5 Small Changes to Give Your Business Competitive Edge

April 25, 2019

Grand marketing campaigns or a string of successful products are not the only ways to achieve business success (though they definitely don’t hurt). Leading brands show time and again that it’s the small things they do well that make a big impact on both revenue and profitability.

Are you active on social media? So are probably all of your competitors.

How about content marketing? I’m going to bet your competition is churning out content, too. PPC ads? Email marketing? Chances are, most marketing techniques you use are ones that everyone else in your market also uses.

So, how do you stand out? What makes your business different, memorable, and constantly improving every single day?

It’s the little things that make a great marketing strategy.

1. Grab That Long Tail Keyword

You’ve spent time discovering what keywords your ideal customers search for. You have even optimized your site for every possible combination of your top keywords. But your top keywords are likely going to be similar to those of your competition.

What you need is to go down the road less traveled and look for phrases that users might actually search for when they have a particular context or are looking for a specific answer.

A lot of SEO managers mistakenly believe that long tail keywords are those that are more than two words in length. Data shows that 70% of web searches involve such terms, and websites that research their long tail keywords properly were found to rise up 11 spots in search rankings.

However, longer queries can be “head” terms, too. An Ahrefs study of 1.9 billion keywords showed that more than 99% of them received fewer than 10 searches a month. This is the real long tail.

Despite the low number of searches, marketing guru Neil Patel explains with the diagram below that long tail keywords typically have low competition and hence cost much less to bid on or optimize for.

 low competition

Source

The probability of conversion rises exponentially because consumers use very specific long tail queries when they are far down the purchase cycle.

2. Use the Right Apps

Although small businesses or startups have the odds stacked against them when it comes to competing with established brands, the saving grace is that there’s a bunch of tools and technology out there, which help SMB owners carry out various business functions with little expertise.

A whole new ecosystem of SaaS (software as a service) applications make life simpler than ever before for managers and entrepreneurs.

If we run with the idea of long tail keywords above, competitive intelligence tool suite SEMrush provides an ideal option. It shows you terms related to keywords that you input and casts a wide net to help you reach niches and queries that could otherwise have been ignored.

Metrics such as “Keyword Difficulty” and “Competition” show how hard it would be to beat the competition in organic searches or to outbid them on PPC campaigns.

Keywords

As a small business, it’s a good idea to have the apps for your key SaaS tools and analytics installed on your phone.

You could schedule, alter, or put the emergency brakes on email marketing messages with a marketing automation app such as MailChimp. You could approve social media posts from your team, connect with local customers using geolocation, or just promote a plain old blog post while you’re on the move with HootSuite’s Android and iOS apps.

Sometimes, software platforms come with multiple add-ons, plugins, or extensions (call them what you will) available within their ecosystem that enable you to do a host of extra things on top of their inherent features. BigCommerce’s online store platform is one such example. The popular e-commerce and shopping cart tool has a full-fledged app marketplace that businesses can cherry pick from.

Take the example of Atlanta Light Bulbs, a B2B reseller that first went online 20 years ago. The company recognized it was a lighting supply company, not a tech company.

CEO Doug Root credits the availability of apps that could be installed with a single click on its BigCommerce-powered site directly with competitive differentiation and a resulting 25% growth in revenue.

Today, thanks to this robust, self-service ecosystem, Root is able to easily experiment on his own with solutions for instant proposals, exit-intent popups, and even a mobile app version of his site.

Apps help small businesses manage their efforts and grow.

3. Automate Routine Tasks

Complicated marketing strategies and giant marketing budgets are useless if you don’t grab the low-hanging fruit first. Try and think of all the different tasks that you and your team do on an everyday basis and see if there’s an easier or more efficient way to accomplish these everyday tasks.

Does your team spend hours trying to find the perfect posts to put on social media? Invest instead in a curation tool such as Scoop.it to get the most relevant stories all in one place.

Have a live chat function on your website? Use a chatbot instead of a real person to save costs as well as improve productivity in customer service.

Set up automated emails that are sent when your customers take specific actions such as abandoning a shopping cart, making two consecutive purchases in one week, etc., using tools such as Campaign Monitor’s automated journey designer.

Campaign Monitor’s automated journey designer

Automating routine tasks has twofold benefits. First, it frees up time for you and your team to innovate and make those big-picture decisions that will help take your business to the next level.

Second, it makes these everyday processes more efficient and precise, ensuring your time, resources, and dollars are used to their full extent.

4. Keep an Eye on the Competition

 “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

If you’re clueless about what you’re up against, there’s no way you can put up a strong enough fight. In-depth competitive research is one of the unsung heroes that propels every market leader to consistent success.

It’s not enough to track competitors’ revenues or profitability; you need to go the extra mile to discover more and stay ahead. Some important data to track besides revenue includes:

  • Web traffic
  • Top keywords
  • PPC bids and marketing spend
  • Top-performing content
  • Size of customer base
  • Top-selling products
  • Current offers and promotions
  • Strongest markets
  • Social media tactics
  • Customer pain points

Here, too, you have SaaS tools to the rescue. A unified dashboard such as Cyfe cumulates data from different sources and allows you to track key competitive metrics at a glance.

Cyfe

Signing up for your competitors’ email newsletters, following their official accounts on social media, and dropping by their stores as mystery shoppers are all effective ways of learning more about what they are up to.

This knowledge can then guide your own marketing activities and help you keep your customers satisfied consistently.

5. Get More Per Sale

It’s a fine idea to attract more customers to grow your revenue. But a better idea is to get your existing customers to buy more and automatically contribute more to the top line.

With reams of data showing how retaining existing customers is cheaper, easier, and more profitable than attracting new ones, this one’s a no-brainer.

There are different ways to achieve this same result. Some creative merchandising with bundled offers is a smart idea to increase your final bill size. Combine complementary items – such as toothpaste and a toothbrush – to give customers more value than buying them individually.

McDonald’s has perfected the art of making you buy more with every purchase by either asking you “Will you have fries with that?” or pushing its “value meals” that combine multiple items into one bundled product.

McDonald's Meal Deal

Your savvy customers will do the math and make a beeline for the “high-value” or money-saver bundle, leaving you with more money in the bank.

Little Drops of Water Make a Mighty Ocean

As with most things in life, it’s not the grand gestures that matter most. It’s taking care of the little things that makes a true difference in whether you achieve your goals or fall short.

No action is too small or too insignificant to count toward the big picture when you persistently pursue your business goals. If a little duct tape could cause the resignation of a U.S. president, you can be sure that no change is too small to matter.


About the Author

Headshot of Dipti ParmarDipti Parmar is an experienced business and marketing consultant. She helps startups, brands, and individuals build a stellar online reputation and establish thought leadership in their industry with innovative content and digital marketing campaigns.