“We’re seeing a lot of attention on our Promote product, a solution for small business owners, that few people realize is powered by automation and machine learning behind the scenes. We’ve partnered with large banks, small business service providers, and more to bring this machine learning martech to small business owners. And we’re not alone. There are many examples of increasingly accessible machine learning tools for small businesses.”
I have often gone on the record with my skepticism toward paid search campaign management software, and I have several reasons for being skeptical. My main concern has been that these tools over promise on features and under deliver on performance. They claim to replace the analyst by using algorithms to optimize campaigns, but in reality they replace the fun piece of the analysts job (improving results) and replace it with the tedious task of managing to get their campaigns to work properly in the software. I have been burned by this sales pitch twice and have written about this in a previous post called “Paid Search Bid Management Tools: Great Investment or Save Your Money?” – so feel free to read that post for more details.
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Let’s start with an easy one: target the areas your business serves. If your restaurant has one location in Chicago, set your search campaigns to only show to searchers in and around Chicago! If you’re an ecommerce site that serves the Pacific Northwest, don’t show your ads outside of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This is the most basic way to ensure that you’re not wasting clicks – and money – on consumers who can’t convert.
First, start with a simple online search for your business type and location. For example, if you’re starting a retail business in Los Angeles, you’ll want to think about how a customer might search for your business (or one like yours). They might search for “los angeles retail store,” “clothing store in LA,” and “LA apparel store.” Create a list of businesses that appear in the search results (and take note of those that frequent the top three results).
Keyword Competition tools can make things much easier on your keyword strategy. Some tools include the Adwords Keyword Planner (you can tailor this for B2B) and MozBar. Google Adwords help you discover and compare new keywords. MozBar helps you check keyword competition against other B2B business sites. Some tools must be purchased, such as Long Tail Pro. This tool identifies profitable long tail keywords focused on your content.
“Now that the “algos” are perfected, they can be used for accounts as small as 100$ monthly ad spend. While it’s difficult for the small guys to access machine learning on their own, agencies who are servicing SMBs should use tools like ours to manage, optimize and scale multiple accounts. Google Channel Partners, Publishers and Resellers that service hundreds of small-business PPC accounts benefit from our machine learning technology already.”
When you conduct your competitive analysis, it's worth analyzing the sales models of your competitors. In his article Three SaaS Sales Models, Joel York describes the three most common SaaS sales models based on the relationship between price and product complexity. Companies with low priced and low-complexity products must focus on developing a self-service option so they can maintain a healthy relationship between customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV). Slack, Trello, Dropbox, GitHub are all low-price, low-complexity products.
In this example, competitor #1 is rated higher than competitor #2 on product innovation ability (7 out of 10, compared to 4 out of 10) and distribution networks (6 out of 10), but competitor #2 is rated higher on customer focus (5 out of 10). Overall, competitor #1 is rated slightly higher than competitor #2 (20 out of 40 compared to 15 out of 40). When the success factors are weighted according to their importance, competitor #1 gets a far better rating (4.9 compared to 3.7).
Keyword competitiveness lets you know which keywords often show up on other websites. This usually means that your keyword strategy concept exists on other sites. For B2B marketing and SEO, keyword competitiveness is a little different. Since keywords and themes are more specific, there’s a lower chance of other sites using the same keywords. Of course, remember that most B2B companies write about similar issues and concepts.
More and more consumers are finding businesses online through search engines. How do they find them? By using keywords! Fortunately, you can take advantage of this consumer habit by optimizing your website around the keywords that are relevant to your business and which keywords consumers are using to find you online. This will increase your chances of getting found by people searching with those keywords, which will drive more and better quality traffic to your business’ website.
How much is a keyword worth to your website? If you own an online shoe store, do you make more sales from visitors searching for "brown shoes" or "black boots"? The keywords visitors type into search engines are often available to webmasters, and keyword research tools allow us to find this information. However, those tools cannot show us directly how valuable it is to receive traffic from those searches. To understand the value of a keyword, we need to understand our own websites, make some hypotheses, test, and repeat—the classic web marketing formula.
Annual ReportsIf your competitor is a publicly-held company, many of its reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are available on the SEC-Edgar Web site. Annual reports provide financial information, including sales volume, revenue increases, and their total market share. 10-K reports provide still more detail, and are supplemented by the quarterly 10-Qs. 8-Ks show significant events such as acquisitions and board membership changes when they occur between 10-K and 10-Q filings. Annual reports from privately-held corporations are sometimes available through friends, relatives, and business acquaintances who own stock in a competitor's company.
