Here’s the thing about competitor research: The very phrase “competitor research” is just code for “spying on the enemy.” During the course of competitor research, you watch your competitor’s every move on the world-wide web. In every way that you should be marketing your own business, you should be monitoring all those efforts from your competitors. Using our super-sneaky spy tactics, you can learn how they’re dominating the Internet without paying a team of hipsters to do your dirty work. Here are 10 ways to spy on your competitors and improve your water restoration marketing:
1. See what directories your competitors use
You’re probably no stranger to marketing directory listings.
But what if you’ve forgotten about a directory? Or what if there are new ones you haven’t heard about yet? Sure, maybe you’re on the main ones, but there could be some piddly little directories that you might not even think to include yourself on.
Google your competition.
Go ahead and type in their company name and see what comes up. Probably their website, their blog – maybe a couple of paid ads, if they know what they’re doing – but you’ll probably also find them on BBB, Yelp and other directories.
Make a list of what they’re listed on and see if you’re included on all those as well.
2. Check out your competitors’ ads
If you’re not advertising your business using Google AdWords, get on that, pronto. Paid search is a super lucrative way to find prospective customers who are already looking for your services – or really, I guess I should say, that it’s a super lucrative way for pre-qualified customers to find you.
If you are using Google AdWords, great. Now, do some competitor research.
Here are some things to watch out for:
How are they getting people to click the ad or call them? Are they using different phrasing from you? Maybe this is something you could try in one of your own ads. For example: Instead of saying “Call Us Today,” your number one competitor might be saying something like “Call Us Now” or “Get In Touch.” Or – dun dun dunnn – maybe they’re not using a call-to-action at all. You might try that out for yourself.
What are they including in their headline? Do they refer to themselves or to the customer’s need? Are they listing benefits? Check it out and see what works.
- Ad Extensions
There are so many different things you could include in your ad extensions. Your competitors could be doing something truly unique. See what’s up and take your own spin on it.
3. Look at your competitors’ social media presence
I mean, if I’m being honest, I think that being on Snapchat as a restoration company is a mistake (and I’ve said as much in an older post), but if your competitors are doing it, see what’s up. Are they successful? If not, why aren’t they?
Also, check out how they’re talking to their customers on social media. Are they matter-of-fact, professional or even cold? Or are they friendly and conversational?
Make notes of all their social media moves during your competitor research and learn from their mistakes and victories.
4. See who your competitors target on social media
I wanted to make this its own point because it’s so so important to remember who you’re talking to on social media.
So let’s say like, you hire this Millennial youth – let’s call her Kristi – who speaks fluent social media. Kristi’s great: She posts all these images and she schedules her posts so they’re not clumped together and she responds to everyone who comments or tweets or yodels on your posts.
But her images are of home décor and her posts are inspirational quotes from eighteenth century authors and when she responds to people she talkz like diz lol omg gtfo.
The point I’m trying to make here is this: You can do all the right things, but if you’re not keeping your audience in mind, you’re going to fail.
See who your competitors are targeting and if you should be targeting them too. If your competitors are getting a lot of user interaction, then that’s a good indicator that you should be targeting the same – if not a similar – target demographic on your social media channels.
5. Check out what your competitors blog about
The sad truth is that, because you’re a restoration company, probably no one will ever read a full article that you write.
I mean, maybe your mom will, if she’s as proud of you as she says she is. But probably none of your prospective customers.
Here’s the benefit of having a blog: You can use keywords in your copy to pull prospective customers from Google to your site – and from your site to their phone to call you when their house is flooded.
Really, your main responsibility is making sure that you’re covering topics that highlight the services you offer so that at the end of the blog, you can be like, “Hey, by the way, if you need water damage restoration, we gotchu, fam.”
Sorry, I was channeling Kristi pretty hard there.
It can be difficult to keep coming up with new topics though, and that’s where your spy work will come into play: Check out what your competitors are posting on their blogs and write slight variations of their topics, making sure to add your own flair, your own unique voice and a few major points that your competitors may have forgotten to touch on.
For example: If during your competitor research, you learn that they wrote a blog called, “5 Ways You Can Check for Water Damage in Your Walls,” you can turn around and write a blog called, “10 Ways You Can Avoid Mold Growth in Your Home.”
Make the topic a little broader; make it preventative; make sure to get in those keywords.
6. Check out your competitors’ meta descriptions
A lot of people let the first line of the blog be their meta description, but you can make it a little more specific, allowing the meta description to make its own statement – a sentence all on its own, featuring exactly the right keywords to entice a new reader.
During your extensive competitor research, check out the meta descriptions they’re writing.
You might discover that they’re not writing unique descriptions, and you can have peace of mind knowing that you have a leg up on the competition. But what if they’re doing something off-the-wall that’s actually working?
Watch, learn and adapt.
7. See what time your competitors post
If you’ve done any kind of research on social media and content marketing, then you know that there are ideal times when you should post your content.
Now here’s the thing: The ideal time differs based on your target audience’s social media habits – and based on the nature of your prospective customers’ needs.
So you’ll probably read a bunch of stuff online that’s like, “You should definitely post your blogs at exactly eleventy:twelve p.m. on Saturday on a leap year during the Lunar Solstice. Do not post early; do not post late.”
And for a lot of different companies, these stats are probably very helpful.
But the sales funnel for restoration companies is so vastly different from most other companies out there, that you’re going to have to do some experimenting in order to figure out when is the best time to post for you.
The best way you can figure this out, without wasting tons of your time and resources, is by spying on your competitors.
Check out what times they’re posting and see if they get any engagement during your competitor research. The more engagement they get, the more likely it is that you should also be posting at that time.
Don’t forget: Before you go copying their strategy, you need to make sure that their target demographic is the same as yours. If they’re targeting middle-aged women but you’re targeting retirees, for whatever reason, then you want to post at the times retirees are going to be surfing the Internet.
8. Check out your competitors’ website layouts
There are tons of different ways to format a website, but – I mean, can I be real with you? Is this a safe place?
Sometimes people’s websites totally suck.
But you can keep your website from sucking by seeing what your competitors are doing. They may be doing something way crazy and wrong, and you can be like, “Cool, I don’t suck as much as them.”
OR: They could be doing something ground-breaking, and you just might learn something.
What if they have a chat box at the bottom of their website that lets prospective customers live-chat with your receptionist about their water damage needs?
What if their call-to-action button blinks like a neon sign?
What if they’re playing a high-def video with a really unique perspective on their homepage?
You get the best ideas for your own website when you do competitor research.
9. Call your competitors
Oh yeah, this is where things get interesting. Before this moment, you thought you were a real spy, but this is just kid stuff.
This is literally something a broken-hearted teenage girl could do to see if her ex-boyfriend is seeing someone new.
Your next task, however, is going to require patience, acting, improvisation and knowledge of the industry.
You’re going to call your competitors and pretend to be a customer.
And you’re going to do this in order to obtain the answers to these questions:
- How long does it take them to answer?
- Do they have an answering service?
- What’s their script like?
- Do they ask any qualifying questions?
- Are the people nice?
- What deals are they offering – if any?
You should record the call so you can as natural as possible. Take notes later and apply them to your own water restoration marketing tactics.
You can also hire us as your henchmen if you need even more water damage leads online. Sign up now.