Clashing heads with competitors is unavoidable for every merchant. If you don’t have a competitor, chances are you didn’t do your research enough - or if you’re lucky, you’re the only player in the market.
The latter is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing - so you have a much better chance to win a subset of the market if you do competitive research right.
Here are 05 tips to do better competitive research:
1/ Reverse-engineer competitors' tactics.
You don’t want to copy everything your competitors do without understanding why a tactic works. What work for your competitor might not work for you. This is more of a heuristic than an actual, actionable tip - we’ll get to the tips now.
2/ Sign up for their email list.
Learn how they onboard their new customers, how they nurture prospects, which type of content they’re sending out, and how many touch-points they go for.
3/ Go to Sparktoro.
Enter your competitors’ websites or social accounts to get more insights into your target customers: Whom do they follow? Where do they usually hang out? What type of content are they interested in?
Marketing is all about sending the right message to the right people, in the right place and at the right time. Sparktoro helped you a lot with the Time and Space :)
4/ See an interesting pop-up, section, or functionality on your competitors’ website or marketing touch points?
Take the Hiut Denim website as an example - you can see you’re using the following apps:
Sumo (likely for Pop-up)
Klaviyo (likely for email marketing)
5/ Go to Webarchive.com.
Add your competitors’ websites. Learn how their copy changed over time. Changes in copy might tell you about how they define their target customers, how they sell their products, and what they think their unique value propositions are.
For example, looking at the 2013 homepage of Dollar Shave Club - one of the leading Shopify brands - and comparing it with their 2018 homepage (when they first started vs when they were more established) - we can learn that:
For the manscape/grooming subscription business, pricing used to be a good differentiator (Dollar Shave Club emphasized how much customers could save up)
When Dollar Shave Club was more popular and the market was more crowded, they shifted their positioning to product quality and personalization instead.
You need to know how they sell their products so that you can find another framing/positioning to sell yours differently. You don’t want to be a copycat - especially when going against a more established player.
6/ Study your competitors’ customer reviews.
Skip 05-star reviews and focus only on 03-star reviews, because that’s where the insights are. You might discover unaddressed pain points and hidden needs and use those to your advantage.
For example, if you’re selling earrings and you find that most 3-star reviews for your competitors’ earrings are about how it's too small, or it’s easy to fall off - the straps are too loose, or the color was off.
Or if you’re selling cleaning paste and the 3-star reviews mention the unpleasant smell - despite its effectiveness.
This is where you swoop in and differentiate yourself:
You don’t just sell earrings - you sell beautiful earrings that don't fall off easily and are highly durable.
You don’t just sell cleaning paste - you sell scented cleaning paste that flood customers’ house with flowery fragrance after cleaning.
That's all for today - try these tactics yourselves and tell em about the results in the comment :)
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