While you’re busy differentiating yourself from competitors near and far, you might want to remember that old adage about keeping your enemies closer.
There’s a lot to learn from other local businesses, particularly those in your industry, when it comes to digital marketing. Who’s doing things right? Take a look at what they’re doing and how they’re making it work, and put that to work for your business.
Here are 10 things you can learn from the competition about digital strategy:
1 – Your reputation – both online and off – can be a tipping point for consumers on the edge. Scope out how other companies are reviewed online to compare where you stand. And, take a look at how they respond to customers. If they’re more highly rated than your business for customer service, take notes on how they typically reply to comments (both positive and negative) on sites like Yelp, Google reviews, and more. Use the competition to learn how to respond to online feedback – and how not to!
2 – Similarly, social media can be a big indicator of a business’ success. Compare your social pages to those of the competition (if you don’t have social pages, you’re already behind!). Take a look at how other companies’ pages are designed, what kind of information they provide, and how often they post. Do they have a lot of followers? Take a page from their book on how to engage with customers on social media to build a loyal customer base.
3 – Comparing others’ social media pages provides the perfect opportunity to do things better and improve where you see your competitors lacking. What are their customers frequently asking on social? Answer those questions up front on your own pages and provide your customers with the information they need. Use others’ shortcomings to learn what to say on social, making you the more proactive and trustworthy resource.
4 – What types of content are other businesses posting on their social pages? Are they sharing photos and quizzes, asking questions, or posting industry updates? Look at the engagement on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see what their (and your) customers respond well to, based on comments, retweets, and Like counts. Use social data to understand what customers like and emulate those post types on your own networks.
5 – Next stop on your online tour: websites. A business’ website is as important (or more so!) as a brick and mortar store. Check out competitors’ sites: what’s different about their layout, their photos, their navigation? If they’re getting more business and customers love their websites, try to figure out why (high quality images? minimalistic design?) and use that to inform how to design your website in a way that is informative and visually appealing to your visitors.
6 – Beyond the design, the filling of your website – the content – can make or break the customer experience. Compare the writing on your site versus your competitors’ sites. How is it different in quantity, style, and tone? Do they provide a lot of detail? Is it too much? Is it written formally or casually, and how does that affect their personality and perception? Take a critical eye to the text to learn how to write your website content, considering depth of information, how it’s organized, and whether the voice accurately represents the business.
7 – Google your services. What happens when you search for your service or product in your area? Does your business come up in local results, or does someone else’s? If your competitors are showing up where you’re not, it’s time to make sure your local pages are created and updated. Searching for “Service” in “Mytown, USA” should show you why you need local pages to get your business on the map.
8 – Google yourself. How high up do you appear in the organic results? Now Google your competitors. Where do they appear? When you search online for your main offerings, whether services or products, which business ranks higher? If your competition is ahead of you, it’s probably time to overhaul your SEO strategy. See what keywords they’re outranking you on, but more importantly, make sure your website is optimized properly. Use Google to tell you how to optimize your site.
9 – In the meantime (while waiting for organic results to improve over time), run ads! If you’re not showing up where you’d like to in organic results, try a PPC campaign. Remember those keywords competitors were outranking on? Go after similar keywords and customer demographics as they would – or different, if you want to reach customers they aren’t! Use your Google sleuthing to learn how to target your SEM campaign.
10 – After a thorough investigation into the digital depths, you should have a solid understanding of where you and your competitors stand. Use your research to your advantage: learn how to be better! Run a better business, be a better member of your community, and have greater success online – however you measure it.
Feel like a competitor is getting all the business in town? Learn from those who do it better, improve some things of those who do worse.