Outperforming the Competition
Comparing Web, Marketing, & Content Strategies to Successful Competitors
Revised March 29, 2017
Originally Published April 25, 2008
An integral part of success for any business, (regardless of industry) is the comparison of one's online & offline performance, as compared to the competition.
- Is the website ahead of the curve, or is it lagging behind?
- What social medias do most competitors in the industry use?
- Does the competition's website rank higher in search results, potentially obtaining more visitors and sales?
To help determine if a company is keeping up with the competition, lagging behind, or ahead of the curve; one needs to analyze some basic online and offline marketing factors.
When researching the competition, there are going to be two basic comparison's to conduct: an overall marketing comparison, as well as an online-web-related comparison.
Overall Marketing Comparison Factors
In order to make sure a company's marketing dollars are performing and getting the best return on investment, the following basic factors should be assessed and reviewed with regards to the company's competition:
- Do they have a cohesive brand and identity that seamlessly pulls together all aspects of the company?
(Are all aspects of the company's marketing materials properly branded so as to work together to show the customer how the company's product/service will solve their problem?)
- Does the competition offer online/offline only specials or incentives for conducting business?
(Sometimes offering incentives can help to attract customers to doing business in one method or another.)
- What methods of marketing and advertising (whether online & offline) do they use?
(Do they advertise in offline print, coupon magazines, postcards, as well as online website, social media, etc?)
- Do they utilize online paid advertising such as Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, or other media advertising?
(Researching what paid advertising systems work for the company's industry will help to know where advertising dollars are best spent.)
- Do they use offline media (such as print postcards) in correlation with online and in-person marketing for a greater chance of success?
(Often mixing traditional advertising such as postcards, as follow-up to online ads, in-person meetings, or other campaigns helps to increase the likelihood of gaining new business.)
- Are competitors in your area utilizing Display network advertising and other Remarketing strategies?
(Using remarketing and retargeting campaigns can help to improve follow-up and improve sales conversions.)
- Is the competition listed in legitimate directories or related industry vendor sites with links to their website?
(Such external links from recognized legitimate websites to the competitor's website helps improve search engine optimization.)
- Does the competition utilize social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Google+, Alignable, Pinterest, etc?
(The social medias to use depend greatly upon the industry of the company and how customers interact with industry related social medias.)
- Do they utilize
video, and/or video social medias such as YouTube?
(According to Forrester Research, ads that use video have a 200-300% increase in click-through rates!)
Each industry is different, and there are numerous other areas that could be pertinent to reviewing how the competition handles certain marketing factors.
Regardless of these basic marketing factors, today's world is online as much as it's offline; a company's website presence is essential to the competitive analysis process with its own set of comparison factors to review.
Website Related Comparison Factors
In order to make sure that a website is performing and getting the the maximum return on investment and marketing dollars, take note of the competition's website features. Research competitor sites and note the following:
- What type of website services do they offer?
(Is it information only, customer interactivity, online sales or service, business & employee interactivity, etc?)
- How does the competition categorize information, products and services on their website?
(Is information easily and quickly found? Are website sections using page title and paragraph headings properly? Is there a distinguishable hierarchy?)
- Is the website information clear, easy to navigate, professionally laid-out, and viewable on any browser (IE, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, etc) and responsive to any platform (laptop, tablet, smartphone)?
- What kind of information about the company, products and services is offered?
(Is the competition offering complete details and specifications, multiple image views, case studies, etc on products and services? Do they have interactive product or service features?)
- What type of resource and help information is available to the customer online?
(online tutorials, frequently asked questions, help & support, customer service, customer reviews & ratings, social media links, etc)
- How interactive is the website customer service assistance?
(online chat available, online forms, job ticket submission, online order tracking & history, customer account management, business employee field access, etc)
- Does the competition offer online sales, services, subscriptions or scheduling?
- What kind of graphic skin, color scheme and layout is integrated into the website?
(Is the site completely customized to the company's marketing collateral and image, or does the site look like a standard, free website template?)
- Does the website offer industry related and current news, articles or tips?
- Is the content fresh and appear to be updated regularly or is it stale and old?
- Are interactive tools such as video or audio used to enhance the customer experience?
(Do these interactive tools enhance or impede use? Can the features be viewed on any browser or platform? NOTE: Flash is not cross platform compatible and does not work on many platforms. Ideally HTML 5 should be used instead of Flash.)
- Does the website integrate online calendars, scheduled events, company newsletters?
These are just a few of the questions to keep in mind when researching the competition's web presence. Depending upon the company's industry, there may be many more specific questions to keep in mind.
Without these key traits, success online or offline is next to impossible. However, if the company's builds upon these traits, analyzes the competition, and then integrates the best features from all competitive companies, the business will have the formula for success and can outperform the rest.
Once success is achieved, it is a constant effort to stay at the top.
As marketing, websites, and the internet are constantly changing, it is imperative to analyze and review the competition on a regular basis. By making competitive research an on-going process, it is possible to keep the company's website at the top!
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