Uncover Your Competitor’s Online Marketing Strategy For Their Website In Singapore

Adrian Tan

The question that never dies… Is my website better than my competitors’? And the follow up…How do I come up with an online marketing strategy that will crush them like cockroaches?

Most literature you read will tell you to focus on the marketing of your website rather than worry about your competitors’. However, in Singapore, being competitive is in our bloodline. For example, our students instead of celebrating after their exams, are more likely to worry about how they have done vis-a-vis their classmates. While our adults commonly like to find out how much their peers earn as a way to gauge their own value. You get the drift…

Let me show you how I would benchmark a site versus its competitor’s using the following steps, aided by some free tools. It is meant to be a fun way to get that curiosity soothed while deriving some actionable insights.

#1 Identify Your Competitors

The first step is easy. Identify your immediate competitors – the ones that your clients most often mention when negotiating price with you (at this stage, you will be putting on your most diplomatic face and hunkering down for the negotiation) .

In this exercise, I am using The French Cellar site. They have pioneered a wine subscription business in Singapore, which is also a first in Asia. (disclosure: We have a stake in The French Cellar.)

Instead of just going to a store to buy wine or ordering some bottles for delivery online for an occasion, The French Cellar would want the consumers to enjoy wine as a way of life. Every month, their subscribers receive 2 French wines selected by their 3-star Michelin sommelier along with a wine tasting guide.

Based on this, their competitors would be sites from brick and mortar wine retailers like Wine Connection (www.wineconnection.com.sg) and online ecommerce stores like Winerack Singapore (www.winerack.asia/sg/) .

#2 Benchmark The Site’s Popularity

Marketers used to rely on Alexa.com as a means to check how their site is being ranked both locally and globally. I prefer SimilarWeb (hear what people are saying about SimilarWeb over at techcrunch ).

First, get a snapshot of your own site.

Now enter your competitor’s website. I entered www.wineconnection.com.sg by virtue of it being a major wine retailer in Singapore and I would like to check out their online traffic (assuming that people check their website out before buying wine).

As you can see, the estimate visits for the both sites are comparable (each having 20,000 visits per month). I would place more importance on the relative numbers rather than the absolute numbers so that my analysis is not as affected if the data is not accurate. What this means is that the rather new The French Cellar website has rapidly caught up with a pretty established wine retailer in the online space. Yay!

In addition, the rank for The French Cellar site is better than that of the competitor (a lower rank is desired). This may be explained by the better Time on Site and Page Views per visit metrics for The French Cellar. Double Yay!

#3 Know What Is Working Out For The Competitor

By checking their composition of traffic, we can guess at how they are using their resources in promoting online.

In the same report on SimilarWeb, we see that:

  • Search contributes more than half of their traffic. Search refers to either Paid Cost Per Click (CPC) Traffic from platforms like Google AdWords or Organic Traffic from people finding them naturally on the Search Engines. For the case of Wine Connection, I would say that their many years of working the market has benefited them in terms of people being aware of them and searching out for them online.
  • Direct traffic is their 2nd largest traffic contributor. Direct traffic refers either to people who visit their website by entering their address directly in their browsers or traffic with unknown sources. Either way, in this case, it is a reflection of their strong branding in the market.
  • Referrals is their other significant traffic source. Referral traffic is visits directed from 3rd party sites that carry a link to their site. It could be from blogs talking about them, from news articles or even from listings in directories. Again, this probably comes from their established presence in Singapore.

With this snapshot, my take is that Wine Connection has not started to invest much online. They are riding on the traction from their long years in the market. This presents an opportunity for The French Cellar to gain market share – their continuous emphasis on online versus their more traditional wine retailer competitors will definitely help drive acceptance of their innovative wine offering especially with the burgeoning online savvy audience.

#4 Find Out Why They Are Getting ‘Free’ Traffic

From SImilarWeb, we see that Wine Connection is not spending on Paid Search from search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Instead, they are getting significant traffic (around 59% of their total visits) from people searching for them on the search engines. Their keywords are mainly related to their brands.

This is representative of the awareness they have obtained by staying around long enough in the market and investing in their physical stores. Their good showing on the search engine can also be attributed to the referral links from other websites.

What are these websites you say? Search engines like Google place importance on how your website is interconnected with the other sites in the online sphere when determining how your website is ranked or showing up when people search using relevant keywords. Using another tool called Moz Open Site Explorer, we are able to find out what these referring websites are (just type in the website URL in the tool).

As you can see, CNN Travel had covered on “What wine to buy” and placed Wine Connection’s link as a reference source. This link is of high value due to CNN Travel being a site with much authority and trust.

In comparison, The French Cellar site is not able to garner as much “free” traffic because Wine Connection has:

  • Better brand presence due to their physical location and longer time in market
  • More quality referral links from 3rd party sites that allows them to rank better on the search engines.

With this knowledge, The French Cellar can plan on how they can overcome this weakness and come back fighting.

#5 How Much Are They Spending On Search Engine Marketing?

In the case of Wine Connection, they are not spending on Paid Search. We look at www.winerack.asia/sg/ instead. We know that winerack.asia is advertising simply because we can see their ads on Google. But what ads and keywords are they using and how much they are spending? We use another tool, SEM Rush, to dig that info out.

We see that the competitor started advertising from September 2014, scaled it down in November 2014 and have significantly ramped up their ad traffic and spending at the start of 2015. Are they aggressively pushing out some promotion?

We sniff out the keywords that they are bidding on and piece together some insights. They could be focusing on the champagne drinkers (is it because of the holiday season?) and are possibly trying to attract people that are into the wine drinking culture (although I think the bulk of the searchers for this keyword are probably students working on their research papers or even civil servants working on the new alcohol ban in Singapore…sigh). And of course, the usual keywords on venues in which people can buy wine.

Also, get a kick out of seeing their advertising copies. Suss out what they are promoting and how they are writing it out. The French Cellar may even want to “respond” to some of these ads and present their own compelling offers. Hmm..On a separate note…I wonder why the Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc is so amazing…

Without spending a single cent doing your own advertising, comb through the breakdown of a competitor’s expenditure on their keywords and spend many hours dissecting their bidding strategy (CPC, volume, trends, position etc) with the SEMRush detailed reports. This can definitely help you benchmark your next paid search campaign.

Conclusion

As can be seen, there are many ways to find out what your competitors are doing online. It is definitely not healthy to be too fixated on it. However, it can be useful when a business owner is able to put aside some of his pride to identify a successful competitor and interpret their online strategy.

A quick review on the actions we can take after doing the snooping:

  • Learn from a worthy competitor. Check if they are more popular or at least as popular as your site.
  • Get their composition of website traffic. This helps to know where their emphasis is and correspondingly where they are spending their most resources.
  • Know how they have been organically promoting their site through branding or getting referrals. See if you are able to emulate that
  • Know their actual spending and efforts on paid search. See if their strategy can be adapted to your site and learn from their errors, if any. An example is whether we can see if certain keywords are too expensive and should be avoided if budget is limited.

The web is a very open arena and there are hardly any secrets. The trick is in checking out relevant marketing tactics and testing them to see whether they work for your own business.

If you are looking for someone that knows how to implement and optimise a wide range of online marketing tactics for you, you may want to tap on clickTRUE’s specialisation in Leads Generation Consultancy. Learn how we could work with you here. Check out our approach and if you like what you see, send us an enquiry or just comment on this post!

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