Nothing gets the adrenalin pumping quite like an AdWords campaign that delivers a strong ROI.
Success brings a big grin on your face when you realize you can invest more in the campaign, expand the base of keywords, and make even more money. The more you spend, the more you make.
It's a great moment, while it lasts.
But it doesn't last forever. There will come a point when you hit a plateau. You have tested and optimized different headlines, body text and ad groups, you have adjusted the bid prices, and included just about every related keyword you can imagine.
There a few things that can start to dilute the impact of your campaign.
It may plateau because you have pretty much saturated the niche audience you are appealing to.
You may also have hit the top when it comes to a reasonable bid on your keywords. Should you increase your bid to get yourself into top position every time? Not necessarily. The cost per click in third position may give you a positive ROI. But the extra cents or dollars it would take to get you in the number one spot, while increasing click-throughs, might result in a negative ROI when you do the math on cost per sale.
But perhaps the most troubling cause for finding your campaign going flat is the impact of your competitors.
Many companies with affiliate programs find themselves competing for their top keywords with their affiliates. As a result, more and more affiliate contracts now forbid bidding on the company's own domain, brand, or product names.
However, this won't stop the affiliates of your competitors. If a direct competitor has a strong affiliate program, those affiliates will be competing fiercely with you for the top few ad spots on search results pages.
So what can you do?
How to Get Away from Those Competitors
Once you have a campaign that has plateaued or, worst still, is sliding down the far side of the bell curve, it's time to make some changes.
First, step back from that campaign and stop spending more and more time on achieving ever-diminishing returns.
Instead, start some new campaigns, with new landing pages and some different keywords.
There are a couple of different approaches you can take, either one of which will take you away from that competitive hotspot.
You can go narrow, or you can go wide.
As an example, if your primary AdWords campaign was focused on "cat health," you could go narrow by starting a new campaign based on the name or treatment of a specific cat ailment. It's a narrower niche with a smaller search audience, but would likely give you a better conversion rate.
Using the same example, you could go wide by finding keywords relating to "pet health." It's a broader audience; and though your conversion rate might go down, you could make up for it in numbers.
Whether you go narrow, wide, or both, you'll be working with new landing pages, some new keywords, and new ads. To make the most of these new campaigns, you'll want to go through that process of experimentation...testing and optimizing until you have your headlines, text, and keyword bids just right.
Hopefully, broadening your AdWords base across more audiences and with a larger variety of keywords will get you out of the sights of your most aggressive competitors. For a while at least.
Fighting Fire With Fire
If you have a core campaign (such as your brand name) that has been serving your company well but is now under pressure from aggressive competitors or affiliates, there is an equally aggressive tactic you can try.
Whether Google will allow this practice to continue remains to be seen. But several companies are using it, with considerable success.
Here's the problem you face: While you have continued to increase bids to maintain the top position on your prized words, your competitors continue to poach some of your traffic through capturing positions #2, #3, #4, etc.
And here's a way to capture back some of that traffic and shoulder your competitors out. Open a series of new AdWords accounts (equal to the number of positions you would like to capture). Now build new landing pages for each and host them on different domains.
In each new account write a different ad, and optimize the three landing pages accordingly.
Now for the important part: Purchase the same keywords and, since they are already doing well for your original campaign, you should have a good idea of where to start your bids.
Now run all four campaigns concurrently. Yes, you are competing with yourself. And if your new campaigns are as well optimized as your first, and with a little bidding optimization you can successful capture the top positions on each of your top search results.
One thing to watch out for with this tactic is not to increase the bid prices as a result of your own "competition."
If you want to beat the competition with AdWords, the best thing you can do is never stand still. When you get a campaign that is working well, don't rest on your laurels.
Keep on testing, narrow and wide. Keep optimizing and measuring. Maybe only one in five, or one in ten, campaigns will work well for you.
But it's worth it.
If you just have one or two ads and landing pages working for you, and you stop searching for more, you're no longer a moving target.
Your competitors will find you, compete with you, and dilute your ROI.
Never stop moving. Never stop trying something new.