Spy on your Competitors to Improve Your Strategies

There are hundreds of ways to improve your digital marketing campaigns; A/B testing, surveys, and usability studies are all important. But what about spying?

Have you thought about looking at your competitors and what their customers think of them to improve your own campaigns?

Understanding your customers is critical. If you can’t answer all the important questions a customer may have, then it means you could be losing money.

Looking at competitors will allow you to make some immediate and fruitful changes. And you don’t need to be James Bond to carry it off.

How can your competitors help improve your own strategy?

Whether you like it or not your competitors will have lots of paying customers; some that love them and some that hate them.

Just because these customers didn’t buy from you, doesn’t mean you can’t use them to your advantage. Many customers will post their experiences online which provides you with a wealth of data, that you can analyse to improve your own conversion rates.

Studying reviews

A study by econsultancy found that 47% of Brits have reviewed a product online – giving you masses of information.

The first thing you need to do is pick one of your competitors – aim high and pick the biggest, just because they will have more customers therefore more reviews.  Once you have picked your competitor, choose a big review site and locate their review page. The biggest ones in the UK are Trust Pilot and Review Centre.

63% of people will read a review of a product before purchase, so it makes sense that your competitor will be on one of these sites.

Now it’s time to investigate and start to read what customers are saying about your competitors. Don’t just concentrate on negative reviews – find out why customers love the competition as well.

Make a list of the key points you can find and you’ll start to see patterns and common themes. Then ask yourself – does my website address these issues? Am I doing enough to make them love my brand?

If you can pinpoint errors that other companies are making, you can learn to avoid them and increase customer’s confidence in your own business. Increased confidence = increased conversions.

The same applies for companies receiving lots of love. Why do customers love them so much? How can you improve yourself so that you become one of the loved?

Use social media to spot customer hang-ups in real time

Not all customers will go out their way to sign up to a review site and post their experience, but I’d bet you a pound that they’ve gone onto Twitter or Facebook to post about it.

According to a recent survey, 34% of Americans have turned to social media to express their feeling about a company. Track mentions using an app like Hootsuite – you can add different streams for different mentions and keep track of your own and competitors in real time.

Twitter is great to keep an eye on mentions – but don’t forget Facebook. Check out your competitor’s business pages to see what customers are writing about there. You’ll get a lot more detail (more than 140 characters) and you will also be able to monitor how the company responds, which again you can use to your own advantage.

Don’t forget the forums

Forums have been around forever – way before the dawn of the internet, but believe it or not companies still use them to provide information. People involved in forums use them to praise businesses, ask questions about products or companies, or they can be used as a platform for customers to vent their frustrations.

The information you receive here will be very similar to that on the review sites but you can focus on customers who have not bought the product yet, or those that are not confident enough to do so. These are the customers you’ll need to analyse.

By analysing pre-purchase questions about the product or service you will learn tonnes about the issues customers face when shopping online.

What do you do with this information?

- Spilt test your call to actions based on your findings.

- Test different value propositions.

- If price is a grievance for your customers, make an effort to address this. Think money off, free delivery or coupons.

- Build a helpful FAQs section based on recurring themes.

- Conduct a survey about your proposed changes based on your findings.

Tell us how you spy. Shhh we won’t tell.  

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