Planning sans frontieres: three key building blocks for your 2016 international strategy

Planning for international digital marketing usually hits a number of standard marks: audience, channel, objective: branding vs. acquisition. That said, the decisive goal is always budget vs. opportunity, spend per territory….aka what’s the likely ROI, across the markets that matter to me?

At Oban, where international digital marketing is our primary focus, the alignment of spend to reward across multiple markets (and planning to minimise likely risk) is core to our approach, and a key theme for 2016 multi-market digital planning.

Sounds obvious so far, but when planning internationally, there are a number of specifics to bear in mind, which can easily trip up even the most seasoned marketer.

Getting started (set up and measurement)

Correct geographical set up is an essential first step, i.e. sorting market specifics so that your audience is properly known and targeted by your in country web platforms. Start with analytics, and confirm that you have specific profiles established for your key markets. Yes, this sounds obvious, but trust us, not always done. This needs to be mirrored by paid media campaigns, so that data/goals exchanged between AdWords and Google Analytics refers to the correct countries or regions.

Next, your domain (website) infrastructure needs to support best practice geo-targeting via search console (Google), webmaster tools (Bing), Yandex.webmaster for Russia, either at folder or sub-domain level. This will help to ensure that the most appropriate in-market search engine can index your site and thus understand that your content is relevant to specific markets. In turn, this ensures that natural/organic traffic and conversions is an accurate representation of country specific data.

Back to analytics again, and you may need to set up roll up reports for smaller territories, as a sub-set of a larger region (e.g. Belgium, Austria, within Europe).

Where markets have been addressed at different times, consistent benchmarking can be tricky, as websites and platforms have likely been built with varying objectives and goals in mind. A normalisation process is usually required, so that your teams are aware of how (for example) cost per lead is calculated and qualified across territories. This process will allow for meaningful market by market comparison.

A clear multi-currency solution should also be at the top of your measurement to do list. Once configured, Google Analytics will convert local currencies into the one currency based on your profile setting. This provides key benefits for e-commerce brands looking to conduct analysis across an international customer base and helps make previously complex reporting on ROI per market much easier.

Know your competitors (benchmark and analyse before you commit)

Across SEO, paid media and content, gaining and maintaining a pragmatic view of competitor activity is key to your planning process. This is relevant to market entry (should we go there?), expansion (should we grow there?) or preservation (should we stay!). At Oban, we look to answer key questions such as:

– Who’s already visible for search terms that are relevant to my forecast and projections?
– What kind of content is gaining greatest traction and social interaction?
– Who is bidding aggressively on top converting terms, and across which search engines?

For example, using Searchmetrics suite, we can quickly assess the SEO performance of competing media brands in the Turkish market:

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….review the backlink profiles of both brands

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…and gain immediate insight into the social platforms used by both brands:

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The keyword difficulty tool is another great way to get a data led view on competition and challenge in market:



Ok, so the metrics are largely link based, but links still matter, and the moz tool will tell you whether your new ‘organic juice’ stands a chance across selected markets.

From a paid media perspective, our tool of choice is Adgooroo; this is the best platform for international analysis, covering over 50 countries and a range of market specific platforms including:


China (Simplified)


Czech Republic









The tool delivers a wide range of insightful data on in-market competitors’ paid media activity:


Understanding your users’ journeys (will vary across markets)

Last but not least, we encourage all international marketing planners to consider variations in user journeys across digital channels, on a per territory basis. For example, comparing US and French markets, large finance vertical…




…we can see that social plays a significant assist interaction in US, but has zero impact in France. More specifically, within paid search…



…non-brand PPC plays a significantly greater role at beginning of user journey for French consumers versus US consumers.

Google’s planning tools deliver invaluable insights to guide international digital thinking, both across and within channels, and should be used to better understand which channels are likely to be most relevant/valuable to you across markets.

Make going global profitable

Building a per territory performance model, on firm foundations, to properly asses the opportunity, before you commit budget and present per territory ROI, is both increasingly complex (as consumers’ product journeys move to more diverse digital channels) and increasingly achievable (as sources of data and insight better support per market data and analysis). Above all, consider where low hanging fruit exists – going global could be more profitable than you imagine.