Many marketers experience this issue during PPC campaigns: They’re attracting the attention of their audience and driving traffic with their ads, yes—but those website and landing page visits aren’t resulting in the amount of conversions they would have expected. If you are also experiencing this, your ads may be targeting consumers who aren’t quite in the decision stage of their buyer’s journey through the use of too many top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) keywords in your ad copy.
Competitive analysis can help frame your own product context, discover other problems your customers have, and even bond the team together against a common foe. For all of these reasons and more you shouldn’t ignore your competition. However, if you don’t properly understand how they impact your organization’s strategy, competitive analysis is simply a waste of time.

Geotargeting is a practice frequently deployed by such restaurants and brick-and-mortar businesses looking to drive local foot traffic, but it isn’t exclusively the province of these verticals. Even sports teams have gotten in on the action, targeting fans that are at (or have been to) a particular stadium or event in order to drive ticket sales, app downloads, and more.

A first step is to try to articulate what market it is that you serve. Who are the customers in this market and what problem, need or want are they experiencing? Which organisations are currently satisfying these needs or wants and how do these organisations differ? If there are multiple products tailored to different market segments try to define the ways in which these products can be grouped together or set apart. Using simple 2×2 matrices (e.g. price vs. functionality) can help to categorise your competitors and help to show what customers are looking for.
A lot goes into building a winning PPC campaign: from researching and selecting the right keywords, to organizing those keywords into well-organized campaigns and ad groups, to setting up PPC landing pages that are optimized for conversions. Search engines reward advertisers who can create relevant, intelligently targeted pay-per-click campaigns by charging them less for ad clicks. If your ads and landing pages are useful and satisfying to users, Google charges you less per click, leading to higher profits for your business. So if you want to start using PPC, it’s important to learn how to do it right.
It would be unreasonable to run a full technical audit of each competitor, but take into account your own site’s technical SEO performance if you know there are outstanding technical issues to be addressed. In addition to the previous checklist items, I also like to use these Chrome extensions from Ayima: Page Insights and Redirect Path. These can provide quick checks for common technical SEO errors.

More specifically, who gets to appear on the page and where is based on an advertiser’s Ad Rank, a metric calculated by multiplying two key factors – CPC Bid (the highest amount an advertiser is willing to spend) and Quality Score (a value that takes into account your click-through rate, relevance, and landing page quality, among other factors). In turn, your Quality Score affects your actual cost per click, or CPC.
As of 2017, there are over 5,000 products in the martech sphere alone competing for business in complex and overlapping ways. Some companies leverage their expertise and resources to enter new markets. Salesforce is a great example; look at the number of martech categories it’s listed in. With so much competition, SaaS companies can't win on features alone; they must win on brand and customer experience.
Based on your competitor’s marketing message, what kind of customer does the viewer have to be for these messages to appeal to him or her? What is their age range? Where do they have to be located? What's their profession, if any? What other customer demographics can you infer? You're essentially trying to come up with a "buyer persona", a character who best represents the person your competition is trying to reach.
Benchmarking is the important key factor for any marketing campaign. You should always keep an eye on your competitors. How their ads are appearing, what keywords they are using and plan your strategy accordingly. Never create ads, which looks similar to your competitor’s ads. You should smartly design your ad copy, which should look better than your competitor’s ad.

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There is a “home” for newly published content. A hub for new content can be the site’s blog, or a news section. For instance, Distilled’s “home for newly published content” is the Resources section. While this line item may seem like a binary (score of “0” if you don’t have a dedicated section for new content, or score of “2” if you do), there are nuances that can bring each brand’s score up or down. For example:
Other EmployeesYour employees working in other areas of the company also become exposed to competitive information. They interact with others in their industry area and often learn what your rival is doing or hear gossip and rumors. Make sure your entire staff knows they should share any information concerning the competition immediately. Former employees of a competitor can provide you with insight on: your competitor's new products, marketing strategies, how-to improve productivity and employ other resources more effectively, and what your competitor's general working environment is like.  
The unique advantage of PPC marketing is that Google (and other ad networks) don’t just reward the highest bidders for that ad space, they reward the highest-quality ads (meaning the ads that are most popular with users). Essentially, Google rewards good performance. The better your ads, the greater your click-through rates and the lower your costs.

With a clear understanding of our objectives and audience, we can now determine how we want to target our prospects across the AdWords network. There are multiple targeting options available, from location to demographics and display ads to video ads. The trick is to tailor your adverts to deliver the best results based on how your users browse the web. This chapter provides you with the primary elements required to accurately target your campaign.
It's quite likely that no prospect or customer reads your press releases as carefully as your competitors do. Press releases are helpful in understanding a company’s strategic focus. Sometimes PRs show your competitors’ customer count. The About section in a press release shows your competitor's strategic messaging. These two to five sentences are how your competitor wants their customers and prospects to perceive the company and its products.

