SEM too competitive? Here are three alternatives for building your customer base

over competitive

One of the biggest pain points of many small to mid size businesses in digital marketing is the fact that they have to compete against larger, more well-established brands who can afford to throw large budgets into digital marketing and pay higher CPCs to stay at the top of the SERP.

For those with smaller budgets who are trying to maximize efficiency in a competitive landscape, being able to pay for these higher CPCs in paid search just isn’t really an option.

So how can one still capture and convert users while be as efficient as possible in doing so?

We all know that social and display don’t have the same level of high intent as paid search – but it’s important not to completely discredit them.

Although users may not necessarily be actively searching for your product or service, there are a couple of ways you can still get your ad in front of extremely relevant audiences that will have a high chance of converting – while also avoiding the aggressively high CPCs you’ll see in search.

Below are the three ‘next best’ avenues to choose when paid search isn’t an option:

1) Google Display Network: display select keywords

Display select keywords is a targeting type that uses Google’s algorithm and predictive conversion models to show your ad based on a customer’s purchase intent, your keyword selection, and when your customers are likely to convert.

display select keywords

This targeting type is one of the GDN’s most low-risk prospective targeting types. The best strategy to test and launch on DSK is to use your top 15-20 keywords.

This list can be based on your SEO keyword data or on any past SEM campaigns; if you have no prior digital marketing data to use, then select the most relevant terms that show high intent to your product/service.

2) Facebook: lookalike audiences

What better way to get in front of the right audiences then to use a social platform that has thousands of different data points on a user’s behavior, interests, likes, demographics, etc.?

Facebook’s lookalike targeting technology is extremely robust and will use its data and algorithm to get in front of audiences extremely similar to your customer base.

Adverts Manager

However, to really make sure you are as successful as can be with launching on lookalike audiences, you need to smartly segment your customer base into tight-knit audiences and then create lookalikes off of those who matter the most to you or who tend to bring in the most revenue for your company.

For example, rather than providing Facebook with your entire list of customers, select your highest-lifetime value (LTV) customers as a base to create a lookalike audience.

3) Facebook: competitor targeting

So the unfortunate thing about having high competition in your service/industry is that you get stuck with high and perhaps unaffordable CPCs in SEM.

Now it’s time to look at the glass half full – this means you can make the most of your competition by targeting users in Facebook who ‘like’ your competitors.

This is a good way to introduce your brand and offering to users who already shop for or use what you have to offer with another company. By showcasing your various unique value props and perhaps more competitive offering, you can get in front of these highly relevant audiences and convert into becoming your customers.

And even if they don’t convert, but they’re interested enough to click on your site just to learn more about your company, you’ll be able to retarget them later to convince them why your product/service/offering is better!

Although you may have smaller budgets and tighter efficiency goals than your bigger competitors, using the three recommendations above can help you efficiently capture your target audiences without having to pay the hefty CPCs you may find in SEM.

Good luck!

Sana Ansari is the General Manager of 3Q Accelerate.

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