The world of PPC is fiercely competitive and keeps evolving even before you can blink your eye. Everyone is looking for ways to be the best and break the clutter. One of the most important among these is competitive research. It should definitely be a part of all the marketing programs. Now, the question is how to start with the PPC competitor analysis? Here, we will discuss how to start the plan, the best tools available and how you should go about it.
It isn’t about blindly copying your competition. Lot of people actually do that. Even if you have done it, that’s fine. It seems like the easiest route to follow but then it wouldn’t necessarily be as beneficial to you. At times, it can backfire too. So, go step by step and you can easily succeed.
1. Introspection to understand market and competitors
Until and unless one is not aware of themselves, there is no moving ahead. There are certain things which have to be very clear. This begins with knowing what ones does, the reason for your existence and the different problems to be faced. Try and understand the customer’s perspective because that might help you in selling your product/service easily. Hence, Take a moment and write down the following things:
- What you sell but from the point of view of your customer.
- Do mention what makes your business unique and the qualities that help you stand out from the competition.
- Are your prices and customer service the best?
- What differentiates you from your competition?
This is to go deep within and figure out for yourself where you stand and what you are? The next step is defining your exact target market or ideal customer. One should have a clear idea about who these customers are, where they reside and their gender as well as age range.
So, what to do next?
Start defining your ideal customer or target market which will help you succeed.
For B2C, answer the following questions:
- Who are your customers?
- Where do they reside?
- What’s their age and gender?
Whereas, if you are selling to B2B companies these are the questions you need to answer like:
- Define the size of companies to be targeted?
- What industries are a good fit for us?
- Who is the buyer for my product or service? Title?
One thing you should always remember is that you cannot target everyone. If you try to please all, you will end up with nothing. Rather focus on people who will actually buy it. They will help you make profit. This way you will not waste your marketing efforts. In between, there will be customers who do not belong to the target group and still willing to buy your product/service despite the fact that you didn’t really consider them. Total Addressable Market (TAM) is good to show to the investors but too broad to target everyone. So, it is better to get specific.
2. Plan for a Strategic Competitive Research & Analysis
One has to create a strategic competitive research and analysis plan. It is nothing but identifying the various competitors one has and assess their strategies. This helps in determining their strengths and weaknesses as compared to your own product/service. It is a vital part of every company’s marketing plan. For any business man or entrepreneur, it is essential to understand their competition. You also find out the USP of your own product and who you should actually target. Competitors are the best people to learn the best tactics along with the mistakes that you should avoid. So, does it have any benefit?
Yes, it does have and these are the following benefits from conducting competitive research:
- One is in a position to understand the market in a better way.
- Find out the exact people or target audience.
- Be able to predict or at least have an idea about the potential for the market.
- Awareness regarding how economic climate impacts the market.
- Understanding what the various things that competitors are offering.
- Keeping a close check on the competitors' prices.
- Finding new customers who would be interested in buying your product/service.
If done systematically and consistently, one can easily track trends and begin acting on the research.
3. Understanding Competitive Research Tools
These days there are a variety of free as well as paid competitive research tools available in the market. You don’t have to completely rely on these tools and rather consider them as a yardstick or standard for future planning. Do take help but follow your instincts and go with choose whatever is best for you. Something that works for a certain company might not work for you. Your own knowledge and decision making ability will go a long way to help you. Given below are some of the tools:
- AdWords Auction Insight Tool: Free Auction Insight Tool is located directly in your AdWords account. With the free option, you can check what % of impression share you have in the AdWords search auction compared to other competitors in your space. It is a handy tool which is used for a quick glance but does not show the actual ads.
- It gives information which is related to certain keywords that the competition might be bidding on and being successful as well.
- You can also check the actual ad copies of previous month. Just by typing the web address of one of your competitors and you’ll get to see a lot of different things like ad position, clicks per day, estimated budget, ad texts and keywords.
- The paid version gives one access to about 90% more data, including the CPC estimates, keyword overlap, and other advanced keyword statistics along with the capability to track your own performance.
This is quite complex as compared to others and not a free toll either. It offers reporting on the Industry Insights, Trademark Information, PPC vs. Organic, and much more.
