It may seem counter-productive to consider embracing competition, but as far as digital marketing goes, keeping up with the Jones’ should not leave you feeling overwhelmed. Maybe, instead of worrying about what you competitors are doing, it’s time to consider how to get a competitive edge that will help you learn, fine-tune and ultimately, grow as a business.
Competitive research is a simple yet surprisingly smart way to benefit from that not-always-friendly competition, offering critical insight and marketing analytics that can help your fast-track your various online marketing efforts.
How to Use Competition to Boost Your Online Marketing Efforts
It’s a well-known fact that consumers expect the best level of products and services from the places they shop and do business. As such, businesses need to constantly strive to give consumers what they expect. It is the consumers who drive competition, forcing businesses to continuously improve their offerings to keep up with demand. After all, if a consumer does not get what they want from one business, they will go to someone else who is able to deliver the goods.
What does this mean for online marketing in South Africa and beyond? It’s simple. Competition is essentially a good thing – it helps you keep the focus on the consumer, while continuing to fine-tune your offering. By taking note of what your competitors are doing to find and keep customers online, you can find new ways to maximise your digital efforts. Some tips to keep in mind include the following:
- Watch and Learn (Don’t Just Blindly Imitate)
Observing your competitors online marketing strategies is all very well, but there’s a big leap between observing and blindly copying. Competitive research is about watching, learning and finding ways to improve on what the other team is doing. If your rival launches a brand new product range, you don’t have to rush out a new range of your own. Their range may fail dismally, or it may be a last resort due to rapidly reduced business that you know nothing about. Blindly imitating without in-depth understanding of why certain activities are done by your competitors is never a good idea.
Instead, learn to observe, gather intelligence and use the information you have learned to make strategic decisions for your business, based on what is good for your business (and not what you think everyone else is doing). You could think of this research as a springboard for creative changes that you could make within your marketing efforts.
- Keep Your Eye on the Prize
It is essential to keep your focus on your core goals, mission and values. All too easily, looking at what the competition is doing can cause you to doubt your overall foundations, get side tracked or lose sight of your original goals. Don’t let this happen. By analysing the data you collect carefully and objectively, it will be easier to stay on track.
Copying a rival’s strategy because it appears to bring them internet fame will not automatically give you the same results. In fact, if you stray too far from your goals trying to follow a strategy that is not right for your business, you will end up risking everything. Instead, use your research to increase productivity, improve your services and enhance your own strategies.
- Metrics to Follow
The data that you should be looking closely at include things such as keyword ranking trends, which can help you improve your Search Engine Optimisation efforts by seeing which keywords your competitors are ranking for in the search engines. Even if you are not able to beat them to the top of the search pages, you will be able to increase your own traffic. Some other metrics that will help to improve your search marketing efforts…
- Link Profile. Do your competitors have a number of high quality links, from industry websites and publications? Investigating your competition’s link profiles is a good way to see how you can improve your link building strategies.
- Content. What sort of content does your competition have? Check their blog, have a look to see what sort of content they produce (and how often they publish) and use that information to improve your own content marketing
- Social Media. What sort of social media presence do they have? Don’t only look at the number of followers they have, but also the overall strategy, engagement and reputation that they have online. Social media marketing in South Africa is competitive, so this edge can go a long way in helping you reach a bigger audience.
- Conversion. What sort of conversion optimisation does the competition have in place? It can be hard to see their exact strategies, but looking at their sales funnel, calls to action, navigation and overall design is a good start.
- Advertising. Do they have any online ads in place? Browsing your competitor’s website and checking their display ads and remarketing efforts is a good way to see whether you can gain an edge.
- Website. How easy it is to use the competitor’s website? This sounds like a no-brainer, but an easy to use site is one of the top reasons for online success. What features does their site have that helps give customers a better experience?
Competitive research is not a quick fix. It is not the easiest task in the world, and may seem like one more thing to do to help your business thrive online. But in the long run, the value that you can get from keeping abreast of the competition is too huge to ignore. If you need help with getting the edge over your competitors, we offer a number of digital marketing solutions that are designed to help you gain critical insight, and ultimately, the upper hand over your rivals.