Generic keywords: These are generic words that describe your business as well as other businesses in your niche. They do not necessarily set your business apart from the million other businesses out there and ranking for these keywords is difficult given the immense competition for both paid and organic results. Nevertheless, these terms are likely to be used by your audience in the first stage of searching.

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Competitive analysis is an exercise of comparing your business, product, and service to companies and finding similarities and differences. The most critical part of kicking off a competitive analysis is choosing the right competitors to analyze. Otherwise, you will spend tons of time on competitive research with very limited insight to show for it. In other words, the competitors you select determines how you will perceive your company and the final analysis.

If your account is currently achieving a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 5, and your goal is to achieve a ROAS of 6, your strategy should focus on efficiency optimizations to improve ROAS. If your account is achieving a ROAS of 5 and your goal is to increase revenue as long as your ROAS is at or above 4 (and you have additional budget to spend), then your strategy will need to focus on growth initiatives.


3. Video Ads Become More Practical: Video engages viewers extremely effectively, but advertisers have sometimes avoided it because of the perceived difficulty in making a video and the high cost of running video ads. Remember, video ads can be very short, from 15 -30 seconds, depending upon where you run them. To keep production costs down, there will be more and more free video tools provided by advertisers who want your business, for instance, Boomerang, free Instagram video ad creator. In 2018, consider YouTube, which offers a variety of video ad formats and, as part of the Google ecosystem, makes a great bet to place effective PPC ads. Consider Bing advertising, especially for higher-end products, since one-third or their traffic earns over $100k. Look at options to advertise with Yahoo/Verizon, Facebook/Instagram, Amazon (for product ads), LinkedIn video ads (for B2B) and more.
Trade AssociationsMost professional trade associations compile and publish industry statistics and report on industry news and leaders through trade association magazines and newsletters. Most trade associations also sponsor trade shows and other professional meetings. This is an opportunity to see first-hand what your competition is producing. It also provides the opportunity to discover new players who may soon become your competition.  
Increase Clicks: If you have a niche site that has high quality scores and impression shares, but not enough volume to spend your budget, you will want to increase the traffic sent to your site while maintaining control over click costs. This can be done by increasing bids, expanding your keyword list, improving click through rates and refining ad copy. All of these items can be adjusted/improved upon to help reach your budgeted spend.
This checklist is broken out into sections that reflect key elements from our Balanced Digital Scorecard. As previously mentioned, this checklist is to help you identify opportunities (and possibly areas not worth your time and budget). But this competitive analysis is not prescriptive in and of itself. It should be used as its name suggests: to analyze what your competition’s “edge” is.
Take Coca Cola and Red Bull for example. They have massive marketing budgets, and the majority of that budget goes into branding and (I am guessing) very little attention is paid to determining the ROI of each individual activity they sponsor. They just know that the more they can build equity in their brand, the more products they will sell. The result? They are some of the most recognizable brands in the world. They are also extremely profitable at the end of the year – they just achieve that profitability differently than what we are used to seeing as direct response marketers.
Every business can benefit from attracting higher value customers. Whether you’re a real estate company looking for high net worth individuals looking to buy property or a B2B SaaS company looking for a higher average revenue per user (ARPU), attracting customers who will pay you more than others is a powerful way to amplify the growth of your business.
This chapter will discuss how to best structure your campaign within Google AdWords. These basic building blocks are campaigns and ad groups contained within those campaigns. How you structure this will depend upon your business and marketing and the main takeaway here is that there is no single way to structure a campaign. Just be mindful of what matters when it comes to advertising and measuring the results of your campaign.

Another thing you need to do in order to maximize the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns is increase the quality and relevancy of your landing page content and user experience. These two elements have a big influence on whether or not leads will convert between your PPC ads and landing pages. A poorly designed or irrelevant landing page is a sure way to tank conversion rates.
How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, SEMrush allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the types of terms your competitors are ranking for.

Reason: If visitors find your website with a certain keyword but you have a high bounce rate, that’s enough to know that something is not going as it should. Ask yourself and test if it is a problem with content quality, appearance, etc. There is often more than one explanation for a high bounce rate, and there could be more than one solution. If you are totally lost at this point, a feedback session with five potential users might provide some insightful ideas.