- SEMRush offers more geographical coverage and is quite similar to Spyfu and offers more geographical coverage. One can view Ad Words and Bing information through it. If you have a free version, you can check your competitor’s website and whether you are a part of their competitor’s list or not.
- Whereas with the paid version, the results and statistics get increased so that you can see more data. It also allows users to track information related to your competitor’s Facebook and Bing accounts.
The free version gives users access to quite a lot of information for free, and that quantity automatically increases with the paid version. It’s not just the ads the competitors are running; also check for ranking information, keywords your competitors are bidding on. With the upgraded version you can even build new campaigns.
4. Price Comparison Analysis of your Competitor
It’s not like price is everything, but it does have a lot of importance. After you are done with defining your target market, take some time to conduct a competitor price comparison. This step is to figure out where you stand in the marketplace so that you know how to position yourself and where does your business actually fits in the pricing spectrum: lowest, medium, highest priced?
By conducting a price-comparison analysis one gets to know about your position in the market and how you can use that for your benefit. Do keep in mind that you may need to request pricing directly from your competitors. You won’t find the prices of everyone on their website which means you might have to conduct a secret inquiry to find out how much their service or product costs. Understanding the marketplace pricing range helps you adjust and fine tune your messaging strategy accordingly.
5. Unique Value Proposition
In this step, one has to analyse each competitor’s unique value propositions (UVP) with the motive of seeing how yours compares to the competition. You can visit your competitors’ websites and find out their UVPs. Anything and everything can give you an idea. By trying to understand them, you might get your UVP which no one must have tried yet. A unique value proposition or UVP is a brief statement explaining the benefit your customers experience from using your product or service while also representing what makes your business unique. It creates an emotional attachment to your brand and depicts the uniqueness in your product or service.
6. Offers, Call to Action and Search Result Ads
Next step is to study the ad copy variations of competitors. Research on what ad extensions they’re using and the different types of ad copy they’re writing to stand out. Keep a track of the special offers or discounts they run from time to time to attract searchers. SERP is one of the Analyze search result ads, offers and calls to action crucial or deciding factors in this battle. So, better analyse it properly. You especially want to take notes on what it takes to stand out and what it will take to have the strongest or one of the strongest offers in the SERPs.
7. Conversion Funnel
A lot of people look at competitive intelligence through keyword and ad silos. I would rather like to look at competitive intelligence from the perspective of a user by comparing my own conversion funnel to the competition. Not only do you want to look at what keywords and ad copy variations competitors’ are using, but you also want to take a look at their landing pages.
How are they converting their traffic? Are they offering a free guide or a discount to people who click through from Google?
Pay close attention to what competitors are doing in terms of ads, landing pages and call to action. Take notes on anything that will help you improve your landing pages or ideas to test new ads.
8. Start Implementing
Now that you have done your in-depth competitor analysis, let’s get back to UVP. Take a moment to review it. After reviewing, follow the same procedure with PPC campaigns. Find out if there are keyword groups you discovered that competitors are bidding on that you might not have been doing. If required, you can also make changes in your ad copy for a better impact. Analyse whether the ad copy is communicating your message or not. Is it reaching the right people? Time to time reviewing can eventually lead to a marked improvement.
9. Keep Monitoring Competitors
Last but not the least is to continue monitoring your competition. You competitors could come up with a lot of new things. For e.g. exciting offers, launching a new product, adding new features etc. This means you need to constantly monitor your competition so you’re the first to know when they make a change. When possible, it’s best to use the various competitive intelligence tools where you don’t have to manually track competitors yourself. Using campaign watch software you can see which competitors have launched new ads or maybe some landing page offers and how these ads look on the Google search engine results page SERPs from different times and locations.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that competitive research should definitely be a part of every PPC marketing strategy. You can commence by creating a strategic plan, get familiar with the competitive research tools available and put it in your list to check on competitors regularly. Hope, you enjoyed reading the article. Tell us your views on what you think about PPC competition analysis. Which one is your favourite? You can also mention if there were any issues. Let us know what you feel. For similar articles, join our newsletter. If you find this article informative, do share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.