Now that you are at a point where you have found a product and have done thorough research on the product itself, we will be looking at your competition. If you have a new concept for your product, you can skip this step, but it would be good to have a read through for future reference. In this blog I will discuss methods to understand your product’s competition better.
We will start by identifying key competitors using a private window in your web browser to do a search. I will be using Google Chrome’s incognito mode, but other browsers will have a similar window that you can use. If you don’t use Google chrome and don’t know how to find the private window, you can search using the term: private window (your browser).
What is incognito mode?
By opening an incognito window on your computer and mobile devices, you prevent Chrome from saving your browsing history. You can switch between an incognito window and any regular windows you have open. You’ll only be in incognito mode when you’re using the incognito window.
Why will we be browsing in incognito mode?
Using incognito mode ensures that your search results won’t be based on your previous browsing history or your Google Plus account (or any other accounts Google uses to base your search results on). Browsing this way is quicker and easier than logging out of your accounts and clearing your cache.
When opening your Chrome browser, go to file (on the bar at the top of the page). On the drop down list there is an option: New Incognito window.
Incognito window could also be opened on the top right hand side of your page as in the example below:
You can search and use the window as you would for a normal window..
By searching for the product you want to sell in incognito mode, we can identify which businesses are currently selling the product. The best way to search is to think like a potential customer. Use the information that you have gathered in the previous blogs to establish what keywords/ long-tail keywords to use when searching. Remember to include your area when searching.
Here is an example of a search phrase you can use: “website and app development” Centurion OR “website and app design” Centurion
Notice that I have placed my long-tail keywords in “”, in the search bar. I did this to indicate to Google to only search for sites that contain these keywords in this specific order. In other words, Google will only give me search results that have this specific term: website and app development or website and app design, and will not give me search results of websites that just contain website, app, development and design in a random order.
Note: In the above search term I used OR in capital letters. When searching in Google and using the capital letters OR, Google will search for websites with either of the terms, giving you a broader (more accurate) search result.
You can learn more on how to refine your Google search in Google’s search Tips.
Another example: business website development Centurion OR business app development Centurion
We will select the competitors that rank the highest in the search results (because these will be the search results your potential consumers will get when they do a search for your product).
If you already have a website or have stumbled upon a website that describes your business/product well, you can do the following search: related:www.yourcompany/the company’sURL.com, e.g. related:www.kuplasolutions.com
This search will give you a list of companies that are similar to the URL you searched on.
Start analysing your competition:
You won’t always get a clear picture of how well your competition is doing, but you can get a general idea by following the research methods discussed below. These will help you understand your competitors and how they engage with your target market.
Now that you have your search results from above, start with the first result and use the following methods to analyse the competitor. Remember to keep the information, because you will need it when we discuss how to set up a buyer’s persona in another blog.
Phase 1: What does their website tell you?
Key things you should look at are:
- How user-friendly is their website?
- What content do they have on their website?
- How do they display their products?
- What selling options do they provide for their customers (online order, in store only)?
- What are their prices?
- Do they run a blog on their website?
- On what social media platforms do they have an account?
- How much engagement takes place on their website (comments, reviews, etc.)?
- What call to actions do they use?
Note: Call to action buttons are buttons(links) that allow you to contact the company or take action to contact them when clicking on the the button/link it self. Example is a sign up button allowing you to sign up for a newsletter.
- Are they encouraging clients to sign up for a news letter/promotion emails?
- Do they post educational content?
Phase 2. What do their social media platforms look like?
Visit their social media pages to see their user engagement activities. Here you can check how long they have been in business for (companies that don’t do well don’t last more than 3 years).
Have a look at their followers (although this can be deceiving, because nowadays you can buy followers for the right amount of money) One thing that can be checked is the user engagement on the platform: how often do their followers like, share and comment on their page. To have a more in-depth look at the competitors’ page you can use a site called Fanpage Karma (this works for a variety of social media platforms).
With Fanpage Karma, you can monitor activities of other brands in your industry on the different social platforms. Free and paid versions of the tool are available. You can try out the free version by entering the Facebook page’s URL in the given search space and then clicking on the Get Free Insights button.
Note: In order to use a platform to review a brand’s page activities, the page being reviewed needs a certain amount of followers and activity to be able to get analyses of the page.
The results page lists a number of different metrics of which only a few can be viewed on the free version. Fanpage karma allows you a 14 day trail when signing in with your Facebook account.
At the bottom of the page above you will see a link to sign up with your Facebook page. If you would like a more in-depth analysis I would suggest that you do so.
More in-depth analytics include:
- The most popular days for posting on a social page (creating statuses or posting pictures or videos, etc.).
- Which time slots worked best for their posts.
- The most effective hashtags and which words and topics are used most often in posts.
- Where their fans are located, helping you to establish targeted geo-locations.
- Report relating to service level (how often does the brand respond to questions and concerns from fans).
This is just an example below, but there are a variety of different graphs and tabs to look at when signing up with Fanpage karma.
The above information is not an accurate indication of a competitor’s sales, but it can give you an idea of how popular they are, what they do to attract consumers and how they interact with them. Study these findings and evaluate how you can compete with them.
The best method would be setting up a SWOT table for your product. Be honest when identifying and writing down your Weaknesses, Strengths, Opportunities and Threats. When finishing your SWOT table, start identifying your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. After having written these down, compare your list to the competitors list and identify places where you can improve or things that you need to do when starting to sell your product. These can be things that need to be done before you start selling or they can be notes for planning for the future.
Now that you have identified potential competitors, collect your findings for our next blog where I will go through the steps on how to set up a buyer persona for your product.