Tom Chapman
Tom Chapman 14 March 2018

Five top lessons to learn from competitors

Although you will always have a competitor, you can also learn so much from these organisations. Here are five great lessons:

Whatever product or service you’re trying to push, you will have a competitor. Targeting the same group of customers as you, these organisations can seem like a necessary nuisance – even more so if they are achieving better results than you.

Fortunately, competitors are always a valuable source of information. Not just for intelligence related to customers, but they can assist with moulding your strategy as well as tactics. Although there are a range of lessons you can learn, here are what I believe to be the top five:

How do I connect with my target audience?

You might have created some buyer personas and have a pretty good understanding of your customer base, but competitor research can help you connect with your target audience.

For this, I’d recommend ahrefs. Although a paid service, it helps provide valuable customer metrics. For example, looking at the ‘top performing’ section, we can see the content which is most shared by users.

If this happens to be Pinterest or Instagram, this suggests your target audience is primarily interested in image-led content. Alternatively, if LinkedIn proves to be a successful network, then targeting content to appeal to those users could yield the best results.

If your competitor is dominating a particular social media channel, dedicate time to understanding why. Perhaps they have the right tone, regularly work with influencers, or use humour to really resonate with that group. Whatever insights you manage to gain, replicating them should benefit your own social media strategy.

What is my niche?

The phrase ‘Thought leader’ is a bit of a cliché. However, in competitor research, this can help you determine your niche. For example, if a group of competitors are all claiming to be experts in one particular area of your industry, adding your voice to the crowd likely won’t be as beneficial as being ‘the’ thought leader on a unique topic.

Translate this message into your marketing strategy and you should be able to build a following faster than repeating what’s already been said.

What annoys customers on social media?

If you’ve got a social media profile on the main networks, customers will use that as a forum to contact you. Some of these interactions will be positive but many will be individuals using that channel as a complaints desk.

This is a similar situation for your competitors. Yet, their responses can be monitored to determine how best to deal with customer disputes. The time taken to respond, the tone of this, how the competitor proposed to deal with the problem, all of these are useful areas to identify.

Furthermore, analysing customer disputes can greatly benefit product/service development. For example, if a large group of customers are complaining about a competitor’s particular feature, creating a better version can be greatly beneficial. 

When is the best time to publish content?

Creating a publishing schedule takes time and research. However, instead of doing all the hard work yourself, why not let your competitors do it?

By investigating the publishing routines of these organisations, you can determine which posts have the best interaction rates. While the quality of the content will have something to do with its success, analysing publishing dates will help influence your own schedule.

Publish at the peak times for customer interaction and your content could soon start eclipsing your competitors.

What content can I repurpose?

Similar to using ahrefs to identify top performing content, this tool can also be used to highlight broken links. By running a competitor through this, you can see pages which have gathered attention before but no longer exist.

This creates an opportunity. If the broken link analysis reveals links to guides or other informational content, these materials can be replicated. Next, once you have a version which is better than its predecessor, you can approach those sites with the broken links and request these are updated to your website.

As a result, this creates backlinks but also provides a resource to users interested in the subject area.

What are competitors learning from you?

Competitor analysis is a useful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. Yet, it’s worth bearing in mind that it works both ways. The more successful you become, the more organisations will want to learn your secrets.

Eventually, competitors will start learning lessons from you.

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