For this reason, some companies have taken a more direct measurement approach ‎to IP geolocation vs. trying to infer it through ping triangulation.  It’s far more ‎straightforward, but requires a lot more manual effort.  Basically, these companies ‎send cars out to drive up and down every street in the country and log WiFi IP ‎addresses as well as their physical location to populate the same table that more ‎traditional geolocation companies build through technical means.   Google and ‎Skyhook both use this approach. 
I remember my very first week working at Hanapin Marketing. I was working in a REDBOP group (for information on what REDBOP is, see “super awesome opportunity” in the dictionary and you will find information on Hanapin’s monthly PPC training program) and we were tasked with explaining to the rest of the team the differences between tactics and strategy. Easy peasy. Strategy = plan. Tactics = action.
PPC-Strategies' expertise and knowledge of the search engine landscape can help you attract more qualified customers to your website...guaranteed.  Whether you are new to online marketing or have already tried pay per click and other forms of promotion, our precision-crafted advertising strategies will improve your online visibility and customer engagement.
By sharing this information, you can align all stakeholders that are involved with any kind of messaging (i.e., print, TV, PR, SEO, PPC, email, blog posts, etc.) and get everyone consistently using your targeted keywords. As your audience observes messages from each of these channels, they will see that consistency. This can highly influence which keywords they then use when they use a search engine to find you or your products. These are, of course, keywords you already rank well for, which will help to increase visibility and branding even more for your entire organization.
A quality ad account in 2018, according to Google, is an “autopiloted” account; the more options that are delegated to Google Ads, the better. However, even if Google is now able to decide on its own which banner size will fit best on a particular website, it is still your responsibility to provide catchy text, relevant images, and the right keywords.
Here’s where artifacts like user personas may come in handy. A persona should clearly outline what potential customers want and how they plan to get it. It’s your job to map their needs to content you create, using the list of keywords as a guideline for topics. That said, since they’re based on assumptions and not real user input, personas shouldn’t be a replacement for user research and testing. If your buying cycle is long and complicated, a customer journey mapping exercise could also help you identify wants and needs during individual steps of the cycle. Software service Autopilot HQ has a great post about how to map content to customer needs throughout their journey. 
A great way to make your website mobile friendly is to implement AMP for your site. Previously it was mainly used by publishers; today it is also a platform for e-commerce and advertising. Since autumn 2017, advertisers can implement AMP for their Google Ads landing pages, making them faster. Building AMP pages for your advertising campaigns can have a positive impact on conversion rates, time on page, bounce rates, and more.
Estimated Costs: Creating content to adequately target specific keywords will require varying amounts of time, money, and effort. In some situations, you might find that targeting a certain keyword also allows you to SEO your landing page at the same time. So be on the lookout for shortcuts that might make ranking for a keyword more cost-efficient than it would otherwise be. That’s how you can find real money-makers!

Scanning competitor's ads can reveal much about what that competitor believes about marketing and their target market.[10] Changes in a competitor's advertising message can reveal new product offerings, new production processes, a new branding strategy, a new positioning strategy, a new segmentation strategy, line extensions and contractions, problems with previous positions, insights from recent marketing or product research, a new strategic direction, a new source of sustainable competitive advantage, or value migrations within the industry. It might also indicate a new pricing strategy such as penetration, price discrimination, price skimming, product bundling, joint product pricing, discounts, or loss leaders. It may also indicate a new promotion strategy such as push, pull, balanced, short term sales generation, long term image creation, informational, comparative, affective, reminder, new creative objectives, new unique selling proposition, new creative concepts, appeals, tone, and themes, or a new advertising agency. It might also indicate a new distribution strategy, new distribution partners, more extensive distribution, more intensive distribution, a change in geographical focus, or exclusive distribution. Similar techniques can be used by observing a competitor's search engine optimization targets and practices.[11] For example, by conducting keyword research, one may be able to determine a competitor's target market, keywords, or products. Other metrics allow for detection of a competitor's success.[12] Little of this intelligence is definitive: additional information is needed before conclusions should be drawn.
This is the paid search strategy that is deployed most often by search marketers and for good reason: it focuses purely on maximizing the profitability of campaigns. For most of us, that is the reason why we continue to spend money with search engines, and why the industry keeps on growing year over year. We manage campaigns to maximize profitability and we don’t have to worry about budgets as long as it’s profitable. Or at least that’s what we hope will happen.
All sorts of companies in all sorts of industries can make use of geo-targeting.  By refining the ad copy to include the city name and a reference to the current weather – for example, including the words “start sleeping cooler” in an ad during periods of hot weather – Purple Mattress, an ecommerce bedding brand has been able to generate higher click-through rates by online shoppers. In an effort to update its aging "Let's Go Places" campaign,  Toyota incorporated city-specific information into each of its Google ads, encouraging consumers to go to places and attractions near them.  Whole Foods targeted ads to the smartphones of consumers visiting nearby supermarkets, encouraging them to come to a nearby Whole Foods nearby exchange for better deals.

