The online business world is the land of opportunity. Ideas can be transformed into million-dollar realities. Entrepreneurs can wave goodbye to their nine-to-five, work on their own schedule in their industry of choice, and push toward their goals and dreams. This is why it is essential to gain a competitive edge wherever possible.

Yet despite being a land of opportunity, the online business world is also a ruthless one. There are always competitors around, attempting to steal customers and sales from your business. Stand still for too long, and you are effectively feeding your company to the wolves.

However, one way of counteracting this issue – and acquiring additional customers and revenue in the process – is learning how to gain a competitive edge. When you become an industry leader, you can dictate the playing field. Rivals will always be nipping at your heels, but maintaining an edge will ensure you keep the advantage.

There is just one question: How do you gain a competitive edge?

That is where this guide will help. Below are seven key steps to gain a competitive edge against your online business rivals.

1. Content marketing via new channels.

Person at laptop writing a blog post to gain a competitive edge for their business.

If you have performed marketing research in the past, you will recognize the channels your competitors are using to promote their brands. This also means you know which content marketing channels they are not using right now.

Those channels that are not in use are your opportunity to gain a competitive edge.

Ultimately, there are many channels available for content marketing. Not even global organizations make use of all these channels. They will want their marketing departments to focus on a core collection of platforms, rather than stretching themselves too thin across every option.

As for what platforms they are not using, this can vary depending on your industry. Common channels not in use will be YouTube and other forms of social media.

Take YouTube as an example.

Even though it is recognized as the world’s second biggest search engine with over two billion users each month, plenty of marketers opt against using YouTube. After all, it requires great effort to produce engaging, high-quality video content that will generate views.

If this is the situation with your current competition, suddenly, that massive YouTube audience is all to yourself. You have the potential to carve out a sizeable, dedicated following that not only watches your videos – they also support your business by purchasing your products and promoting your brand.

With social media, you may feel that everything has been covered. What business does not have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. page at this point, right?

However, there are certain social media platforms that are a little more neglected by marketers. Think about the likes of Snapchat, Reddit, and Pinterest – channels that can be highly effective promotional tools when handled correctly.

As seen with the rapid rise of TikTok, it is also wise to remain on the ball about any new platforms that become mainstream news. If you manage to get in there first before the competition, you gain a notable advantage where you can quickly build a following from your target audience.

2. Go head-to-head on existing content marketing channels.

Account reach for content marketing via Instagram's ad platform. Tracking reach data is one way to get a competitive edge.

You might think this contradicts the previous point. Going down new content marketing routes should be part of your strategy, yes, but we also recommend you go head-to-head with the competition.

Ultimately, there is no point shying away. They might have excellent blog content. Their social media content could be prevalent and receive ample traction. Their videos may hit all the right notes in terms of content and professionalism. However, do not let this detract you from your own efforts.

Okay, trying to stand out from the crowd is more difficult when tackling your rivals head-on. There are two main reasons to do it.

First, you do not want to let the competition have free rein over a specific content marketing channel, particularly if this channel generates a lot of business. Second, there are always methods available to leapfrog the competition – even if their content is in tip-top shape.

A lot of work is required when jumping onto existing content marketing channels. You have to analyze the competition, come up with content ideas that surpass what already exists, and continue to plug away on these channels. Regarding the latter, you must remain up-to-date with the latest trends and incorporate these into the content you create.

3. Analyze their negative reviews.

Customer reviews supply an insight that is often unsurpassed in terms of transparency and balance. A business can claim this and that on its website, but the truth will often be found in those reviews.

It is unlikely a competitor will have a large collection of negative reviews. They are your competitor for a reason, and a business that is swamped by poor feedback and one-star ratings will often fail to be a serious threat. Nevertheless, even the most reputable organizations will typically suffer from various less-than-stellar reviews by past customers.

To gain a competitive edge, one of the savviest tactics is to analyze reviews that are negative or feature constructive criticism.

By analyzing this feedback, you will be able to identify any issues that customers are having with a product or service. Now to truly gain that competitive edge, you want to use this information effectively. You want to craft an offering that solves those issues that customers are dealing with right now.

As an example, a sporting goods manufacturer could be seeing a flow of negative reviews because their product, a pair of running trainers, misses the mark in terms of comfort and durability. If you are in the same industry, placing an emphasis on enhanced comfort and long-lasting design can solve those problems – and push your running trainers to the top of the sales charts as a result.

To analyze competitor reviews, you can go the long route – and that is doing it all manually. Alternatively, you could do it the smart way with the assistance of GapScout.

