April 28, 2017
Search marketers are trained to constantly focus on optimizing their campaigns. However, savvy marketers schedule time to lift their heads up from the trees of their campaigns and study the forest of their competitors actions.
Imagine if you knew the answers to these questions:
- Who are my competitors, by my different keyword groups? Who are my industry’s leaders? Who should I be emulating?
- What are the performance benchmarks for my industry? How are they changing?
- How much web traffic do my competitors get from SEM clicks? How much do they spend per click and per month?
- What are best practices in display ads? Mobile ads? Ads run in a particular city or country?
Ad monitoring tools automate the collection of this data, but how do you use it to gain an advantage over the competition? We’ve assembled the 10 most common uses for competitive search marketing data.
1. Monitor your PPC market share
PPC market share is one of the most important metrics to monitor. The Search Monitor calculates it using an advertiser’s reach, frequency and rank. It indicates the likelihood that an individual advertiser will receive a click for a given set of keywords and changes in relation to other advertisers.
This metric will show you who the top players are and how you compare, and should be trended by day and week for you and your top 10 competitors.
2. Identify the biggest SEM threats by market share
Once you’ve learned your market share and trended it over time, you can use it to set up alerts for changes. See who your biggest and newest threats are in your vertical and set up monitoring alerts for them. Learn their offers and analyze their landing pages to make sure you remain competitive.
3. Set specific, measurable performance benchmarks
Clicks: Learn how click activity differs by keyword groups. Evaluate your own performance and decide if you need to make changes or maintain your behavior. No, the engines don’t divulge actual click data for your competitors, but an advanced ad monitoring tool has enough historical data to provide very precise estimates. Use them!
Rank and frequency: These two metrics are an SEM marketer’s best friend and can be plotted by cities, countries, and over time. The Search Monitor’s clients understand the important trade-off between rank and frequency for them, their competitive set, and their industry as a whole.
4. Closely monitor shopping ads
If you manufacture or sell a product, appearing in Google’s Shopping results is crucial. Click rates are higher and, despite a higher CPC on average, marketers report that the ROI is very attractive.
Monitor these listings to see how your products compare to others in terms of price, image, products, etc., and see who else appears in the results, including your retailers or affiliates. Savvy brands can work with partners and resellers to dominate as many of the PLA results as possible.
5. See how much your competitors are spending
Similar to click data, an advanced ad monitoring tool should provide precise spend estimates, both for CPC and for monthly budget. Use the data to adjust your performance benchmarks and realize where you are paying too much per click, and being outspent (in budget).
This data gives PPC managers the ammunition they need to request higher budgets from their bosses or clients.
6. Take advantage of popular PPC offers
Knowing the most popular offers in your industry helps you adjust your own offers to remain competitive, or to stand out from the crowd. If ‘Free Shipping over $50’ is most popular, for example, you can test using that in various ads, or improve the offer to $40 and see what happens to your click and conversion rates and your AOV.
The data can also be broken down by city, week, product, and season to dive deeper into your competitors’ offer strategy.
7. Don’t forget about organic opportunities
Organic is no longer just text ads. It pays to see how you and your competitors appear in image, map, news, and video results.
Our most advanced clients measure their simultaneous appearances in paid and organic, to improve their total-page visibility as much as possible. This is known as a search marketing visibility score.
8. Learn from your competitors’ display ad strategy
Nothing beats seeing the actual display ads run by a competitor or industry leader. Monitoring these on a regular basis provides ideas for creative and offers, and lets you see which publisher sites are favored by other companies.
This last point is a big one. Knowing which sites your competitors appear on provides a window into their media targeting strategy and helps you work with your ad network (or media agency) to also appear on those sites, when possible.
9. Take a mobile-first approach to search marketing
Learn the best practices in mobile creative and click rates by monitoring the mobile ads most frequently run by competitors and industry leaders.
It is especially important to monitor mobile ad messaging. What are your competitors saying? Are they mentioning mobile-only deals or mobile-friendly stores? Do they send users to mobile-optimized landing pages? Are they promoting apps or local results?
10. Protect your branded results from unwanted advertisers
Ads appearing on branded results are incredibly valuable, typically receiving higher click rates and more conversions. Competitive advertisers, therefore, have a strong incentive to appear on these results for your brand, especially when it’s a brand that you have heavily invested in promoting.
How do they do it? Sometimes they pretend their ad is from you (a.k.a URL Hijacking), to get the click. Or, they might just use your brand name in their ad copy. Both of these actions are not allowed, and you will need an ad monitoring tool to help you find and remove these violations.
Beware: sometimes it’s your affiliates who are leveraging your brand in their search strategies, either accidentally or intentionally. They simply don’t expect to ever get caught! So, make sure they comply.
Getting a competitive advantage in your search marketing strategy
There is much to learn by constantly monitoring your surroundings. The smartest business decisions come when you can lift your head up from your day-to-day activities and gain a forest-level perspective from external benchmarks, trends, and best practices.
Contact The Search Monitor, and we’ll show you how to use ad monitoring data to gain a quick advantage over your competitors.Request a Demo
Tags: Affiliate Monitoring, Brand Protection, Trademark Monitoring, URL Hijacking