It’s important to understand what your competitors do right and wrong, since you’ll want to avoid their mistakes while taking their marketing “wins” to the next level.
Here are six strategies for effectively evaluating the competitive landscape.
1. Understand who Google thinks your competitors are. You probably can easily rattle off who you think your top five competitors are, but does Google agree? Here’s how to test your assumptions: Think of your five to 10 most important keyword phrases and plug them into Google. What companies show up in the organic listings on the first page? On the paid listings? Any surprises? Make note and add these new-to-you competitors to your master list of competitors.
2. Conduct regular website audits. You can approach a website audit in several ways, but at the very least, you’ll want to review the competitor’s home page, about us section, product/service pages, calls-to-action, a couple of landing pages, and blog posts. Ask yourself what you like and don’t like about…
- Design and layout
- Article topics on the blog
And, of course, pay attention to any important breaking news (look for a media or PR section).
Based on these audits ask yourself how your site compares. What are you doing well? What could you be doing better, based on what your competitors are doing?
3. Conduct regular social media audits. In addition to keeping track of your competitors’ fans and followers and the types of content your competitors are posting, pay attention to ads on places like Facebook and other websites you visit.
If your competitors are doing lots of PPC advertising and retargeting campaigns, then you might want to investigate this further and see if it makes sense for your business.
4. Subscribe to your competitors’ blogs and newsletters. As you receive the newsletters, evaluate the content, design, and frequency (knowing, of course, that you are a bit biased). Regarding the blog posts, note the frequency and topics.
What resonates? Does your competitor get anything wrong? If yes, this provides an opportunity to write a “rebuttal” post about the same topic, but correcting everything your competitor got wrong. You can also brainstorm topics based on the ones your competitors are focusing on and add these topics to your tickler file for future content calendars.
5. When conducting customer surveys, ask participants about your competitors. Get to know who your customers think your competitors are and ask them why they think of these companies. Just as some of the “answers” you got from your Google search likely surprised you, you’ll probably be surprised to learn what businesses your customers consider to be your competition. Once again, keep these competitors on your radar and add them to your master list.
6. Don’t ever dismiss the new kids on the block. If you’re in business long enough, you’ll experience competitors who come and go. That’s the reality of doing business. That said, you should never underestimate a new competitor simply because the competitor is new. Remember, there was a time when My Space was it, and then this little social media platform called Facebook came along. You’ll want to conduct the same due diligence we outlined above with whatever new companies pop up.
How do you evaluate the competitive landscape? Share additional strategies in the comments below.