By utilizing our tool, reviews are collated in a fraction of the time it takes compared to the manual approach, and AI technology helps to highlight common trends within reviews. The latter includes when negative points are mentioned on a regular basis.

Related: How To Use Reviews for Market Research

4. Outperform with paid ads.

Tracking pixel activity for Facebook Ad Manager.

It is no secret that paid ads are one of the most effective promotional tactics for online businesses. With the right platform, copy, and target audience, you could receive many potential customers in a short space of time. Unlike SEO and other marketing strategies that take weeks or months to show results, ads can get the work done in a matter of hours.

Of course, you need to spend money to be effective with paid ad campaigns.

This is something your competitors, assuming they incorporate paid ads into their marketing plan, understand all too well. They know that the more dollars spent on ad campaigns, the bigger the return in general. This is an aspect you need to factor into the equation when attempting to gain a competitive edge.

If you have the budget to outspend the competition on specific ad platforms, this will naturally lead to greater numbers for your business. That said, it is not only about how much you spend. You also need to ensure it is spent in the right way, focusing on the right keywords and demographics. The ad itself also has to be captivating, whether it contains visuals or the content is text-only.

5. Online chat functionality.

Customer service is an essential component for any business that hopes to achieve success. You already know that, obviously. Yet are you doing enough to supply the right level of customer service? Most importantly, are the competition doing enough?

One way of answering both questions is by focusing on online chat functionality. At this point, online chat is not a new feature. It has been around for some time at this point. Despite this, a lot of organizations, both big and small, have overlooked this feature on their website.

That is not good.

Online chat is an excellent way to connect with customers. In fact, it has been proven to increase sales.

If customers have any questions about what you have to offer, they know it is possible to simply click the ‘chat’ button located at the bottom of the page, input their question, and receive an answer fast. It is much more convenient than, say, a phone call, email, or even a social media message.

Furthermore, you do not necessarily have to spend a load of money on this online chat by having a permanent customer service team covering it 24/7. Messages can be automated and done with such intelligence and subtlety that users will believe they are speaking to a real person.

Simply put, if your competitors do not have chat functionality, it is essential you add this to your website as soon as possible. It is an excellent way to gain a competitive edge while also getting closer to the customer.

6. Zoom sales calls.

Zoom icon on a phone.

Speaking of getting closer to the customer, there are other tactics you can utilize to build long-lasting, fruitful relationships. One such tactic is to conduct sales calls through Zoom or another video call platform.

If your business is based entirely online, it is true that it misses out on the personal side of things like a traditional brick-and-mortar company. However, technology is helping to bridge the gap in that regard. Meetings do not need to be conducted in person or in a specified location. They can be done across the internet via Zoom.

Due to the ability to get closer to the customer and interact in a more engaging way, Zoom sales calls naturally lead to an increase in conversion numbers.

While that is great in general for your business, it is even better if it is a tactic that is not currently used by the competition. It provides you with a distinct edge in your sales strategy, including the care and attention you take with each prospective client.

Just keep in mind that you cannot go into sales calls via Zoom haphazardly. Come across as an amateur, and this could result in doing more damage to your business than good. To avoid that happening, here are some important tips to consider:

  • Ensure your audio is functioning correctly, and use a high-quality microphone.
  • Use the best internet connection possible to avoid dropouts and errors with video quality.
  • Keep your desktop area and background clean and free from distractions
  • Learn Zoom functionality, such as sharing your screen and the mute button.
  • Be courteous and conduct yourself in the same way as an in-person meeting.

7. Run regular weekly webinars.

When you think about marketing tactics that are overlooked, one near the top of the list is undoubtedly webinars. Many businesses ignore this method to promote their brand, even though it delivers a range of benefits. While it might be a loss for your competitors, it can be a big gain for your business.

Forget about an edge – this can be a huge gain for your company.

The reason is simple: it further assists with enhancing customer relationships and creating a loyal community of followers. Webinars allow you to provide your audience with specialist training, knowledge, and expertise. It is an effective way to supply potential customers with additional value, the type of value they can enjoy without necessarily needing to purchase your products or services.

Rapports are built. Relationships are strengthened. Faith in your brand is taken to the next level. When the customer experience is more important than ever in generating sales, weekly webinars can go some way to helping your brand.

Not only can it result in a sales increase in the short term, but it could also lead to loyal customers that keep coming back for more overtime. Furthermore, a continual stream of webinars – when done the right way with interesting angles and informative topics – will further enhance brand awareness for your business.

In Summary…

The online business world can be a challenging and competitive place. However, by following the strategies outlined in this article, you can gain a competitive edge and establish a strong position in the market.

Using these tactics, you can differentiate your business from your competitors and promote your brand and products to a wider audience.

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