Analyzing Your Online Competition: 10 Questions to Ask
August 29, 2013
Your rivals on social networks can be valuable resources as you refine your own strategy.
Fall is all about competition. Kids are going back to school, competing for grades and a place on the soccer team and popularity (not necessarily in that order). As baseball gets ready to produce its two best teams (go Dodgers), college football teams and the NFL are going into battle mode. Retailers have ordered their holiday inventory and are nervously waiting to see what their rivals will spring on them.
How much are you thinking about what your competitors are doing these days? You undoubtedly have some awareness of what they’re doing that you’re not and vice versa. But have you ever really studied them?
Your social media strategy stands a better chance of succeeding (however you define that) if you know what your customers are encountering when they visit the competition.
- How are they creating relationships with prospects? It’s important to grab those folks early on. You never know what impact you can have on someone by just expressing interest in their situation when they’re new in town.
- What do they offer repeat customers? Buy something inexpensive from them or take advantage of webinars, white papers, samples, etc. (using an identity that can’t be associated with your company). How do they try to move you toward a purchase?
- What are their audience’s pain points? They’re probably very similar to your customers’. Could you name five by looking at their social sites — or your own?
- Can you identify the needs they’re trying to meet? It’s important to provide value to your visitors, even if you’re not pitching in the process. Teach them how to fix something or offer maintenance tips, asking nothing in return.
- What are their strengths? Their weaknesses? Develop your own ways to have similar impact on your own customers. What would you say are areas where they could improve? Make sure that if you’re guilty of some of the same failings, you correct them.
- Are they using case studies or customer endorsements? How are they presented, and how quick and easy they are to find and digest? Keep yours short and to the point. Multiple paragraphs of over-the-top praise can look suspicious and won’t necessarily work to your benefit.
- What benefits do they offer? Free stuff is good. Upgraded shipping. How-to articles. Priority customer service.
- What kind of complaints do people have? Always a good thing to know, so you can avoid making the same mistakes.
- How do they reinforce their brand? Compare the way their brand flows throughout each site to your own.
- What can you tell about their corporate culture, the company itself and its employees? Are they trying to be the low price leader or do they emphasize exceptional quality (with a matching high price?). How important is customer service to them? Who works there, and what do their offices look life? Make sure your social contacts can get a good sense of your own identity.
Stock images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net