Introduction

Most entrepreneurs are extremely competitive competitive people. Their eyes light up when visions of beating their competitors flash through their minds. 

Dominating the competition is the lifefuel of nearly every business. 

We know this is true because as an agency in the highly competitive B2B SaaS world, we speak to dozens of founders who become giddy when the conversation turns to how we can help them divert valuable traffic away from their rivals to them. In fact, we’ve had this conversation so many times that we realized putting together The Competition Crusher was completely necessary. 

Competitors shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing, however. 

Competition breeds innovation. Competition fuels motivation. Ultimately, competition creates progress. 

Competition also creates opportunity when leveraged properly. 

In this guide, you’ll find tried and true and completely unique strategies we’ve executed for our clients to help them dominate their competitors. Follow these methods as we’ve written them and your brand will almost always be in the conversation when new prospects are debating which product to purchase. 

Happy hunting. 

 

9 Ways To Use Your Competitors’ Negative Reviews Against Them

As a business owner, your company’s success doesn’t just depend on what you do well or how amazing your product is. It’s also how you deal with things that go wrong and how you respond to unhappy customers. 

Did you know that more than 90% of unhappy customers won’t do business with you again?

Because of that, it’s wise to invest time and resources to monitor your brand’s reputation and customer loyalty. That means routinely tackling things like responding to customers reviews, addressing product issues or concerns, and trying to make things right with unhappy customers. 

But what about your competitors? Can you use what they get wrong to your advantage and pull their unhappy 90% over to you?  

Absolutely! 

According to a customer experience report from Oracle, 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. You can use this to your advantage. Data mining your competitors will help you uncover hidden gems to propel your company forward, turning your competitors’ losses into gains for your business.

Here are 9 ways to hack competitors’ negative feedback into positive growth for your company:

 

  1. Identify competitors

If you haven’t already completed a market analysis, now is the time. Not sure where to start? Begin with a Google search. Search for your company name, your product name, or for similar products. See who comes up. You can also use a tool like SimilarWeb, which allows you to enter your own URL to get access to information about competitors and similar sites. Other tools like SEMrush and Spyfu use keyword analysis to give you insight into your competitors’ best paid and organic search tactics. Ubersuggest is also a great free tool available for competitive analysis. Make a list.

Ubersuggest competitor analysis tool

Here’s an example of how to find competitors in the Accounting Software space using Ubersuggest

  1. Determine evaluation parameters

After identifying your competitors, create a list of key topics you want to explore with a competitive analysis. Some questions you may want to ask when evaluating your competitors:

  • What do customers like most about your competitors? 
  • What are the prevalent or recurring complaints customers have about your competitors?
  • Has your competitor had a public crisis or disruption that negatively affected customer loyalty or brand reputation?
  • How do your competitors gain customer loyalty? 
  • Are there industry service gaps that need filled?
  • Are there product limitations or performance issues?
  1. Find patterns

Almost 90% of consumers say they read business reviews and as many as 40% say seeing negative reviews stops them from doing business with a company, so begin with review sites and directories like Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, Capterra, TrustPilot, G2 Crowd, or GetApp.

Wade through your competitors reviews. What are the most common issues? Are your competitors responsive to positive and negative feedback? Make note of negative reviews, with specific focus on 1 and 2 star ratings.

You can use review sites like Capterra to look specifically at 1 and 2 star reviews on your competitors products to find out exactly what their customers have the biggest issues with.

Capterra rating filtering

Scour competitors’ social media sites. Are customers engaging with their posts? Are they leaving reviews and feedback? What issues are being brought up? Are they being addressed? You can even monitor hashtags and mentions with social media listening tools like HootSuite, SproutSocial, and BuzzSumo.

Read competitors websites and blogs. Are customers responding to their content? What types of calls-to-action are your competitors using? Are customers sharing pain points or concerns? Is the company offering solutions and responses?

Use search engines to discover more about your competitors and dig up more reviews, press coverage, and customer feedback. Start broadly, for example, “[Industry] + Reviews” then get more specific with “[Specific Company or Product Name] + Reviews.” You can even set up Google alerts so you get regular notifications about the competitors you’re following.

Talk to your customers. Did they try or use a similar product before connecting with you? Were there other companies or products they considered? Why? What was appealing?

Don’t forget employment review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed or Comparably. While these sites have a mix of positive and negative employee engagement, they can be a gold mine for customer intel where unhappy employees share information about breakdowns in company policies or products. Proceed with some trepidation, but take note of some of the insider information you may find.

 After completing your competitive analysis, you’ll have a better understanding of your competitors’ fail points and successes, so now what do you do with your intel?

  1. Rank issues you discovered in order of importance

Build a spreadsheet of the key issues you uncovered. Compare your competitors’ results against your own business goals and objectives. Rank them in order of importance, then select the top three to five for your focus.

