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Hal Licino

Creating an Email Marketing Plan - Who Is the Competition?

Jan 28 2011, 04:56 PM by

The Athenian playwright Aristophanes stated: “The wise learn many things from their enemies.” In order to concoct a proper and effective email marketing plan, email marketers must identify who their competition is and what they are doing. Fortunately, you can find countless free online tools that allow you to locate your competition, primarily by their use of site keywords. If another company is using online keywords to identify their business that are similar to yours, it’s a good bet that they are indeed your competition.
Google Is a Primary Source of Competitive Info
There are a number of related link suggestion tools readily available on various SEO sites at no cost. You can enter your keywords and locate competitors who are using those same search terms to drive traffic to their sites. As befits the search industry's 900 lb. gorilla, Google has a wealth of tools to assist you in determining your competition. Google Trends allows you to determine where searchers for a particular website have also visited and what they've searched for. Proper analysis of these results can mine a considerable amount of golden data on your competitors. To stay right up to the minute on the competition, Google Alerts sends reports on specific searches directly to your email address. As soon as any relevant online results develop, you'll be notified at once. Another superlative Google tool is the Insights For Search where you can determine search volume patterns across geographical regions, time periods, and a broad variety of categories.
Dig Up Virtually Endless Data on Your Competition's Traffic & Audience
If you want to venture outside the Googleplex, there are a vast number of sites offering a broad range of free web analytics tools. All of these tools can be used not only to determine who your own competitors are, but also how they're doing what they're doing. Using these sites you'll be able to find what keywords your competitors are buying; how much traffic they're deriving; track keyword rankings to discover how your competitors are applying them; and even dig up affiliate data, cached ad copy, and more. Naturally, you'll want to use one of the numerous online free backlink checkers and link harvesters to derive a complete perspective on the links that generate the traffic for your competitors.

In order to keep abreast of what they're doing day to day, there are also a number of sites that take snapshots of your competitor's website code and inform you whenever any changes are made.
Discover Competitors You Might Not Even Have Been Aware Of
Alexa and Quantcast are excellent sources for competitive traffic and demographic information. Both these sites show search queries that land onto the sites, and Quantcast has a very handy "Audience Also Likes" feature that shows the categories and sites that site's audience also visited, along with an Affinity rating. This data can be a powerful way to discover competitors you might not even be aware of.

It may seem impossible to believe, but there are still some companies in this day and age that do not take advantage of email marketing. The best way to discover this fact is simply to visit their sites and seek out their email subscription page. If it’s not there, they likely aren’t engaging in email marketing.
Online Tools to Reveal the People Behind the Company
Once you have a fair grasp of who your competition is, it is always worthwhile to research the company itself. There are various sites that can facilitate this research. Running a Whois check should provide information on any website owner, but with the proliferation of domain privacy this process does not yield as much information as it once did. However, if your competitor is sizeable enough to have outgrown shared hosting, you may want to utilize one of the many online IP Domain Tools that will reveal other domains hosted alongside your competitor. This process may help you in determining other projects they're involved in and thus give you additional leads to discover the people behind the facade.

If your competitor is a publicly traded entity, you’ll be able to discover extensive information through The Security & Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database. Since many email marketers are privately held companies, you’ll find that researching the Better Business Bureau and Dun & Bradstreet may be the best way to obtain this data. You can also easily perform online checks of any trademarks or patents they have filed, or enter their information into database searches such as KnowX to find out any of their legal entanglements.

Your research into the competition can be as simple as just checking the Yellow Pages all the way to extensive information gathering about the company and its executives. In this highly competitive age, every byte of data should be carefully considered to determine what competitive advantage it can provide your company.
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