Search Conquesting: Top 5 Ways To Steal Customers From Your PPC Competitors

Search con­quest­ing cam­paigns can be a good source of qual­i­ty traf­fic and sales or leads.

Melissa Mackey By Melissa Mackey. Join the discussion » 3 comments

Bid­ding on com­peti­tor brands in PPC is tempt­ing. Few vic­to­ries are sweet­er than steal­ing a sale or lead away from your com­pe­ti­tion. But PPC con­quest­ing isn’t easy.

The search engines know that the most rel­e­vant ad for a brand search is an ad from that brand – not its com­peti­tors. Qual­i­ty score on com­peti­tor key­words is usu­al­ly low – after all, few adver­tis­ers are will­ing to list their com­peti­tors on their web­site, and trade­mark rules often pro­hib­it adver­tis­ers from using com­peti­tor brands in ad copy. And yet, PPC con­quest­ing can be prof­itable. Here are five ways to suc­ceed at PPC con­quest­ing.

1. Create Great Landing Pages

A suc­cess­ful PPC cam­paign begins with a good land­ing page. Don’t even think about bid­ding on com­peti­tor brands until you have a strong land­ing page in place. Remem­ber, users searched for your com­pe­ti­tion – it’s up to you to con­vince them that you’re a bet­ter choice. Show the users how you stack up and why they should choose you over the com­pe­ti­tion. One effec­tive way to swing users to your side is to use land­ing pages with a com­par­i­son grid, like this:

Competitor landing page example 1

This adver­tis­er actu­al­ly grades the mar­ket leader, giv­ing them a B+. Notice that they gave them a decent grade that isn’t too low. Giv­ing the com­peti­tor an F would seem disin­gen­u­ous. But a B+ is believ­able.

They’re also using col­or effec­tive­ly, even to the point of putting excla­ma­tion points in an octa­gon shape – the same shape as a stop sign. We’re con­di­tioned to stop and pay atten­tion when we see that red sign.

Good land­ing page prac­tices also appear on the page – a promi­nent form, the phone num­ber in three dif­fer­ent places, and a sug­gest­ed pack­age for users to buy.

Oth­er ways to con­vince con­quest prospects that you’re bet­ter are:

  • Rat­ings and reviews. Let­ting your sat­is­fied cus­tomers speak for you is more trust­wor­thy than brag­ging about your­self.
  • Free tri­als or demos. Let your prod­uct speak for itself in a risk-free man­ner. Offer­ing a free tri­al or demo shows that you stand behind your prod­uct and are con­fi­dent it’s the right choice.

Land­ing pages that offer some­thing of val­ue are effec­tive con­quest­ing tools, too, espe­cial­ly for com­plex prod­ucts or ser­vices. Maybe your main offer is a free whitepa­per down­load. You could cre­ate a land­ing page for con­quest key­words that offers mul­ti­ple whitepa­pers and assets with a sin­gle signup, like this: Competitor Landing page example 2

This adver­tis­er is offer­ing 18 whitepa­pers and 42 case stud­ies (a total of 60 assets) for free. It’s clear that they real­ly want your busi­ness.

Engag­ing con­quest vis­i­tors via chat is anoth­er way to con­vince them to buy from you. Proac­tive­ly ini­ti­at­ing a chat to answer ques­tions shows that you’re inter­est­ed in the prospect’s needs.

2. Use Compelling Ad Copy

Put your best foot for­ward in terms of your offer and val­ue propo­si­tion in ad copy. If you’ve designed good land­ing pages, this should be easy to do.

What would you rather get: one whitepa­per, or 60 as in the exam­ple above? Focus on your best offer for con­quest terms – if you can, try to beat what­ev­er your com­peti­tors are offer­ing.

3. Use RLSA

RLSA, or remar­ket­ing lists for search ads, are avail­able in both AdWords and Bing. With RLSA, you can adjust bids and/or ad copy accord­ing to past user behav­ior, the same as you would for dis­play remar­ket­ing. But the ben­e­fit here is that you’re still bid­ding on key­words.

Use RLSA to increase bids on users who’ve pre­vi­ous­ly vis­it­ed your site but didn’t con­vert. I usu­al­ly use the max­i­mum +300% bid mod­i­fi­er on this traf­fic, and it’s worth every pen­ny.

You can also use RLSA to show dif­fer­ent offers to those who already vis­it­ed your site and are now search­ing for the com­pe­ti­tion. Give these folks your best pos­si­ble deal.

4. Use Misspellings & Modified Broad Match

Hav­ing trou­ble get­ting your ads to appear on com­peti­tor brand search­es? Get cre­ative.

Try bid­ding on mis­spellings of their brand. Bid on “wall­mart” instead of “Wal­mart” and you may have a bet­ter chance of get­ting your ad to appear.

You can also use mod­i­fied broad match to your advan­tage.

Let’s say you’re a cloth­ing retail­er com­pet­ing with Wal­mart. You could bid on “+Wal­mart +kids +cloth­ing” (with­out the quotes). You’ll often have a bet­ter chance of your ads show­ing on these longer tail phras­es than on just “Wal­mart.”

5. Bid On ‘Cancel’ Keywords

If you’re in a ser­vice or con­trac­tu­al busi­ness, adding “can­cel” terms to your key­word list can dra­mat­i­cal­ly improve results in your com­peti­tor cam­paigns.

Peo­ple look­ing for ways to can­cel a ser­vice are often dis­grun­tled cus­tomers. Show them why you’re bet­ter in your ad copy and on your land­ing pages. Per­suade them to switch.

We’ve also seen high­er qual­i­ty scores on “can­cel” key­words than on the brands them­selves. Con­sid­er this exam­ple:

Non Cancel Keywords

Com­peti­tor brands have a qual­i­ty score of only 2. But look at the “can­cel” terms:

Cancel Quality Scores

The low­est score is 4, and one key­word has 10/10! While “can­cel” key­words are usu­al­ly low vol­ume, they have a high con­ver­sion poten­tial.

With the right land­ing pages, ad copy, and strat­e­gy, your search con­quest­ing cam­paigns can be a good source of qual­i­ty traf­fic and sales or leads.

Melissa Mackey

Written by Melissa Mackey

Search Supervisor

Melissa Mackey is Search Supervisor at gyro, the largest independent B2B agency in the world. Mackey contributes her insights about PPC strategy to a variety of marketing publications, regularly speaks at industry conferences about PPC, and hosts a search marketing blog,

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