There are plenty of well-known competitors: Coke vs Pepsi, Honda vs Toyota, The Beatles vs The Stones, Yankees vs Red Sox. Whether yours is as noteworthy as these or not, when it comes to online opposition, here are 7 important facts you’re likely missing about your competitors.
1. Who they are
Are you tempted to stop reading? If you think that this doesn’t apply to you because you know who is selling similar products or services to your target audience, you are wrong.
Your online competitors are not just your traditional Nike vs Reebok type of competitors. Consider that anyone who is after the attention of the same target is a competitor – even if you sell a product and they sell a service.
If you sell car seats for babies, consider that online, stroller sellers and babysitting services are competing for the same audience’s attention. Though their product may not compete directly with yours, you are competing for the same attention.
2. Who is talking about them
Do you visit competitors’ sites often, analyze their messaging, compare their pricing, sign up for their email newsletter (with not-so-real aliases), or even follow their social media updates? All of that is great information, but you are missing a critical factor. One of the only things that is more important than how they present themselves is what others are saying about them.
Follow industry influencers, check in on review sites, and scope out testimonials and case studies. Social proof will tell you how your common audience views the competition.
3. What they are saying about others
By researching any testimonials or case studies your competitors do with their vendors or service providers, you can get a picture of their toolset. The apps and services that help them succeed could help you, too.
4. What they test
Any successful online competitor is likely running many tests on their site. Knowing what they have tested can teach you a lot. But corporate espionage aside, how can you know what kind of tests they run? If you use a tool like The WayBack Machine, you can see snapshots taken of your competitor’s websites over time to uncover the changes they have made and see which ones they stuck with and which rolled back.
5. Who they hire (and fire)
Keeping an eye of their job listings and new hires on LinkedIn will give you insight into which departments they are strengthening.
Taking note of any employees who disconnect from the company on LinkedIn may give you access to new staff already proficient in your field.
8. Why they are better
You likely spend a fair amount of time explaining to your customers why you are better than your competitors. And yet…customers do still choose them (hopefully not too often). Wise online businesses look at the choice from their target customers’ perspective and seek to understand what the competitors truly do better. Don’t stop doing a SWOT analyses on your company – do one for each online competitor, too.
7. What they don’t invest in
You know their strengths and probably challenge each other on many fronts. They design; you design better. You reduce prices; they reduce more.
Find an area they don’t invest in – maybe something along the lines of sustainability, ethical, green, locally sourced, etc. Maybe customer service or upsells. Perhaps encouraging women or minorities, or being listed as one of the best places to work. It doesn’t have to be product-related, but find an area you can easily dominate because they have not entered it, yet.
You may find that customers may be willing to pay more to a company that is greener, offers better customer service, and takes better care of its employees.
Know all you can about online competitors
Knowledge is power, so take time out every quarter to answer these 7 questions, and continuously get to know your online competitors. Doing so will likely spark great ideas for getting ahead.
About the Author
Tomer Harel is founder and CEO of KeyScouts, and co-founder of Spectoos.com. He has been practicing Internet marketing for over a decade, helping hundreds of businesses to thrive online. Despite his extensive knowledge and years of hands-on experience, Tomer is always looking to learn more and be a little bit better every day at what he does.