Join Brad Batesole for an in-depth discussion in this video Researching your competition, part of Marketing Foundations: Growth Hacking.
- The digital era has brought with it a lot of similar businesses. But competition isn't always a bad thing. If anything, a little competition helps validate the space you're trying to capture. Now, I'm not a big fan of obsessing over competition, especially in your early stages. It's easy to let their approach plague your own creative process. You don't wanna go down one route just because your competitor is doing it. With that said, keeping an eye on your competitor is still important. If you're going after an identical target market, then your initial approach will be to evaluate where the competition leaves their customer hanging.
That's a product opportunity. And it's a valid strategy for early growth. Find a pain point with their customers and solve it. One of the easiest way to keep tabs on your competitor is to become a customer. Explore their process. Experience their brand. Receive their marketing communications, and so on. But beyond that, there's a couple of tools that help you understand what your competition is up to, and how you might overlap with their market share. Let's look at a few of these tools together. So, the first tool I want to share with you is MOAT.
Oftentimes, looking at a competitor's website isn't enough to truly understand their specific selling point. One way of figuring out what your competitor thinks is the most attractive part of their business is to look at how they're advertising themselves. Because advertising online requires spending money, most successful businesses have done the hard work of figuring out what message attracts their audience. And moat.com is a search engine for paid advertisements. It'll bring back all the ads your competitor has launched around the web. And this can really help you see what messaging they've tried, pick out themes, and look closely at what their pitch is.
This way, you can either expand upon it, or leverage an even better feature that your product has. It's also really easy to use. So here on moat.com, we simply can enter in a brand name in the Ad Search section. Let's take a look for AirBNB. I'll chose it from the dropdown. Now we can see all the adds that AirBNB is running around the web. Once you see one that interests you, you can hover over it, and you'll see where it was last seen and even the site that it was found on. Another great resource for understanding what your competition has been up to is the Internet Archive, and you'll find it at archive.org.
Using the Wayback Machine, which is this section in the center of the screen, you can insert the URL of a competitor and look at the iterations of their website over time. So let's take a look at square.com. I'll enter in the URL and then choose BROWSE HISTORY. What we can see here is that we've got the year 2014 selected. If I scroll down, the blue circles indicate when a snapshot was taken. So here we can see that there was a snapshot on March 7. So we'll click into that option. What's great is that we can see exactly what the site looks like on this date, and then we can scroll through the various options up here in the top right corner to see how it changed over time.
You can even put in a specific landing page URL or product pages to understand how this site or brand has evolved their experience. This is a great place for inspiration. You could discern what worked and what didn't work based on what elements they've kept or eliminated. And finally, one of my favorite tools is semrush.com. While it's main focus is SEO, you can gather a lot of insight by looking at the keywords that your competition is ranking for. This helps you understand where they are in the market and how well they're doing.
So here on semrush.com, you simply enter in the URL of your competitor in the searchbox. I'll take a look at uber.com. Now, there's a limited amount of data for free. And beyond that, you'll have to pay. It's worth paying for a month to use all the tools, however. My favorite is the ability to run a competitive comparison. You can do that here on the lefthand side by choosing Tools and then Domain vs. domain. And here you could enter in one domain and then your domain and you'll see what keywords overlap.
And you can even look at a chart to see what volume of the industry a particular brand has. Now these are just a few tools to get you started. You might also want to explore setting up Google Alerts or configuring Twitter to provide you with a notification anytime your competitor receives a mention. And as I discussed earlier, learn only as much as you need to gain the upper hand, and then keep a casual eye on what your competitor is up to from day-to-day.
The course concludes with growth-hacking case studies, highlighting the growth-hacking techniques that helped propel such companies as Airbnb, Uber, and Tinder to explosive growth.
- What is growth hacking?
- Understanding the funnel
- Setting up tracking and analytics
- Leveraging customers and existing users
- Testing ideas
- Generating an audience
- Creating an incentive strategy
- Real-world examples of successful growth hacking