Whenever we talk to new clients, they always think they know who their competition is. Usually, they’re right. But usually they are only hitting a small sliver of the competitive landscape.
This is particularly true with digital marketing. In fact, online marketing opens up a whole new world of competition, that every business would be wise to keep an eye on.
1. Offline Competitors
Many businesses–especially those that were around pre-internet–have a fairly good grasp on the offline competition around them. After all, before the internet, that’s all there was. But many newer businesses forget that offline competition matters as much as online. It’s important to realize that failure to take these competitors into consideration will affect your long-term success.
The thing about offline competitors is they can, at any moment, move into the online arena. And while they may be only a minor threat at first, once they invest in earnest, the threat becomes real.
Don’t wait until competition gets fierce before you begin to lay the groundwork for building your own online empire. It’s always better to force someone else to play catch-up to you than you to them.
2. Organically Ranked Competitors
Many businesses tend to discount online competition that they feel is relatively weak in their space. But here’s the thing: Anyone ranking for your keywords is a clear and present danger to your success. It doesn’t matter if they don’t compete for the same customers as you. What does matter is they are currently ranking where you want to be ranked.
It’s always a good idea to run some keyword searches to see what kind of businesses, blogs, forums, etc., are holding those top spots. Where your offline competition may truly be competing for your customers, these online competitors are competing for searcher attention. And you won’t get it as long as they are showing up and you are not.
Of course, you may find genuine competition in this space as well, which means they won’t give up those spots easily. You’re going to have to work for them.
3. Paid Ad Competitors
Even if you’re not venturing into paid ads, you can learn a bit from those who are investing in getting paid listings for your keywords. There are two reasons for this:
- If you’re not investing in PPC, you’re leaving money on the table. Simultaneously investing in paid and organic marketing provides far more exposure and traffic than you’d get running either of those independently. As long as people click on ads, you won’t get those clicks unless you’re paying for those positions.
- Understanding how your competitors are investing in PPC allows you to get a sense of how aggressive they are in total. You specifically want to look at keywords and estimated ad spend. If you see big PPC ad spend, you can count on the fact that they will likely begin focusing similar effort on the organic side of things as well.
4. Startup Competitors
Startups can fall into any of the categories above, but it’s good to keep an eye on them. Start-ups tend to enter the game with investment money. That allows them to come out of the gate doing far more than you ever dreamed. These deep pockets give them a distinct advantage. While many startups flame out, they can take a big chunk of potential business away from you long before they do.
Whether or not you’re keeping an eye on your competition, chances are they are keeping an eye on you. Don’t give them the competitive advantage. Dig deep to find out what your competition is doing and utilize that knowledge to get an advantage of your own.