If you have ever opened a “real-world” storefront you are probably aware of the many benefits of doing business online, such as broader reach and low overhead. On the other hand, while your potential customer base may be much larger, your competitors are abundant and they are getting more sophisticated by the minute.
To that end, one of the common questions I get asked is, “what is my e-commerce competition doing better than me.”
If you have this same question I hope you will value the list that I have compiled below which summarizes five things your competition may be doing to earn market share away from you.
So let’s get started…
They are more sophisticated managing their brand
Your stronger competitors know that there are many benefits to establishing and consistently communicating their brand. There are some branding tips and tricks need to be understand. Ecommerce companies with strong brands stand for something specific that makes them a distinct choice in a crowded marketplace. Companies that stand for something specific benefit not only from more word of mouth, however from better word of mouth.
Take Zappos for example. Their brand is all about “service,” and a high percentage of people will reinforce this brand message when introducing Zappos to a friend or colleague. That friend or colleague is more likely to buy from Zappos rather than a competitor because they associate Zappos with a very specific concept: Service.
They are identifying important SEO keywords
Your stronger competitors are thinking strategically about the keywords they focus their SEO efforts on rather than blindly targeting high-volume terms or terms their competitors target. When they are doing their keyword research, they take many factors into account like likelihood to buy, “real” competition, and derivative keywords that allow them to kill many birds with a single stone.
Selecting keywords strategically is similar to building a well diversified financial portfolio. First you must identify your time horizon, your goals and content marketing strategy. Next, you must build a collection of equities (keywords) that allow you to achieve your desired return for the least amount of risk.
Their post-purchase emails are timely, interesting and relevant
Your stronger competitors know that in order to grow they must maximize the lifetime value of each customer. The fastest way to do this is to get your customers to buy from you multiple times, and the most efficient way to do this is to stay in touch with them through email marketing.
The challenge, however, is staying relevant to past customers such that they continue to open your emails and buy from you when they have a need. How can you make your follow-up emails work for you? For one, make them timely. After a customer makes a purchase you can automatically email them with a “thank you” and a list of related products. So only Digital Marketers use various scheduling tools.
Second, make your emails interesting. If you send a weekly email to your customer base, use humour, or ensure that there is some value in the email you are sending beyond simply listing products.
Thirdly, make your emails relevant. If your website caters to multiple customer segments you can tailor your emails according to the needs of each segment.
Post purchase email example (Source)
They are increasing their conversion rates
Your stronger competitors are in it for the long-term and they understand that running a successful ecommerce site requires a commitment to converting traffic into sales by targeting correct audience as efficiently as possible.
Take this example: All things equal, over the long-term who will win assuming both competitors sell the same products and use the same marketing techniques? Competitor A who converts 2% of website visitors into customers? Or Competitor B who converts 3% of website visitors into customers?
Competitor B of course. However, why? Having a higher conversion rate is not simply an opportunistic way to be more profitable. If your website monetizes traffic more efficiently you can afford to outbid competitors in PPC and spend more money on optimizing blog posts and other marketing activities.
If Competitor B continues to learn about their customers and uses conversion techniques to make their website more intuitive, they’ll blow their competitors out of the water.
They are writing better copy
Your stronger competitors are writing better website copy that addresses the real reason their customers found them in the first place: To solve a pain. Sure, writing lots of unique content can improve your SEO results, however it is quality, not quantity, that improves conversion rates.
Quality copy validates the “pain” that has driven your customer to find a product that can help them and recommends specific solutions in a credible way. This copy comes in the form of words that appear on category pages, blog posts and product descriptions, and also in the form of buyer guides.
In short, there is a lot at stake in ecommerce, and your competitors are working very hard to position themselves as the winners in their space as ecommerce continues to grow in dominance.
The good news is that it is far too early to declare the winners in any specific segment of online retail, which means that you have the opportunity to be the competitor that everyone else looks up to.