LinkedIn recently launched a feature that allows you to compare statistics with your competitors. The information helps you determine the total number of followers, number of new followers, as well as statistics regarding the number of engagement and posts of your competitors.
While it is not an earth-shattering feature, it simplifies the work of researching competitors. Most marketers devote themselves to creating marketing content. They spend less time understanding the market players. Compared to Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn is less popular, and even fewer people take the time to understand it better. Although the data provided in this particular LinkedIn update is limited, after analyzing our competitors’ information, we can better understand new trends exhibited by peers in the industry. We can even reverse-engineer some marketing strategies.
Social Listening Is Not the Panacea
Many brands who conduct social media marketing do not pay much attention to performing research on their competitors. They don’t even think that by plugging a few key keywords into social listening, they can “automate” such research. A good social listening tool simplifies the process of collecting data. Yet, it is not easy to analyze and make sense of the data. Moreover, if you rely solely on the monthly social listening report, you can only grasp the broad direction of developing trends at best. With the rising popularity of social media, many brands seek to launch their marketing campaigns on social media platforms at the earliest possible opportunity. As a digital marketing company, one of my strategies is to monitor the social media updates of competitors in real time. This alone has allowed us to quickly grasp a competitor’s online and offline marketing presence. It also offered broad insights into their marketing strategies.
Reverse Engineering as a Competitor’s Strategy
Using data from such platforms, coupled with some reverse engineering, is not a fool-proof method. But it can be relatively effective. Marketing content on social media can actually be reverse-engineered. In the past year, many brands have established online shops and started marketing campaigns for them, and it is worthwhile to note that the technology of the online store itself is also an important part of reverse engineering.
Recently, eCommerce has become such a big hit. Bernie Wong participated as a guest speaker in many workshops for brands to establish online stores and perform brand marketing. He has also conducted a fair amount of corporate training. During these training sessions, Bernie attempted to reverse engineer the online stores of a client’s competitors to understand the technology involved and see what works. He discovered that some online stores are designed to display a pop-up prompt to encourage the potential customer to checkout or to upsell when the customer closes the store’s webpage. This strategy became a useful reference. In the past, when marketing research on competitors focused on products and sales channels, the results were often purely theoretical, with few real-life applications. Focusing your research on competitors’ online stores will help you come up with a lot of implementable marketing ideas.
What Would You Do If the Product You Want to Buy Was Out of Stock?
Competitor research focuses on products and channels. Online stores have become the hottest research topic this year. This includes what marketplace platforms competitors use to sell their products, the kind of technologies adopted in their online stores, and so on. Such design details cannot be ignored. Researching target customers is also definitely not as easy as everyone thinks. Traditional means of surveys and focus groups are certainly insightful. During a training, Bernie tried to demonstrate this by identifying a few target customers and asking simple questions to elicit good responses. “If the product you want to buy is out of stock, what alternatives would you consider?” This simple question allows one to identify potential competitors that one may have overlooked in minutes.