COVID-19 is sadly disrupting and quickly changing the competitive landscape. But do you know how to keep your business steady and on solid ground? Follow this 4-step conquesting strategy to use digital advertising to grow your market share and share of voice during the pandemic: Step 1: Do Your Research What are your competitors up to? How are they faring? What’s happening in your industry? Here’s how to get the intel you need to succeed: Look at COVID-19-related updates, articles and research. Check your competitors’ websites regularly and sign up for their newsletters. Use Moat to get the latest display creative and messaging. Or conduct a competitive website analysis with Alexa’s Site Comparisons or SimilarWeb. To review competitive ad spending, try Kantar and Nielsen Ad Intel. Use free Google tools such as Google Search, Google Alerts, Google Trends and Think with Google to understand search activity. (Remember, though, while you’re searching, never Google your brand terms. This could negatively impact your search campaigns.) Or use additional free or paid search tools, such as SpyFu, SEMrush, The Search Monitor, SE Ranking, Moz Local and Serpstat to dig into competitors’ keyword lists and organic rankings. Another smart move? Ask your SEM analyst or partner to do this: · Pull a competitive benchmark to measure impression share. · Pull an auction insights report to understand competitors that are in the auction with you for the same types of keywords. · Use scripts to monitor auction insights. Be sure to also check out your competitors’ social media presence. Manually search all the social platforms for content about them. Use Twitter’s advanced search function, follow or like competitors’ pages and get paid ad insights via Twitter’s Transparency Center or Facebook’s Ad Library. To monitor organic social, share of voice (SOV) and engagement, use Rival IQ. Step 2: Make Your Plan One common conquesting strategy everyone knows is to bid on closing competitors’ content to garner their impression share and win at the brand level. But to truly get a step ahead and keep your competitors’ conquesting efforts at bay, run evergreen and brand campaigns and pivot your messaging and measurement strategy across prime digital channels. Create an omnichannel digital advertising plan to find your desired audience at the right moments to win impressions, gain favor with consumers and build your market share. Before you set up your conquesting efforts across media tactics, consider these channel best practices: Search · Create ad groups with the competitive keywords for each brand you identified to target. · Build out your conquesting campaigns by match type at the campaign level using Exact Match and Broad Match Modifier (BMM). · Negative Match the Exact Match keywords against the BMM campaign. · Start with modest bids and small budgets, with more budget for Exact Match. But note: Your cost per click (CPC) will likely be high and impression share limited because your competitive conquesting keywords have lower quality scores for non-brand owners. · Ensure your ad copy text doesn’t use a competitor’s name, though you can include it in a display URL. · Avoid Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). Social · Take advantage of your social platform’s targeting capabilities, including brand-type interest and competitive brand name interests/following audience groups. · Tap into purchase behaviors and detailed competitive segments using our partnership with Oracle and import them into Facebook for targeting. · Target similar or competitors’ brand apps with our access to app-based audiences. · Consider using awareness campaigns to deliver ads and optimize toward ad recall lift. · Use reach and frequency objective to daypart ad serving and regulate high-intent times based on competitive engagement research. · Make automatic or manual bid adjustments to ensure competitive impression share. Programmatic · Establish audience segments based on brand interest, intent or affinity toward competitors’ brands. · Target keywords found in URL strings to purchase a unique brand, product or category and layer them on top of shopping reviews or vertical targeting to align with your identified competitors. · Reach frequent purchasers and those loyal to your brand through app ownership audiences. · Uncover real-world behavioral data by creating proximity retargeting to target users by previous in-store visitation and frequency. · Provide an opportunity for in-store comparison shopping by creating geofences surrounding competitors’ physical store locations. · Get the same level of targeting options as programmatic and extend your reach to household level with advanced TV. · Discover which broadcast channels your competitors are buying the most media from and average frequency and heavy up hours of ad exposure leading to in-store visits. · Organize audiences based on ad exposure and layer that with recency to deliver messaging that closely aligns with what competitors are saying. Step 3: Fine-Tune Your Messaging Your messaging matters most in a time of crisis. While your media strategy should center around competitive conquesting efforts, your messaging strategy should center on creating an emotional connection with consumers. To show empathy and provide support while keeping your brand top of mind, polish your messaging like this: · Evaluate current competitive messaging. Do your homework and understand your competitors’ current (and past) focus. Determine what distinct advantage you have over them and communicate that appropriately and effectively. · Know what consumers are saying. Discover what consumers think about your competitors and your brand. For example, if you read significant content about the poor customer service your competitor is providing, tailor your own messaging to address this issue. · Find the right story and tone. Ensure your messaging fits within each media environment to appeal to and interest consumers. Although you want to take advantage of competitors’ closures and win over abandoned customers, maintain your brand authenticity and purpose through it all. · Establish a human connection. Power brand loyalty and longer customer lifetime value by understanding the emotional connection you currently have with your customers and displaying it to potential customers. · Act and do before telling. Plan and implement proper health-related precautions to make customers feel safe and secure. Then build a messaging strategy showcasing all the careful planning you’ve done and continue to do behind the scenes to ensure consumer wellness and safety. Step 4: Measure Well Now that you’ve finalized your media plan, set up a solid measurement plan to find out if your conquesting strategy and campaigns are working. Use this handy campaign dashboard outline to track your media tactics, goals, KPIs and more so you have everything in one place to easily evaluate success. Though the world is facing a challenge we’ve never seen before, now’s the time to not shrink back. Multiple studies, going back as far as 100 years ago, show advertising throughout a weak economy, even increasing ad spend, can lead to increased sales and market share during and after a recession. So do your research, make your plan, fine-tune your messaging and measure well. And as you put your conquesting strategy in play, if you think your paid media efforts are underperforming or you’re concerned about the current state of your paid media accounts, our account teams have specialists on hand from research, strategy and analytics ready to review and discuss your specific business needs. Let us know how we can help you rise to the challenge and thrive and grow during COVID-19 and beyond.