Competitor Analysis Checklist for Launching a Successful PPC Campaign
So you want to start advertising with Google Ads. You collected the keywords you’ll bid on, created a landing page, and researched your target audience. It seems to be a good start. There’s one more thing left – competitor analysis.
If all the marketers analyzed their competitors’ strategies before launching new campaigns, there would be no place for ‘How to launch a successful paid campaign’ articles. However, it still sounds like a utopian dream. That’s why I created a step-by-step competitor analysis checklist that will help you avoid lots of mistakes and succeed with your PPC campaign.
Why you need competitor analysis
Some advertisers neglect this step thinking competitive research is aimed at stealing other market players’ strategies. Of course, there’s some truth in that. Lots of marketers really spy on their competitors to plagiarize their ideas. On the other hand, competitor analysis is the best chance to learn important lessons before you even launch your campaign. Here are the reasons why you should research your competitors before launching any marketing campaign:
You’ll discover what other brands offer your target audience. Does your landing page provide any advantage for your visitors? You should make sure that your offer is competitive enough.
It lets you see whether you’re bidding on the right keywords. If there are irrelevant ads showing up for your keywords, it may be a good reason to search for other ideas.
You can identify keywords you should consider for your paid campaign.
It’s an excellent opportunity to find out aspects your strategy is missing.
When you see something from the outside, it’s easier to identify its strengths and weaknesses. Learn your competitors’ weak points to come up with ideas on how to avoid their mistakes.
How to start with competitor analysis
This checklist illustrates that the whole process isn’t rocket science. Here are the steps you should take:
Identify the level of competition.
Find out who’s showing up for your target keywords.
Check your competitors’ ads.
Discover what other keywords they are showing up for.
Analyze their landing pages.
I’ll provide you with step-by-step instruction on how to put this checklist into practice in the following paragraphs.
Step 1: Identify the level of competition
Before starting a PPC campaign, check whether there’s a demand for the product you want to promote. This step will also help you understand the level of competition in your niche and decide whether it’s worth spending the time to investigate it. If the query isn’t competitive at all, maybe there’s a reason people aren’t investing in it?
To see the number of queries within the subject, you can use any tool that analyzes SEO & PPC keywords. I analyzed the 'flower delivery' query with a free Wordtracker tool to see the keyword was very popular in paid search:
Step 2: Find out who’s showing up for your target keywords
The next step requires identifying whether you selected the right keywords. Even though you might think nothing could go wrong, it’s always worth checking. As the market is constantly changing, and new players are usually focused on paid search, you may be surprised with what you find out.
There are several ways to discover your competition in paid search. The first one is manual. You can simply enter your target keywords into the search field to find which brands are showing up for the same queries as you.
Seeing the ads that are ranking for your keywords you’ll understand whether your competition is relevant to you.
Step 3: Check your competitors’ ads
Analyzing your competitors’ ad copies, you can quickly identify what they offer (marketers usually denote the most crucial aspects right in the title or description).
When checking the ads, pay close attention to:
the keywords your competitors use first;
how they engage prospects (competitive advantage, special offer, etc.);
This information will help you create a unique ad that will stand out in the crowd of similar texts.
There are two ways to find examples of your competitors’ ad copies: manual and using the tool. The first one doesn’t need a detailed explanation – you just analyze the ads you saw when taking the previous step.
Although the manual method is extremely easy, it also provides pretty limited opportunities. You’ll have to repeat the same action with different keywords until there are enough competitors in your list (you can’t conduct competitive analysis based on a few examples).
That’s why many marketers prefer the second method that requires using a tool. There are many platforms on the market that focus on competitor analysis. Tools such as Serpstat or Ahrefs let marketers get all the essential information on their competitors in one place. For instance, Serpstat has the largest competitor analysis databases among all the SEO tools. Using it, you can be sure you get the most comprehensive data.
To discover your competition in paid search and see their ads examples, enter your main keyword into its search field, select the country, and click Search. From the Overview section go to PPC Research > Ad Examples.
The report shows a large number of your competitors’ ads examples. Scroll through the results to get a clear picture of the niche.
Step 4: Discover what other keywords they’re showing up for
Compare the keywords you’ve selected for your campaign with the ones your competitors are already bidding on. Taking this step, you’ll identify whether there are any gaps in your list of key phrases.
You can do it using any of the above-mentioned tools. Most of the SEO tools let you set side-by-side websites’ comparison, showing you their keywords in paid Google search results.
Simply go to Domain vs Domain section and look through the results. If you’ve already been running a PPC campaign, you can find out the words your competitors’ ads are showing up for, but yours aren’t. If you haven’t started a paid campaign yet, just sort the list of keywords manually to discover which ones you are still missing.
Step 5: Analyze their landing pages
Click through your competitors’ landing pages to learn more about their strategies and perform even better. When analyzing these pages, try to answer the following questions:
What do they offer?
What does their CTAs encourage prospects to do?
Is there any social proof (testimonials)?
Are there any visual elements?
Would you click on the action button?
This information will help you come up with new ideas and develop your own marketing strategy.
Following the tips from this checklist, you’ll collect enough data to launch a successful paid campaign. However, you should never stop analyzing and testing. Once your ads start driving clicks, keep tracking your intermediate results and be ready to implement changes if necessary.