When clients look for a solution that both builds brand awareness and provides immediate leads or sales at an efficient budget, we often recommend a paid search conquesting strategy.

Conquesting allows your business to appear alongside Google searches for the top competitors or leaders in your industry. You build your own brand awareness off the work your competitors put into building their own brand, while also realizing immediate leads or sales.

In the digital space, agencies will traditionally recommend paid social, YouTube, or display tactics to boost brand awareness at scale, while promoting non-brand paid search to capture immediate leads or sales. Both strategies are valuable for building your business, but building brand awareness takes time and non-brand paid search gets expensive awfully quick. Conquesting is a way to jump to the front of the line and realize quick results.

How Does Conquesting Work?

At a high level, a paid search conquesting strategy utilizes paid search ads to appear in a competitor’s brand search result. You can pick and choose which competitors you’d like your business to appear alongside and how much you’re willing to spend per click (also referred to as a “keyword bid”) on each competitor. How much you’re willing to bid dictates the position your ad will have in the search result. Bid too high and you may garner some unwanted attention. But bid too low, and you may not even appear in the search result.

Here’s an example of a conquesting strategy. You’re the owner of a business that has developed a new cloud-based software solution as an alternative to a few established providers. You need to generate awareness for your cheaper, easier-to-use service but also need to be getting new leads on a daily basis. You begin running ads that appear whenever a user searches for your competitors. Your ad explains why your software is better than theirs and highlights key points of differentiation. Perhaps you even promote a special offer for new customers. You start getting clicks and generate leads from interested prospective customers who would like to learn more about your improved solution.

What Could Go Wrong?

If managed poorly, a conquesting campaign can easily create confusion for users and lead to a costly bidding war with your competition. 

The goal of a conquesting strategy is not to overtake a competitor for their own brand search. The goal is for your business to be present in the search and provide an alternative in case the user is open to other choices. In many cases, this means appearing in the 2nd or 3rd ad position for a competitor’s brand search result, not the 1st ad position. Let your competitor have that 1st ad position.

The biggest risk with conquesting is burning through your budget on ad clicks where the user mistook you for your competitor. That’s what happens when you appear in the 1st ad position for a competitor’s search. This can also lead to confusion for the user, and even worse a bad experience with your brand. Instead, bid to reach the 2nd or 3rd ad position and become a helpful option to a potential customer.

Think your competitors aren’t running their own conquesting strategy? Think again. Google actively encourages it, and it’s proven to drive high-intent users to your website. There is no way to prevent competitors from bidding on your own brand unless they’re in violation of an advertising policy, such as misleading claims or unauthorized use of your trademark in their ads. Use conquesting as a means to fight back against your competition, while communicating why you offer a superior product/service.

How to Scale Your Paid Search Conquesting Success

The best approach to conquesting is to start with low bids and see where you appear in the Google search result. Being patient pays off, as you need time to cultivate a sample size of results to analyze. You don’t want to disrupt your competitor’s brand, but you do want to create a presence. Analyze which competitor searches you have a higher click-thru rate and conversion rate for, and begin to slowly increase your bids for those searches to obtain the optimal ad position.

Click-thru rate and conversion rate are critical success metrics for a conquesting campaign. Click-thru rate will tell you how appealing your ad is over your competition, while conversion rate evaluates how willing the customer is to buy your product/service over the original brand they searched for.

Why You Need an Expert to Run Your Conquesting Campaign

Conquesting is not for the faint of heart. It’s a balancing act that requires constant attention from an expert who knows what they are doing. A professional will:

  • Research your competition
  • Bid on ads that maximize your advertising dollar
  • Constantly monitor the results of your campaign
  • Tweak your ad bids to best position your business
  • Increase your brand awareness
  • Create an overall marketing campaign that uses conquesting as part of its strategy

A marketer with conquesting experience can significantly stretch the results of your marketing dollar. We’ve seen conversion rates of 30-40% for conquesting and at a third of the cost for typical non-brand campaigns.

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Build Your Army for Conquest

Ready to learn more? Contact us and we’ll be your staunch ally on the Google battleground. Let’s see if a conquesting strategy would be a good fit for your business’ marketing campaign. It may just strike the right balance between generating brand awareness and immediate leads/sales for your business.