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5 ways to analyze and beat your competitor’s online reputation
Understanding where your competitors stand is the first step to creating an action plan for your online reputation management (ORM). 10-min read
1. Brand sentiment2. Reviews3. Social media engagement4. Search engine visibility5. Online customer serviceStrengthen your online reputation
With millions of businesses in the U.S. alone, you’re guaranteed to have at least one competitor to look out for. Even if your products or services are completely unique, you’ll still have to be prepared to beat out the brands that are vying for the attention of your target audience. To start, you need to develop a stand-out online reputation that wins the trust of your potential customers.
Understanding where your competitors stand is the first step to creating an action plan for your online reputation management (ORM). It’ll give you a measurable look at where you need to improve, so you can decide how you’ll get your company there.
This article will guide you through five areas of ORM where you can analyze your competitors and develop a strategy that will leave them in the dust.
1. Brand sentiment
When a consumer is aware of your brand, they will naturally feel something toward you. This feeling, most commonly referred to as sentiment, can be positive, negative, or neutral. When this sentiment is expressed through a social media post, blog post, or any other digital channel, it directly impacts how viewers feel toward your company, too.
With 76% of customers more likely to buy from brands they’re emotionally connected to, your goal is to limit both neutral and negative sentiment and continuously grow the positive. To do so, you’ll need to effectively measure and track how people feel about you and your competitors.
Top sentiment analysis tools can be pricey, while budget tools often only help you track sentiment for your own company. Luckily, tracking sentiment manually can be as simple as plugging numbers into a spreadsheet on a recurring basis for a handpicked set of metrics. These metrics may include:
- The number of Twitter mentions your competitor receives
- The tone of social media mentions (ranked on a numerical scale)
- The number of news articles your competitor earns
- The number of positive, negative, or neutral reactions to Facebook posts
Ultimately, your analysis should tell you what percentage of online sentiment toward your competitor’s brand is positive.
Developing your strategy
Once you’ve analyzed sentiment toward your competitors, you’ll want to compare it to sentiment toward your own brand. This will help you create attainable goals for your company to reach.
Then, you’ll want to create a strong plan of action that outlines how you’ll encourage positive posts and take action on the negative ones. A big part of improving brand sentiment and your overall reputation is truly listening to your audience, so it’s important to be genuine in your response and use feedback to create better customer experiences.
Online reviews are a huge focus for modern business owners, as they have a direct influence on where potential customers end up spending their money. In fact, consumers will spend 31% more on a company with positive reviews and prefer businesses with at least four stars.
If you have more reviews and better star ratings than your competitors, you’ll become an obvious choice for your target audience.
Analyzing your competitors’ reviews is as easy as searching for their listings on the right online review sites. You should already be looking at your competitors’ Google and Facebook ratings, but you’ll also want to consider their online presence on niche review sites (like Doctor.com for healthcare professionals).
Along with checking your competitor’s average ratings, take a closer look at:
- Their rating distribution
- Their ratings in specific categories (often available on niche websites)
- What reviewers are saying
- How your competitor is responding to reviews
Developing your strategy
As you take note of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in their online review management, think about how you can improve upon their approach to managing reviews. If they’re not responding to positive reviews, or if they’re not acting entirely professional when responding to negative reviews, this presents an opportunity for you.
Increasing the number of positive reviews you have, either manually or through automatic invites with a tool like Podium Reviews, can also help you stand out compared to your competitors. Not only will your volume of ratings impress potential customers, but it will also reduce the impact of any negative reviews you might receive.
3. Social media engagement
Social media engagement may be a metric that you can use for brand sentiment, but it’s also an important category of its own. Having stronger engagement rates than your competitors can improve your online reputation by showcasing your legitimacy as a brand.
Facebook’s built-in analytics already offers a daily comparison of your top competitors’ engagement rates. Still, if you want to get a better overview, you’ll want to look at how they’re performing across all channels.
A few important metrics you’ll want to look out for include:
- Likes per follower
- Comments per follower
- Follower growth rate
You’ll also want to analyze your competitor’s content and which formats perform best, as well as when your competitors are posting. Doing so, will enable you to quickly understand what to implement and avoid in your own strategy. This can be done manually or by using Kompyte’s social media tracking feature.
Developing your strategy
Taking into account what you’ve gathered from your competitor analysis and comparing it to trends you notice in engagement from your own audience, create a complete social media plan that includes:
- Your ideal posting frequency
- Posting times
- Topics you’ll post about
- What type of content you’ll post
- How you’ll encourage engagement from your audience (e.g., calls to action)
- How your brand voice will differentiate you from competitors
As your engagement grows, your social media business pages will help you develop trust and build your overall online reputation.
4. Search engine visibility
When potential customers are searching for companies that will fulfill their needs, they’re most likely heading to Google first. If your competitor ranks higher than you for their search term, your competitor is likely getting the click. This means they’ll get the first opportunity to capture a lead, which may be all they need to convert.
A proper competitor analysis and thorough search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can help you avoid this possibility and be the first to win over shoppers.
Using a tool like Google Trends or Kompyte’s keyword research feature, you can start your analysis by figuring out what keywords your target audience is searching for. Then, consider which keywords your competitors are ranking for.
Take a closer look at what pages are ranking well. Even if they’re filled with keywords, you still have an opportunity to rank even higher by providing more valuable and relevant content that searchers are looking for.
Developing your strategy
Beating your competitor’s online reputation through search engine marketing requires you select the keywords you want to target with your website, landing pages, and blog posts.
You don’t necessarily want to compete for all of the same keywords your competitors are targeting if search results are already saturated with well-optimized pages. You should look for opportunities to rank for terms with high search volumes but few relevant results.
You can also boost your visibility and overall reputation by getting inbound links from credible websites, which tells Google that you’re a source to be trusted, too.
5. Online customer service
As we’ve touched on in previous sections, the way you interact with your audience can have a huge impact on your online reputation. It tells your potential customers how reliable you are by showing them how quick you are to respond and how professional you’ll be.
Brands with excellent great customer service will actually bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors, so this is an area of ORM you don’t want to leave behind.
Looking back at your competitors’ social media platforms can be helpful in evaluating their customer service. If your competitors have formal customer service processes in place, they may have dedicated Twitter pages for support, quick response times, or bots set up on Facebook Messenger, or stated availability.
When your competitors don’t have formal processes in place, this is an opportunity for you to pull ahead in winning over interested customers. However, you’ll still want to get an idea of their average response times and how effectively they’re meeting customer needs.
Developing your strategy
The best way to develop your online customer service is by creating a strong process for response. Determine who is responsible for assigning out messages, who needs to respond, and how quickly they must do so.
Every company needs to have protocols in place for how to respond to inquiries and complaints, so each employee can take conversations offline as needed.
Strengthen your online reputation
With search engines and reviews reaching further than phone books and in-person recommendations ever could, your online reputation can influence whether your potential customer prefers you or your competitors. By focusing on the five areas of ORM listed above, you can stand out and become your target audience’s first choice.
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Product Marketing Director