Geico has one of my favorite advertising campaigns of all time. It’s not super slick or fancy, but it really gets the job done.
15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.
Ever heard that line before? I’m sure you have. It’s a line we’ve all been listening to for at least 10 years or more.
But not only does Geico have a great and specific value proposition that they successfully repeat over and over again, but they also are quite savvy when it comes to PPC advertising and follow some of the most important best practices.
This post is going uses iSpionage competitive PPC intelligence data to point out a few of those best practices in order to show you what you can learn from the millions of dollars Geico has invested in PPC advertising.
The Budget Estimate
The first thing we learn by studying Geico with iSpionage data is that they spend a lot of money on their PPC campaigns with our estimates showing they spend as much as $25 million to $32 million per month.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that this is just an estimate. Since AdWords is a bidding system, there’s no way to know for sure how much Geico or anyone else is spending on their campaigns. We do our best to estimate based on average cost per clicks, click-through-rate averages, and the average ad position, but there’s no way to know with 100% certainty exactly how much a business spends per month.
However, to help with this problem, we recently created a budget slider that can be used to adjust the budget based on your knowledge of the industry you’re researching. You can calibrate the estimate to match an account you have access to with the expectation that this should make the estimates more accurate for that entire industry. Once set, the adjustment will stay for the rest of the URLs and keywords you look up until you change the adjustment again.
Ok, so as we mentioned before, Geico spends a good amount of money on PPC ads per month and per year. And now that we have an idea about how much, let’s take a look at who their top competitors are.
Geico’s Top PPC Competitors
As you can see, Geico’s top PPC competitors include most of the main insurance advertisers you’d expect to see such as Farmers, Progressive, Travelers, and State Farm along with a handful of other sites that look to be affiliate sites with links to insurance companies. Here’s a quick look at the complete list of Geico’s top 10 competitors.
When we drill in further, we can also see how many competitor keywords overlap with Geico. Auto Insurance Now is in the lead with 25,540 keywords that overlap, QuoteLab is next in line with 22,148, and Farmers comes in third with 19,891.
This is also where smart PPC marketers know how to use iSpionage data to find new profitable keywords. Since Geico bids on approximately 45,014 keywords and Auto Insurance Now only overlaps with 25,540 of those, a super smart marketer would see this as an opportunity to download Geico’s keyword list through iSpionage and to upload those keywords to their campaign to see if they can get more traffic at a better cost. This would take some time to do right with this many keywords, but it also represents a big opportunity and a big potential keyword score for anyone who’s willing to put in the work to download the list and add it to their campaign the right way.
To give you a better idea about how this works, here’s a screenshot that shows the number of keywords that overlap for these top 10 competitors.
Geico’s Top Ads
The next thing we see as we drill in further is that Geico does a great job writing their ads. Here are a few things they do well.
First, they match the ad copy with the keyword being searched for. In the example below, they mention an office serving the Columbus area to be shown when someone searches for “Columbus insurance agency.” This is a great example of making sure the ad copy matches the term being searched for and proves they don’t have lazy PPC managers running their campaigns.
Geico also writes ads that stand out and aren’t super boring. This is good for increasing your click through rate which improves the ad quality score.
The ad below, for example, uses a question as the headline, includes “Inconceivable!” which isn’t an often seen marketing term that people are conditioned to ignore, and includes a number in the headline to stand out from a text-only headline. All in all, this is a great example of how to write a PPC ad that stands out from the competition, something iSpionage helps with by enabling you to research competing ads so you can write ad copy that stands out.
The Landing Pages
What about Geico’s landing pages? Do they follow best practices for those as well?
From what we can tell with our quick research, yes, they do.
An ad for “cheap car insurance” takes visitors to a page with a headline that leads with a statement about how discounts can save you more money, and an ad for “average motorcycle cost” takes people to a page for getting a quote for motorcycle insurance. Here’s a screenshot of both of these landing pages:
Landing Page #1 for Discounts:
Landing Page #2 for Motorcycle Insurance:
As you may have noticed, neither landing page is gorgeously designed. However, the do both get the job done by giving visitors information specific to what they’re looking for, and it’s our guess that they’re made in a style that’s repeatable.
When you’re doing PPC ads at the level Geico does, it’s important to have a template you can update for different keywords so your pages can always match what people are searching for but won’t take forever to design for each new term. Even if they’re not beautifully designed, you’ll still probably get better results if your page matches the search term more closely, and using simple pages that are easy to customize makes this possible for Geico.
Not only so, but you’ll also notice if you look closely that the landing pages ask for only one bit of information—a zip code. This gets people to take the first step and to become invested in the process without intimidating them by a long form too soon. That comes on the next page as soon as people enter their zip code. They also use a progress bar on the form (something you can see below) which happens to be a really smart way to let people know just how much information they need to fill out so they don’t drop out on step four when there’s only five total steps.
Lessons Learned from Geico’s PPC Advertising Strategy
Here are the main lessons we’ve learned from Geico’s PPC advertising strategy:
- They’re getting enough of a return on their campaigns to spend tens of millions of dollars per month. This means their campaign must be working.
- They have several competitors spending around the same amount per month making this a very competitive industry, which means competitive PPC insights will come in handy for PPC managers running these campaigns.
- Even though their campaign is so large with 45,000+ keywords being bid on, they still do a good job of matching the ad copy with the term being searched for.
- They also do a great job of matching their landing pages with the search term and ad copy, another commonly known best practice.
Overall, Geico seems to be doing a great job with their campaigns, and there’s a lot that can be learned from studying their approach to PPC advertising at such a large scale.
If you’d like to get similar insights for your industry or if you’d like to download a list of your competitors’ keywords to find new, profitable keywords for your campaigns, you can try iSpionage for free today. For only a few dollars per day, iSpionage gives you access to enterprise-level competitive intelligence that keeps you one step ahead of your competition. You can also sign up for a free competitor alert to get updates with new PPC keywords, ad copy, and SEO terms for one of your top competitors.
Joe Putnam is the blog editor at iSpionage. You can get in touch with him on Twitter at @josephputnam to talk about PPC advertising and on Clarity to talk about content marketing.