Sometimes stalking your competitors is the best strategy for growing your business.
Competitors. We've all got them. But knowing who they are is never enough. If you don't know what they're doing and exactly how they're doing it, you could be missing out on opportunities to win new customers or worse, have your existing ones swept right from under your nose!
We understand you're busy, spending night and day working to perfect your business, and probably feel as though you just don't have the time to stalk your rivals. But these bad-boys are hungry for your customers and if you don't stay on your toes, you could live to regret it.
We've compiled our top five tips and tricks for keeping an eye on the competition. These will give you the ammunition you need to go the extra mile for your customers, blowing those pesky rivals out of the water!
Go beyond Google
If you want to find out who and what your competitors are all about, your first move is likely to be a Google search and quick look around their website. While there's nothing wrong with this at all, your search shouldn't stop there. There are a multitude of tools available, either supplied by Google or which provide insights on search results and Adwords Campaigns, which can give you the inside track on how your competitors are using Google's services. A few examples include:
Spyfu– Reveals what keywords and AdWords your competitors are buying.
Google Trends – Allows you to check the latest trends in your industry and compare how your Adwords are trending in comparison to competitors.
Google Alerts – Sends you notifications for your chosen search terms, whether related to your business or your competitors.
Ask your customers
It may seem obvious, but one of the most efficient (and cheapest) ways to gather real information is by speaking to customers. So, when you win a new customer, simply ask who they were using before and their reasons for switching – giving you an indication of what advantages your business has over its competitors. This can also be done the other way round, in the event of a client leaving, enabling you to find out what your competitors are doing that you're not. By gathering a number of these stories, you'll build up a much clearer idea about your strengths versus competitors – giving you opportunity to adjust your offering to conquer your market.
Scour social media
With social media now a central part of the marketing arsenal, you can quickly and easily keep track of any updates your opponents share online. By creating lists and monitoring their tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, you can start to build up a picture of their tone and content strategy. Then to take this one step further, you can carry out an in-depth analysis of their social profile using key metrics such as amplification and conversation. This will show you insights such as their ratio of followers to engagement rate, what time their posts receive the most interaction, who their influencers are and how they're engaging customers to increase conversion. Tools such as SumAll, Followerwonk and Klout can help you with these, all of which offer free insights if you're short on budget.
Hire your competition
Who knows more about competitors inside operations than their employees? No-one. We're not saying to poach their staff but former employees could be the gateway to finding out concrete information about the markets they're looking to venture into, what's working for them or what product or service has the highest level of satisfaction. This information could spark ideas you hadn't even thought about! Oh, and don't forget to keep an eye on who they're hiring too, as this can reveal a lot about their plans for the near future. For example, if they're looking for an HR specialist, it could indicate expansion plans, or maybe they're seeking a patent attorney, which could herald some significant new inventions on the horizon.
Review their reviews
Keeping an eye on their customer feedback is another handy trick, giving you a snapshot of how your competitors are performing. It's easy to find feedback on various review sites along with competitor's social media accounts. You may believe that the negative ones hold the most value, but keeping note of how happy customers describe their service can also be hugely valuable, helping you develop new wording for product descriptions, for instance. If you find multiple comments on how amazing the quality is, for example, this indicates that quality is a key selling point. Meanwhile, identifying the negative reviews can give you the opportunity to win over their dissatisfied customers.