Now that you know the trends of digital marketing for 2017, let’s start the research.
This part is very important for the success of your marketing campaign, as you want to gather as much knowledge about your competitors as you can and reverse engineer what they do with their own online marketing.
I will be showing you free and paid tools. Obviously, if you are using premium tools you’ll gather more data, but you’ll be able to get a bunch of good and valuable data with free tools as well.
It is very important that you document your research along the way.
Here’s a video about this whole chapter in case you don’t like reading. 🙂
- We’ll use the Follow.net chrome extension and SimilarWeb to learn more about the monthly traffic of our competition.
- Use Alexa.com to gather more information on the demographics and the geography of their traffic.
- We’ll look at SEMrush and Alexa to see their top pages and if they have any paid traffic.
- We’ll also take a look at iSpionage and SpyFu to check their advertising budget on PPC.
- Use Adbeat or WhatRunsWhere to see their display ads, placements, ad networks, and even their landing pages – these are high value, amazing tools if you want to save money on your advertising budget.
- Find out what your competition’s most shared and read content is online by using BuzzSumo.
- Use AdEspresso to check profitable Facebook ads and advanced techniques to uncover any online advertiser strategies.
- Use BuiltWith to check what technology they use to build their website and track their visitors.
Before we get started, open Notepad or Evernote (my preferred note app). Here is a template I made in Evernote that you could use to organise the data that you gather.
Traffic Statistics And Traffic Source Data Of Your Competitors
Head to Follow.net and create a free account. You don’t need a paid account for now.
Follow.net is an excellent free research tool that gathers data from many different sources from the Internet and presents it at a glance.
In our example we will be doing research on Hubspot.com.
After you have created a free account, type your competitors’ domains into the URL search bar and make notes in your chosen Notepad on the monthly traffic sections.
Follow.net will gather data from SimilarWeb and Quantcast regarding traffic statistics, but be aware that all of these are just rough estimates and different tools might show different data.
You’ll also get their last 3 months’ traffic sources.
If you want to know more about each source, head over to Similarweb.com and enter the domain to find out, for example, in Social, which social network brings them the most traffic, or which links bring the majority of their traffic to the site.
If you have a premium account with SimilarWeb, you can go into even more detail and check the last month only, and go over all the links that bring traffic to your competition.
This is a very valuable insight, as you could go out and build a relationship with the same site to drive targeted traffic to your website.
At MAN Digital, we do such in-depth analyses using SimilarWeb Pro, so just ping us here if you want me to do a free competitor analysis using SimilarWeb Pro.
One very interesting thing we can see with SimilarWeb Pro is its traffic channel analysis.
In HubSpot’s example, we can see that Hubspot.com had 4.47% of its traffic coming from emails in March 2016, and starting in April, they tripled this number up to 13% by July 2016. This is a huge change when you have 15M visitors a month.
We’ve just discovered an interesting insight about HubSpot traffic generation: they started to focus more on email marketing in April 2016.
I can actually vouch for this as I subscribe to their newsletters, and I started to get more content marketing emails from them. Emails like these:
If HubSpot is one of your competitors (which I would not like to have), hop over to their site and subscribe to all their newsletters to see what email marketing campaigns they use.
Demographics And Geography Insights
Now that we know about their traffic, let’s get more data on their demographics. I just love this tool from Amazon. In my view, it is the best research tool out there, just because Amazon has some data that nobody has at the moment (OK, except for maybe Google).
Just get a free trial on Alexa.com, gather the data, and cancel the subscription before they charge your card; 14 days is more than enough time to gather initial data.
In Alexa, I like to take the global rank of the website just to keep track of who is the best ranked by Alexa among my competitors.
Then we’ve got the geography and demographics, which is my favourite feature of Alexa.
Here is how it would look:
The most important pieces of data for me are Gender, Age, Browsing Location, and Education. I usually make a screenshot of this data and put it in the Evernote along with the other data I have collected.
I also carry out more research on their demographics in Facebook Audience Insights. Just to double check the demographics.
Here is how I do it:
Go to Facebook Audience Insights, select the country you want to analyse, enter your competitor into the interest section (step 2) in the picture below, and select the demographics.
A very interesting section in Audience Insights is the Lifestyle one, which is only available for the US market though. It is a household-level consumer segmentation and visualisation suite by Acxiom. The life stage clustering system is called PersonicX.
Find out more here, where you’ll find a very detailed report about what each cluster means.
Besides this, you have information about their relationship status and education.
Why do I insist on this?
If you understand the cluster you will understand the customer avatar much better, so you will be able to customise content more easily and create better products and services for your potential clients.
Next, go to the “Page Likes” tab, where you will be able to see what other pages this audience likes. This information will help you to gain an even more in-depth understanding of the audience, as well as helping you to create an audience to target on Facebook Ads later on.
Great, now if you’re active on Twitter, you’ll be able to get some nice data about your followers and learn more about your audience.
Go to Twitter Analytics and choose Audiences. Here you’ll be able to see a very brief overview of your audience.
I am interested in gender, age, interests, buying behaviour, occupation, and devices used.
In my case, my Twitter audience is 71% male, and 42% are aged between 25 and 34.
If we take a look at occupation, the majority of my followers are technical professionals.
Obviously, they are interested in technology, tech news, and entrepreneurship.
In conclusion, my followers are predominantly male, between 25 and 34 years of age, and are technical professionals. Now, if I am comparing this with HubSpot’s data from Alexa and Facebook Insights, it is very similar.
Now you might say, OK but these people don’t visit my site. Let’s check that on Google Analytics.
Go onto your Google Analytics (GA), to Audience, and then Demographics > Overview.
Surprise, surprise: GA also shows similar age and gender statistics to Alexa, Facebook, and Twitter. Now our research is becoming more accurate.
Data from Google is just amazing and it can make our research so much easier. It is in Google’s interests at the end of the day, as we (marketers) will spend more on Adwords if we have more tools and targeting data.
If we look at Interests in Google Analytics (Audience > Interests > Overview), we can see that our audience’s interests are also similar to what we found using the other sources.
I could talk about Audience Insights for ages. I hope this information has helped you to understand how to gather data so that you can build your buyer persona.
If you have any other specific questions about this topic, please don’t hesitate to ask me them.
Organic and Paid Traffic Keywords Analysis
Why is this part important?
Let’s think a bit about the psychology of searching. Why do we search online?
Go to Spyfu.com; there’s no need to sign up to a premium account for now.
Enter your competitor’s domain and check both their organic and paid traffic keywords.
SpyFu is an amazing tool. They collect data, in this case for 10 years, and will estimate the monthly PPC traffic of your competitor.
OK, now, you will not be able to see all their keywords with a free account. This is when I would say that, if you’re on a tight budget, you should go over to Alexa.com and get a free 7-day trial to collect all the data about your competition.
How To Download All The Organic And Paid Keywords Of Your Competition
Go to Alexa.com/keywords (get a free 7-day trial for the advanced plan) and download both their organic and paid traffic keywords.
You will now have a full list of keywords your competition is targeting. The organic section will show you the percentage of search traffic that this website is getting monthly.
OK, now you know what keywords your competitor is targeting for paid ads and what they are building their organic traffic for, you have a very good insight into what products or services they are focusing on.
Document this data, as we will use it when we need to build content.