And so on and so on. The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases -- you just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We'll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don't have something too unwieldy.
Best used to reach users who: live or move about in a certain area, for whom you have other data like preferences or demographic info Best used to find users who: are nearby your store, venue, or service; users who are in your parking lot, or entering a mall, for example Best used to reach users who: are in a certain aisle of your store; who are on a certain bus or train; who are moving through a space like a museum
After setting your campaign goal and choosing the right platform for your ad, the next step is to plan your ad targeting for your most relevant audience. There are two types of targeting. You can target audience for a specific geographic location and you can also optimize your campaign for a specific device type, operating systems and wireless networks.
Thanks for a great read. The holy grail of marketing is the ability to link advertising directly to consumer purchases. Increasingly, geo-targeted campaigns are making this dream a reality. Geotargeting doesn’t have to mean getting down to the local level. Larger companies can use geotargeting on a regional basis to locate specific audiences for their marketing campaigns. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc., are all offering these services.
If your competitors are using a social network that you may not be on, it's worth learning more about how that platform may be able to help your business, too. To determine if a new social media platform is worth your time, check your competitor's engagement rates on those sites. First, visit the following sites to see if your competition has an account on these platforms:
If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas -- what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example -- selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools ... but I digress ;-) -- you might have general topic buckets like "inbound marketing," "blogging," "email marketing," "lead generation," "SEO," "social media," "marketing analytics," and "marketing automation."
In internet marketing and geomarketing, the delivery of different content based on the geographical geolocation and other personal information is automated. A good example is the Ace Hardware website at www.acehardware.com. The company utilizes geolocation software to power the “My Local Ace” section of its website. Based on a site visitor’s location, the website's online locator service can show the visitor how many stores are in their area, as well as a city-level locator map to help the customer find the store closest to their address.
Do they have separate marketing messages for different segments? Sometimes, you might see a stark difference between how your competitor markets their business for one type of customer versus how they present themselves to another type of customer. For example, if you're trying to sell services as a math tutor to high school students who are struggling to pass their math subjects, you'll be making a completely different pitch than you would to those students who need additional help with their SAT math so that they could get into prestigious universities. Your message to the struggling students might be closer to "I'll help you finally pass your math tests!" While your message to the other market will be similar to "I'll help you get into the school of your dreams!" Also, be sure to note if your competitor does something similar with their own customer segments.
Title tags appear optimized (editorially). Here is where we can add more context to the overall quality of the sample pages’ titles. Even if they are technically optimized, the titles may not be optimized for distinctiveness or written quality. Note that we are not evaluating keyword targeting, but rather a holistic (and broad) evaluation of how each competitor’s site approaches SEO factors. You should evaluate each page’s titles based on the following:
Strategy is more than a bundle of cultivated tactics. When we onboard a new client, we have a whole arsenal of tools to use and reports to run that help us understand the account better. It is easy for us to pat ourselves on the back and say “this is a good strategy for learning the account!” Pardon my language when I say: That ain’t no heckin’ strategy.
Add in geolocation, and you get geotargeting, a technique that has proved highly beneficial to local small businesses, especially restaurants, retail shops, and service providers. While that’s great, what happens if you’re a large corporation running national campaigns? As a CMO, you can still use geotargeting to increase the return on your marketing investments.
Google is constantly refining and adding new tools to AdWords, so remaining active with your PPC strategies is critical if you want to beat out your competition. There’s never a set-it-and-forget-it approach that you can take–as much as one might wish–so it’s important that you test, analyze, re-test, and repeat to find out what is working for you and what is not. Also, keep in mind that while some strategies might work wonders for a particular business or industry, they may not be as effective with yours. Experiment with different approaches, but don’t be too quick to abandon ones that don’t show immediate results. Some investments require time to show their return.
Say your e-commerce site focuses on college students. Target promotions to local coffee shops within a couple miles of your store front that students frequent. Students that bring in a receipt from the coffee shop to your brick and mortar store get a special discount. You can push this email campaign to users that are within a 10 mile radius of the coffee shop and your store.
In the Google Sheets Template, I've provided you with the data points that we'll be collecting, the tools you'll need to do so, and then bucketed the metrics based on similar themes. The data we're trying to collect relates to SEO metrics like domain authority, how much traffic the competition is getting, which keywords are driving that traffic, and the depth of competitors’ backlink profiles. I have built in a few heatmaps for key metrics to help you visualize who's the strongest at a glance.