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How To Turn Challenger Brands Into Market Leaders Using Efficiencies In Large Scale SEM

As digital marketing professionals, we work with a wide range of clients. Some are Fortune 500’s and some are mid-tier businesses trying to compete in tough markets. The latter of these can be considered ‘challenger brands’ for two reasons – contending with the industrial strength heavy hitters can be daunting for them and positioning these brands to stand head to head with the top players can be hard for marketers.

So what is the solution to effectively grow the market share of these challenger brands while improving their online positioning?

Turning a challenger brand into a market leader requires following a specific five step process. Each step builds on the one before it resulting in a continuous cycle – a cycle of growth and efficiency.

First, let’s review the steps:

  1. Conduct a market analysis of your client’s vertical
  2. Dig into their competitors using Competitive Intelligence (CI)
  3. Audit your client’s program and baseline
  4. Create efficiency through optimization
  5. Use the room you created to test and drive growth

Rinse and repeat.

By properly leveraging this cycle, you can take a brand that is spending significantly less than their competitors in the market and incrementally increase their market share through growth and efficiency tactics.

This strategy proved highly successful for one of the current US leaders in aesthetic services –  laser hair removal, cellulite reduction. They initially committed to $50,000 in monthly spend at 2,500 leads/month. Due to the straight direct response nature of this vertical, brand growth would be determined by driving efficient leads, bookings, and ultimately patients. That’s a tough job.

In order to do it, efficiency needs to be created first, lowering CPA to make room for testing and growth. After applying the cycle of growth and efficiency over the course of the two-year campaign, their spend rose to $650,000 a month while averaging the same CPA from the day the program started while their volume increased over 11 times. They grew from a challenger brand into the market leader and maintain that position today.

Now that you have an example to reference, let’s go through each step so that you can adhere to the same process to help turn your challenger brand clients into market leaders.

1.  Conduct A Market Analysis Of The Vertical

In order to understand the potential of growth, it’s important to research your client’s vertical. To do this, you’ll want to communicate with agency representatives at Google, Bing and Facebook. They can help you understand the maximum search volume in your client’s market across search, display and social. The total impressions and clicks constitute your target measure, the goal being to efficiently reach 90% impression share.

This data can also be used to determine the maximum spend by multiplying the maximum clicks with the average CPC of a top three position.

2.  Dig Into Competitors Using Competitive intelligence (CI)

Success in the complex PPC marketplace requires a blend of paid search expertise, cost-effective budgeting strategies and the right technologically advanced tools to drive results.

In an earlier article for Search Engine Land, How to Use 3 Competitive Intelligence PPC Tools – leading budgetary, bidding and competition monitoring products were highlighted to give paid search campaigns a competitive edge.

Applications like iSpionage, KeywordSpy and AdBeat can help marketing departments manage keyword costs and click-through rates while identifying efficient strategies the competition is implementing. Utilizing these competitive intelligence tools will maximize campaign effectiveness for your client.

3.  Audit Your Client’s Program & Baseline

It’s critical that you record the current baseline of your client’s program across multiple KPI’s and factors.

These include:

  • Bid strategy:  What is the logic behind the determined bids?
  • Keyword portfolio:  The number of keywords, match types and search query report
  • Campaign structure: What is the geographical and demographical structure of the program? How many ad groups are there? How tightly themed are they?
  • Ads: Consider the CTR and conversion rate analysis of existing ads. Are these ads tightly themed with the keywords in the ad group?
  • GDN Placements: Evaluate placement reports and plan accordingly
  • Landing pages: Are the ads being directed to relevant pages? Should they be optimized?
  • Path to conversion: What keywords drive assists?
  • Cross-channel attribution: What other channels, traditional and/or digital, are influencing conversions?
  • Segmentation: Laptop vs. mobile, day-parting, geographical, demographical – select the setting that’s best for your goals

4.  Create Efficiency Through Optimization

Improvements in efficiency are gained through continuous tracking and optimizing of performance. These are some of the tactics used for improving campaign efficiency.

  • Time of Day/Day of Week segmentation:  Analyze and then increase or lower your bid based on time of day/week data
  • Creative (Ad Copy) testing and tracking: Split test new ads and continually retest to drive the best results
  • Separation of search and content network campaigns: This is basic. Still, no campaign should target both Google search and content  – split them out
  • Competitive monitoring: Employ technology to make sure you’re alerted when others bid on your brand
  • Rule alerts: Setup alerts to email your strategists if thresholds like CPA go up or volume goes down to tend to the situations manually
  • Addition of negative keywords: Improves CTR by reducing the appearance of brand damaging terms
  • Addition of broad match modifier: Improves CTR and gives you more accurate bidding control
  • Run search query reports: You’ll be able to find negatives and new exact matches
  • Multivariate Testing(creative and landing page together) : Once a user clicks, it all comes down to the landing page and the path the user goes down. It’s important to leverage technology to test and optimize
  • Geographic segmentation: It’s one of the best ways to create efficiency. For example, bids in NYC are higher than mobile bids)

5. Use The Room You Created To Test & Drive Growth

Once efficiencies have been achieved, it is time to grow the overall number of conversions at a favorable return rate.

Extended reach and increased volume are accomplished through the targeted implementation of:

  • Keyword expansions: Leverage the search term suggestion tool and competitive intelligence to add new keywords to the mix
  • PPC engine expansions (Bing/Yahoo/Facebook): Are you only on Google and Bing? Try new platforms like Facebook and Local Pages
  • Content expansion: Test new placements on the content network
  • Remarketing: Create remarketing campaigns to bring users back to the site for additional conversions
  • Bid elasticity testing (position): Bid-up on those keywords averaging position 5 or higher as well as those with a good CPA or assist count to increase volume.

Regardless of the scale and scope of a client, driving simultaneous growth and efficiency is no easy task. But there’s no question that for challenger brands, it is doubly difficult.

However, digital marketers needn’t look outside the box for a solution to transform challengers into market leaders. Integrating a growth and efficiency cycle into your next PPC campaign will bring your client five steps closer to the pinnacle of market leadership.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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