In 2000, Antoine Assi founded the Middle Eastern export website www.aldoukan.com—it was one of the first e-commerce business in the Middle East. He was just 20 years old and he made time to develop the business in between the computer science classes at his university. He needed a way to advertise his website from the comfort of his own dorm room, so he decided to test out the Google AdWords.
His friends didn’t believe him when Antoine said he was going to sell and advertise the traditional Middle Eastern foods and goods online. However, by 2004, his business had grown so rapidly that he decided to take leave from the school to run it full-time. He then started his second company, www.mosaicmarble.com, which sells handcut decorative tiles online internationally.
Antoine believed there was a gap in the mosaic market and he wanted to share these artistic and historic decorations abroad. He knew there was a market for these tiles internationally—he just didn’t quite know where the opportunity existed. To identify these international growth opportunities, Antoine built on his knowledge of AdWords: He ran several AdWords campaigns, each targeted at the location and language of the test country.
From there, Antoine measured sales and percentage of website traffic from each country and campaign. He ended campaigns for countries with low sales volume and invested in campaigns for countries with higher sales volume and greater return on investment. Where he saw steady product sales, Antoine even had the company website translated into the language of the successful host country. As you can imagine, translating the site to the language of a country in which he’d already seen success only further promoted sales in that location.
Antoine refers to his AdWords campaigns as his hidden treasure, telling us that “the second month we started advertising on Google, we started feeling overwhelmed by the orders and the inquiries... We had to hire new employees on a weekly basis.”
Mosaic Marble quickly grew from two employees and eight artists to more than 40 employees and 120 artists. And the company’s website is now available in seven languages: Arabic, English, Finnish, German, Italian, Portuguese and Swiss.
In addition to helping him expand his business, these international campaigns helped Antoine and his colleagues share these cultural icons with a larger part of the world. There are now homes and public spaces adorned with these ancient Greek creations in more than 50 countries worldwide. “Due to Google,” says Antoine, “we have customers such as the President of Congo, the Dubai Minister of Internal Affairs, the Princess of Jordan, and the Royal Music Academy of London.”