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What’s that old saying, keep your friends close but your enemies closer.
Uttered famously by Michael Corleone in 1974 classic The Godfather Part II this little pop culture cliche imparts a great mantra for business owners: know what your competition is doing and how they’re doing it.
Keeping an eye on your competition has been a part of the business since business was business. And with most businesses having some online presence and strategy, it’s never been easier to keep tabs on your competition. Let’s get started with six tips on how to check out your competition online.
Keep an eye on your competitor’s social media accounts. They’re out there sharing content and engaging with customers and potential customers (if they’re not, they probably should be) so you might as well learn from their successes and failures. You’ll want to pay attention to:
- What type of content they’re creating and sharing
- What kind of content gets the most engagement from their followers
- How they handle the customer service side of social media
- How they engage with their followers and how their fans engage with them
- The size of their audience
- How they’ve handled negative comments and engagement
Try searching Google for your competition and see what social media channels they’re on and scope them out. If they’re getting a lot of loyal engagement you know, there might be something to learn from them. Set yourself apart from the competition by understanding how they do and how you can improve. With that said, don’t rip off their social media strategy or their content, nobody likes a copycat.
Customer reviews play a pretty pivotal role in a buyer’s journey. Think about how you might go about making a purchase decision. Do you do a quick Google search for what you’re going to buy and check out the reviews other’s may have left? I know I do. In fact, 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Customer reviews are important and there’s a wealth of insight to learnt for them. Be on the lookout for:
- Clues regarding how they handle customer service.
- How your price points and promotions stack up
- Learn about their customer’s characteristic and better shape your marketing strategy
- Their weakness and how you might be able to turn them into your strengths
- What their customers value in their brand and how you might leverage that
Both, positive and negative reviews will help give you insight into where there might be market gaps in your industry or where you might be able to pick up some slack and win some of your competition’s customers. Keep on top of your online reviews is crucial and it actually might be your best social media strategy.
It’s smart to look closely at your competition’s online reviews but you need to keep an on the big picture as well. Google Alerts is a great way to stay easily informed on what’s being said about you and your business online but also what’s being said about your competition.
Google Alerts allows you to monitor the web for interesting new content, in this case, your business and what your competition. Set up alerts for your company name, your competition, and your industry in general. You’d be surprised at what you might learn. Get creative with Google Alerts; they’re an incredible tool.
If your competitors had a brick and mortar store, you’d probably check it out. A website is no different in the digital age. Your competitor’s website is their brick and mortar store and deserves at least a glance.
Web sites are much more than just a one-page billboard with some contact information on there. They help sell your services or product and inform the customer as to why you’re the best choice to help with their problem. Ask yourself:
- What do I dislike about this website and how could I make mine better?
- On which pages do they have calls to action (CTA) and where are they placed?
- What content do they have and what’s its purpose?
Websites are all a little different and often service a particular strategy or goal. Learn from the work your competitors have put in and apply those lessons to your web properties. Get a top level understanding of they’ve positioned themselves and how you might be able to best them.
Email marketing works. While marketers are usually on to the new shiny thing customers, love the old’ faithful. In 2015, for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment was $44.25. Marketers consistently rank email marketing one of the best tactics when it comes to acquisition, conversion and retention.
Try signing up for your competitor’s email newsletters and see what type of content or promotions they’re sharing with their mail list.
See how you stack up against your competitors in the SERPS (search engine results page) for the keywords you’re trying to target. Without getting too deep into the SEO (search engine optimization) analysis, it’s important to take a look at where you stack up against the competition in the search results. Consider testing these few things when you’re scoping out your competition’s rankings.