As a dealership, there are probably at least a handful of competitors with a notable impact on your business’s success. These competitors might be leading in sales in your area, they might be effectively converting your customers to their business, or they might just be killing their marketing game.
No matter what makes these competitors land on your radar, rather than seeing them as a frustration, you can learn a lot from their strategies.
Today, we will look at how you can learn from your competitors' ads, and how you can use this knowledge to leverage their wins and losses for your own gain.
The result is that you will have a more powerful and robust ad strategy without spending as much of your own ad spend on experimentation.
The first place to begin when learning from your competitors' ads is to gather as much information as possible about their audiences.
A detailed report should include:
- The neighborhoods and towns they are targeting.
- The number of sales they are completing in an area.
- The specific makes and models they are selling.
- The areas where your competition is not doing well.
This information will be a powerful tool for multiple reasons:
- It will help you home in on where your competition is doing well.
- It will help you see where you are outpacing your competition.
- It will show you what competitors are overlapping in the specific regions where you plan to market.
When gathering a report on your competition, work with a reputable agency or team that can ensure the accuracy of the report. The quality of the data you start with will play a major role in the accuracy of the conclusions you draw and the strategies you enact. Clean data in means clean data out.
With a baseline understanding of what your competition is up to in your market, it is time to build out a database of information on their existing campaigns.
A great place to start is by looking at the digital marketing efforts of these brands. There are two quick ways you can pull campaign information on your competition:
- Check out Google’s Ad Preview. This powerful tool allows you to type in a specific search term that your competition might be running ads around. For example, you might type in “Toyota service.” Next, you can choose a location and pick a specific type of device, such as mobile or desktop. From here, you will be shown what ads are being run in the area you chose for the search phrase you picked.
- Use Facebook’s Ad Library. This tool allows you to see what ads your competitors are running on Facebook and Instagram. The process is similar to Google. You type in a search phrase you want to investigate. Then you select all ads from the drop-down menu, and you will be shown what ads your competitors are using. From here, you can filter through your results, looking at ads from specific companies, and you can even dive into impressions by date and sort by the active status of each ad.
These two tools are helpful in providing you with a real-life view of what your competition is saying to your audience.
When you go through this process, take some time to pull down this information and create a detailed report on your competition.
Note things such as:
- The number of ads your competition is running.
- What types of promotions they are offering.
- Whether they are advertising on both Google and social media.
- Whether they are running the same ad across all platforms or if they have created specific ads for each channel.
It’s helpful to grab screenshots of the ads to save with your reporting to ensure you are creating a detailed database of information.
Bonus Tip: Not only do these tools allow you to see what your competition is doing, but they also give you a sneak peek at what your own ads look like. This can help you stay on top of what your marketing team is doing and will better show you where your own weak points might be.
Armed with good data and an inside look at the digital marketing tactics of your competition, it is time to analyze their ads and their strategy.
Spend some time reading over their copy, paying attention to their imagery, and noting their promotional offers.
Ask yourself a few key questions:
- What about this ad is compelling?
- In what ways does the campaign look similar to mine?
- In what ways does the campaign differ from mine?
Beyond your own analysis of their ad copy and imagery, glean insights into how they are specifically targeting your audience.
One effective way to get this insight on social media is to follow your competition on Facebook and Instagram. The next time one of their ads is shown in your feed, click the three dots icon in the upper-right hand corner of the ad. A pop-up menu will display, and you will have the option to click on “Why Am I Seeing This Ad?”
Once you do so, you will be given information on why Facebook showed you the ad, which can provide you with detailed insights into the campaign strategy.
For example, once you click on “Why Am I Seeing This Ad?” you might be given information such as:
“You’re seeing this ad because your information matches ABC Company’s advertising requests.” There could also be more factors not listed here:
- ABC Company indicated you may have visited www.ABCcompany.com.
- ABC Company is trying to reach people who speak English (UK) and English (US).
- ABC Company is trying to reach people aged 30 and older.
- ABC Company is trying to reach people whose primary location is Anytown, USA
(Writer's Note for Client: I’d add a screenshot here of what it looks like when you click on this feature, using a dealership example)
Make it a habit to click on this button every time you see a competitor’s ad. Over time, you will notice trends in the parameters your competition is using in ad campaigns.
While it is good to learn from what your competitors are doing well, one of the best ways to use their ad strategy to your own advantage is to look for areas where they have left a gap. Simply trying to copy their strategy and outpace them is not enough.
Instead, compare where they are selling the least against the ads you are seeing them deliver.
Look for notable trends in the data, and strategize how you can take over this space.
Too often, whether on social media or on Google, businesses simply set an ad campaign and forget it. When the campaign ends, they might analyze their wins and losses, comparing it against their competition, but the opportunity to make changes has already passed.
It is critical to assess your strategy throughout your campaign, stacking yourself up against your competition in real-time.
This will allow you to adjust your bidding strategy throughout the campaign, helping lower wasted spend.
For example, if you see that your competition is outpacing you in a critical neighborhood, it might be worth ramping up your bid spend to regain your foothold. When you see that you are owning a specific market, consider lowering your spend in that area to use your dollars elsewhere.
Numerous factors can influence how much you should be spending on your ads. Don’t wait to take a retroactive look at the numbers. Analyze your ad spend daily, adjusting your bids constantly.
Finally, while learning from your competition and taking away the good and the bad is a great way to improve the quality of your ad campaigns, don’t become so caught up in comparison that you neglect to try out your own innovative ideas.
Sometimes, the best way to beat the competition is to go where they haven’t ventured and do what they haven’t even imagined.
That might include testing out new marketing channels, trying a campaign style that no one in your area is attempting, or reaching out to a new demographic that others aren’t targeting.
One of the top benefits of digital marketing is that it allows you to experiment and change your strategy in real-time. Unlike direct mail campaigns of old, you can start down one path and, within hours, change your strategy.
When you try outside-of-the-box tactics, be sure to constantly measure their success and adapt accordingly. In this way, you can run ahead of your competition, leaving them to wonder what you’re doing right.
Without the right data, it is impossible to paint a clear picture of what your competitors are doing. If you need help understanding how your competition is doing, and you are looking for detailed reporting on their sales, digital marketing strategies, and more, talk to our team at J&L Marketing today.
We have years of experience helping dealerships analyze what their competition is doing to build a more robust marketing strategy. We can also help you branch out into areas where your competition isn’t yet, enabling you to take the lead.
Don’t forget to check out our Digital Domination for Dealers webinar, where you can learn more about identifying your competition’s top ads, remarketing to your competitor’s website visitors, and other critical digital marketing strategies.