18 ways to kick your competitor’s ass, online
Ian Lurie Aug 26 2009
I’ve tried nice, mild titles like ‘techniques for better internet marketing’. Figured this might grab folks’ attention a little more effectively.
Let’s face it: We all want to kick our competitors’ collective asses. I’ve never met a competing CEO who I didn’t like. Yet I still want to make them cry like little babies, “Stop it Ian, you’re taking all our businesssssssssss!”
Here’s 18 ways I’ve found particularly effective:
1: Pay attention to detail
If every form and link on your site works, guess what? You’re in the top .00001% of web sites! Chances are, your competitor is not. Every time someone leaves their site because the ‘more information’ link leads back to the home page, that’s one person who can come to yours.
You gotta test forms by hand, in my opinion. There are tools out there, but in the end there are bugs that can slip through.
For links, try Xenu on the PC and Integrity on the Mac.
2: Make your sales quote request form, or ‘more info’ form, 3 fields
Ask folks for 3 things: Their name, their e-mail address, and their question. Add the phone number if you want.
Your competitor is asking them for DNA data, mailing address, mother’s maiden name, sexual preference, married status, etc. in a futile effort to ‘prequalify’ the leads. They’re getting a lot of people whose moms were named ‘asdfasdf’.
Make that form nice and small. You can always ask for more info later.
This form on the Trek website makes me weep with joy:
This one, from Schwinn, on the other hand, makes me think they’re punishing me:
All I want to do is send you a note for God’s sake! You want my mailing address? Really?!!!
3: Tell me what you do
Just come out and say it, OK?
“Widgets, Inc. is committed to our clients’ growth and prosperity. We help clients leverage existing resources to make the most of their potential. We work with integrity and put our best effort into every job.”
That drivel is not ‘branding’ or ‘messaging’. It. is. drivel. Chances are it’s also how your competitor writes.
This is better:
“Widgets, Inc. provides ball bearings of all sizes.”
This is best:
“Get stainless steel ball bearings of all sizes, with a 1 year warranty, at Widgets, Inc.”
4: Stop being paranoid
Let me find you on Twitter and comment on your blog. Let me whine, in public, via your site, about a problem I had on my last flight.
Then answer me.
I’m going to complain anyway. Why not take control of the situation? Your competitor won’t. He’s too busy hiding under his desk every time he finds a web page with his brand name and ‘sucks’ in the title.
5: Learn to use Google Adwords
I mean really learn it. Understand stuff like:
- Negative keyword matching
- Geographic targeting
- Day parting
- Dynamic keywords
- Broad, phrase and exact match
Read up on Search Engine Guide
Your competitor is spending 3x more than she should. Get efficient on Adwords and kick her ass.
6: Learn to use a spell checker
I guarantee your competitor spells like he spent too much time with no ozone layer. Use a spell checker and you’ll kick his fanny.
7: Learn to write
Lisa Barone says it best. I can only bow and say ‘amen’.
8: Speed up your pages
Make your pages run faster. I don’t care how fast they are now. Make them even faster! When I go to your competitor’s site, I see this for 25 seconds:
In this case, I’ll go kick their behind for you.
9: Take charge of your site
Your competitor shrugs and says “The developer says it’s impossible” or “The designers say it’ll take 2 months” every time he gets a suggestion from his marketing team.
Man up. Woman up. It’s your site. It’s your property. You paid for it. Go find whoever it is that’s giving you a hard time, fire their sorry butts and start improving your site.
10: Put your contact information on every page of your site
Put your phone number and address on every page of your site. Every single one.
It’ll help you move up in the local search results.
It’ll also make me understand you’re not hiding from me.
Your competitor fired someone for giving out the company phone number to a potential client. She shrieked “DON’T you REALIZE that means people will CALL US?!!!”
You will so totally kick their patootie.
11: Don’t fall for con artists
There are 1000 new companies every day promising you #1 rankings, increased conversion rates overnight, blah blah blah etc. etc. BS BS BS.
Don’t fall for it. And don’t play the “I just don’t know enough to know what’s true and what’s not” card either. Take responsibility: You know if something sounds way too good to be true. And you know if someone’s a scammer.
You’re smart – you’re running a great business. Plus, you’re kicking your competitor right in the arse.
12: Get rid of login requirements
Don’t make me log in to check out, to download a whitepaper, or do anything else.
Yes, I’ve said this before. I will keep saying it until people clue in.
If I’m buying from you, just take my money and go happily away. If I’m downloading your article, be thankful I’m downloading it, and make sure your contact information is on every page of the article.
Your competitor has built a 12″ thick steel door between the customer and any source of value. Knock gently on the door. When they open it, plant your foot in their butt.
13: Pay attention
Learn to do a little basic social media monitoring. Just check in once a week or so.
See a complaint? Go help. See someone complaining about your competitor? Consider how you can politely help them out. See praise? Say thanks.
That kind of responsiveness will get you a level of goodwill money won’t buy. And yes, it’ll boot your competitor right in the behind.
14: Answer e-mail
Whoa. Revolutionary concept, I know. But try actually answering e-mails from the web site. Even ones that don’t look like a sale. If someone asks for advice, think of all the times you asked and received advice, and the adviser asked nothing in return. It’s karma.
Your competitor’s karma sucks.
15: Write every day
Write a little bit, and add it to your web site, every single day.
You’ll become a better writer. Plus, you’ll have a fresher, more interesting web site, move up in the search engines, and get a warm fuzzy feeling.
Your competitor’s cold, black heart will never have a warm fuzzy feeling. Ever.
16: Dump the fads
Instead of hopping on Twitter and auto-following 300,000 people, try, I dunno, talking to 1 or 2. Or, don’t use Twitter at all.
Just dump the fad tools and spam tactics.
Your competitor probably doesn’t use them either. So don’t put your butt right in front of their foot. They’re reading this article too, remember.
17: Measure stuff
Use analytics. Learn what brings folks to your site, and what makes them buy.
I promise, your competitor is not doing that…
18: Don’t be a slave to the data
…Or, they’re testing the crap out of everything, even when the idea they’re testing flies in the face of all logic and reason. I’ve seen companies (no longer with us) test themselves right into oblivion.
Trust your intuition, at least a little.
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CEO & Founder
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More