The idea behind competitive intelligence isn’t so much to beat the competition, as it is to become the obvious choice for your ideal customer. And if your ideal customer is choosing a competitor and paying more for their product or service than they are for yours, then you are going to want to do some competitive research.

You’re probably wondering where to begin.  I thought of that.  So I’ve pulled together some questions to get you started.   start

  1. How do they emphasize their value proposition?
  2. What are their prices like compared to yours?
  3. What is their product photography like, and how are their product descriptions?
  4. What are their shipping options and prices like?
  5. Where are their call to actions, and how obvious are they?
  6. Are they trying to build an email list?
  7. Is their site optimized for mobile?
  8. What is their social media presence like; which platforms do they use; how often do they interact with customers, and how do they speak with their customers?

You can simply create a document and begin brainstorming answers to these questions.  You can also create a simple table or spreadsheet with these elements in the first column and then you can evaluate specific competitors in each additional column.  Something that looks like this:

You’ll notice that I’ve also included some comparative information on your competitors’ online presence.  Here are a few tips on what to look for when evaluating their website.

How to evaluate your competitors online presence

The first step in evaluating a competitor’s Web presence should be the their website. In the same way that you can learn a lot about someone by their outward appearance, you can learn a lot about a company’s personality through their website.

Is the competitors’ website customer focused or company focused?  A customer focused website will be written in the second person (using the word “you” frequently) and focus on specific customer pains.  If a competitor’s website is company focused, you might see pictures of their buildings or they will feature their products and services prominently.

If your competitor is customer or user focused, take note of who they are targeting, notice what problems they feature and pay special attention to how they support their claims.  The same holds true for a product or service focused company.  What products are they featuring and what claims are they making?  How do these compare to yours?

Here is a short list of some other areas you can evaluate.

  • Is it easy to identify what they do within the first few seconds?
  • What products or services do they offer?
  • How are they similar to your business and how are they different?
  • Do they promote themselves more effectively than you do?

Don’t forget their online reputation

An often forgotten source of fantastic competitive information is trolling customer reviews.  You can find customer reviews of your competitors on YELP, Google, Bing and many other places.  Simply get yourself to Google and enter COMPETITOR’S NAME and the word “review” and see what you get.

Here’s a snippet of a local business in my neighborhood —

medina

Don’t forget to set up a Google Alert to receive a notice whenever your competitor’s name is mentioned in a review.

What your competitors have to do with the weather

Checking up on the competition is a lot like checking the weather.  It’s not necessarily going to change your life — but it will certainly impact if you bring an umbrella.  That’s the same way you should look at your competitors.  The idea is to just see what’s going on so you’re not blindsided.  Don’t make it the center of your attention.