They say keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer. This is particularly applicable now more now than ever in this age of human to human interaction where time is the most expensive commodity we all have. Where it is critical to learn from each others mistakes, stop wasting time reinventing the wheel and grow together in a market place that is only getting crowded with each passing day. One could learn faster by simply observing the competitors that operate in a very similar environment and strive to attract similar customers..
So what can you learn from them when it comes to digital marketing?
SERPs – What is the first thing one does to research who your competitors are in the first place? Check them out on search engines. Check where your customers rank with regards to search engine rank positions. What are the keywords that help them being found easily on the initial pages of a search engine? What websites are back linked onto to your competitors website? Back linking these websites that link traffic to your competitors website could benefit your website too especially for search engines like Google that certainly value high quality back links. Replicating a strategy is certainly not wrong provided it is done in line with your customers need. Sophisticated tools like SEO Moz or SEMrush or similar give a detailed report on your competitors website.
Content marketing strategy – Agreed what works for one may not work for others. But there is certainly no harm in beginning to replicate what your closest competitors have done. Especially in the very same business space that they and you operate in. Understanding their content marketing strategy, the channels they use to distribute content, the way they distribute content, their customer journeys, customer profiles etc can help get a better insight into your own customers. All this insight from your competitors can certainly give you a starting ground, further drill down into customer profiles can be then carried out based on your specific products or services in times to come.
Customer engagement – Understanding how best your competitors interact with their audiences, the tone of voice used, the frequency and channels used to interact differently with different segments of audiences can all go a long way. As we know each marketing channel has a specific purpose and can bring immense value when used appropriately. Using your competitors as an example can give a lot of insights into what should be done to engage audiences and what certainly could be avoided.
Conversion rate and optimization opportunities – If you are looking at your competitors to identify your audiences then you certainly have the insight into what their customer profiles are. You can get a better and an in-depth understanding of what happens after the customers click onto their website. Questions like, what are they looking for, what do they want, what is their journey, how is the conversion funnel working, are there any obvious pain points where customers are leaving etc can all be answered. By studying customer behavior on your competitors website you can certainly map what would it be like on your own website. This could help multiply conversion rates resulting in higher optimization opportunities.
Identifying next steps – So you have identified your customers, their journeys, how to attract them on to your website, how to engage them and finally convert them. So what are next steps? Understanding gaps and failures. Creating a better user experience possibly with an aim to delivering ‘customer delight’ can be some of the few things that can be lined up.
Finally competitors can be used as a source of learning and growth. By watching what they do best and what they certainly cannot do can be a great starting point to what you want to achieve as a business.