Checking out the competition

May Marketing Madness Online Strategy Week, Post #13

When making changes to your own website it always pays to check out the competition. By identifying who your main competitors are, and recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, you can target your own customer base more effectively.

First Step: Identify your competition

When identifying your major competitors, don't only focus on companies and websites that produce a similar product to you, but on any website that targets the same audience. For example, online gaming websites should not only check out the big websites in the industry, but should also take some time to look at other entertainment, forex or day-trading sites. Use tools like Alexa to find out what other sites your visitors go to, and make sure you take them all into consideration.

Healthy competition never hurts anyone.

Step 2: Check out competing websites

Once you've identified your top competitors, take a thorough look at each of their websites, noting each segment of their site in a comprehensive table. Do they have a blog which highlights their product? How about a news section, keeping their customers up to date with what the company is up to? What methods do they offer to get in contact? Are they pushing any social media or other external links on their homepage, and which of these links could work for you? Finally, ALWAYS read through competitors FAQs, because you can guarantee your customers are asking exactly the same questions.

Step 3: Consider Social Media Influences

Take into account any and all marketing efforts competitors use to keep customers coming back to their site, such as newsletters signup boxes or "send to a friend" buttons. Finally, Don't forget their social media! Many companies nowadays see their Facebook and Twitter pages as an extension of their own site, and should be treated as such. Make sure you know how frequently and successfully these are used to interact with customers.

Standing Out From the Competition

By the end of your analysis you should be left with a veritable pick'n'mix of different elements to make your own competitive super-site. If need be, use a grading system to prioritize based on what works, what doesn't, and who does what best. This should be something you turn to time and time again.

Even after several redesigns you can always come back to it to see what elements are still lacking from your own site, and where you're losing to your competition. It's a very aggressive approach to take, but using this method you can design a website that blows your competition out of the water.

This post is one out of Clicktale's month long May Marketing Madness series. Each of our daily posts will highlight and explain today's best practices, useful tips and smart tools to measure and improve your online business performance. This week's theme is online strategy. Make sure to stay tuned in for more!

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