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How your competitors can help you improve your digital marketing

Death and taxes are two big guarantees in life, and if you’re running a business, then sturdy competition is another one of these certainties.

Managing your brand is a constant balance between being the best possible version of yourself (or your business) while also ensuring you keep up to date on what the businesses around you are getting up to.

The last thing you want is to fall behind on how they’re promoting their products and services and appealing to customers. After all, competition is the fourth biggest cause of business failure for businesses.

Beating out the competition these days is about way, way more than just charging less than them. Thanks to the internet and therefore the wealth of choices that consumers these days have, more than ever, brands have had to get savvy about the way that they compete in the open marketplace.

It’s no longer just about who charges the least, but instead consumers are now concerned with corporate values, branding and most especially, customer care.

Provide value and an unrivalled customer experience, and you’re a shoo in for the cash when it comes time to purchase.

So how (and what) can you learn from a competitor’s digital marketing efforts? It’s a pretty simple two step process:

Step #1: Get to know them…

You can’t start learning from your competitors without knowing who they are or identifying the indirect competitors to your business as well. Remember that a competitor is not just the business selling the same product as you, but includes the ones aiming to solve the same problem that your product or service does.

In terms of search engines, this is who is popping up above (and sometimes below) you, offering an answer to a pinpoint induced search query.

You might find that the market spot you currently occupy has no competition, and that’s okay. This just shows you what brand value you need to protect and emphasise in your upcoming digital marketing efforts, and what future competitors you want to watch out for.

Remember that only about a third of businesses are still standing 10 years after being started, so it’s in your best interest to keep an eye out.

Step #2: Then compare, borrow and steal

Let’s say you’ve taken a look at your competitors and realised that you’re all chasing the same piece of the market pie. If you want to pull ahead and get a larger slice, you need to start looking for gaps in their digital marketing that your business can plug up.

Here’s a few places for you to start, but as you’ll see, with just a little bit of common sense and analysis of your industry, you’ll soon find a bunch of ways to figure out what your clients are and aren’t doing and how you can fill the gap with your digital marketing.

SEO: The place to start is to list all of your competitors on and off page SEO practices and compare them. Are all of them doing something you aren’t? Or is there an SEO practice that none of them have adopted yet? We can guarantee you that your competitor is only giving you (their competition) a cursory glance and not digging as deep as you are.

Link building: Are your competitors using link building? If so, what’s the quality and volume of links being created, and are they focusing on a particular type of link? According to expert Neil Patel, an effective link building strategy could be as simple as detecting broken links on desirable blogs and offering to replace them with your own, relevant content.

Local SEO: Are they differentiating any of their services based on geography such as in the keywords they use? Do they have an up to date Local SEO profile and Google Listing? If they don’t and you decide to, what a way to game the system.

Social media feedback: How do they interact with customer complaints and queries? Do they do so in time? 60% of customers posting a complaint on a social media page expect a response in an hour or less. How are your competitors faring here and could you do better?

Conversions: What are they using to try and convert customers on landing pages and in adverts? Could you improve on what they’re offering or offer it in a better way? Their 30 minute free phone consultation could be easily trumped by a “lets meet in person for that consultation and a coffee”.

As you can see, there is plenty that your competitors can teach you about improving your digital marketing efforts, with zero shady techniques or practices required in the process. It’s simply a matter of seeing what you can improve on and never being complacent with your current market position.

Adopt this proactive approach to your digital marketing and the very existence of a competitor will push you to improve your practices way beyond just competitive SEO and expensive AdWords.

Feature image: Quino AI via Unsplash

Author | Steven Slotow

Steven Slotow
Steven cut his teeth as the Tech & Motoring Editor for FHM magazine for 14 years before starting SEO Resellers South Africa and offering a white label, wholesale digital marketing solution to local digital marketers. Now Steven spends his time helping small, medium and large digital agencies to run... More

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