Competitor Keyword Modifiers — What works, What doesn’t

Ranga Kaliyur
February 10, 2022


Hello and welcome to Factors Labs — a segment that reviews actionable findings from our data science team on all things marketing analytics and attribution. We analyze and report on patterns that emerge from real data collected across markets, companies, campaigns, events, funnels, and more. Subscribe here (or follow me) to keep up with our latest research.

This week, we continue our quest for keyword optimization using close to 30,000 data records sourced from five mid-market B2B SaaS firms. In particular, this post focuses on competitor keywords and modifiers to determine the performance of competitor-themed words and phrases.



What are Competitor Keyword Themes?


Competitor Keyword Themes are words or phrases that reference a competitor’s name or brand. The purpose of such keywords is to redirect high intent traffic to alternative (ie. your) alternative.


For example, Googling “Bizible” results in an ad for “InfiniGrow”, a competing attribution platform, ranking top of the search engine results page (SERP). On average, competitor keyword themes perform rather well. Our findings suggest that competitor keyword themes significantly improve Cost per Lead, Cost per Demo, and Lead to Demo conversion rates. 


That being said, there are several versions or modifiers of competitor keyword themes — each with their own distinct performances. With this in mind, the following post drills down into specific competitor keyword modifiers for a granular analysis of what works, and what doesn’t:



Keyword Analysis Technique for Nerds


Before diving into the results, here’s a quick summary of our data analysis technique using Factors.AI. Skip ahead to the next section for our insights on competitor keyword performance.

Our data science team performed individual keyword analysis on five mid-market SaaS firms based on 29,667 performance records collected over a period of six months. This analysis consisted of the generation of two `theme types” — one based on broad campaign themes like “brand, product, feature, and competitors”. This acted as the base upon which the second theme — which consisted of  ad groups and keywords — was analysed. Our analysis technique controls and compares a specific keyword modifier with a base-average of several other keyword modifiers to derive a causal interpretation. For instance, “Competitor vs Competitor” was compared with the average performance of “Competitor review”, “Competitor Brand” and more. 


How Competitor Keyword Modifiers Perform in the Mid-market B2B SaaS Segment


I. Competitor Compare — For example, “Freshworks Compare"

- Click Through Rate: 4.89x Increase in CTR .

Using a “comparison” keyword provides a significant (almost 5X!) increase in CTR


II. Competitor vs Competitor — For example, "Freshworks vs Zendesk"

- Click Through Rate: 3x Increase in CTR 

- Cost per Lead: 32% lower CPLs

- Cost per Demo: 55% lower CPDs 


Using “Versus” keywords has a positive impact on CTR, Cost per Lead, AND Cost per Demo


III. Competitor ”Competitor” — For example, "Freshworks Competitor"

- Click Through Rate: 3.9x Increase in CTR 

- Cost per Lead: 61% higher CPLs

- Cost per Demo: 47% lower CPDs 

- Lead to Demo conversion rate: 3x increase in LTD Conversion Rate


While using “competitor” as part of a keyword phrase along with competitor name produces positive results across CTR, Cost per Demo, and Lead to Demo conversion rates. Curiously, Cost per Lead takes a turn for the worse.


IV. Competitor ”Alternatives” — For example, "Freshworks Alternatives"

- Click Through Rate: 5.8x Increase in CTR 

- Cost per Lead: 62% lower CPLs

- Cost per Demo: 50% lower CPDs 

- Lead to Demo Conversion Rate: 0.75x decrease in LTD Conversion


There’s a massive increase in Click Through Rate around competitor keyword themes with “Alternatives” present. There’s also a significant improvement in Cost per Lead and Cost per Demo. That being said, Lead to Demo Conversion Rate seems to take a dip with this keyword.


V. Competitor “Integrations” — For example, "Freshworks Integrations"

- Click Through Rate: 2.6x Increase in CTR 

- Cost per Lead: 16% lower CPLs

- Cost per Demo: 2% higher CPDs 

- Lead to Demo Conversion Rate: 0.8x decrease in LTD Conversion Rate


Performance of keywords with “Competitor Integrations” is a mixed bag. While there’s significant improvement in CTR and Cost per Lead, both Cost per Demo and Lead to Demo Conversion Rate are affected negatively.


VI. Competitor ”Pricing” — For example, "Freshworks Pricing"

- Click Through Rate: 6.3x Increase in CTR 

- Cost per Lead: 11% lower CPLs

- Cost per Demo: 1% lower CPDs 

- Lead to Demo Conversion Rate: 0.9x decrease in LTD Conversion Rate


Again, there’s a dramatic increase in CTR as well as statistically significant improvements in Cost per Lead and Cost per Demo. Lead to Demo Conversion Rates, however, are affected negatively. 


VII. Competitor ”Review” — For example, "Freshworks Review"

- Click Through Rate: 3.7x Increase in CTR 

- Cost per Lead: 36% Lower CPLs

- Cost per Demo: 68% Lower CPDs 

- Lead to Demo Conversion Rate: 2x Increase in LTD Conversion Rate

Keywords consisting of “Competitor Review” perform exceedingly well across the board. Improvements are observed across CTR, Cost per Lead, Cost per Demo, AND Lead to Demo Conversion Rates. Hence, “competitor review” seems to be the most promising keyword option of the bunch.


VIII. Competitors — For example, “Zendesk”

- Click Through Rate: 0.6x decrease in CTR 

- Cost per Lead: 4% lower CPLs

- Cost per Demo: 24% lower CPDs 

- Lead to Demo Conversion Rate: 1.3x increase in LTD Conversion Rate


Surprisingly, Competitor keywords have a negative impact on  CTR. Still, there are minor improvements in Cost power Lead, Cost per Demo, and Lead to Demo conversion rate. 


IX. Competitors Brand — For example, “Freshworks CRM”

- Click Through Rate: 1.9x Increase in CTR 

- Cost per Lead: 40% higher CPLs

- Cost per Demo: 46% higher CPDs 

- Lead to Demo Conversion rate: 0.9x decrease in LTD Conversion Rate


Finally, empirical evidence suggests that Competitor Brand keywords perform poorly. While these keywords do realise a significant improvement in CTR, all other metrics — Cost per Lead, Cost per Demo, and Lead to Demo Conversion rates — take a turn for the worse.


And there you have it. A granular analysis of how competitor keywords and their modifiers perform in the real world using real data. These findings are immediately actionable — providing industry-level insights into keyword optimization for mid-market B2B SaaS firms.

Get the latest best practices in Marketing Analytics
delivered to your inbox. You don't want to miss this!!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.