Who are your competitors?
You probably know them already, but it is useful to double check the main players in your sector and stay up-to-date with your industry news and trends. If you are starting your online business and you are still looking for great product ideas to sell, we also recommend you to keep an eye on the main competitors.
How to find your competitors in the huge World Wide Web?
If you do not have an online shop yet, a simple search of your product in Google will give you some clues about competitors. You can add to your search the words “shop” or “buy” to look for shops in particular. Pay special attention to AdWords ads when you do these searches to find the most active competitors, which are also spending money for customer acquisition.
A step ahead of a simply Google search is to use Google Trends to gather information about related topics and websites, related searches, and even compare it to other products or searches. Another Google product that can help you is Google shopping: simply type the name of your product (the more specific, the better) and find who sells it in your area/country.
If you already have an online shop, you can also do a related search in Google, so it displays related websites in base of the keywords, description etc. Type in the search box: “related:www.youronlineshop.com”. For example:
What to look when reviewing the competition?
Once you have selected a bunch of competitors, you can start your analysis by comparing your shop/business to theirs in every aspect or simply by checking them for inspiration and learning (“What and how are they doing?”). We recommend you not to check all of them thoroughly, but to select a few ones for more information (value proposition, pricing, design, etc) and others for more specific inspiration (social media strategies, international approach, etc).
There are so many things that you can check that we recommend you to start with the essentials and then with other items “nice to have”. Here is a checklist for you!
- Google Ranking
- 1st impression on their website
- Design and visuals
- Prices and offers
- Content: SEO, product descriptions
- Value proposition
- General Marketing strategy
- Customer Target (and how they addressed it)
- Delivery and payment options
- Customer Support channels: Phone, Social media, chat…
- Other sales channels: offline store, marketplaces…
- Social media activities
The cherry on top of the cake would be checking their purchase process in order to have a first-hand experience of their pay flow options, customer attention, e-mailings, delivery and packaging, etc.
Among the essentials we listed, we recommend to check on your competitor’s value proposition. This is shown basically by their messages in their homepage and rest of their content but also with their customer support, product options, purchase process, etc. Remember that the value proposition is the reason why their customers buy from them and it could be answered by the question: What makes them different or more appealing?
Tools to check on your competition
While some aspects like design, value proposition, messages and customer call-to-actions, etc. should be checked manually, there are many tools that will help you with the techier aspects (ranking, SEO, keywords, mentions, etc.). More often than not, the same tools that help you monitor the results of your website can also give you insights on your competition.
We have selected some tools that are free and easy to use.
Web traffic and more:
SimilarWeb is a very complete tool with freemium service that provides a general picture of the traffic, ranking, visitor’s behaviour and demographics, traffic sources, and even mentions on social media and display ads. It also provides similar websites (useful to find more competitors) and you can compare 2 websites side-by-side.
Spyfu helps you to improve your Google ranks by tapping into your competitors’ keyword strategies. It provides a list of keywords your competitors are targeting for AdWords and organic.
In its freemium mode, Semrush provides you with nice graphs about organic and paid traffic, ranking, display advertising, link building and much more. It also has a very interesting list of organic and paid keywords that will help you in your SEO/SEM strategies.
Moreover, if you are looking for specific keywords, it will provide you more understandable data than Google Adwords.
SEOBook is a nice bookmark for everything about SEO, since it provides courses and a plethora of information and tools. One of the tools that we picked up for you is the website comparison tool, which compares page titles, meta information and common phrases on different pages. See how your main competitors describe themselves!
This could be a very time-consuming task if you are set to do it manually, case by case, as the prices change continuously or might be incorrect. Although there is not a specific tool that will magically give you pricing of all the competition we recommend you to try a shortcut by checking price comparison portals, marketplaces and other similar product portals. We already mentioned Google Shopping, but you can also check prices in others like Twenga, Idealo, Pricerunner, etc.
Social Media and News:
This tool scans the web in real time and displays mentions of your competitors on blogs, videos, and social media. It’s very useful if you are looking for a concrete and known brand, but not that much for smaller merchants. However, give it a try since you can get interesting insights from the social media presence of known stores.
If you need inspiration to do Social media ads (mainly Facebook), this is a great tool for you. It provides a search of a keywords/URL but, as with Socialmention, it is more useful with known names or brands.
Last but not least, another Google tool to monitor the mentions of your competition. You can create alerts on a keyword, name and set up the way you want to read it when it appears (in your e-mail, in and news feed, etc).
If you give it a try, don’t forget also to set up an alert on your own business to see if anyone else is talking about you!
Remember, we recommend you to use these tools to make your research and analysis swifter and easier. However, as with everything, you should start by checking up only a handful of competitors and aspects to give you a first insight.
We hope you enjoy doing the research! We look forward to know how it goes with your business. Do you often check on your competition?