Then how can someone afford to pay $54.20 per click if it does not generate profit? The answer is simple: they are spending that money to build a brand and they are not focused on the profitability on that individual click; they are focused on profitability over time and they most likely have a budget assigned to building that brand. Not having to focus on achieving profit for individual click puts a company at a tremendous advantage for displaying their brand prominently in search results. It also makes it harder for profitability based marketers to compete.
Attribution. Use attribution data to prove the influence of PPC on conversions either cross-channel or within the channel. For instance, you might learn that certain campaigns don’t convert well, and the instinct is to turn them off. However, if they lead to conversions in other campaigns, you’ll want to allocate budget to keep the conversion path open.
For this reason, some companies have taken a more direct measurement approach ‎to IP geolocation vs. trying to infer it through ping triangulation.  It’s far more ‎straightforward, but requires a lot more manual effort.  Basically, these companies ‎send cars out to drive up and down every street in the country and log WiFi IP ‎addresses as well as their physical location to populate the same table that more ‎traditional geolocation companies build through technical means.   Google and ‎Skyhook both use this approach. 
It is dependent on the pre-analysis of the entire IP address space. There are more than 4 billion possible IP addresses, and detailed analysis of each of them is a Herculean task, especially in light of the fact that IP addresses are constantly being assigned, allocated, reallocated, moved and changed due to routers being moved,[6] enterprises being assigned IP addresses or moving, and networks being built or changed. In order to keep up with these changes, complex algorithms, bandwidth measurement and mapping technology, and finely tuned delivery mechanisms are necessary.[7] Once all of the IP space is analyzed, each address must be periodically updated to reflect changes in the IP address information, without invading a user's privacy. This process is similar in scale to the task of Web spidering.
Another easy, yet possibly expensive, way of testing geo-location is using a PPC platform such as AdWords. You can set your campaign targeting to very specific locations and languages, as well as set the destination URLs of your individual ads. Similarly, this will require a set of landing pages for each campaign, but delivers results very quickly. You may be able to run a fast, data rich, and location-based conversion analysis with little more.
I remember my very first week working at Hanapin Marketing. I was working in a REDBOP group (for information on what REDBOP is, see “super awesome opportunity” in the dictionary and you will find information on Hanapin’s monthly PPC training program) and we were tasked with explaining to the rest of the team the differences between tactics and strategy. Easy peasy. Strategy = plan. Tactics = action.

Here’s how it works: Every time your ad is clicked, sending a visitor to your website, you pay the search engine a small fee. (That’s why it’s called “pay per click.”) When your PPC campaign is well-designed and running smoothly, that fee will be trivial, because the visit is worth more to your business than what you pay for it. For example, if you pay $10 for a click, but the click results in a $300 sale, then using PPC is a no-brainer.
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.
More specifically, who gets to appear on the page is based on and advertiser’s Ad Rank, a metric calculated by multiplying two key factors – CPC Bid (the highest amount an advertiser is willing to spend) and Quality Score (a value that takes into account your click-through rate, relevance, and landing page quality). This system allows winning advertisers to reach potential customers at a cost that fits their budget. It’s essentially a kind of auction. The below infographic illustrates how this auction system works.
Take advantage of location extensions and call extensions to make it as easy as possible for local prospects to contact and reach you. When location extensions are enabled for your search ads, prospects in your specified, targeted areas will see your street address. A call extension, alternatively, provides either your phone number or a direct link to a phone line. Landing pages are often referred to as the leakiest part of the marketing funnel, and extensions such as these help cut out the middle ground and prevent the lead leakage.
It simplified the ways that an organization can compete into four: cost leadership, differentiation, the focus on cost, and the focus on differentiation. Since the inception of Five Forces there has been a lot of discussion about how helpful the categories are, but it seems to be part of everyone’s strategy and competitive toolbox, especially for MBAs.
It is a common misconception that sprinkling your chosen keyword randomly throughout your site is enough to improve SEO for B2B marketing. Unfortunately, doing so can actually result in a serious loss of business. Creating a strong keyword strategy is one of the most important things you can do to improve SEO. It is equally important to know how to do it right, as well as understand why it’s so necessary. This post will explain why a keyword strategy is important for SEO and B2B marketing, as well as explain how to create one that will draw in business.
Great article. This ties in perfectly with the article I just published yesterday. This checklist in conjunction with my competitor analysis, that is more based on keyword and traffic data, will really round out the research stage of your campaign. Taking a deep look at a competitors website just like you would do your own, can be a valuable exercise that drives strategy.
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