Do you recognize them? Of course, everybody does. The competition of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna is one of the most well-known rivalries in the history of sports. Two of the greatest drivers of all time repeatedly pitted against each other. But how is this relevant to online marketing? You’d be surprised.
When Senna started to compete in Formula-1, driving as a rookie, Prost already won the Championship, therefore was the man to beat. Senna became world champion twice in is early years. When they became teammates at McLaren, a foundation for a fierce competition was laid. They had to work together to keep ahead of their opposition, while they had this fascinating rivalry as well. They motivated each other to become better drivers day by day.
You may not have to compete in such a wild and stressful race, but rest assured: you have your own contestants, even if you’re not aware of their activities. We will give you a strong, useful guide on what you can do to perform as well as possible in your own competition. When it comes to dealing with competitors in the online advertising industry, most people only think about advertising on the competitors’ brand name. In the followings, we will give a brief overview of the strategies we recommend.
1. The more you know
The most fundamental part of your strategy is research. Without any information about your competitors, you can only guess their strengths and weaknesses. You may not know but Senna spent hours watching video records of Alain’s driving. He analyzed every little aspect of Prost’s technique: which lines he is driving on, how well he is driving in the different sectors of a race, what gear is he driving in. He may even go further, checking his rival’s rotary speed in different turns. Ayrton did this with one great reason: to get to know his teammate, and find the few opportunities where he can beat him.
This is what you also have to do to get ahead of your contestants. In the field of online marketing, you could consider yourself lucky: there’s plenty of data to analyze. These are easily accessible to the public, you just have to know where to look for them.
Google Trends is a public tool that you can use to visualize how often a particular search term is entered, relative to the total search volume. You can filter the searches to languages, regions or countries you are interested in.
As a market leader, you will be able to look at how your challengers are breathing down your neck, while you can also identify opportunities where you may get ahead of them.
On the image, you can see some extreme growth from time to time, so let me explain it to you. In e-commerce, one of the best occasions to get ahead of your game is Black Friday. As you may realize, this time of the year is pretty important in our industry, so we usually put great emphasis on this in order to get the most out of it for our clients. The company indicated with red did just this. They are not as significant as the yellow market leader, but with great timing and the right strategy, they successfully managed to get ahead of everyone during Black Fridays.
One of the most recommended website traffic analytics tool you can find is SimilarWeb. It lets you measure and analyze user engagement statistics for websites and mobile applications through big data technologies.
If you want to get interesting insights about your competitor in no time, SimilarWeb is the ideal tool for you. In the example below, you can see how much of Amazon’s website traffic is coming from search and even how much of that is paid and organic. Knowing what keywords they do they advertise for, or how they are mostly found in organic results might be an interesting discovery in some cases as well.
Be sure to spend some time with this tool, you may find a lot of valuable insights that you may not have found elsewhere. For example, you can see all of the channels your competitors get their traffic from.
Also, be aware that SimilarWeb provides approximate values to you. A fantastic tool to use as a guidance, but don’t take its insights for granted.
The big blue brother knows everything about you. But do you know everything it can offer you as well? There is a handy little tool inside Facebook’s Business Manager called Audience Insights. It lets you discover a lot of useful insights about your target audience and your competitors’ audience, too.
All you have to do is adding your competitor’s facebook page as an interest in the audience targeting tool, and you will be granted to a significant amount of interesting data about your competitor’s customers. You will be able to see their demographics, relationship status, education level or even what type of work they do. Also, comparing this audience to Facebook’s user base will help you identify if a specific target audience is overrepresented. Getting to this data for the first time might feel like a true gem found.
In the example above, we are giving you an example of a popular hotel booking page, Szallas.hu. No surprise that people who are in a relationship are overrepresented compared to the whole audience of Facebook. Getting to know these insights can be a valuable advantage for your company.
But getting access to this information is only the beginning. Once you find out about these, make sure to turn your insights into action. You can advertise your products and services to this audience, luring traffic away from your competitors. Once you have defined the ideal audience, you only have to save this and create an ad campaign on Facebook.
