Competitive Analysis Techniques To Make Paid Search Campaigns ROCK!

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Want to be a paid search rock star? Make sure you’re fully leveraging competitive analysis.

To maximize the performance of your paid search marketing campaigns, competitive analysis is critical. Even if you optimize your campaigns in line with best practices, the techniques, messaging and landing pages you’re using may be ineffective. To elevate your paid search campaigns, use these tips…then watch your competitors weep!

1.  Marketing

  • Are you focusing on the details inside your competitors’ paid search campaigns as a first step? Don’t! Instead, you must first understand the overarching marketing environment before you do anything else.
  • Study your competitors’ marketing strategies and campaigns by visiting each competitor’s website. What’s their messaging and value proposition?  How do they differentiate themselves? Are they selling on price, expertise, customer service, etc.? Which audiences are they targeting?

2.  Differentiation

  • Conduct a differentiation analysis – it’s one of the most important things in a paid search campaign, yet many marketers fail to do this.
  • Be absolutely clear in your differentiation. What sets you apart? What makes you different – and better – than your competitors? If 7 out of 10 ads are highlighting similar benefits, you haven’t differentiated your value.
  • Realize that if you have no differentiation as a business, you have bigger problems to worry about than your paid search campaigns…

3.  Keywords

  • Look at your competitors’ keywords. Are their ads appearing for a category of keywords you simply missed?
  • Use tools such as AdGooroo, SEMRush, The Search Monitor, Spyfu, comScore and Google AdWords to help you better understand your competitors’ keywords and their associated keyword strategies.

4.  Keyword Categories

  • Think beyond your products and services to uncover and test topics that your audience is passionate about. You may discover less competitive topics that you could dominate.
  • Be creative. If you sell dog food, go beyond “dog food” and configure a campaign targeting “dog health.” Keep in mind, though, that whenever you broaden your reach like this, you’ll need the landing pages and rock solid content in place to fulfill your audience’s expectations.

5.  Extensions

  • Determine whether your competitors use ad extensions that AdWords offers for things like location, product or sitelinks. Google AdWords is now even offering bid-per-call and offer extensions.
  • Your competitors not using ad extensions? Cool. You will. Extensions are a great way to gain more real estate on the page without spending more. Let your competitors miss out on the opportunity while you secure more real estate on the SERPs.

6.  Calls-to-Action

  • Examine your competitors’ calls-to-action. Do they vary? Are they focused solely on price? Are they aligned with what your audience truly cares about?
  • Ensure that your call-to-action is compelling, unique and aligned with the underlying intent of each specific search term. A search for “advertising ROI” is different than one for “advertising ROI software.”

7.  Landing Pages

  • Review your competitors’ landing pages. How sophisticated are their ad destinations?  Do they send everyone to the home page, regardless of the search query? Do they use custom landing pages? Is the copy on the landing page dynamically aligned to the search? What’s effective on their landing pages, and what’s not?
  • Be better than the rest. If your competitor has custom landing pages, you might opt to create full-blown custom microsites instead.

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, it’s essential to study – and learn from – your competitors to understand how your paid search campaigns are comparatively better than theirs. By assessing your competitors, you’ll get a sense of what’s working and what’s resonating with key audiences. Stay ahead of the competition, and successfully drive business to your organization with campaigns that completely and totally ROCK!

About the Author

Tom Shapiro is the founder & CEO of Digital Marketing NOW, a full-service digital marketing and design firm that offers strategy, web development, design, SEO, paid search marketing, conversion optimization, display advertising, analytics and more. Tom cuts through all the hype and develops clear, differentiated marketing strategies focused on real results for his clients.

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2 Comments

  1. Sure you have to pay attention to what your competitor are doing but to some extent that will always keep you one step behind them, chasing their tails and taking in the view from that less than desirable vantage point, Get out front and look to other businesses and industries and incorporate groundbreaking strategies, not retreading.

  2. Thank you for your comments, Chris. I agree that you want to trailblaze and be out front. Absolutely. Complementary to this, competitive intelligence provides you with invaluable insights and helps you identify key opportunities in the market. Being informed helps you make excellent business decisions, whereas being uninformed can be a liability. Therefore, conducting intelligent competitive analysis is going to help your campaigns produce greater results. Thanks again.