If you want to boost your sales and increase you marketing strategy, a good place to start is by looking at your competitor’s website and analyzing the way they promote themselves and distribute marketing content to their competitors.
Seeing your competition as helping you can give you the upper hand in your specific industry. Learn from their mistakes, gain insight from their customers by monitoring reviews, and even “steal” their strategical tactics.
Many businesses fail to see the importance in using their competition to their advantage. Instead of the competitor being their biggest threat, they self-destroy by not utilizing what is right in front of them: other marketing strategies in the industry. CTO of HubSpot, Dharmesh Shah, says, “You are often your biggest competitor. You should not completely ignore your competition… most startups don’t lose to competition, but because they lose the will to fight.”
Instead of viewing your competition as the enemy, view them as motivation. Let’s look at the top 4 ways you can (ethically) “steal” from your competition and come out on top!
1. Monitor What Their Customers Are Saying
Well, they won’t directly help your conversions skyrocket, but they did a lot of the hard work for you.
The best way you can learn about what customers are looking for is to monitor customer reviews on a competitor’s product. 33% of online consumers in the U.S. have reviewed a product online. Reviews are the best way to get “insider” information about the product or service that your competitor is offering. By reading these, you will start to recognize patterns in the reviews – patterns you can use to create a counter-strategy for your product.
The more visitors you bring to your site that happy with what you are offering them means higher conversion rates. If you find out what customers of your competition love (or unhappy with) them product they purchased or the experience they had with your competitor, then you automatically have the advantage. You can market your product and brand to make these unhappy customers your customers by satisfying their demands and offering a product that keeps them happy.
it can be time consuming to monitor your competitor’s product updates or mentions on social media. Luckily, there are search-stream dashboards, like Hootsuite, that will keep track of all the companies you want to follow. Keeping an eye on customer interaction with a competitor can help you find the gap for your product or service to fill.
Once you have gathered information from your competitor’s reviews, the best way to test those strategies on your website is to split test your call-to-actions and to create beneficial magnets (newsletters, ebooks, whitepapers, etc).
2. “Secret Shop” Their Marketing
“Imitation is the greatest form of flattery…” and the greatest way to learn from your competition.
Scan your competitor’s marketing messages to find out what is working for them. Find out how they’re gaining trust and loyalty, and who their customers are. There’s a pretty good chance that their customers are the same as your target audience, so if you find out what is working for them, it could work for you, too!
Too busy to keep monitoring your competition’s marketing messages? There’s an app for that! Well, not exactly, but you can let Google do the work for you. Google Alerts is a great way to keep track of your competitor’s blog, think-tank articles, or even their newest updates and partnerships. Google Alerts can track competing businesses on social media or industry blogs. It’s an efficient way to stay in-the-loop without stalking their company websites all day!
You can also let the marketing messages come to you – without having to search at all! With the internet being so important to businesses and the digital marketing boom, there’s a really good chance your competitor has some kind of email subscription you can sign up for. having their marketing material come straight to your email inbox can help you watch for successful tactics that you could incorporate into your strategy.
This can also help you identify any vulnerability that you could exploit in the industry. These vulnerabilities can create opportunities for you or point out any gaps in your competitor’s business plan.
If you are just starting to flesh out a marketing strategy, look at the big companies. Even if they don’t relate to your industry, there is still plenty you can learn. Successful companies, like Amazon, have perfected their sales funnels and you can model yours after what works for them. They strategically place reviews, ratings, and related products for the best consumer experience. Test features from their funnel to make sure it will work for you, before finalizing your plan.
Modeling your sales funnel or marketing messages after a big company or your competitor can make a huge different in the way you convert site visitors into customers. This does not mean you need to copy your competitor. Look for strategies that you can implement into your existing strategy that will make your company better.
Word to the wise: just because something works for a competitor, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. You might see a really cool sales funnel on your competitor’s website, but there’s no guarantee it’s even working for them! Always A/B test any strategy to make sure you’re using the best one for you.
So, don’t copy your competition, simply imitate their ideas and mold them into your own!
3. Steal Their Lost Leads by Avoiding Their Mistakes
Thanks to virtually everything being digital these days, your competitor isn’t able to hide behind carefully constructed brand identities like they used to.
Monitoring reviews and a little digital digging can help you learn where your competition missed the mark, and how your brand can swoop in to save the day.
Perhaps I’m beating a dead horse, but I cannot stress the importance of reading your competitor’s reviews. Raid the reviews for what they’re doing right and wrong. Studying these will help you know how to address the fears, uncertainties, and doubts of customers and convert them into your customers, instead of a competitors’.
There are a few subtle elements on their website that you many not have thought about when scanning their marketing material, but they can be very helpful in pointing out your competition’s mistakes that you can learn from and use for ideas on your website:
- Stamps of approval: Where are their trust icons coming from? Do you have credible sources of approval on your website? (Example: Angle’s List, Better Business Bureau, industry certifications, awards, etc.)
- Social Justification: Are their social platforms adorned in praise from their customers? How can you get customers to rave about your products?
- Form Fields: Do they have more or less fields than you? Try A/B testing more or less fields to find out what works best for you.
- Pricing Packages: What techniques do they use on their pricing page? How can any of these tactics be used when delivering your product prices?
If any of these are lacking, then you know where to step up your game. Get testimonials from happy customers and highlight that on your landing page, or create a more user-friendly form for prospective customers to fill out. There are tweaks you can make that will set you apart from your competition and help your business grow.
4. Competitor’s Can Help Your Business Grow
It almost goes without saying, but there are lots of ways to “steal” you competition’s marketing tactics to grow your business. Not only will they help your marketing messages and provide ways to increase conversion rates, but your “relationship” with them will help your company grow internally as well.
Competition is healthy for any business, because it helps develop self-awareness and helps you avoid complacency. Think about it: your personal relationships help you grow as an individual, so why would your business relationships be any different?
By developing self-awareness, you are able to create more unique and creative angles that can be used to entice potential customers. This will also help you not to settle for an average product – competition keeps you on your toes so you are constantly being innovative.
Analyzing your competition’s growth can be a good way to measure your potential growth, too. It will help you learn more about the marketplace and whether the market has matured, or if it’s still evolving. Either way, you can grow from knowing this. This could even help narrow down your niche in the industry, creating a more competitive edge over your “opponent.”
In a mature marketplace, there is the opportunity for dramatic change. you can strategically position your product or service to completely disrupt the somewhat stagnant market and spark the interest of your audience. If the market is still evolving, you’ll be challenged to mold your brand to be the best-in-show and become the gold standard in your industry.
Competitive relationships are a smart business move, especially if you want to grow and become a well-known name in whatever your industry may be. Learning from your competition’s marketing efforts will help you find where your product fits into the market and how you can position yourself as the best in your industry. Using similar tactics in your marketing strategy can prove helpful, especially if you are just getting started and want to get a head start!
Remember, competitors are friends, not foes!