How to beat the competition in an online business

Do you know what your competition is up to? Have you ever spent the time to really examine their online presence – website and marketing?

You can’t compete in a Vacuum

You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competition in order to “beat” them.  You have to know where they’re better than you, so you can test and improve those things. 

You also have to know where you excel by comparison. I’m not suggesting knowing where you excel so that you can put yourself on the back. You need to improve on these areas as well before your competitor makes the same comparison and takes measures to improve on those same items.

Some Important Things to Compare

From the visitor’s viewpoint (the only one that really matters) here are some important areas that can make a huge difference in online success:

  • Is navigation consistent throughout the website? 
  • Does the navigation guide the visitors to the desired action?
  • Is simple language being used throughout, rather than industry jargon?
  • Is the content scannable, easy to read?
  • How easy is it for customers to contact the company? 
  • How quickly does the company respond?
  • How easy is the purchase process? 
  • Are the privacy, security, guarantee, and return policies or links at the points of greatest customer anxiety?
  • Is the focus on benefits rather than features?
  • Are testimonials being used?
  • Does the company have a blog?
  • How often is the blog updated?
  • Does the company have a social media presence such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? 
  • How often are these social sites updated?
  • Are these social media channels being used for customer service or for posting announcements only or both?

This list could go on and on, but it’s a starting point.

A Usability Test on the Competition

Now, you could go make all of these comparisons yourself, and you should. However, the risk is that you may tend to be a bit biased toward your own website. And even better idea would be to pay 4 or 5 people to make the comparison for you.

Set up a simple usability test, and have your participant’s complete similar tasks on both websites, yours and your competitor’s. Have them compare the items in the list above and any others you feel might be important.  The results could truly prove to be invaluable.


As I said above, how can you compete and improve if you don’t know what the competition is up to? A comparison like this helps you decide what you need to focus on.

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