Having a highly targeted audience is a key factor, so you might go deeper than advertising only for the competitor’s fans. Facebook’s targeting options offer a great variety of possibilities to choose from, so be sure to test out what targeting delivers the best results for you.
As a general guideline, you might start your campaigns in this territory with some sweepstakes, coupons or any other type of advertising that gets people’s attention. These low hanging fruits are great for building up your database.
Remember that these people – your competitor’s fans – might have never seen you before. This is the first point of contact with your brand. You can try to sell them something for the first time, but according to our experiences, it won’t be successful. At first, getting a lead is enough, and you will convert that lead to a customer later.
To get back to our Formula-1 example a bit, you won’t win the championship on your first race. You will get experience over the years, get a better car, move to a better team and then eventually you can work your way to the top. Winning the championship is equal to acquiring the customer. So take your time and build an effective sales funnel instead of trying to sell for the first time.
2. What you can do
This one’s more of a specific example, but it’s easy to learn from it and put the knowledge into practice. One of our clients, Bónusz Brigád had unique SEO tactics. Bónusz Brigád is an online, social shopping website, a well-known brand in Hungary. One of their main principles is that they do not give you coupons, but bonuses. As a bonus is more than a coupon, this is one thing they try to emphasize to differentiate themselves from the crowd.
They don’t ever use the word ’coupon’ anywhere on their website, except for one page in which they describe how bonuses are better than coupons. They worked in this one page’s SEO optimization so much they overperformed most of their competitors for the keyword ’coupon’ and get a lot more traffic which otherwise would’ve landed on a competitor site.
The importance of ads related to your brand keywords can not be emphasized enough. When you don’t advertise for these keywords, you could be leaving a serious amount of money on the table.
We have deeply debated this topic in a previous post with detailed case studies focusing on this topic. If you are looking for details you can read about our PPC case studies here.
But when we speak about your brand and advertising on it, your competitors’ brand comes to mind. Yes, you could write some ads for your competitors’ brand name too. But keep in mind that advertising for those will be more expensive because of lower Quality Score keywords.
Google Display Network (and more)
Google’s advertising systems possess a diverse toolbox to get the most of online advertising.
For example, you should consider using Google Display Network’s capabilities to get more traffic to your competitor’s disadvantage. You can target those users who have visited your contestant’s website, and deliver ads directly tailored to them.
Or another great way to get ahead of your competition is using Gmail Sponsored Promotions. Maybe you wouldn’t even think, but you are able to target Gmail users who get emails from your competitor.
Not to mention one of the easiest ways to target such audience, you should simply advertise on your rival’s webpage if they have AdSense enabled on their site. They are likely to notice, but it is worth giving it a go.
If you have the chance, try advertising on YouTube too. It can be beneficial, and the system gives you the opportunity to target specific YouTube channels or even videos. If you got this mindset, you can see where it goes from there. Once again, your competitors may notice that you are advertising on their channel, and they can block this chance, but you are likely to have an advantage until then.
3. Ethical issues
Now that we equipped you with the adequate knowledge it is only up to you what you do with it. We always let our clients decide if they want to use such tactics or not. We will most likely follow our principle and won’t tell you to do it.
Using these clever tactics may get you a significant advantage compared to your rivals. But at the same time, be aware of the fact that if you can use these, so can they. Our sole purpose was to give you the right knowledge with this post. Some consider these tactics unfair, some use it all the time. We are not here to tell you what to do, but to be able to defend against these things you must get to know them.
We really like to use the example of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. One hell of a rivalry, but you can learn a lot from them. If you explore their common history you will know that the championship was decided by a car crash between the two of them not even once.
3. “I miss you, Alain!”
As a conclusion, consider the relationship you have with your competitor. We look at them as a source of motivation and inspiration to get better day by day. They are there for you to bring the best out of you.
As Senna, in the Grand Prix of San Marino in 1994, you may even miss them once they’re gone: