I am not an MBA grad nor did I try getting close to becoming one. But as a curious geek Internet marketer I have always enjoyed both shrewd and smart marketing hacks. The techniques mentioned in this post are more suited if you have an online business or if online is your major marketing channel. If you are a fellow marketer then you may find few techniques given below as unethical and mean. I will be glad to respond to your opinions regarding the same in the comments section below. All techniques mentioned in the post needs to be executed in the right way in order to get optimal results and avert legal issues. This post is a pretty long one so grab a coffee, put your marketing hat on, sit back and read on.
Accept it! No matter how unique your unique selling proposition is, there is always someone who is ready to outsmart, outwit and outrank you. And the way you deal with competition determines how your business stands in the long run. Below are few techniques which when used in a particular way can help you crush your competition, bite a huge chunk of your competitor’s market share and get a kick ass start to your online venture.
Brandjacking is a technique used to capture people already acquainted with your competitor’s brand.
If your competitor hasn’t acquired their brand name on all social profiles, it’s time for you to grab your competitor’s un-acquired Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube accounts and build a following. Use namechk to find out your competitor’s unattended social profiles.
How about grabbing your competitor’s “competitor name + customer service” twitter handle and start building a following. You can use this twitter profile to harm your competitor later.
Capture humorous domain names and social profiles of your competitors and build a hate community.
Example: googlesucks.com http://www.truthaboutsixpackabsscam.com/
Do this with anonymity and extreme caution else you could land up in to legal issues.
Cyber/domain squatting is registering a domain name with bad faith in order to own the trademark of an established brand or product. For example Rediff.net is not owned by Rediff.com. The owner of Rediff.net could be a potential termed as a cyber squatter. I see a plethora of such opportunities still open in the Indian ecommerce space.
Over 27000 people mistake Indian ecommerce giant Myntra.com as MYANTRA.COM. But the domain name with the typo is not owned by the company! Instead it is owned by an Indian living in Singapore. Just imagine the bad experience and the negative impression users would have on Myntra when one visits Myantra.com. This is surprising for a company, which burns more than 5 crores of online marketing budget per month.
Same holds true with fashionnyou.com. My Baby Cart Pvt Ltd doesn’t own mybabycart.net I own it.
There is always a low hanging fruit when it comes to domains. Acquire it wisely and you can smartly get a small but valuable chunk of sales from your competitor.
Pay a visit to stanfordrejects.com and the site redirects to http://www.berkeley.edu/. Berkeley is smart enough to capture a targeted keyword which captures its competitor’s market. With a keyword rich domain redirect Berkely.edu has also captured some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value. Capture popular domains (good links and traffic) associated with your competitor brand and redirect it to yours.
Exact match Keyword Rich Micro Niche Domain sites
Domains with keywords have a high ranking value in Google (Even after EMD update). It is easier to rank an exact match domain name in Google/Yahoo/Bing than a bland branded domain without any keywords in root domain.
For instance -
It is easier for you to rank for keyword “Online Shopping in India” if you own domains like onlineshoppinginindia.com or onlineshoppinginindia.in instead of some branded domain name (abc.com).
Pick the most popular/searched product names (Use Adwords Tool) which you and your competitor own. Buy domains whose keyword phrase has high number of searches in Google and launch informative mini sites. Rank these sites high in Google and eat chunk of your competitor’s most popular product sales.
Black Hat Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing a site for the user in a way which will drive organic traffic from search engines like Google/Yahoo/Bing.
Black Hat SEO is a tactic which uses tactics which are otherwise considered spam, manipulative and against Google’s guidelines and also often times labeled as non-user friendly. Black Hat SEO tactics are employed to game the search engines in order to achieve high rankings. If you are an Internet marketer you may shrug this idea off saying Black Hat SEO in 2012? No way…
But the truth is that it still works but only for a limited time. Black hat SEO has got a whey protein retailer to #2 for keyword “best whey protein” and #12 for keyword “Car Insurance Quotes”. This technique will help you capture a large/small share off your competitor’s share depending on the time before Google axes your site.
Caution while using this technique
- Never use black hat SEO on a branded domain.
- Use this technique on a throw away domain whose domain owner and server is different from where your other domains are hosted.
- Hire an expert to get the job done.