 

  1. Determine your value proposition

Evaluate your own products and services. What do you do better than your competitors? What gaps can your company fill where your competitors fall short? How can you address the issues their customers brought up in their negative reviews and feedback?

 

  1. Use your competitive advantages to create targeted content

Refer back to your spreadsheet of key issues you uncovered from your competitive analysis. Now is the time to use that to your advantage! You can create content that targets these issues. How about a cold email campaign that addresses the pain points your product solves? 

Create paid ads using that keyword research you did in step 1. Direct those ads to landing pages that specifically offers pain-point solutions, gap filling, and highlights what your product/company does best. Remember, if you know consumers users have specific issues with your competitors, you can hand-deliver them a solution. Take advantage of your competitors’ negative experiences by providing a better solution. About 55% will remain loyal to brands where they can easily get the information or help they need.

  1. Connect with your competitors’ unhappy customers

It’s just bad form to publicly comment on your competitors’ negative reviews or unhappy social media comments. Your intent could be misinterpreted and that may negatively affect your reputation instead of propelling you forward.

Instead, do research to find out more information about those customers and connect with them privately.

See a negative comment on social? Send a private message. Can you connect a name and email to a poor review? Send a message and offer a solution. Open the door to communication and show your company is ready to quickly and efficiently respond to their needs.

 

  1. Target similar consumers with your solution

In doing your research, you can discover patterns not just in what your competitors are doing, but who is using their products. This is great market intel! Put it to use. Build targeted campaigns to consumers who match similar criteria. Understand their pain points and offer solutions.

 

  1. Don’t make the same mistakes as your competitors

Half of unhappy customers will give a brand a week to respond then they will stop doing business with them.

Unfortunately for many businesses, 79% of consumers who complained said their complaints were ignored. Worse, 54% of customers will tell five or more people about their bad customer service experiences, meaning additional loss opportunities for customer growth and retention.

Don’t make the same mistakes as your competitors. Stay on top of all of your online reviews, social media engagements, blog post comments, and customer feedback loops. You may want to consider using reputation monitoring software like Cision, Yext, or BirdEye. 

With thoughtful competitive analysis, you can make the most of your competitors’ blunders and put them to work for your business. 

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The Paid Search / Paid Social Strategy That Will Help You Dominate Your Competitors

Using Google Ads should be a pretty significant part of your current marketing mix to drive qualified traffic and awareness about your product. If it isn’t (and you’re an established company with some cash in the bank), it’s time to get on it.

When executed properly, Google PPC is by far the most convenient and effective way to scale up your lead generation efforts. Budgets are flexible, it’s easy to create and adjust ad messaging and it’s insanely targeted.

However, please note the phrase “when executed on properly”. Even if you’re getting a solid conversion rate and a steady flow of leads from Google Ads, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your campaigns are functioning at their most optimal level.

Here we’re going to run through a unique, yet crazy effective, strategy that will help you steal tons of traffic intended for your competitors.

Retarget everyone, everywhere

RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) is the ticket to ensuring that your message stays in front of your best prospects wherever they may be – Google search included.

You’re probably already using remarketing campaigns in Google Ads to some degree and, hopefully, you’re retargeting on Facebook as well. But did you know that you can also remarket to people who visited your website, then conducted another relevant search on Google again?

For B2B SaaS companies, this is a critical component of your Google Ads strategy. Especially, for those of you who operate in industries that are both competitive and license your software for a relatively high ticket, let’s say $500/month and up.

It’s highly likely that your prospects will be shopping you against your competitors which is a process that can take, in some cases, several months and involve dozens of searches online.

 Primetime for RLSA.

Getting set up for the heist

In order to get your RLSA campaign set up, you’ll need to cookie a minimum of 1,000 website visitors who will then be added to your list. But for this tactic, we don’t just want any website visitors, we’re going to target very specific people who visited a piece of content created with this idea in mind.

Let’s break down what we need to do in order to achieve RLSA heaven and start redirecting prospects to your site instead of your competitor’s.

  1. Create a piece of content comparing your product to your biggest competitors

As we touched on earlier, your potential customers are comparing you to your competitors. Just one of those facts of life we have to deal with. And, because the cost to use the service that you offer could be considered a relatively large expense, there will be lots of information that needs to be consumed by your prospects before making that final purchasing decision.

One of the most common things a consumer (you and I included) will do when trying to make a choice between 2 different services is to Google something like “<Company A> vs. <Company B>” or “is <Company A> better than <Company B>”. 

There’s a reason why sites like alternativeTo get over 14 million unique visitors per month. Comparative shopping.

So, if we already know that your customers are in the comparative shopping mode, let’s give them what they want!

