites is not surprising: The transparent return on investment and variable costs associated with search marketing make it an attractive first step for companies interested in testing international waters,” writes Forrester analyst Zia Daniell Wigder. “Additionally, companies that are comfortable working with Google in the U.S. often extend their relationship as they expand into Europe because the search engine holds an even greater market share in most European countries than it does in the U.S.”

On the other end of the spectrum, almost a quarter of U.S. online retailers with more than 10% of revenue coming from international markets do nothing to promote their goods outside of the country.

Wigder suggests two tips for working with paid search in foreign lands. First, don’t use direct translation of keywords.

“While many international search beginners still use machine translation engines like Google Translate to translate keyword lists, even savvier search marketers are making translation mistakes,” she writes. “Those that spend time and money to have search terms translated professionally need to take additional steps to mine the full potential of international search.”

Hispanic marketing agency Consorte Media uses the example of “debt.”Although the direct translation is “deuda,” most Spanish speakers would be more inclined to use the term préstamos, the Forrester report notes.

Wigder’s second tip is to understand local consumer behavior.

“In addition to understanding that consumer search preferences vary greatly-local search engines hold greater market share than Google in countries like Russia, Japan, South Korea and China, for example-search marketers must also take into account how and when consumers in different countries are searching,” she writes. “Online marketing services provider Commission Junction cites the example of Mexico where consumers tend to access the Internet from locations outside of the home such as Internet cafés. In such situations, consumers often search outside of normal working hours, so search marketers may want to consider tactics such as day-parting in their search campaigns.” Day-parting means bidding for ads to appear at certain times of day.


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