Most brand marketers can easily name their top 3 competitors in their industry. Knowing your competition is as helpful as knowing your customer. When customers are in “research-mode” for an upcoming purchase of a product or service, they often intersect with several competing websites and/or ads before making a final decision. This research activity opens the door to tap into your competitors’ customer base.

Our aim, through various search, display, and social targeting methods, is to capture a competing brands’ existing customers and potential customers.

Common Activities in a Purchase Path

In order to properly capture a customer that was interested in a competitor’s product or services, we need to think about ways a customer might conduct research.

Here are some common internet interactions that indicate that a customer is close to a purchase:

  1. Searching for a competitor name on Google
  2. Following or engaging with a competitor on social media
  3. Visiting a competitor’s website to shop
  4. Reading articles or reviews about a competitor and their products

Tactics for Targeting a Competitor’s Customers

Knowing common interactions, you can build out campaigns with different advertising channels to get in front of your competitor’s customers.

Here are 4 ways to intersect with your competition’s fans:

  1. Create a Google Search campaign targeting your competitor names as the search query.
  2. Create a Google Search campaign targeting your competitor’s products. This only works when a product is somewhat branded, i.e. “Synchilla Fleece” would be a way to target a Patagonia purchaser without implicitly including their brand name.
  3. Create a Facebook and Instagram campaign targeting users with interests in your competing brands. Often these interests are based on followership or engagement with the brands. Optimize these campaigns to something upper funnel, like a product view, instead of purchase.
  4. Create a Google Display custom intent campaign including all of your competitor’s URLs. Ideally, someone looking across URLs that are in common with yours will create a great target. Don’t forget retailers too. For example, Backcountry.com would be a strong analog for Patagonia.com
  5. Create a Google Display custom intent keyword campaign to find users that are actively reading research, reviews, or press articles about brands that compete with you.

All of these methods are helpful to get in front of your competition’s customers, steal traffic, and ultimately create new customers for your brand.