Should you be the owner of a bakery or a clothing store, your potential customers choose every day whether to buy from you or the business around the corner.
Keeping an eye on your local competition is useful in every sense, from learning about their discounts to creatively snatching ideas for content that can drive traffic to your eCommerce site. So, today we’ll talk about how you can spy on your local UK competitors and benefit from competitor research.
Gathering local market information
The process of understanding your customers and the competition is called market research. It falls into two categories:
- Primary research: You ask your customers directly about everything related to their problems, possible solutions, your product, your competitors, and so on.
- Secondary research: Here, you deal with openly available information, such as other research, articles, trends, expert opinions, etc.
How to find local competitors?
You most likely will know your key local competitors in the UK by heart, simply through being in the same industry. However, there may be less obvious/visible competitors you might not even know about. It’s always good to see the bigger picture.
Try googling for what your business does (in different wording) + local words like “in Bristol” or “near Layerthorpe, York,” etc. The resulting pages are called SERP and typically include:
- Organic search results;
- PPC advertising;
- Map snippet;
- Entities from Google My Business.
Study carefully and write down the competitors you see there. Also, you may look for companies working in the same industry on yellow pages like Yell.com, aggregators, and online business catalogues. From that, you may get on to more detailed market research for each of your major competitors.
Types of market research
When doing market research, the reasonable approach is to go from a broader view to a more narrowed down specific view. So, you may start with a general understanding of potential customers and their problems, then get down to the specifics of how they use the product or service, and follow up with understanding your competitors, what they do, and how they fit this picture.
Again, start drilling down from the above. If you have a budget for marketing research, you may order a customer study or survey or simply search for studies and reports on Statista to better understand your clients. Think of your customer persona – your typical customer, their gender, age, hobbies, monthly income, where they live, etc. If you have been running a business for a long time already, you definitely have some loyal customers. Make customer segmentation in Google Analytics and divide them into 2-5 groups depending on the information you get. Data from Google Analytics will come in handy here to better understand your customers.
“Customer Segmentation or Audience Segmentation is a way you can break down your users into smaller groups (i.e. segments) through predefined criteria.”
— Google Analytics (@googleanalytics) April 7, 2020
Examples of segmentation that can be used are segmentation by traffic source, geography, visitor types (new, returning), user platform, visitor value, actions are taken, etc.
Product/Service use research
Continue with identifying how exactly your service or product is used by the customers – for example, how visitors actually use your site. Many tools can record user behaviour on your site in which you can review these recordings later. They will be effective in understanding the bottlenecks on your eCommerce sites, like nonobvious “Buy” buttons or unclear shipping conditions.
Now it’s time for thorough competitor research. Open data, available with professional services, will give you lots of information on their business, especially about their online promotion.
If you want to dominate the local UK competition, you probably pay a lot of attention to SEO. Find out what keywords your competitors are using, which pages of theirs get the most traffic, and their rank positions. The Seranking competitor research tool can help you with this analysis, giving you complete information on the SEO promotion of your competitors’ websites and their marketing strategies. In particular, within the competitor research tool, it checks the following data:
- Organic traffic volume;
- Organic keywords and pages that are ranked the highest for them;
- Ranking changes;
- Domain trust, etc.
Image source: Screenshot from SE Ranking competitor research tool
Additionally, track the paid advertising efforts of your competitors. Use the same SE Ranking tool to see their paid traffic, keywords they use in their ads, and even the texts of their ads.
Set your competitive position
Focus on running local SEO for your business
SEO is your almost free source of potential customers. If you are on top of the search results for target and local queries, you are already winning over your competitors. Proper and consistent local SEO consists of three basic elements:
- Website: make sure it works fine, loads fast, and is not filled with distracting banners and pop-ups. To make sure your site is top-notch, run website audits regularly – for example, with the help of the SE Ranking Website Audit tool.
- Content: produce and publish useful content filled with keywords. You may use an SEO analysis tool to be aware of your competitors’ fresh blog posts, their mentions, and shares. That will give you an idea of the types of content that work best for them.
- Citations: these are references to your site from other websites (often local aggregators) which mention your name, address, phone, and/or website. You can set them up manually or use third-party services like BrightLocal, MozLocal, etc.
Power of reviews
Reviews are your strongest weapon against your local competitors and a powerful SEO factor. There are several ways you can increase the number of reviews for your business:
- Google My Business – register there if you haven’t yet done so. Also, make sure your business is represented favourably, e.g. that photos and videos are of high quality and show your business features positively.
- Ask customers for the reviews at any given chance. Ask them to leave reviews on Google My Business, your Facebook page, or on their social media so you can repost, or even ask them to record 10-sec video testimonials. Also, they may leave reviews on product review sites like TrustPilot or industry-specific review sites, boards, or forums.
Don’t let that star rating slip! Only half of consumers would consider using a business that has fewer than 4 stars 😬 pic.twitter.com/uMoIqc5Smu
— BrightLocal (@brightlocal) May 12, 2021
Improve the user experience
Remember that the user journey may start from different points: Google Maps, search results, offline store, retailer’s website, etc. To provide potential customers with the best user experience, follow these simple rules:
- Ensure your NAP (names, addresses, phones) and business hours of your outlets are always updated and actual.
- Improve page loading speed from different devices;
- Make all the most important elements on your website clearly visible (buttons, CTAs, contact forms, etc.);
- Provide simple navigation and internal links;
- Think of visual clues to guide your visitors through the page to the desired actions.
For any business that operates locally, it is very important to outperform or stand out from the competition to attract more customers. If your services or products are geographically limited, it is critically important for you to outflank your online and offline competitors. By learning more about them, their products, and your potential customers, you can better work on local marketing to dominate the regional competition.