PPC – 7 PPC planning tips when entering a new geographic market

PPC - 7 PPC planning tips when entering a new geographic market


Whether you’re opening retail locations in a new state or selling your software in a new country, entering a new geographic location requires a well-thought-out marketing strategy. 

Paid media can be a foundational tool for cost-efficient sales generation from prospective customers in the new market. 

This article provides several suggestions for tailoring your PPC efforts toward a region new to your brand.

1. Estimate search volume

Looking at projected search volume in advance will help you:

  • Determine realistic budgets.
  • Consider how wide a set of keywords you can include in your initial campaigns if you have strict budget limitations. 

Google’s and Microsoft’s respective Keyword Planner tools offer free solutions to estimate volume for each platform. 

Note that any data is approximate based on historical searches and can be particularly inaccurate for more niche queries. 

Ultimately, you can use data after launching the campaigns to get an idea of actual volume. 

2. Add regional keywords

If you’re promoting a business with local presence, think through regional terms that make sense to incorporate into keywords. These could include:

  • City/town names
  • County names
  • State/province names
  • Popularly used references for a particular area (i.e., “Capital Region”)

Additionally, your phrase and broad match keywords should pick up on queries that include local modifiers. 

For instance, the keyword “furnace repair” may show for the query “charlotte furnace repair.” 

Watch your search terms for local queries and add the ones that show significant enough volume or have converted. 

3. Customize assets

While you may take learnings from existing markets as to what ad copy assets perform best, you should consider where to tailor ad copy to the region. 

For instance, use location insertion to show city names in ads if applicable. 

On the landing page end, include location callouts and pictures of landmarks from the region you’re targeting so prospects can see you’ve taken the time to identify with their area.

Additionally, consider offers you can put in front of people in the new area. 

If you just opened new brick-and-mortar locations, you may be able to offer a free gift to the first 1,000 customers who visit and can mention that in your ad to promote while supplies last.


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4. Check conversion tracking and tagging

This is an area that can all too easily slip through the cracks when launching a new marketing effort. 

You need to be sure you’re getting accurate conversion data from the start to report on performance and allow ad platforms time to learn.

If you’re pushing traffic to new landing pages from new ad campaigns, make sure that you’re tracking results properly. 

You may need to configure new conversion tracking or ensure existing pixels are carried over to these pages.

Depending on how you track lead performance on the backend, you may also need to ensure that URLs are properly tagged. 

UTM parameters must be unique to these campaigns. Incorporate any custom parameters necessary to sync up with your CRM or automation platform. 

If you’re offering a coupon code for the new market, you may also need a separate parameter for that.

5. Find local competitors

Competitor bidding can be an effective way to reach potential customers if they are searching for a business in a similar realm. They are likely looking for your products/services. 

Research local competitors that appear popular in your market and incorporate their names into keywords.

Because competitor keywords can often be pricier, test segmenting out these keywords into their own campaign. 

As a bonus, research top selling points for competitors and read their reviews to identify pain points to capitalize on. 

For instance, if one competitor gets frequent complaints about poor customer service, emphasize the quality of your service in ad copy.

Your core search campaigns will also be valuable for identifying new competitors to bid on as you review search terms. 

You’ll see what competitor names appear the most and which ones are likely to convert.

6. Support search with other channels

While this article focuses primarily on tactics for paid search, no marketing channel operates in a bubble. 

Particularly in a new market, branding efforts via other channels can help to establish familiarity and legitimacy for your business. You can build credibility before people search and recognize your brand name. 

Additionally, you can create audiences based on people who visit your site or engage with videos and social posts.

You can then retarget them with offer-focused messaging and layer these audiences onto search campaigns.

Some potential options for alternate channel efforts include:

  • A YouTube campaign teasing the launch of your product/service in the new market.
  • Social campaigns on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and/or other networks. Upload an existing customer list and target lookalike audiences to reach people with similar characteristics to existing buyers.
  • A Google Discovery campaign incorporating in-market audiences for products/services in your industry and custom audiences based on top converting search queries and competitor URLs.

7. Set realistic expectations 

Establishing CPA/ROAS goals for a new market will inevitably be crucial to planning conversations with business stakeholders. 

Particularly when entering regions where people are unfamiliar with your brand, you should not expect to be able to drive conversions as efficiently as in markets where you’ve operated for years. 

The team involved should know that CPAs will likely be higher (and ROAS lower) than in existing markets, at least while getting off the ground. 

People will just be starting to become familiar with your products or services, and campaigns must go through the learning phase to bid efficiently.

Additionally, prepare to be flexible and adapt to trends as you monitor them. 

You may find users have a higher conversion rate than expected, and you may be able to scale budget more quickly than anticipated. 

Or you may discover that responses are lower than expected and need to experiment with a few different tactics before finding the right combination of messaging and channels that works.

Start planning

With these tips in mind, it’s time to get to work planning your campaigns for entering a new market. 

Think through the channels, keywords, and budget. Work with your technical team to ensure conversion tracking is firing properly and links are properly tagged. 

Finally, set reasonable expectations for performance and prepare to watch campaigns closely as they get off the ground.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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