Many brands and marketers understand this and research your competitors on everything from keywords to social campaigns, but a large percentage forget or aren't sure how to proceed with Facebook ads.
Facebook ads are slightly different than other types of marketing materials because a simple search won't lead to easy results that will show you what your competitor is doing.Historically, the only way you could see what a competitor was doing was to be lucky enough to see a single ad in your feed.Even then, this is just a single ad : it doesn't give you enough information about their general strategies, and seeing a random ad won't tell you anything about its performance.
There are amazing resources available and strategies you can use to discover your competitor's Facebook ad strategy.In this post, we'll take a close look at what tools and tactics you can use to identify their strategies, assess what might work, and tailor them to your brand.
Why You Should Worry About What Your Competitors Are Doing on Facebook Ads
Whatever your competitors do on Facebook Ads has always been a bit of a mystery, but the tools available today have changed it.It's still a lot more work to discover those advertising strategies than to see what they're doing on other channels, but it's definitely worth it.
Keep in mind that most brands spend a lot of time on their organic marketing on Facebook, but ads are where the money is advertising. Pages' organic reach has been steadily declining for years, making it harder to reach even the most engaged followers with posts in their feeds.
Facebook ads allow you to connect with a niche cold audience and create hyper-focused campaigns for audiences that are already connected with you. CLICK TO TWEET Yes, you have to pay, but you can also get a lot more impressions and, ultimately, results.Keep in mind, however, that Facebook Ads can be a bit complicated.Finding the right strategies is key to getting those conversions, and the ability to see what your competitors are doing is a huge advantage.
You can grab their best strategies for yourself, adapting them, or even trying to overcome them, all while understanding what you can do differently to deliver value to your audience.Identifying their most effective campaigns can save you some time and money that may have been wasted on ads that don't work as well, giving you some insights that can be profitable quickly.
- How to Perform Marketing Competitor Analysis (+ 6 Best Tools Comparison)
- 10 tools to monitor the growth of competitors and affect their strategies
- SEO keyword research just got easy in 2019
- 30 Winning Facebook Ads and Why They Are So Effective
The step-by-step guide to competitive research on Facebook
It's clearly beneficial to be able to see what your competitors are doing with their Facebook ads for a variety of reasons, so let's take a look at how exactly you can get that information.
Remember that discovering strategies will require a little more work than simply "displaying ads."You'll need to look at the big picture, so for best results you'll want to take multiple steps and use different tools to look at everything from all angles.This will provide you with the most solid and usable information that you can then put into practice at your leisure.
1) Look for trends and ad longevity
We'll look at a number of different tools that can help you evaluate what your competitors are currently doing on Facebook Ads.
As we do this, there's one important thing to remember here: A single ad isn't indicative of an overall Facebook advertising strategy, or even a successful one.Marketers continually split test ad campaigns to see what works, so if you just copy a strategy for an ad campaign that never worked for your competitor, you've both lost your money.
General thinking will be key here; You want to look for trends and patterns in the ads you're seeing, because that's what will reveal the underlying strategies your competitors are using.
Which copy, offers and strategies do other brands use?Are there many stories that are used to create emotions or do your competitors work hard to reap the benefits?What product features or points of sale do your competitors use?Are there many videos or carousel ads or single-image ads?
Pay attention to all this and you will be able to see where your competitors are focusing their attention.
2) Use Facebook's ad library
Facebook's ad library is a recent development for the marketing world and is a good idea.You can search for any name, topic or organization and see ads related to your search:
The ad library was created to drive transparency by allowing users to see all ad campaigns running on a brand and key brand information, even when the Page was founded.Although it was created for transparency, it is quite valuable as a resource tool.
Facebook's ad library replaced the About & Announcements section (which we discussed just a few months ago), which was on every single page.The Library will theoretically show you all active ads running on a Page, even if you're not in your target audience.
Unfortunately, the ad library is not always reliable.They will always show you ads with political affiliations and report conflicts of interest, but they don't always seem to record ads that are currently running.I know no doubt that Eucalyptus Farms is running campaigns right now, but they are not registering in the library:Editor's note:A few weeks after writing this, Eucalyptus Farms Facebook ads are now showing up in the library, so it may have been a glitch or being slow in updating.
The library seems to work much better when tracking keywords or topics instead of individual competitors.General terms like "Shoes," for example, will provide a lot of results:You can see both active and inactive ads,
and keep in mind that ads that have been around for three weeks or more may indicate that campaigns are working well for that customer.Inactive ads were probably seasonal or ad campaigns that didn't work well, so you can use them to filter out some strategies to avoid.
Although this tool is not brave, it is free, so it is still a good resource to use in the early stages of the advertising process.
