insights | 17.11.2023

7 easy ways to keep an eye on your eCommerce competitors

Article topics
  1. How to understand who your competitors are
  2. Competitive research doesn’t have to be challenging

A little friendly competition is healthy in the eCommerce world. It pushes you to improve your customer service, inspires you to sell new products, and expand into new industries.

However it can be hard to monitor your nearest rivals and run a successful business at the same time!

The good news is that it’s easier than you think to spy on the competition. Here are seven easy and cost-effective ways to stay one step ahead of everyone else in your industry.

But first…

How to understand who your competitors are

Before you start tracking them, you need to know who your competitors are. From an eCommerce perspective, these are the companies that sell the same (or very similar) products that you do.

Did you know that the average business has 29 competitors? While you don’t have to track and assess this many businesses, we recommend finding three or four rivals you can watch.

If you’re not sure who you’re up against, there are a couple of easy ways to find out.

  • Ask your sales and customer service team which companies get mentioned the most in conversation
  • Ask your customers what alternative businesses they shop at
  • Talk to your suppliers to see who else they work with
  • Sign up to trade and industry magazines and newsletters to see which companies are frequently talked about
  • Search for the keywords you want to target in Google and see which eCommerce stores rank on the first page
  • Look at your social media analytics. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook often suggest accounts that are similar to yours
  • Use competitor research tools to see which businesses operate in the same market as you. We’ll talk about some of our favourite tools later on in this guide

It’s also important to regularly review your competitors. New businesses can launch, old businesses can close down, and existing businesses can move into your sector.

1. Audit their website

This step can be a little time-consuming, but it can provide you with lots of valuable information. Thoroughly assessing your competitors websites is a brilliant way to understand their goals, marketing, and unique selling points.

We recommend creating a spreadsheet to log all your information. Then, grab a cup of coffee and get browsing!

Look at:

  • Whether they have an email marketing list
  • What social media platforms they’re on
  • Who their target audience is
  • What countries and regions they target
  • Whether they have a blog and how often it’s updated
  • How easy it is to find important information. For example, the returns policy
  • How many products they sell, and the average price point
  • If there are any big issues with the site. For example, broken links or slow-loading pages

You can use competitor analysis tools to add additional information to your audit. Let’s take a look at some of them now.

2. Use competitor analysis tools

If you want to get valuable data about your competitors, a competitor analysis tool can get you the insight you need. These tools provide information about the traffic your competitors get, backlinks to their site, their top keywords, the page titles and meta descriptions they use, and social media shares.

Many tools are free or low-cost, making it easy to get an overview of your competitors websites. Here are some of our favourite platforms.

It’s important to remember that these tools are not 100% accurate, as they don’t have access to the backend data on your competitors sites. So, a tool can give you a rough approximation of how much organic traffic a competitor gets by looking at search engine results, but this will be a ballpark figure.

3. Set up a Google Alert

Google Alerts is a free platform that emails you when new content mentioning your competitors is published. It’s a fantastic way to see when your rivals are mentioned in the news or on other websites and if they’re doing anything that you’re not. For example, publishing lots of case studies.

You might need to tweak your alerts to get the correct information and avoid flooding your inbox with emails. Google Alerts lets you drill down by a specific source (for example, news sites) or region. You can also use negative keywords to refine your results.

4. Sign up to their email newsletters

Email marketing is one of the best ways to provide a return on investment for your business. For every £1 you spend, you can get £38 back.

This means that by signing up for your competitors email newsletters, you can get a sneak peek at what they do to entice customers to make a purchase.

Think like a customer when reviewing your competitors newsletters. Which headlines compel you to read more? What call-to-actions do you like? How are they personalising their email content to appeal to you?

5. Check out their paid advertising

Google Ads, as well as social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, offer ad libraries for transparency purposes.

These ad libraries are free to use. They display what active ads your competitors are showing and what ads they have created in the past.

You can use this data to see what unique selling points your competitors are using, as well as enhance your own paid advertising.

6. Look at customer reviews and ratings

Customer reviews and ratings are vital for any eCommerce store – not just yours, but your competitors.

Looking at your competitors ratings can give you a good indication of what they do well and where they need to improve.

For example, let’s say people frequently complain that your nearest rival doesn’t offer free shipping. This is something you can consider to give prospective shoppers a reason to shop with you instead.

Google is a great place to find competitors eCommerce reviews, as well as Trustpilot, Facebook, and Yell. Competitors may also have reviews on their websites, but these are more likely to be product-specific than about the company as a whole.

You can also directly ask your customers what they think of your rivals. For example, you can send them a feedback form requesting how often they shop with your competitors and what they think of the price, quality, and customer experience.

7. Investigate their social media profiles

With a staggering 82% of people buying a product they saw on social media, it’s essential to make sure your social media profiles stand out from the crowd.

Following your competitors on social media gives you the opportunity to benchmark your profiles against theirs. How often do they post? What time of day do they post? What type of engagement do they get? This information can help you refine and improve your own social media content.

Here’s a handy tip. Did you know you can advertise to your competitors social media followers? Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram let you target your ads towards people who follow a specific company page or account!

Competitive research doesn’t have to be challenging

Over half of companies say getting a competitive advantage in their industry is a top three priority. So, if you’re not checking out what your competitors are doing, you could be missing out!

By following these tips, you’re one step closer to getting the edge over your rivals. If you need a little extra support spying on your competitors or implementing your findings into your digital marketing strategy, our team of experts is here to help.

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