You’re selling in the US, CA or UK marketplaces and your listings looks great. You have all the right keywords in your title and have optimized your bullet points and product description to perfection.
You know it’s a good idea to expand into marketplaces with other languages and establish the brand where there is less competition. Japan comes to mind, but the language seems too different from English. German culture seems more accessible and you’ve heard that selling on Amazon in Germany is a huge opportunity (and you’re right; it’s the second biggest Amazon marketplace in the world and growing fast). While it’s true that the German language is far more similar to English than Japanese, some challenges still exist. Let’s examine what you have to watch out for when running paid advertising in the German Amazon marketplace.
German customers tend to be skeptical, so if they see a few obvious grammatical errors on a listing, it will give them the impression that your offer is low quality – or even worse, a knockoff.
Shoppers in North America are avid consumers and accustomed to being bombarded with marketing hype surrounding a product while being educated about all the wonderful things it will deliver. Shoppers in Germany are not. Consider crafting a more modest and maybe even somewhat reluctant marketing message for German shoppers. In general, Germans are more interested in direct benefits, social proof and most importantly, facts. If you can provide concrete evidence backing your claims, it will be well-received by the German market.
As hard as it is to get positive reviews in the English-speaking marketplaces, it is even more difficult in the German marketplace. German consumers have a baseline expectation of a product working exactly as described, and if it falls short, you run of the risk of a poor review, a returned product or both. Only expect to receive 5-star reviews if your product does an excellent job and over-delivers its promise.
Ensuring your listings are professionally translated is central to both your organic and paid traffic sale success. Well-translated listings help your brand appear professional by shoppers and boosts your conversion rate immensely. There are few things worse than shopping online and having your attempt at understanding the product be constantly interrupted by grammatical errors and awkward phrases – I know from personal experience!
Services like Fiverr that are quick and affordable might be suitable for prototyping your listing, but they are not a long-term solution for any listing you’re hoping to one day be a big seller and long term asset for the businesses. Whatever you do, do not rely on Google Translate, which is a death sentence for your conversion rate.
At Pathfinder, we often hear from sellers who have products available in the .de marketplace and mention their difficulties in gaining sales traction only to later learn that they went with a cheap translation service (or even worse – just ran their English language listings through Google Translate). This is, as we say, “sparsam im Kleinen und doch verschwenderisch” (penny-wise and pound-foolish) Don’t let this be you!
If you want a quality listing for Amazon Germany, we recommend AMZ Europe’s listing optimization service. Their team members are native German speakers and they do more than just translation.
First, they do detailed keyword research to identify the best keywords for your listing and PPC campaigns. After this, they localize your English listing. Localization is a mix of copywriting and translation, which generates sales copy that is tailored specifically to the German market.
One of the most important considerations in both product listing and paid search optimization is correct use of accented characters. If you’ve done any research in the German market, you’ve no doubt seen words that contain an accented character in them with two dots over a vowel. This is called an umlaut. One such word with an umlaut is “Zahnbürste” (toothbrush). It’s also possible to write it like this: “Zahnbuerste” but it’s obvious to a German speaker that this is not how it’s supposed to look.
But wait a second – Does Amazon understand these differences? How do search results differ between these two slightly different keywords?
Lets see some real-world examples:
Let’s examine the appearance of ads: In the first example, you see a headline search ad from a major brand along with sponsored product ads in the top two positions. Most of what you see “above the fold” (before you scroll down the page) is advertising or Amazon suggested results. In our second example without the umlaut, you see only organic results until scrolling further down the page, with some sponsored product ads visible about halfway down the page and a few more along the bottom.
Clearly the inclusion or exclusion of an umlaut can make a large difference in search results, and someone bidding for this term without one in a headline search ad may get a highly coveted spot for a lower cost per click because other brands are not even trying to be found there.
Another good example can be seen with a lesser used character called an Eszett or sharp S which is a combination of two s’s into one symbol. Our below example is a watering can which in German can be written as “Gießkanne” or “Giesskanne”. People tend to write certain words with the sharp S, but not all the time, so lets see what the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) looks like in this case.
With the word spelled using the ß, you can see a headline search ad at the very top, with Amazon suggested products just below followed by two sponsored products ad slots. Further down the page, you’ll find a few more ads amongst the organic results. All is as expected so far.
Doing that same search without using the ß, you will see similar results: the very same headline search ad is displayed along with the top few slots being occupied by sponsored product ads (with TOS-breaking main images nonetheless!) Note that the total number of results and left hand navigation categories are exactly the same. So the results here pretty closely match despite the use of a totally different character. The brand Abacus is bidding on both variations of this keyword in the same headline search campaign.
Both the suggested search terms and the actual SERP can differ substantially between the two seemingly similar search terms. Amazon makes no effort to auto-correct the search or instead give us results from the “correct” search term as it often does in the .com marketplace when they detect a keyword is misspelled. Amazon is actively suggesting keywords with and without these special characters in their own search box dropdown so it is important to have all your bases covered. Furthermore, it’s possible to put them both in the backend search term fields of your listing.
In doing PPC management for clients in the German marketplace, we’ve discovered that you are able to create ads that appear for both character variations. Unlike in the US where keywords with special characters are not allowed, those in German are permitted without issue. This opens up some big opportunities for exposure with PPC advertising simply by knowing a bit about the German language and using it to your advantage.
What we recommend is testing BOTH variations: use the correct German word and the variation which is incorrectly written (but still understood to be the right thing by Amazon and shoppers). They should be tested in research manual campaigns and eventually promoted into tighter match types so the search term data is as isolated as possible.
Another reason to test a variety of spellings of these keywords is to examine the differences in the addressable market you are tapping into when listing on .de Amazon. For instance, the ß is not at all widely used in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and there are numerous other differences between German spoken in countries where it is the primary language vs other countries where there are millions of speakers but it is not the primary language, such as the Czech Republic or Poland. In our experience, using the grammatically correct German word will give you better results and the incorrect variations can occasionally go on a spending spree so their bids need to be watched carefully. Your results will likely differ from our own so test out theories specific to your market.
How Can I Find These Keywords?
Here are the best tools we’ve found that can help you in your hunt for keywords on the German marketplace:
- Helium10 has a keyword research tool called Magnet that is a good at exploring the ecosystem of German keywords.
- http://sonar-tool.com/de is a powerful tool from Sellics, a German company. It includes a related words section which is very helpful.
- https://keywordtool.io/amazon scrapes data from Amazon.de and helps uncover long-tail keywords.
- https://www.keywordtooldominator.com/v1/amazon-keyword-tool is similar to the above in that it shows you scraped keywords and related words.
- https://www.amalyze.com/ is a suite of tools designed for sellers in the German marketplace. It includes keyword research.
Don’t miss out on the action in one of the largest Amazon marketplaces in the world. If you plan to set up shop in Germany, make sure that you’re positioning your products correctly, that your listings look and feel convincing and authentic, and that you’re taking the time and attention required to ensure that your products are the best in the market.