Determining what should be on your website, let alone how it should look and function, is not a task for the faint of heart. It's one of those projects that takes a lot of hard thinking and seems never to end (which it shouldn't - you should be continually working to drive better results from your site). However, there is one thing you can do to make it easier, save time, and ensure you're keeping up with - or surpassing - industry trends: a competitor analysis.
Here are 5 ways a competitor analysis can help you create a better website:
1. Identify Opportunities and Threats
When evaluating how your competitors are using their website, compare what strategies they're actively engaged in with what you're currently doing. For example, if they all have dynamic sites with calls-to-actions, content offers, and blogs, and you don't, that is a big problem. They're building up a strong online presence and are going to dominate you on the Internet. Or perhaps most of your competitors have simple brochure sites. That could be your chance to implement strategies that outperform them online.
Some strategies to look for include things like:
- Online Lead Generation
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Paid Search
- Promoted Campaigns
- Upcoming Events
You'd be surprised at how much you can learn about what your competitor's growth strategies are just by reviewing their website and social media streams. Once you have a good idea of what they're doing, you can step on the gas, if needed, to try to catch up - or uncover gaps that you can penetrate.
2. Improve Search Performance
Our world today is driven by Search. Anything we want to know is a few words and enter key away. "Looking it up" is becoming almost an addiction - it's like our brains can't absorb information fast enough. That means your website needs to include words and phrases that give you the best possible chance to get found by your target audience when they put their fingers on the keyboard.
You and your competition will likely be competing for many of the same keywords. Identifying what they're targeting can give you ideas for your website and help you brainstorm related words and phrases they may not be pursuing.
3. Strengthen Sales Messaging
Your website copy (a.k.a. sales messaging) will either have prospects shaking their head yes in understanding, or furrowing their brows in confusion. You and your competition might sell similar products and services, but the company that has the clearest, most concise, and compelling messaging will seem like the better solution.
Understanding how your competition explains and positions their offering is critical to helping you showcase your unique value.
4. Elevate Graphical Appeal
Approximately 65% of the population are visual learners. On top of that, you only have mere seconds to engage someone once they come to your website. That means you can have the best message in the world, but if it's buried under a cluttered or confusing design, the web visitor will never read it.
Website design tells a lot about your company and the effort you put into "getting dressed in the morning." A dated or poorly designed site is very obvious and leaves a bad first impression. Organizations that have a clean, modern, and visually appealing website will have a greater chance of engaging website visitors and converting them into sales leads.
A competitor analysis will make sure you know what it takes to look like a successful industry leader vs. a struggling wannabe.
5. Enhance Competitive Differentiation
In today's age, you can safely assume that at some point your prospects will go to your website to learn more about you. They want to know who you are, what you do, how it will benefit them, and if they should trust you or not. And, it's a sure bet that if they've looked at your website, they've looked at some of your competitors' sites as well.
Think about it from the prospects perspective for a moment: comparing your website side-by-side against your competitors. What are the reasons they should do business with you vs. them? What makes you stand out?
Here are some additional differentiating attributes to map out:
- Product / Service Offerings
- Niche Market
- Core Values
- Organizational Structure
Your "uniqueness" becomes the driving force for all your sales and marketing efforts - including the website - so it needs to be well thought out.
Here's Why a Competitor Analysis is So Critical
As a business leader, it's very likely that you're doing "informal" competitor analyses all the time, so you probably have a pretty good idea about most of this stuff. Why go through the rigmarole of doing a "formal" analysis?
Putting your company side-by-side with your competitors - in black and white - forces you to face issues you may have a tendency to avoid. It helps you study and visualize market strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats so you can develop a profitable business growth strategy. And, it gives you the tools you need to create an online presence that helps you stand out from the crowd.