Whether from disruptive technologies shifting the balance of power, or a proliferation of low-cost competitors gaining access to existing technologies at increasingly lower prices, in every industry, it seems, competition is increasing. In this environment, the importance of being deliberate about how and where you invest time and resources grows exponentially. The “easy” solution, some think, is to increase your budget. But increased budgets without increased focus and strategic consideration is usually simply a recipe for waste. Thankfully, there are a number of “sweat equity” options to help you be more competitive on your existing budget.
1. Audit your competition
And we mean, actively, relentlessly. Set time aside and search the web, scour trade publications, visit their social and web properties, and subscribe to their mailing lists. Take screen shots, catalog and document what, when and how they are talking about themselves, your mutual competition, or you. Note when they begin to alter their tone or messaging. Try to understand how they flight media. We, as a species, are incredible pattern recognition machines. The more you internalize your competitors’ behaviors, the more quickly you will anticipate any change to their strategy and the more quickly you can adjust or enhance your own.
2. Narrow your target audience
This usually feels counterintuitive for most of our clients. Shouldn’t you want to sell to more customers? Not exactly. You want to sell to more of the right customer. Most industries follow something close the 80/20 rule—meaning 80% of the profits are derived from the top 20% of customers. By example, let’s look at the case of Apple. By dominating in the high-end of the mobile market, and ignoring the budget end of the market, they reap something more like 90% of the industry profits with only 17% share of unit sales. Evaluate your customer portfolio. Understand the profile of your most profitable relationships and focus your messaging, media mix and overall marketing budgets against that segment.
3. Upgrade your analytics
Google Analytics lets you track goals based on the basic data that platform can track: URL visited, time on page, or pages per session. With addition of Google Tag Manager, you're able to track nearly every type of user interaction on your website. It’s a window, not simply into where and how many users are interacting with your site, but how effectively your site is driving the behaviors that feed your sales funnel or lead to a direct sale itself.
Tag Manager opens up new possibilities of what can be tracked: page timers, video plays, button clicks, form information, window loads, and limitless custom events. And it enables reporting on the event data in Analytics for further detailed analysis down the road. In addition to these being able to trigger Goals in Analytics and Conversions in Adwords, Tag Manager can add the event details to existing reports for maximum slicing and dicing. For a more detailed look at the inner workings (and pitfalls) of Google Analytics, read our blog post, here.
4. Optimize your online experience for conversions
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of reviewing analytics and user feedback to improve specific performance metrics of your website. That could mean refining web forms to increase completion rates and improve lead generation. It could mean uncovering the most frequent points of exit on your user journey and making adjustments to your UX, your design, the language involved, or adding social appeals to make continuation of the journey more appealing. In addition to enhancing results on key performance indicators (KPIs), CRO should improve ROI on SEO/SEM efforts as well as create a higher satisfaction rating, site wide.
Insight and efficiency are always a good investment.
Time and time again, we’ve seen challenger brands disrupt larger, entrenched incumbents by taking the time and putting in the effort, to refine their positioning, narrow their target customer profile, differentiate their customer experience, and go after their competitors’ best customers, relentlessly, with surgical precision. As the French proverb goes: “Qui court deux lievres a la fois, n’en prend aucun” — translation: “Who runs after two hares at the same time, catches none.”