I’ve always wondered why people don’t study their competitors more when it comes to strategising for their online business. Like how the medieval kingdoms and even the tribals did during times of war, the value of knowing your enemies’ tactics is as important as knowing what you’re capable of doing.
In the modern war of marketing and sales, having an easy to pull out information on anyone getting your target audience is as important as any other technique that boosts your own business.
The Importance of Getting Your Competitors’ Marketing Data
Before we start, let’s lay the groundwork for a second: your competitors’ data is fair game.
Whilst there’s limits to how far you should go to gather it (read: corporate espionage is a no-no), using readily available tools online is not only ethical but fair as well.
Many of the big businesses around rely on their competition’s business framework to know where are their weak points, what are their demographics and what piece of the pie do they get.
Lao Tzu once said in his The Art of War that “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
This holds true even up to this date. Knowing who you’re dealing with, how they’re getting their buyers and how they’re faring against you can help you continually improve your business.
The beauty of today’s competitive landscape on the digital marketing scenario is that you can find info on anyone through the use of tools. By knowing what to look for, you gain competitor insight, which kills much of the guesswork around analysis.
Fighting For the Right Keywords
For starters, you need to find first who are you competing with, and this varies depending on the scope that you are trying to achieve.
The number one check that you need to do first is do some keyword research into the words and categories that you would like to compete in.
For this job, there’s a number of tools that will be perfect for your purposes. The simplest of them is the SERPChecker by the guys and gals behind Mangools, which provides quick and easy insights through their competitor analysis tool.
This looks for phrase rank, page authority, domain authority and even FB shares. Once you get this, you can read how the pages are ranking – typically through rich and correct SEO structures.
Another tool everybody knows is Alexa. It lets you research specific websites and see everything that they’re doing – from their global ranks, where their audiences are coming from, the ads that they are using and even the demographic of the people they are most likely targeting.
What you need from these tools are the keywords the big boys are using. What you do then is use these keywords yourself and play them down your level if you’re a small to medium business.
As an example, if you are planning to use “digital marketing” as a primary keyword phrase, you will find that you are competing nationally with global brands such as Wikipedia, Hubspot and Smart Insights. Unfortunately, it will take you a lot of time before to get to rank against these websites, especially if you’re a small business of 5 people.
The smart thing to do here is add to the phrase a local qualifier of the suburb or city that you want to rank for, like “digital marketing Brisbane”. Once you do, you have a likelier chance of getting to the first page, considering that the current pages that dominate it, as per SERPchecker, are pages with DA of 50 and below, PA of 52 and below and competitive ranks of 55 and below.
While this technique sounds as basic as it can be, a lot of people tend to forget how many of the basic things make up an effective SEO campaign.
What this means is you can study their structure better and find ways to mosey your business through the right keywords with the right amount of search volume and competition score.
Competitive Data: The Information You Need to Get Ahead
The usefulness of having your perceived competitors’ business strategies within your computer’s folders is unprecedented. There’s a number of ways for you to gather the necessary information to see what your competition is offering and how you can see how they play out their services.
The best way to do it is to create emails that you can use to sign up on free offers that can help you understand how they try to pull in their audiences through their lead magnets.
Most lead magnets out there are free and are done so to exchange for your contact details and the chance to lure to you their business. This is a perfect introduction into interested audiences, and you understanding how your competition is trying is perfect.
Another good way is to find as many of the ads that your competition is displaying. Many sites love to use PPC ads and these can be easily found out and detected through the use of tools. Alexa is still valuable in this regard, but two of the better tools are SpyFu and SimilarWeb.
SpyFu’s primary use is for you to obtain the keywords for both PPC and organic searches that other websites use.
By comparing and contrasting them with yourself and others, you will know what keywords are strongly used, what keywords have search volumes but are barely used and what phrases you can further utilise. You can even see their PPC ad schedules!
For SimilarWeb, it gives you a ton of traffic insights for any website out there, from the weekly number of visitors to their leads that are coming from social media, search, display ads and referrals.
If you want to understand where and how your competition is getting its audience, this is the tool that you need.
You would also want to get screenshots of their products’ prices, their landing pages, their content and how they word their social media campaigns, specifically pages they use for lead capture.
By doing so, you get to provide yourself with designs that net customer visits, get what’s good from each one and adopt them to your personal style. Scale it according to your needs, whether it’s up or down, test elements that you should adapt and change the medium where you can.
Why Do I Need To Do Competition Analysis?
Why do you have to do all of this? Digital marketing and the point of having information on all of your competition is for you to be able to adapt all the good parts of others’ campaigns whilst correcting the perceived bad methods, allowing for a easier, better campaign for you.
The amount of intel that you have lets you understand what you have to copy, what you should not copy and what you can improve. Great marketing’s goal is not always about how you reinvent the wheel, but rather how you break it and make it work for you.