Drive huge traffic to bad reviews of your competitors
Driving traffic to your competitors pit falls and their lack of attention to customers can make people shift to an alternative (that will be you). There are many people who are ranting about how pathetic a particular company’s sales person is or how bad is their customer service department. Check how people feel about your competitor and their products. A simple search in Google for “competitor name + reviews” or “product name + reviews” will r
eveal where your competitor is failing. Drive traffic to customer rants and engage (not link dropping) in the community actively. The objective here is not to capture your competitor’s traffic but it is to understand where your competitor lacks and how you can close that gap with your offering of service or product.
Expose your competitor paid links/spam SEO to Google
When it comes to SEO, link building is dead. Google is now devaluing and often penalizing sites which buy links and acquire links from spammy link networks. You can report a site to Google Webmaster spam team if you find
- Your competitors have back links from spam sites?
- Sites have back links with over optimized anchor texts?
- Sites have content stuffed with keywords?
Bidding on Competitor Brand Terms and Products
Bidding on competitor’s brand name is one key strategy which business has been using since a long time. Using Google Adwords one can bid on competitor’s keyword. People do search for brand names in Google and making your Ad appear for such names in Google will help you capture attention and a small yet targeted traffic.
Change your Ad copy and text according to your competitor’s name and keyword in order to get optimum results.
Run FaceBook Ads on Competitor’s fans
One great thing I like about FaceBook Ad targeting is its ability to target Ads to a page’s fans. For instance if you are a Facebook Ad manager for “Pepsi” then I can target Ads to fans of “Coke”. FaceBook Ad campaigns targeted at competitors have higher clicks and conversions.
Pay your affiliates unreasonably high
Affiliate marketing is one of most reliable way of generating leads and sales. In affiliate marketing the sale on your site is generated through a special affiliate link which is promoted by an affiliate (blogger/marketer). When an action (sale or sign up) is committed by a user through that link the affiliate gains a commission. An advertiser needs to pay an affiliate only when an action is performed. Paying your affiliates unreasonably high will help you get tons of free traffic, links and branding. It also keeps the top affiliates in your industry busy promoting your products than your competitor. Bigcommerce is one good product based company which pays its affiliates more than 3 times of what its competitors pay its affiliates. This has helped Bigcommerce get maximum number of positive reviews, mentions and signups than any other player in the ecommerce hosting space. Paying affiliates very high makes it easy to get tons of leads, sales and free product reviews from top Internet marketers and affiliates.
Hack customer email ids
One can get their competitor’s customer email IDs by leveraging various customer touch points. For example a customer of FlipKart is likely to search for “Flipkart coupons” / “Flipkart discount coupons” etc in Google. It is during this time you can capture the email addresses of your competitor prospects by running a simple PPC Ad on a simple landing page hosted on different domain name. The same can be done with FaceBook Ads targeted at competitor’s fans. Once you get these email IDs you can promote your products to this list repeatedly with a marketing message which can out smart your competition.
According to Insideview’s research B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than non-blogging firms. Yet many online businesses fail to recognize the immense potential of content marketing. Content marketing is a proven way to establish thought leadership, humanize a brand, help your current and prospective customers. Publishing expert level industry/product specific content in the form of presentations, webinars, video tutorials, how to’s, case studies and blog posts will establish your brand as a leader in your niche. People are more inclined to buy a product from a brand they already know and content is one primary touch point which a brand can have with its users.
Multiple Link Citations
There should be quite a few places on the web where your competitor’s website or contact was listed but your website was not mentioned. You can dig out lists posts in your industry using smart search queries. Suppose your business niche is iphone app development then you can use queries like “iphone developers directory”, “top iphone development companies”, “best iphone developers” in Google. This way one can know what link opportunities are being missed out. Drop a mail to the webmaster or author of the post and request your inclusion.
Eliminate your competitor with constructive comparison
When it comes to B2B products or services, positioning your brand against your competitor as a better problem solver is key. One good way is to create comparative
content which lists all key features of your product or service against your competition. Check how Volusion eliminates BigCommerce with an intuitive chart listing out various features it has and Bigcommerce doesn’t.
Which are the strategies you employ to win over your competition? Please shout it out in the comments section below.
This is a guest post contributed by Kothapally Arun. Arun is an independent online marketer and a blogger at Ecommerce Yogi .