What to Do When You’re Getting Out-Bid

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Some of you might remember a little while back when I talked about PPC Done Right. In that series of articles, I talked about a little-known metric in PPC called “Impression Share”. It helps you keep a pulse on how well your campaigns are doing for your budget. But, as you know, sometimes a competitor comes along and starts spending inordinate amounts of money to try and drown you out.

Here’s how to know when it’s happened and some options of what you should do about it.

How You Know It’s Happened

If you’re paying attention to the performance of your campaigns (which, you should at least be getting a monthly report from your vendor), there are some key metrics you’ll keep an eye on like Cost-Per-Click (CPC), Click-Through-Rate (CTR), and conversions. But one of the best metrics to watch as a barometer for your campaigns is Impression Share.

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Impression share is a measurement of how often your ad shows up compared to all the relevant searches when it could have shown up. For instance, let’s say that there are 10,000 monthly searches in a particular category for your area. If your ad(s) show up 6,500 times, you have a 65% impression share.

Now, remember that every time a search occurs, your ad will go into an auction that determines whether or not your ad will show based on how much you’re willing to pay, the content of your ad, the website you’re sending it to, etc., etc. There are tons of factors. The higher your impression share, the more often you are showing up and the more likely you are to get clicks and people to your website.

HOWEVER, what if you’ve been trolling along at around 85% impression share for a while (that’s a GREAT I.S. score), and you see it take a sudden nose dive? One of two things are likely to blame:

  1. That search all of a sudden became incredibly popular and you blew through your budget quickly for that day, thus missing opportunities to advertise later on.
  2. (The more likely option) A competitor came in and spend a boatload of money on advertising trying to drown you out.

What do you do then?

Focus In On Relevance

If an sudden surge in popularity is to blame, thank your lucky stars and simply increase your budget. It’s time to make hay while the sun shines!

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If you owe your sudden dip to a competitor, don’t panic! You have three options. You can:

  1. Increase your own budget to try and duke it out.
  2. Simply wait out the storm counting on their pace to be unsustainable.
  3. (The best option) Focus in on what is most relevant to your business.

Here’s what I mean by “focus”. If a competitor is impacting your impression share, that means they’re going after the same customer searches that you are. BUT, you have advantages that they don’t. For instance:

  • Your Name. While there may not be a TON of customers that will search for your business by name, your competitor is almost certainly going after them. But since Google gauges the relevance of your ad to the search, you have the upper hand. Your business is much more relevant to your name than your competitor’s is.
  • Your Brand. Like your name, a competitor is going to have a harder time showing up as well as you do for “branded” searches like “Chem-Dry”. If you have a ChemDry.com premium listing, consider sending some ads to your premium page to leverage its domain authority.
    • Example: For both your name and your brand, you may have your vendor shift focus away from bidding on generic search terms like “carpet cleaning” and increase your bids on “phrase match” and “exact match” keywords involving your name and brand.
  • Focus on Value. Chances are, your competitor is going to be very price-focused. You know that price-shoppers don’t become loyal customers. Google’s very good at determining when a customer is focused on price vs value, and you want the latter. Mention the advantages of using you over the other guy in your ads. Just like Apple, BMW, and Nike, people are willing to pay a bit more when they understand the advantages.
    • Example: I would advise against advertising prices in your ads. If you do, don’t low-ball the prices. Make sure they’re competitive, but try to show the value of your service.

In general, if PPC starts getting more expensive, don’t freak out! It happens from time to time. It may just be time for you to refocus and adjust.

Big Takeaway:

Competition will come and go. But your business will stand the test of time if you keep your head and take the correct actions. Keep your head and:

  1. Increase your budget if you’re able to compete with newcomers.
  2. Recognize that a small disruption is not the end of the world. You may be able to stick it out.
  3. Focus in on what you’re best at. Advertising to what is most relevant and your competitive advantages will get you more bang for your buck.

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