Learn By Watching Your Competitors

October 2nd, 2009

We all know we’re supposed to keep an eye on our competitors, but how is this supposed to help you compete with–and beat the socks off–your competition?

Spying on your competition is legal and ethical. It is a time-honored tradition to determine what works and what doesn’t. As the theory goes, let competitors spend the time and money. Then by observing them, you can create something that will have an ROI much quicker than if you started from scratch. With that, you save yourself months of trial and error trying to perfect your online marketing strategies and tactics.

Learn From Your Competition

You probably already know who your competitors are just by reputation. You want to study these companies first because you are probably going to be in direct competition with them; these are the people that you want to outperform.

The first step is quite simple: to beat them, you want to join them. Opt in to as many of their communications as possible:

  1. Subscribe to their email lists;
  2. Join their site;
  3. Join their community; and
  4. Read their blog.

Scrutinize Their Strategy

Every business, in order to operate, has to communicate with their customers. Follow these communications; they are the best place to find a gold mine of information and will help you learn what is already working for them. Some things to look for include:

– Your competitor’s marketing message;
– Where they are advertising;
– What types of advertisements are working; and
– What types of customers they are targeting.

With this information, you can quickly shape your marketing strategies at a fraction of the cost and time of your competitors.

But it doesn’t end there. If you are just following in your competitors’ footsteps, then you are only going to be as good as they are. If you want any chance of outdoing them, you will need to expand outside your current list of competitors. If you are local, look at national competitors. If you have a national presence, consider international industries.

Gather Competitors’ Information

So, your competitors with the most high-powered back links, largest customer base, website age and authority are typically ensured a position in the upper echelon of retailers and search engine rankings for multiple keywords and key phrases (such as Wikipedia). Taking on these behemoths is going to be a long-term strategy. But in relationship to a less competitive industry, it may be more wide open to someone with a budget, a great marketing strategy and a well thought-out competitive analysis strategy.

Simply put, if you want to find out why Company A ranks so well for Term B, you need to launch your own investigation online using various methods for extracting their information.

Narrow the Focus

But where do you start? With all the mountains of data available, where is the right place to begin? The key to making this happen is to do it in an organized and effective way.

  1. Pare down the mountains of data into small amounts of information.
  2. Avoid information overload and analysis paralysis.
  3. Quickly analyze the data.
  4. Form actionable strategies.

Final items to consider:

  1. Watch their ad spending;
  2. Watch their top performing keywords;
  3. Keep on top of who they are hiring through job posting and LinkedIn;
  4. Watch bookmarks through tools such as Delicious; and
  5. Watch for changes to their website with tools like Versionista.

So with all this talking about spying on your competition through competitive research analysis, you may be asking yourself the question, “What tools and methods can I actually use to level the playing field?”

This is where Richter7 enters the picture. We have strategies, expertise and tools to help you not only catch up to your competition, but to quickly and effectively surpass them.

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