What to Do if Competitors Are Outpacing You Online

No one likes to see their competitor rank higher in search results or take their product video viral on social media. It just isn’t a good feeling. However, there are strategies and opportunities that can help you outshine, outclass, and outpace your competitor on your way to winning the hearts of your customers.

Allow Your Digital Marketing Strategy to Evolve

Digital marketing is dynamic with a capital “D.” For example, Google launched over 1,600 new changes to its search engine in 2016 alone (that’s an average of 4.5 changes each day for those who are counting) and that doesn’t even factor in changes it makes to the advertising side of their business.

Nearly every week, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter announce a new feature. Live video, 360° video, stories, audience matching—these are just a few that come mind.

Point being, digital marketing is not a part of your business where you can afford to allow stagnation. Want proof? Take a look at this Google Trends chart.

NOTE: Google Trends is a tool that can show trends for Google searches for phrases over a specified amount of time. It does not show absolute value for these searches, but relative value when compared to another phrase or phrases.

Our takeaway from this chart? VRBO had a 12-year head start as a business and was recognized as the frontrunner in the vacation rental business. Instead of evolving their strategy, adjusting to Google’s endless changes, and exploring new marketing channels, they rested on their laurels all because they ranked number one for “vacation rental.” Meanwhile, Airbnb embraced modern marketing and has crushed VRBO. Heck, most millennials don’t even know what VRBO is.

What does this mean for you? It means that as important as it is to research and build a well-thought-out strategy, that strategy needs to evolve. It needs to be a living document, where you make adjustments based on your customers’ needs and feedback, changes to and the creation of new channels, the success and failure of executed initiatives, and how your competitors go about their marketing.

Re-Evaluate Your Paid Media Budgets (or start investing in paid media)

Investing in search, display, and social advertising can have an immediate impact on your business in the form of traffic, leads, or sales. However, the moment a competitor invests more money or becomes more efficient (more on that later) than you in Google AdWords or across paid social media advertising, you’re bound to lose traffic, leads, and sales to that competitor. Then what?

Optimize Your Advertising Efforts

To keep up or to outpace your competitor, sometimes you simply need a larger paid media than they do. Sometimes you just need to spend your advertising budget more wisely. Oftentimes it’s the combination of a larger, more efficient budget that allows you to outclass even your fiercest competitor.

Big Leap COO Tim Eyre identified these three practices every paid media team can employ to maximize their results in his blog, Increase SaaS Leads with CRO:

  1. Conquer low conversion rates by limiting keywords in your ad groups to 5-10 keywords with various keyword match types.
  2. Utilize customized landing pages that taylor to searcher intent and stop sending traffic to your home page via paid media.
  3. A/B test landing pages and their creative elements regularity to see continual improvement.

Use Competitive Data

If you’re truly concerned about your competitors, there’s no better way to beat them than to take a peek under the hood of their marketing engine. Luckily, there are a few useful tools for such a task.

Paid media that provide competitive data analysis come in a wide array of prices and functionality. Some tools are built into AdWords (like the Auction Insights Report) while others focus only on the competitive component of paid media. Here are a few of our favorite tools:

  • AdWords – Auction Insights Report
  • Spyfu – Competitive research for keywords & budgets
  • iSpionage – Competitive research for keywords & conversion strategy

Diversify Your Marketing Channels

At Big Leap, we believe the best marketing campaigns are integrated campaigns that exchange value with potential customers and draw them in from multiple channels. But these campaigns don’t always have to play out on the same marketing channels you’ve always used.

For example, a large percentage of new clients coming to us have never tried advertising on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. These clients are always amazed at the precision of the targeting available and become eager to invest larger budgets to grow their businesses.

Other clients are trying new channels such as webinars, email marketing, and holding user conferences. Heck, we’ve even tried new channels for Big Leap by investing in billboards and utilizing sponsorships for placements at tradeshows and other conferences where we believe we can help businesses with their digital marketing.

One Big Leap for MankindBig Leap’s First Billboard!

Here are five questions you can ask yourself before you dive headfirst into the next new channel that catches your eye:

  • What results can I expect from this channel? (E.G. brand awareness, traffic, leads, etc.)
  • Does this new channel help me reach my target audiences?
  • Can I track ROI for this new channel?
  • Would the investment of resources in this channel be better served in an existing channel?
  • Which of my competitors (if any) are utilizing this channel?

The rush to catch up to your competitors online is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Be sure whatever efforts you undertake align with your business’s long-term goals, not just short-sighted vanity like ranking #1.

Scott Sundblom
Marketing Manager
Scott is a curious and passionate marketer who loves problem solving and exploring new marketing channels and opportunities. In his free time, Scott can be found soaking up time with his family, watching the Utah Jazz, or fixing something with his hands.