When formulating a marketing and sales plan, one of the best places to start is with your competition – what better way to get a feel for what is working, what you can do better, and how to set yourself apart? As Steve Strauss discusses in his article How to Research Your Competition, using marketing research and competitive analysis is key in understanding the market landscape.
So just how should you research your competition?
1. Start with their website – it should contain history, product or service positioning and other useful information.
2. Do physical research – visit their store, call their customer service or purchase from them…what better way to see how they do business than to become their customer?
3. Speak to their customers – either literally or though their reviews and feedback.
4. Attend industry events – where they might present, attend or share information.
In short, once you do your homework, knowing what the competition does right (and wrong), can help you set your business and strategy apart and give your business the boost it needs.
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Often times, when I am browsing the internet or shopping for something online, I realize that a lot of these online businesses, especially the small, possibly mom & pop web stores, don’t have web analytics set up for their website. It doesn’t matter how big or small your website or web store is, web analytics are important! If you are developing and executing marketing campaigns, it is even more important!! Web analytics provides you with very valuable information. It gives you a plethora of information on your customers, your prospects, and more importantly, the results of a particular marketing effort. If you do not have analytics, it’s difficult to know what is working and what isn’t.
Consider this sample list of metrics that analytics can provide for you:
• Site Referrer – What websites out there on the web send you the most traffic?
• Single Access Pages – Is there a particular site visitors are hitting on your website and than leaving immediately? Why? Is there something wrong with the page? Is there something you can do to improve the page?
• # of Visits, Orders, Revenue – This is important to gauge the performance of your website as a whole
• Keywords & Search Engines – How are people finding you in the engines and what engines are they coming from?
• Trends – Is there a particular time of year where you are slow in sales?
• Location of Visitor, Browser & Resolution Settings – Is your website designed for how people are most likely to view your website?
Web analytics can provide great insight into how your site is currently performing. It also gives you valuable information for trending and forecasting for the future as well as identifying areas of opportunity. If anything, the information is still very interesting to look at. I think you would learn a lot about your own business and customers just from digging in a little bit.
I think some businesses may not have analytics installed on their website because they think it is difficult to install and don’t want to spend a lot of money. If that’s the case, I’ve got a solution for you: Google Analytics. Google Analytics is free and provides ample information for your analysis. The instructions are pretty clear and they have a help section if you have any questions.
Start analyzing your data and you might be amazed at the results when you start using the information you find to tweak and improve your customer’s user experience.
Customer behavior is very important analytical data that can be used to help boost business. Whether your business is on the web or you have a store, it is very important to pay attention to your customers. I have a feeling that many people have web analytics installed on their website but never really dig in deep to study information. While it can be time consuming, you may just find something to help your business. Today’s specific topic in analytics is reviewing the times (hours) which your customers visit your site or store and also what time they usually purchase items.
Knowing when your customers visit your store or site and when they purchase allows you to do a few things. If you know when your customers primarily visit your store or site, you can offer specials or sales during certain hours. Also, if you have certain hours or days where sales are slow, you can offer something special during those hours or days to boost sales. For example, if you notice, many restaurants have specials early in the week, like Taco Tuesdays. This is because people tend to eat out later in the week around Thursday through Saturday. Another example is stores or websites offering a great deal until noon.
One example that I constantly think of is Baskin Robbins. Baskin Robbins started offering $1 scoops on Tuesday evenings. Most stores near me started this deal originally at 6pm. However, it got changed to 5pm. Why is this? Well, when I think about it, most people get off work sometime between 5pm and 6pm. It would be convenient for them to start earlier, so people can stop by right after work instead of either waiting until 6pm to leave work or have to go home and then go out again. Also, if you are bringing kids to get ice cream, kids get off school much earlier in the day. For the same reason, the earlier they start it, the better. I bet Baskin Robbin’s sales increased so much more after they moved it to 5pm. In fact, that makes me even more likely to go get ice cream after work on Tuesdays.
Analytics are very important to every business. Take some time to analyze your customer behavior this week to see how you can drive those additional sales!