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Success online involves moving towards a digital presence that is optimized and brings back the right ROI in addition to hitting all of your KPI’s. When identifying what it is you should or could be doing to grow your business, the competitors in your industry are often a source to start brainstorming for ideas.

You want to first look at the leaders in your space looking for the elements to their online presentation that you feel helps them succeed. You also want to find competitors that have similar market penetration as your business to keep tabs on what others are doing to grow their business. This helps you understand where you are currently positioned and from a top level help identify what others similar to you are doing in order to grow.

The most effective way to go about this process is to create a spreadsheet to help organize the various pieces you are able to gather while reviewing competitor websites. Some of the typical columns you can have include:

  • Website
  • Marketing Message
  • Call-To-Action / Conversion Goal
  • Site Sections / Navigation
  • Product / Service Presentation
  • Misc. Features / Content
  • Social Media Properties

These are some of the on-site elements to can look for. From a marketing perspective you can also dig deeper into their social media properties to see the kind of messaging / content they are using to communicate to their visitors and potential customers. You should also perform some keyword search on Google to see if they rank organically for targeted keywords and whether they are doing any paid search via Google Adwords.

When it comes to analyzing and preparing an action plan you want to have a look at your spreadsheet to identify patterns that are present among multiple competitors. The items you come up with could serve as an indicator of what could be working that contributes to the success of your competitors. In summary:

1. Review marketing messages for clarity and whether they clearly highlight the benefits of their product / service. What are the doing that you think works? Are they missing something you can use to better present your products / services?

2. Look to see if their call-to-action / conversion elements are motivating? In the right location? There could be elements that you see as opportunities to enhance your website to get visitors to act.

3. Consider the paths that need to be taken to get to the product / service presentation. Visitors should be able to get to the information within 1 click off the homepage. The content should also be easy to understand. Again you want to is look for opportunities to enhance the presentation & content of your product / service.

4. In general look at all the supporting elements on the website that can contribute to a conversion. There are likely elements that will stand out as obvious areas of improvement for your website.

5. Look deeper into their social media presence, if they do things passively it can perhaps be an opportunity for your business. For the competitors that are active review the content items for ideas both from a creative standpoint as well as marketing message.

This process is not an exact science and the variables change from industry to industry. Use these recommended processes as a framework and adjust according to the specifics of your industry. The key take away is that by going through the process you’ll uncover several areas that can be improved upon on your own website.

Taking action will position your business to grow and maximize on your ability to convert visitors into customers with more frequency. Incorporate this practice consistently every couple of months and you’ll always be ahead of the curve with the potential to have that competitive advantages that all business strive for.