On June 5th, #SEMrushchat discussed "How to Hack Your Competitors’ Marketing Strategies" with guest Joe Youngblood. The responses from Joe and our community showed that gathering data from your competitors is not as simple as most people believe.
With experience comes knowledge, and our community offered their expertise. Keep reading to view their insights, which should help you when evaluating competitors.
You can retweet any of the tips below by clicking on the Twitter logo next to the quote.
When doing Competitor Research, we often assess our clients' competitors' gaps by reviewing their messaging across their websites and social media. Although difficult, the biggest marketing gaps come from messaging and positioning of a company.
See what they’re doing! Go to their site to get in their remarketing campaigns. Get on their email list. See how they rank on organic search? What’s their engagement like on social? Put your self in the shoes of someone in-market!
Start by looking at the the most popular platforms and gauge your competitors activity level there. That includes SEO, Local SEO, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Imgur, Snapchat, Email Newsletters, etc. Find the platforms / places they have no or low activity in and see if those places work for you.
You can use tools or even just your brain to audit your competitors' marketing efforts, but you can never actually KNOW for certain what's working or not without having full access to their analytics :)
Julie F Bacchini
I like to use a combination of old fashioned manual searching and tools to get the best sense I can of where they are advertising, what they're pitching and the overall quality of their efforts.
Contentious point. Unless you have access to your competitors log files you are not going to know. There are services that guesstimate competitor traffic and that can be useful to find out where they are targeting effort. You could do that looking at their site!
Not much unless you can put it into context. Traffic alone doesn't mean anything unless you can see the full details of the customer interactions, journeys through the site, conversion rates etc. Huge traffic doesn't mean anything if it's not converting.
AT best, it is a predictive indicator of ebb and flow. With time and money you could see how reactive their users are to events within the vertical. Traffic alone is a thin metric. What the traffic does and where makes it more meaningful.
Julie F Bacchini
I'm not aware of a way to actually see another site's traffic stats? But, I do like to look for commonalities in types of content and rhythm of content creation & sharing. Gives me ideas of things to potentially test out.
You can learn a lot from your competition's website traffic including— Finding pages that might be helping them convert more sales/leads - If they're losing traffic due to updates / issues - Discovering new content formats to use (i.e., Research, etc.).
Something to keep in mind, some sites inflate metrics you can view on live pages, like views, reads, social shares, etc. They do this for obvious reasons; you can't believe everything you see — true data is in analytics.
Channel spend over time - we don’t know conversion efficiency but if they’re savvy, they’ll be allocating to the best performing channels. So we get to know, what’s working for them and the value they attribute to it. Start of a competitive strategy.
Excellent question! I would have to say I would be more interested in learning about a competitor's lead gen/conversion data. Having that data would then allow me to analyze those pages that drive leads/conversions, and implement on my client's site.
How they convinced their board to spend more on organic SEO than PPC.
Show me the most profitable customer journey with % of revenue included :). I want to know that they came in through organic social, clicked on an ad about the sale. Got on an email list. Finally did an organic search and purchased. That data is GOLD.
For me it's finding out what content/messaging works for the competition to drive a lead/sale.
Their highest converting landing pages. This information could be the building blocks to creating pages that lead to new business.
Julie F Bacchini
Again, you can't know what is WORKING for a competitor. You can only guess based on where you see them putting their efforts, proportionally. You don't have to go everywhere they go. Be careful comparing to larger brands too. You have no idea how much they care about the performance levels you might. They could be satisfied w/ hitting a single KPI consistently.
Unless we were told specifically -- or hacked into their analytics -- we'd never know what worked because we won't know what's converting. That's what matters: not traffic, or shares, or anything we can see or think we know from competitor analysis tools.
LinkedIn seems to have always been a difficult beast to tackle. I saw this most for a nurse staffing company. Instead, we found that Facebook was our biggest asset even though our competitors thrived in LI.
Youtube, definitely Youtube. Not sure if it was a lack of creativity, budget, or quality, but could never quite get any traffic to OR from our video content, while some competitors laughed all the way to the bank b/c of their video content.
It varies based on the client, but luckily, it is rarely search in any form. That said, competitive research can sometimes provide the best insight of all - to stay away from a channel because your competitor owns it due to a larger budget, etc.
Don’t go on every channel because it's easy. If you don’t want an empty store, don’t create channels you won't tend to with the same effort as your store.
The biggest lesson small businesses can learn, in my opinion, is that you have to meet the customer where they are. So many still want to stick with the old way of doing things, but they need to keep up with the changing nature of digital marketing.
Julie F Bacchini
Unless you're a bank or some other vital service, no one wants one more app they have to download to deal with you. Don't fall into that trap unless you have a REALLY compelling reason for it.
That online reputation can be just as important as offline and that being available wherever your customers (potential new ones and existing) spend their time can be hugely effective.
Align your messaging to be consistent across all devices and channels. Customers usually start on on 1 device and complete on another unless they absolutely have to input credit card #s on mobile device. THey may also come from a social channel to the website.
Go to where your audience is already playing online and listen/engage there first. Once you have a better understanding of the needs/wants, create and share with intention.
Thank You to All of Those That Participated
Each week, I will be watching the SEMrushchats looking for tweets I believe will offer expert-level insights to our blog readers. So, keep sharing your advice and don't miss this week's SEMrushchat on Wednesday, June 5th at 11 AM ET/3 PM GMT; the topic will be "How to Boost Your Online Performance with Competitive Intelligence."