What are your competitors up to with their search marketing campaigns? Plenty of tools can help you find out. Second of a two-part series.
In the first of this two-part series on competitive research and intelligence, I mentioned the catalyst for this coverage was Search Engine Strategies (SES), Toronto, where an entire session was devoted to the subject.
With data from several of the paid data collection and research services, you can gather and analyze critical data about your competitors’ activities. My team and I use comScore data to access this kind of data to more effectively manage client campaigns, supplementing it with real-time client data and even Alexa data. Other services or data sources may offer alternative ways for you to get a handle on where you fall in the competitive landscape and provide with key competitor data, including some of the following:
During the SES session last week, Performics’ Cam Balzer discussed how to use some competitive data to estimate your competitor’s point of maximum pain. If you ramp up spending on keywords, your competitors will likely respond by bidding higher. Balzer indicated there may be times when such a test could be useful in determining the point at which your competitors are unwilling to bid higher. My team calls this experiment an elasticity test.
Be warned: this kind of experiment has a cost, perhaps a significant one, if your competitor is either highly efficient and has high reserve prices on keywords, or is irrational and, therefore, doesn’t care about price. Another data element you learn during an elasticity test is whether your competitor has set daily budgeting. If so, your average position will rise as the engines cease showing the competitor’s ads at high positions.
Dave Williams from 360i reminded the audience that shopping feeds and monitoring that competitive landscape can be critical for many e-commerce marketers due to the large order volumes coming from shopping search. Competitor price monitoring tools would be very handy in that environment. I’m sure they exist and will become more prevalent now that the shopping engines have RSS (define) feeds that can be easily monitored.
A final word of advice: although you can learn a lot by looking at what competitors are doing, stay focused on your own marketing and business objectives. Don’t spend so much time looking at competitors and their campaigns that your own business suffers. Competitive intelligence is useful, and you may learn something by watching your competitors, especially if they’re smarter than you are. But being proactive based on real-time data derived from your campaigns may be the best way to outmaneuver them.
Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.
Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.
Industry leadership includes being a founding board member of SEMPO and its first elected chairman. "The Wall St. Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," Bloomberg, CNET, "USA Today," "San Jose Mercury News," and other press quote Kevin regularly. Kevin lectures at leading industry conferences, plus New York, Columbia, Fordham, and Pace universities. Kevin earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 1992 and lives in Manhattan with his wife, a New York psychologist and children.
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