You should start organizing this piece by creating a running list of all of your biggest and closest competitor’s product features and exactly why your product features are better than theirs.

It can be based on price, customer service, integrations, whatever. It doesn’t matter. The point here is that you want to, carefully and respectfully – we don’t want to come off as mudslinging bullies, show your prospects why they would be insane to purchase from a competitor over you.

Be sure to create an all-inclusive, comprehensive article, complete with screenshots and videos if possible. While this is ultimately part of the set up for our RLSA campaign down the line, it should offer real value or the whole purpose of this exercise will be irrelevant.

You need to start instilling the idea in your prospects minds that your company is the right choice. Not a choice they necessarily need to make today, but at some point in the near future.

Title the article something like “<Your Company Name>, the new alternative to <Competitor Name>” or “<Your Company> vs <Competitor Name>, what’s the real difference?”. The headline is crucial to get the attention of your prospects. They may not even realize they’re reading an article produced by one of the companies being compared in it and that’s totally fine.

The click is all we’re after.

  1. Promote the bejesus out of your article

Now that we have our content created, it’s time to drive traffic to it.

Remember, in order for RLSA to work, you’ll need at least 1,000 people to visit your article. The quickest and most effective way to achieve this is a combination of Facebook and Google Display ads.

This Facebook portion of this will be particularly effective if you already have your ideal audience targeting nailed down. Promote your content to them without any gateways or squeeze pages. We’re not looking for leads right now or optimizing these campaigns for conversions, either.

Remember, the goal of this exercise is just to generate a lot of traffic so you can retarget the people who read your article when they’re back searching on Google at a later time.

Display campaigns through the GDN (Google Display Network) are another great way to drive a lot of qualified traffic rather inexpensively. Average CPC on the GDN (#acronyms) is $.58, so for around $600 in ad spend you’re ready to rock.

What’s better, is that if you don’t have a graphic designer at your disposal, you can use Google to create “Responsive” ads.

Just upload your logo, an image of your choosing, some intriguing copy (“Considering <Your Company> vs. <Competitor Name>?. Read This”) and you’re on your way. It’s never been easier to create a display ad. Especially one that fits every available ad format in the GDN (re: Responsive).

Let’s do a quick recap of what you need to do to this point:

  1. Write a comprehensive article comparing your business to your closest competitors detailing exactly why you’re sooo much better
  2. Promote that content on Facebook, preferably to custom or lookalike audiences
  3. Promote that content on Google Display Network (GDN)
  4. Keep these campaigns running until you have at least 1,000 people in your remarketing list

***Remember to build your RLSA list to target ONLY people who have visited the URL of your comparative article. If you target All Site Visitors (or any other combination of site visitors) this won’t work as intended***

Our list is complete. What’s next?

Now that we have an adequate remarketing list size for RLSA, it’s time to start stealing some traffic!

We already know that your prospects are interested in you and your competitors and there’s a high probability that they will be searching on Google again. Here’s where this strategy starts to take shape.

You’re now going to build a new search campaign in Google Ads and add your RLSA audience to your main ad group. When it’s done, it should look something like this.

This is the most critical component of the strategy, so please pay close attention, the keywords that will be added to this ad group will only be variations of the name of your competitor(s) you wrote your article about. 

If you have some super large, well-known competitors, then using exact match keywords may be adequate. If your target isn’t as large, then you may want to add in some phrase match keywords as well.

You should test the keyword targeting and find out which drives the highest CTR and ultimately, conversion rate.

Now every time one of your prospects, who went out of their way to learn more about what your company offers compared to one of your biggest competitors, Google’s the name of that competitor, you’re going to show up in front of them.

And because they have already visited your website and read at length about how amazing you are, you’re going to have an incredibly high chance of diverting their attention away from your competitor to your message and stealing that click.

Tying it all together

With this RLSA strategy, you’re going to have an amazing opportunity to not only have a great piece of content that can be repurposed for a dozen other campaigns and should provide some serious SEO value, but you’re going to have a foolproof way to put your brand message in front of people who were on a b-line for your competition.

Take your time putting it together, and keep those Facebook and display campaigns running in order to keep growing your remarketing list.

And don’t forget, you can replicate this strategy multiple times for other competitors. The more, the merrier.

Conclusion:

These strategies, when combined, should help any SaaS business achieve the following 3 things:

  • Write extremely tailored landing page and/or website content that answers new prospects potential objections before they even get a chance to answer them 
  • Learn what product features can be improved or built in order to keep customers happy and limit churn and negative reviews
  • How to leverage paid search and paid social with the specific intent of diverting traffic and, more importantly, interest away from your competitors

If you currently have competitors who are a thorn in your side, now is the time to start executing these strategies and begin dominating the competition.