Leveraging SEM Competitive Insights to Increase Conversions and Decrease Costs

Posted by Kristen Walker, Account Manager

Continually monitoring the coverage, average position, search share of voice, ad copy and keywords of your competitors and affiliates is key to maximizing SEM efficiency.  Monitoring your competitor set via automated monitoring tools allows for quick reaction to competitor bid strategies.  It also keeps you aware of compelling competitive offers so that you can quickly make copy adjustments to compete.  Here are a few ways to leverage competitive insights to drive results:


·         Copy Monitoring:  If your click-through rate (CTR) drops suddenly without a change in position, it’s helpful to be tracking your competitors’ copy as a point of reference to determine why the drop occurred.  It’s likely that your competition is promoting an offer in their copy that’s more compelling than the offer you’re running (and thus stealing your clicks).  Review the competitive copy and determine if you can match their offer or do better.  If you can’t match their offer, make sure you’re pushing a different value proposition in your copy, such as free shipping.  You don’t want to be running “10% off” copy while your competitor is running “50% off” copy for the same product.  It’s also helpful to set up alerts so that you know the exact moment when your competitors use certain phrases in their copy, like “free” or “50%.”  The faster you can react and ensure your message is the most unique and compelling, the better.

·         Bid Monitoring:  Your mission critical keywords should be monitored by the minute during crucial, high-volume times, like holiday.  These are the times when a change in position can mean tens of thousands of dollars in revenue.  Knowing exactly when you changed position with your competitor allows you to make better decisions on whether to play by maintaining/rising your position, or whether to ease back because the market is currently being irrational and the top positions are too expensive.  Knowing exactly what your competitors are doing allows you to preserve budget when it makes sense.

·         Affiliate Monitoring: In addition to monitoring your affiliates’ use of your trademarks, automated competitive monitoring tools are helpful in making sure your affiliates aren’t copying your ads.   If your affiliates are poaching your traffic, your margins are likely to suffer.  When watching your affiliates, it’s also important to monitor various geos.  For instance, an affiliate may be geo-targeting their ads so they don’t run in an area where you’re likely to notice the ads (such as where your business is based).  Use automated competitive monitoring tools to watch a variety of geos to make sure this is not happening.

·         Measuring Search Share of Voice (SOV) Trends:  Reviewing your competitors’ ad positioning and keyword coverage across engines for both natural and paid search allows you to identify specific trends over time.  For instance, you may notice that a particular competitor pulls back its paid search position on certain days, or that a competitor has been pulling back over the last few weeks.  When you can expect your competitor to ease back, you can ease back too in order to cut costs while, at the same time, not sacrificing a premium position.

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