Ever suspected a competitor is trying to ‘click you out of the market’? We have. And here’s what we think about it…
Clicks and ‘Clicks’
We’re no strangers to clicks at Rocketseed. Everything we do is geared to generating click-through engagement for our clients in the noisy worlds in which they operate. By transforming all their one-to-one emails into an engaging marketing channel, our success is measured by our clients’ emails getting clicked by their customers. You could say clicks are our business.
But as we’ve recently discovered there’s a big difference between engaged customer clicks and more sinister competitor ‘clicks’…
As a business where inbound is key, much of our demand gen is through the obvious channels – search, social, scraping, calling-we’re on it. As our partnerships grow so does our experience with them and the understanding of what our partners are really after and what they need from us in order to make the relations both attractive and financially rewarding.
And It was one of these valued partners that alerted us to the fact that someone has been trying to ‘click us out of the market’ by intentionally and repeatedly (very repeatedly) clicking on our paid search terms.
‘Business is business’
Yes, we get that, so perhaps all’s fair in love, war and online marketing. But is it really as simple as that?
Part and parcel of normal search strategy is competitor bidding. It’s a relatively standard practice, with the key being what happens when you capture the attention of the audience who was actually searching on a competitor’s organic terms or brand. Evan Cummins from WordStream has written about it extensively, take a peak here if you want to see it.
Name and shame?
Do we know who’s been doing it? Yes, although here’s not the place for naming names, because although they’re significantly bigger than us, we like to think we’re ‘bigger’ than them.
Are we surprised? Well yes, we are really. After all, they’re a technology company selling primarily into the IT space who consider themselves to be the dominant market leader. So why focus so much on us and our marketing activities?
As someone closely associated mentioned to me ‘ Surely you’re just a blip on their radar’. Well, it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like their radar is tracking our marketing activity very closely. Perhaps we should be flattered (although it’s fair to say this kind of flattery will get them nowhere).
So what’s our issue? Well, of course there’s the cost. But it’s more than that. It’s the fact that their approach is just so ‘negative’ and, well, desperate. It just feels like they lack any original creativity or any desire to positively build their own brand, products and customer experience (and, in the process, help push the whole industry forward).
Perhaps, they need to ask themselves what their principal investors might say if they were to find out that (a) they’re paying someone a UK salary to spend time maliciously clicking a competitor’s paid search, and (b) if they had a better product would they need to be resorting to this?
I guess they just expect us to sit here and shut down our campaign because they’ve driven our search costs off the scale. Sure, they may be a big budget-wielding Goliath to our David…but we all know how that confrontation finished.
What are we doing about it?
As well as going public about it we’ve provided Google with a detailed IP range locator report which has precisely located the UK office of who’s been doing this. Google are currently investigating and we sense they’ll do the right thing (in fact they’ve already refunded us). You can learn more on Invalid Clicks from Google here.
A lesson learned
Sure, it’s a lesson learned. But one more about competitive ethics than marketing techniques. We simply don’t have time to be so negative. We’re too busy making our product stronger and sharper, with more creativity and data-driving capability than our competitors, as well as delivering truly-stand-out client service. And looking to the future, we’ve got an incredible product pipeline.
Perhaps that’s what our click-happy competitor should be doing?
We’d be interested to hear your views on malicious clicks. Is it acceptable? Is it ethical? Is it actually effective? Or bound to backfire?
One thing’s for sure. No-one’s going to click Rocketseed out of the market.