Why you Should Care About your Competitors

I joined SimilarWeb in December 2014, it’s hard to believe that the company had under 100 employees and only 3 people here in London. The biggest challenge we used to face was simply getting our foot in the door, nobody knew who we were or what we could do and we desperately needed to build market share.<

Fast-forward by about 18 months to present day, where SimilarWeb just partnered with global measurement giants comScore and Kantar, with the former describing us as the “global digital intelligence leader”. Our customer list now boasts some of the biggest companies in the world such as eBay, L’Oréal, Google and many more. Plus, our business runs on mainly inbound inquiries… quite the turnaround in 18 months.

But some things haven’t changed, many people still harbour the feeling that using the kind of data SimilarWeb offers is some form of taboo. On top of the moralistic concerns, a lot of people are also of the consensus that competitor and market data is a waste of time. Companies want to focus on what they’re doing and on hitting their own growth targets, not fretting about anybody else.

As a former startup founder and marketing consultant, I understand the pressure to hit performance targets and keep MoM growth up. I also acknowledge that there’s a lot of ways to move the needle that are completely in your control, such as increasing (or creating) your ad exposure. However, if you increase your ad budget, publish more copy, build out your affiliate programme, blast millions of cold emails or anything else for that matter… you’re taking that traffic and custom from somebody else. You are, by definition, capitalising on your competitors.

Whilst the industry of competitive/market intelligence is still relatively fresh, you’ve been doing it for years. Keyword research is simply seeking out keywords that generate a lot of search volume and typically have a low barrier to entry (low authority sites ranking for organic or low cpc for paid), isn’t that the same thing as just looking at what keywords send your competitors visits? Consider the primary purpose of your social media campaigns, you’re trying to draw a consumer’s’ attention towards you from a sea of noise… so away from everybody else (inc competitors) trying to do the same thing. The bottom line here is that you can’t simply not care about your competitors, it’s the lifeblood of your business and it’s a massive blind spot in most digital strategies.

SimilarWeb isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, we’re simply trying to shift perspective. If you look at a wheel head on it’s just a rectangle – you need a wider field of vision to appreciate what it actually is.

All that fluffy sales mumbo jumbo aside, here are a couple of ways companies of all shapes and sizes use SimilarWeb to kick their competition to the curb:

Partner Optimisation

This is my favourite example for why you should care about all of this stuff. Let’s say you’re the top affiliate manager at an e-commerce company, you manage all the big partner accounts. Heck, you’ve probably spent months building a personal relationship with all of your contacts in the hope that they send you guys the most and best traffic with the lowest cost per acquisition (CPA). Here’s what your internal analytics data shows you:

james asos graph

So you’re growing MoM, but here’s the catch… how do you know that you’re getting the maximum return? You have zero insight into potential of each affiliate, you simply have to take their word for it that you’re their “most valued customer”. Switch to just analysing the last 28 days and insert SimilarWeb:

asos referrals

Check that out – we instantly spot that sheerluxe.com, which was one of the leading partners before, is sending almost 2 times more traffic to a direct competitor. Now, they could be spending more money (what if it’s only a couple cents?) or they could have a different level of exposure, or any number of other things. The point is that SW has helped you identify an opportunity for huge growth with just 1 partner… all you have to do is call them up and ask how you can get a bigger piece of the pie. 2.29% represents 42,365 visits in the past 28 days (as of May 20th 2016).

That’s a 1 line optimisation – for the same comparison above we identified a whopping 67 sites referring traffic to Topshop and ZERO traffic to ASOS, that’s 67 new opportunities. Still think it’s a waste of time?

Lead Generation

You may have been wondering why I talked about SimilarWeb’s growth over the past 18 months on a post that had nothing to do with self promotion. It’s because SimilarWeb grew into the position it’s in now… by using SimilarWeb!

The conventional use cases for businesses like ours, is building and optimising digital marketing campaigns. But there’s so many other ways you can use the product. We even have hedge funds buying raw data from us and using it to predict the stock market.

We hold data on the digital strategies of every website and every app in the world, with the ability to segment by a specific industry and country. So, one huge application of the product is lead generation.

Within a few seconds on SimilarWeb, we can identify the sites getting the most traffic by each digital channel (search, display, referrals, email, social, direct). We can also ascertain a sense of the quality of that traffic by looking at the engagement metrics by channel – does their display have an 80%+ bounce rate indicating pop-under ads and other low quality sources? We can quickly layer in all the KPIs that our best customers care about to identify huge lead lists that will get massive value from our product.

This was how we set about building our enterprise business – we used our own data to identify companies that will see tangible ROI from our product, then we reached out!

Why you Should Care About your Competitors

 

Using SimilarWeb for lead generation isn’t limited to marketing SaaS businesses, if you can segment your target audience into any vertical and/or country, you can use us! Why shoot in the dark when you can laser focus your sights? Still think it’s a waste of time?

Bonus: Depending on the nature of your business, you can use SimilarWeb to find your competitor’s customers.

Market Analysis

There’s thousands of ways to get value from market intelligence, but from what I’ve seen, the big three are digital marketing, prospecting and market analysis.

I’ve always wondered what the point of benchmarking was. By benchmarking I mean simply identifying where a company sits in the market against key competitors. This can be done by country and globally but it makes you wonder about the application… yes you’re 20% bigger/smaller than competitor-A but what do you do with that? Well, plenty of c-levels will use that kind of data to indicate market share growth (going beyond your own KPIs), spinning data into charts and diagrams to present to a board or publish in a quarterly report.

One application of this data is something I personally find fascinating – mapping sales to market trends. Most industries targeting mass consumers, operate with a large degree of seasonality, like shopping websites hitting their peaks in November (black Friday & cyber Monday) and December (holidays). Seasonality by definition, means that sales figures will vary throughout the cycle. One way you can use benchmarking data is by looking at the number of page impressions happening on a websites *Thank-You* page. This allows you to correlate your sales fluctuations back to the market and identify if your numbers dropped due to the whole industry dropping or due to a competitor taking share from you… if the latter, you can use the product to then identify where and stop the rot (or even better, reverse it).

It’s a simple yet very effective way to analyse your industry at scale and discover what’s causing your numbers to change. Still think it’s a waste of time?

 

I hope this article has been helpful and insightful into the ways you can use SimilarWeb. If you were a sceptic on the efficacy of these kind of tools and have changed your mind, or want to propose a counter… I welcome your comments below and will endeavour to respond to every single one.

About the Author -

As a former Head of Inbound Marketing, James is perfectly placed to help the largest companies in the world get access to SimilarWeb. Sitting on the Strategic Team in London, James primarily serves European markets.

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