When you're looking for certain types of online marketing strategies that will bring in more revenue, you probably also come across strategies that don't work as well.
But do you ever look for the types of online marketing strategies that other businesses may be using to hurt your business?
It happens. Some competitors can play rougher than others, to put it charitably. That's why it helps to be aware of what mischief a rival business may be causing online.
1. Using different types of online marketing strategies that suggest they're better than your brand.
This, of course, has been going on forever in advertising—one brand boasting that they're better than another brand.
“This exact scenario happened to one of my clients last year. One of the key competitors ran a campaign that included paid search advertising and social media promotion to advertise their advantages over my client's brand," says Igor Kholkin, a Los Angeles-based digital marketing consultant.
Fortunately, Kholkin had an idea.
“My solution was to turn the tables and leverage this opportunity for my client's benefit," he says. "My team and I created a highly informative piece of content that addressed the inaccuracies of the competitor's claims and served this content via hyper-targeted ads to [the] competitor's social media followers."
Responding to the ads ended up paying off, according to Kholkin.
“The comparison article ranked well organically due to the high volume of social shares and links, and a number of [the] competitor's clients switched services over to my client," he says.
2. Misspelling variations on your brand name that redirect to your competition's sites.
Spelling mistakes could be one of the many types of online marketing strategies that get used against you.
You've probably heard how some will register a URL that looks an awful lot like a big brand's URL. The scammers will set up a URL so that if someone accidentally mistypes the big brand's website address, they'll get the crooked one instead.
—Alessandra Ceresa, marketing manager, GreenRope
Well, your competitor could do that as well.
Alessandra Ceresa is based out of Reno, Nevada and is the marketing manager of GreenRope, a customer relationship management platform. One day she and some coworkers were at the office typing in different variations of their domain, when “one of the misspelled variations actually went to straight to our competitor's website," Ceresa says.
“We ended up having our CEO reach out directly and they took it down, probably because they knew it was quite a shady move on their part," she says.
3. Trashing your company's reputation on review sites.
This hardly deserves to be referred to as one of the types of online marketing strategies out there, and yet, some business owners do it.
Brandon Seymour, who owns Beymour Consulting, an online marketing agency headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, shared a story about one of his clients. The client was a criminal defense attorney who, up until six months ago, had a perfect 5-star rating on Google Seller Ratings.
“Then we started seeing several negative reviews popping up, none of which matched any names in my client's records," Seymour says. “This was clearly an attempt to defame my client—most likely by a competitor."
It isn't easy to prove to Google that reviews are fakes, according to Seymour, but he does have a process that has worked for his clients.
If he feels that it's an urgent matter, or if he doesn't get a reply on Twitter after a few days, Google does have an escalation form businesses can use.
“This is the best way to get Google to take action," Seymour says. "In cases of defamation, I've seen reviews removed within 24 hours."
4. Price-matching and price-slashing face offs.
Competitors who undercut your price is another one of the types of online marketing strategies you'll want to watch for.
Tyler Browne owns To the Cloud Vapor Store, a store that specializes in selling vaporizers based out of Walnut Creek, California.
Browne says that he has had competitors undercut his price, sometimes just by a fraction.
“For example, we would be at $299.99 on an item and then they would put their item at $299," he says. “Then we would match theirs at $299.00, and then they would go to $295. We would be forced to price match them or price beat them. It was a constant game of cat and mouse."
Unfortunately, there's not much you can do other than to keep a close eye on the competitor. After all, price wars are generally not illegal—unless you can prove that a company is trying to put you out of business by undercutting their prices.
Whether or not you decide to engage in a price war, it's a good idea to pay attention to what your competitors are doing.
“Everyone talks about e-commerce being something that can generate a lot of passive sales once you get it set up," he says.
If you want to stay in business, however, he says you can't be passive when it comes to your pricing.
5. Copying your brand's content or intellectual property.
Being imitated isn't always very flattering.
Browne says that he has also had competitors lift information from his website's blog posts. Ironically, one competitor took most of a blog post Browne's company wrote about spotting a counterfeit vaporizer. So his blog post about counterfeiting literally became a counterfeit blog post.
You can always have your attorney send a cease-and-desist letter and see if that works. For Browne, he said that his competitor didn't copy the entire blog post word for word, and so from his perspective, “there wasn't much that could be done about it."
Still, it worked out for Browne.
“Thankfully, Google rewarded our content above theirs because it was original and their algorithm is able to see their blog post was basically a copy of ours," he says. “This is one thing that is great about competitors appropriating content is that by in large Google's RankBrain sees it as what it is."
When you successfully go toe-to-toe with a competitor trying out unethical types of online marketing strategies, don't forget to pat yourself on the back for your business practices. You can sleep at night.
“In my opinion, it's always better to take the higher road and to prove yourself with your product, service and customer support," Ceresa says.
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