What I Learned by Monitoring Competitors in Higher Education

My post, below, was also published by The Search Monitor on September 4, 2014.

When it comes to paid search, every college and university wants the same thing: more leads at a lower cost per lead. Although competitor monitoring is one small piece to the puzzle, it’s an aspect of paid search that will help you increase your market share. During the peak season, we do a lot of competitor monitoring. Below are 5 things I’ve learned from The Search Monitor (TSM) to help increase leads and decrease cost per leads during this time. To understand what some of these tools are, review my post, How to Use The Search Monitor in Higher-Education Advertising.

 1. Trademark Violators:

TSM makes this easy with its setup automated emails you can use to submit your trademark violations directly to the engines for faster processing. Not only does this target ad copy violators, but it also lets you know who is bidding on your terms in the space. In most cases, I will notify the competitors of their bidding and ask them to stop. You can do some more research on Trademark Monitoring.

2. Market Share Reports:

Breakout your keyword sets by categories – this is key. I like to use this simultaneously with a CRM to find out which programs we’re losing leads with. This helps explain who owns more market share in that program space, and it gives you reasoning to increase or decrease bids. It’s extremely helpful during the peak months when you know you need to gain as many leads as possible.

 Rank by Day Part Report:

Day parting is one of the easiest ways to cut spend, lower CPCs, and bring down your CPL. I love this tool because it gives me the ability to filter by program offerings and find out the times of the day and days of the week my competitors are bidding heavily. I’ve found that most higher-education advertisers’ increase in the beginning of the week and decrease as the week goes on.

 4. Ad Copy Details Report:

Although you don’t know the conversions of your competitors, you can assume an ad is converting better based on its “times seen” number. The more “times seen” an ad has, the more you know they are spending and/or are in a higher position. It’s interesting to look at what they are using in their copy and try to replicate or test some of the wording they’re using. Maybe they’re using a catchy call to action that you haven’t tested yet.

 5. Rank Report:

Do you have program offerings broken out? With Rank Report, you can not only see the “times seen” here but also the average rank each advertiser sees on that particular keyword set. Need even more detail? Click on the individual keywords to see which ones your competitors are heavily bidding on compared to you.

Keep up with what competitors are doing in the space, especially during your peak seasons. We were recently in our peak last month, and we did all the monitoring mentioned above to maintain CPL’s and increase leads. Monitoring competitors in higher education is time-consuming but well worth it at the end of the month. What are you doing during peak months to gain market share for your university?

Happy Monitoring!

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