- How to Get the Cheapest Facebook Ads Without Sacrificing Quality
- 7 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Ads
- 11 ways to improve your Facebook ad relevance score
3) Take advantage of tools like BigSpy
BigSpy is an ad transparency tool that lets you search for keywords or categories like "shoes" or "marketing" and see which ads are currently running that engage the topics of your choice.It works very similarly to Facebook's ad library, including that it doesn't seem to collect all the ads that run at any given time.
However, the information you can learn here is incredibly valuable.As with Facebook's library tool, you can search for trends from specific competitors and look at those long-standing campaigns.You can get ideas for anything from what types of CTAs work best to seeing how attractive they are to users at different stages of funnel.
BigSpy is a free tool and will provide you with information about your competitors' Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Yahoo Ads from a single dashboard.This helps you get that big picture that helps you really evaluate a brand's strategy and fit the pieces in place.
It works similarly to Facebook's ad library, but it contains more ad campaigns and offers a wider scope of campaigns to review, so take the extra time to review both.
4) See also Google Ads of competitors
When most people think of Google Ads, their first thought is about search ads.While checking Google's search ads can definitely tell you a lot about what specific features or services your competitors are highlighting, paying close attention to display ads will give you more insight into your mission to reconnaissance Facebook's strategy.
Display ads work much like Facebook's ad system: advertisers can target users based on things like interests and retargets so that their ads appear in relevant placements on participating sites online.Ads show whether users are searching for them or not, making them similar to those on Facebook.
Check out a tool like Adbeat, which will show you standard ads, native ads, and video ads running on a particular advertiser.Unlike other tools, this one is exceptionally comprehensive and won't miss a beat; you just have to enter your competitor's URL to see what they're doing.
It's helpful to take a look at the visuals your competitors are using, including videos you're playing and the messages they're honing on.Video can play an important role in Facebook ads and seeing the stories they are telling and what emotions they are arousing will tell you a lot about their strategy.
You can also see how your competitors are dividing their creatives.What is the percentage of their video campaigns compared to their standard campaigns, for example, and what is their longest advertising campaign?Again, longevity is key here because it means the campaign is working or your competitor is a big fan of wasting money.
- A simple trick to combine Facebook ads and Google ads
- How to Build a Facebook Ad Funnel
- 8 Facebook Ad Writing Tricks to Maximize Conversions
- 6 Facebook Ads Crushing Them in 2019
5) Activate retargeting campaigns
This method isn't as reliable as the others on our list, but it's what I found can still work fine.
Most businesses that are investing in Facebook Ads and doing it well have strong retargeting set up on their site.This is done to ensure that no customer is slipping through the cracks, allowing them to re-engage site visitors even if they didn't buy the first time.
In many cases, therefore, you can actually trigger an advertising campaign from the competitor by viewing product pages or abandoning a shopping cart.I was actually able to do this today just by visiting the Brooks Brother site for a few minutes with the intention of posting an ad in my feed later.It took less than 24 hours.
When you do, you may see an ad from them designed to convince hot or hot leads to convert them.See what strategies and offers they're using to drive those conversions—do they offer discounts, free shipping, or other benefits?If so, consider matching or outpacing them in your campaigns.
- Retargeting 101: Why It's Essential for Any Marketing Funnel
- The difference between retargeting and remarketing
- How to Get 1,000 Real Fans with Facebook Video Retargeting
How to adapt competitors' strategies
After going through all the in-depth competitor research, you should have compiled a list of strategies that other brands in your industry are using to attract and convert customers.The next logical question is, "What now?"
Never copy and paste ad copies from their campaign to yours.Not only is it unethical, it won't work, because every audience is different.Instead, the best thing you can do is adapt your competitors' most interesting strategies in a way that suits your brand.
Let's say you notice that a competitor is using a strategy that involves a lot of customer reviews in their advertising campaigns.They attach the review text to the listing image and the full review in the copy.
Great idea, but your reviews are longer and more elaborate, so you don't want to rely on them alone for copying your ad.Instead, you use storytelling and customer testimonials, getting some customers on camera to talk about their experience with you.Use these videos in your ad campaigns to attract new customers.
You can also use your competitors' strategies to try to identify the brands that are your strongest competition.If you should notice, for example, that one of your best competitors offers free shipping, you offer 10% off and free shipping and easy returns.As long as it's still profitable for you, underestimating the competition can be an excellent strategy on its own.
Developing and testing your Facebook advertising strategies is always a good choice, because no one knows your audience as well as you do.If someone were to get closer, however, it would easily be your competition and seeing what they are doing can give you a strong competitive advantage.
It all comes down to thorough research and adaptability, which is true for advertising in general.Anyone who is able to outperform the competition with stronger and more relevant offers and understanding the weaknesses of the audience will always come to the top.