Outperforming the Competition
Comparing Web, Marketing, & Content Strategies to Successful Competitors
Revised April 17, 2019
Originally Published April 25, 2008
An integral key to success for any business, (regardless of industry) is the need to review online & offline performance, as compared to the competition.
- Is the company's overall marketing collateral ahead of the curve?
- In what areas is the business lagging behind?
- What social media platforms are most competitors using?
- 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 (ROI), the following basic factors for industry competitors should be assessed and reviewed regularly:
- 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 nudge prospects towards conducting business using one medium over 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 Ads, 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 or in-person marketing for a greater reach & conversion potential?
(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 the 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 can help improve search engine optimization.)
- Does the competition utilize social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Alignable, Pinterest, Instagram, etc?
(The social medias to use greatly depend 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, thus it will have its own unique 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 (ROI) and marketing dollars, take note of the competition's website features. Research competitor sites and note the following:
- What type of online services do they offer?
(Information only, customer interactivity, online sales or service, business & employee interactivity, customer records management, etc?)
- How does the competition categorize information, products, and services on their website?
(Is information quick and easy to find? 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 or screen size (e.g. desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone)?
- What kind of information about the company, its products, or services is offered?
(Is the competition offering complete-detailed specifications, multiple image views, case studies, consumer reviews, and more on it products and services? Do they offer 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's customer service assistance?
(online chat availability, 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 theme, graphic skin, color scheme or 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, 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 online 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 builds upon these traits, analyzes the competition, and then integrates the best features from all competitive companies with their own; 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 every business and industry today is 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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