Using Your Competition to Boost Your Internet Marketing ROI

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | December 2013


For most business owners and executives, thinking about "the competition" means pondering ways to bury them, not get help from them. And yet, by looking closely at the marketing tools, techniques, and campaigns that your competitors put together, you can go a long way towards boosting the return on investment you get from your own marketing budget.

If you like the sound of that – and would like to start earning money from your competitors, instead of losing it to them – then follow these five quick tips to make the most of the opportunity.

1. Look at your respective customer bases.

The first step to analyze a competitor is understanding whether or not they actually are a direct competitor. Some companies in your industry might be targeting different groups because of geography, budget ranges, and other demographic profiles. Ask yourself whether you really have overlapping customers, and whether there are ways you should look at expanding your own marketing to include new groups of buyers. Keep in mind that your competition on and offline may vary slightly.

2. Analyze their marketing themes and messages for similarities and differences.

This is the most obvious point for comparison. How do your marketing themes and ideas stack up against your competitors? Do you both offer low prices, quality products, and/or a high level of customer service? Or, are you emphasizing different benefits altogether? Which combination is most important to customers?

3. Get to know your competitor’s marketing personality.

Along with the offers being made, most companies have a marketing "personality" that sticks with them for quite a long time. Some like to be fun and offbeat, while other businesses tend towards more serious ads, blog posts, social updates, etc. Think about how your personality compares to a competitor's, and which personality might be most attractive to your best customers. What do you think will resonate with your targeted audience?

4. Look for repetitive elements in their marketing.

This is important, because if you see a certain offer, tagline, or other marketing element repeated again and again, that's a good sign that it has probably been successful in the past. So, even though you obviously don't want to copy the offer or idea itself, see if there are parts of it you could successfully duplicate. Or, look for ways to trump it with your own message and force your competitor to go back to the drawing board.

5. See how your own offers and guarantees stack up.

It always pays to look at things from your customer’s point of view, and specifically to see whether there are offers and guarantees that your competitors are making that you just aren't matching. In other words, are they telling buyers something that's hard to resist? If so, you have to find a way to do the same, or risk losing lots of sales in the future. Go through the sales process in your client's shoes. Register for an account, browse your website with fresh eyes, go through the purchase process.

6. Find out who your competition associates with online.

Links and citations to your site influences your online visibility. Looking at your competition's links can reveal a lot about their marketing strategy. Do they get most of their links from a tool or widget on their site? Do they have a partner program? Do they advertise, regularly publish press releases, etc. You see a list of links by using the Open Site Explorer Tool.

Far too many businesses, large and small, simply look at the competition as being an obstacle to bigger profits. You should certainly be looking for ways to beat out your competitors, but that doesn't mean you can't use their ideas and analysis to springboard your own success at the same time.

Looking for more great Internet marketing advice? Get in touch with the ArcStone team today!

Topics: Digital Marketing