Thursday Thoughts: The Imperatives of Competitor Research
THE BENEFITS OF COMPETITOR RESEARCH
Competitor research and analysis can provide a better understanding of the marketplace conditions in your industry, leading to the creation of a marketing strategy or refinement and optimization of previous strategies. Ultimately, this research can lead to a higher ROI.
At a high level, this research is important when creating or revamping your company’s messaging. Assessing your competitors’ messaging can include looking into pricing, features, and services offered, as well as values and benefits. It also can aid in determining the correct target audience. At a lower level, competitor research can influence how you create and format your website’s landing pages, what topics to focus on in email marketing, and so much more.
WHERE TO BEGIN
Competitor research is very broad and can entail a variety of different parameters. With your KPIs set, let your KPIs drive your competitor research. Here are a few tactics to begin with:
- Review competitors’ messaging across websites and social media. Look into how your competitor presents themselves on their ‘About Us’ or ‘Leadership’ pages. Review how they refer to their services and how they explain them.
- Once you review a competitor’s website, you often will be added to their remarketing campaigns if they have them. Remarketing campaigns take a company’s web traffic and remarket that company’s advertisements to that web traffic on Google, or another advertising platform. This is done with cookies, so don’t delete your cache if you are trying to see competitors’ remarketing campaigns!
- Sign up for your competitors’ email blasts. Companies typically have a form on their website to sign up for their emails and newsletters. Find the form on your competitors’ websites and sign up to receive their emails.
- Look at page layouts to determine how best to set up your web pages. Assess where your competitors are placing their calls to action and what the key messaging is. Review content and headline placement and messaging, as well.
- Assess popular topics. Look at what topics your competitors are featuring on their blog and create new blog posts with a different or more informational point of view.
- Utilize competitor audit tools to gather your competitors’ website traffic. Websites like SEMrush allow you to type in a competitor’s website domain. From there, these tools display a range of metrics associated with that domain, including insights regarding messaging, conversion history, traffic sources, target audience, SEO keywords, digital advertising, and social media.
WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR COMPETITORS MAY NOT ALWAYS WORK FOR YOU
Two companies that provide the same exact service and are the same exact size are still both unique. Why? They have a different set of employees who provide a different customer service experience. As such, what works for your competitors may not always work for you. Companies can vary in workforce size, revenue, products/services offered, education provided, budget available, employees attitude and motivation, employees role and job assignments, and so much more.
Let’s say a client wants to invest more money into social media because their competitor has done so with great success. Currently the client has no social media presence and close to zero followers. Should they do it? The short answer is ‘it depends’. The long answer is ‘likely no’ since the general social traffic will need to be driven from paid advertising and employee engagement (sharing with their own networks). However, since the client has not had a previous social media presence, their employees do not know how to interact with the accounts; it isn’t a part of their daily routine to like and share content with their connections and followers. Therefore, the posts will not get spread very far. Along with these concerns, it also depends on the content being posted. Does it go well with the client, or only with the competitor’s company culture? In conclusion, even though this social media strategy worked for the competitor, it likely will not work for the client at hand.
Another example of traffic-generating sources that may not work for you, even if they work for your competitors, is paid advertising. Paid advertising largely depends on your budget. Often companies cannot or do not want to proportion their money out in the same exact way as their competitors. Again, there could be differences in the employees’ skill levels and associated salary.
Competitor research is important in crafting your company’s positioning, messaging, and marketing strategy. It is important to see what to emulate and what not to, but always keep in mind that you are in fact different companies and different strategies may work better.