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Three ways to outperform your online rivals

Are you worried that your online competitors are stealing customers from your business?

If so, you're not alone. In our recent survey, 46% of businesses told us this was their greatest fear. Another 27% were worried that competitors' prices were lower; 18% reported concerns that their competitors have better marketing.



But business is competition, so how can your company gain the advantage? 


In order to outperform your competitors, you'll need to think strategically about the differences between your business and theirs. Here are three steps you can take to make it easier.



1. Get to know your brand, reputation and customers


Your business is your brand - without a strong brand and a solid reputation, you'll find it much harder to convert and retain customers.



Check out online reviews to see what customers are saying about you. When customers give you a glowing five-star review, what do they praise the most? When they're unhappy, what are the most common complaints? Many customers feel more able to voice their opinions online than in person, so this is an excellent way to learn what customers really think of you.



Understand your brand's appeal from the customer's point of view - why do they buy from you instead of your competitors? Does the customer perspective align with your company's presentation of the brand?


Once you've explored opinions of your brand, get to know your customers' needs and desires:



  • What do they want from your product or service?

  • What do they want you to start doing?

  • What do they want you to stop doing?

  • What do they want you to continue doing?


One of the simplest ways to discover this information is to conduct a consumer survey.  As the majority of consumers use mobile devices, a mobile survey lets you reach them wherever they are and provides an easy way for them to respond.



2. Get to know your competition and their customers


It's important to keep track of what advertising and marketing tactics your main competitors use, from SEO and SEM to social networking and email marketing. Notice any changes in their approach so you can gain insight into their broader strategies.



Take the time to audit your competitors' online performance:




  • Do they rank well for the search keywords that your company targets?


  • Do they publish great content online on a regular basis?


  • Do they have an active following on social media?



Subscribe to your competitors' email marketing campaigns to see how they're using this channel. Use a non-corporate email address for this, to avoid flooding your business inbox with competitor marketing campaigns or tipping off your competitors about your research activities.


Now learn more about your competitors' customers (and how they could become your customers):




  • Keep track of comments left on your competitors' social media profiles, websites, review sites and blogs. Try to get a sense of your competitors' typical customer profiles.


  • Look for gaps you can exploit. Are your competitors lacking a service or product that your company can deliver?



3. Gain insight to inform your decisions


Guesswork won't give you the insight you need to make the right decisions, but accurate data will.



To obtain data on your customers and how they interact with your brand, consider using lead conversion software. This can track key metrics including: impressions compared to click-through rates; conversion rates of different customer segments; conversion rates of different landing page designs; and how your chosen metrics change with the time of day, the day of the week or even the seasons.



Copyright © 2015 Paul Liascos, managing director of ReachLocal UK.

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