Competition can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing; the difference is your perception. Fearing competition can drive success or create a high-pressure environment that hinders success.
Welcoming competition can also push us to work harder and faster, or it can invite that one business that takes over and pushes your business out or...
"Once you stop learning, you start dying." - Albert Einstein
Inbound marketing success depends on always learning and evolving. Let's talked about what our competitors can teach us about inbound marketing...
1) How to design your website
Go on, don't be ashamed - take a peek or three at what the competition is doing. It's not unusual, neither is it unethical to lift a few design and layout pointers from your competitors' websites and adapt them to suit your needs. Browse through their websites from a user's point of view to get a feel of their user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). This will give you valuable user insight into what you like about their websites and what doesn't work. You can use this information to make your website better and more responsive than the competition. Creativity, they say, is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. This is the 'perspiration' bit.
2) Email Campaign
Sure, email can often be an outbound marketing tool but as one business stated, "if you're doing email marketing right, it's inbound. Otherwise, you risk spam and deliverability issues." While there may be a discussion about that particular statement, the truth is that email marketing can be both an inbound and outbound tactic. Marketing partner Hubspot has compiled a list of 15 of the best email marketing campaigns here. Sharpen your pencils, students, it's time to take notes.
3) Lead Nurturing
Owners, managers, and professional marketers are all familiar with tools like customer mapping and sales funnels. Nurturing those leads and our audience is reflected in such tools, and that nurturing process is vital to the success of any inbound marketing campaign. As good students, we will ask who is doing this effectively and how are they doing it. With that information, we can implement and tailor our lead nurturing process where applicable.
Everyone is blogging, and everyone is reading blogs. Informative, organic and even instructional blogs have found a home in the inbound marketing cycle. What are the successful companies in your industry blogging about? Are these blogs lighthearted or more corporate? Note the tone, topics, style and even aesthetics of these successful blogs to improve your own.
The inbound marketing strategy is often designed to cultivate interest, nurture leads and develop the kind of relationships that extend well past the sale. Newsletters can be an effective measure in reaching those goals. Find out what companies are using newsletters, who is doing it successfully and how they are being used. Are the successful companies in your industry sending out newsletters that are more technical, informative or fun and easy-going? This type of study can tell you as much about your audience as it can your industry or campaign.
6) Marketing Strategy
There are countless marketing strategies, and the right one is always the one that works. Deciding what strategy works best in your industry and for your company may require some trial and error. That also means studying what is working for your competitors and working those tactics into your strategy. Your inbound marketing success will thrive if you study your competition.
What are you saying, how are you saying it and whom are you speaking to? This is content, and it can dictate the success or failure of your marketing campaign. From your call-to-action and landing pages to your social media and SEO application, great content counts. This is one area where a little more studies and considerably more cautions need to be applied.
We don't want to copy our competitors (they call that plagiarism), and we don't want to sound or look exactly like them either. Using caution in borrowing content ideas, themes and verbiage is essential if you're going to sound smart and not be accused of being a copycat, or worse.
8) How to increase your brand awareness and reach with little to no budget
Studying how your competitors are reaching their audiences can help you with insight into what platforms and language your potential users like to interact with. It will teach you what they are doing online and offline to engage audiences creatively without using a substantial budget. Through the use of social media platforms, it is even possible to piggyback on the established following of your competitors and gain your following by crowbarring your way into their conversations and engagement, it may be possible to engage in playful sparring with more established competitors, with the desired effect of exciting audiences and getting them involved in a conversation that is now yours. Of course, care should be taken when using this approach so that it does not backfire or create a backlash.
9) The best way to blog
As with the previous points, examining how your competition blogs can save you the stress of a lengthy learning curve. Getting a feel of what topics they blog about, how often they blog, what demographics they target, what language they use and what fresh ideas they have, can give you a nice shortcut from "new" to "experienced".
10) How to write quality content
Is that blog series you are planning going to have the desired effect? Is your social media copy exciting or boring? Is your website copy drab and uninspiring? One way to find out is to carry out expensive and time-consuming audience research. If you have neither the time nor the money, you could, however, study the engagement figures of the competition. Free tools like Alexa can give you information about your competitors' site rankings, unique visitors, bounce rates and visitors locations. You can then take a look at which of them has the best figures and what content strategy they employ. What are they doing that you aren't and what ideas of yours can add? Problem solved!