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Tips & Guides — 22 Sep 2022

What should be included in your competitive research?

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How To Do Competitive Research Before Start Your Partner Marketing Program

Competitive research is one of the essential steps for any marketing strategy and requires extra attention when launching a partner program. Without it, you can waste resources, time, and opportunities. On the other hand, knowing your competitors can give you many advantages, such as:

  • Understand your market;
  • Identify gaps;
  • Improve partner marketing tactics;
  • Plan your next steps;
  • Build a thriving partner marketing program.

Overall, partner marketing is an increasingly growing channel, and according to Influencer Marketing Hub, over 80% of brands surveyed have affiliate programs. More and more brands are taking advantage of partner marketing, and you can focus your competitive research on learning how they do it. 

Below, we’ll understand the key elements of competitive research and how you can apply them to working effectively with partners.

How do you perform competitive research when launching a partner program?

In your research, you will examine your competitors’ processes, including digital channels, audiences, segments, and target demographics. This will allow you to gather insights to test and learn from it. Knowing your competitors’ strategies can improve your chances of finding partners who are a good fit for your business. This not only gives you the resources you need to successfully launch your partnership program but also helps to create long-term relationships with your partners.

7 Essential Steps to Find the Right Partners

For a start, be prepared to record the notes and data you collect as you observe the tactics of other brands in your niche. If you have trouble defining your goals, remember that this competitive research aims to identify partnership programs’ principles and leading strategies. We recommend you analyze the following points:

  • Key competitors
  • Competitors’ partner programs
  • Sales strategies
  • Online presence
  • Influencers and other partners 
  • Online reviews

How to do your competitive research in 6 steps

1 – Key competitors

Search for your service or product category on Google or another browser of your preference. Examine the top results, including the ads. By doing so, you’ll have a better chance of finding a wider variety of businesses, even newcomers.

Collecting general information about the company may be interesting, as it will help you understand your competitors more in-depth. To do this, visit the competitors’ LinkedIn. Moreover, other tools, such as Product Hunt, can help you see a company’s latest updates and reviews.

Remember that the competitors you choose to analyze will determine the insights you get at the end and, eventually, the decisions you make. Thus, try to include several competitors, such as large, small, direct, and indirect.

2 – Competitor’s partner programs

The most common way to ensure potential partners find a brand’s partner program is to create a landing page. On this page, brands can put together their principles, such as commission structure and other important information about their program. Try to find your competitors’ landing pages by typing the brand name + affiliate or partner program into Google. Keep the following points in mind:

  • Model of commissions;
  • Duration of cookies: is it days or months?
  • Terms and conditions: prohibited traffic sources or violations;
  • Payment methods;
  • Branding guidelines;
  • Review from other partners the effectiveness of their program

Tip: Review your competitor’s commission system and develop something similar, considering your budget. These points are crucial for launching a partner program to attract the right partners and achieve sustainable growth.

3 – Sales strategies

Find out the key features of the products or services your competitors promote and the core of their business. Are their products available to purchase only online or in a physical store also? Analyze their distribution channels and touchpoints for sales. Try to determine what are the benefits that they offer to consumers. For instance, check for any discount coupons or free delivery available.

Evaluate the pros and cons of the product that the competition offers, and take notes. Define the opportunities that other brands are taking advantage of or even missing that partners can help your product or service to achieve, for instance:

  • After discovering more about your competitors’ products, check if they have coupon site programs. This is one of the strategies that partners can support your brand when it comes to highlighting your products to new customers. These websites try to meet the modern consumer’s high demand for discounts by offering coupon deals.

One of the advantages of coupon sites is that they already have a customer base. So, with a partner’s help, you can expose products and services to a much larger number of potential customers on these sites.

4 – Online presence 

Based on the list of competitors you have created, visit each one of their websites. First, look at the structure and how they explain their product to customers. Try to answer a few questions:

  • What audience do your competitors are targeting?
  • Are there other differentiators you should consider?
  • Do they have a blog, knowledge base, or other support content related to their products?

Pay attention to whether there are blogs, knowledge centers, or case studies on their page; for blogs, check to see how often they are published and who is publishing them. 

Consider checking which keywords are most frequently used by your competitors to drive traffic to their websites. If you do not know how to do that, you can use a platform like SpyFu that lets you analyze which keywords your competitors are investing in and buying from Google. 

You can also track which ones provide the best results for them, as the platform allows you to find content and backlinks behind the pages of websites. Influencer Marketing Hub says that more than 25% of brands surveyed use bloggers in their affiliate marketing campaigns. Think about how you can collaborate with niche bloggers and work on the keywords you have identified. Usually, bloggers from a niche have a loyal audience while delivering content that can be of genuine interest to your target audience.

5 – Influencers and other partners

Next, investigate your competitor’s social networks. First, look at what social networks they are using. Note the number of followers, if there are comments on photos, and whether the platforms seem up-to-date. Also, observe whether the posted content is easy to find and what topics they mainly post about it.

SimilarWeb is a great (and you can try for free) starting point to get an idea of your competitor’s advertising strategy on social media and which referral sources bring the most traffic to your competitor’s sites. Enter a competitor’s URL of a competitor’s website and navigate to the “Search” section – this will show you whether your competitors are running search ads and, if so, which search terms they are targeting.

Does your competitor seem to have an admirable social media presence? Chances are, they are working with influencers and other partners to help achieve their goals. Partners can create blogs, posts, videos, and different types of content that support a competitor’s online mentions and expand brand awareness in other demographics.

Why Should Influencer Marketing Be A Part Of The eCommerce Growth Strategy?

Using the social media networks search feature, try to find the most influential posts in which your competitor is mentioned during your research. Make a note of which influencers or publishers are behind that post.

6 – Online reviews

Reviews are vital in cultivating a customer’s trust in your brand. Additionally, they help to increase website traffic and conversion rates. In a traditional competitor survey, the focus would be on understanding what points are raised by the consumer and how your product could deliver a better experience. But in this case, let’s see what resources your competitors use to collect or motivate their partners to do product reviews.

One of the best-known ways is to create an area within your partner program where your partners can be registered to receive products from your brand. In return, you can ask them to leave a comment on what they thought about the products.

Next, take a look at comparison site programs. These sites focus on introducing customers to new products and comparing them to other alternatives in the market. These sites allow consumers to see how a company fares when it comes to competitors. Visiting these sites will greatly help your research once most of the reviews are made by partners. 

To Sum Up

After all the information you’ve collected, it’s time to consider the opportunities your competitors are missing that research identified. For example, imagine you have an eCommerce store focusing on generation Z products that currently use Tik Tok to search for brands and products. Upon researching, you discover that your competitors are not yet using the platform. This opportunity could strategically benefit your business, and you can start doing that by teaming up with partners.

Today, working with influencers and other partners is a strategy that has helped many brands increase their ROI. To build your partnership program from scratch, consider using a robust platform such as Affise Reach, which has all the tools needed for brands to increase revenue with partner marketing. 

Growing revenue by simplifying partnerships

With Affise Reach, starting a partner program is a straightforward process. The platform allows brands of different sizes to find and interact with potential partners directly. You can discover, manage and foster partnerships that fit your brand values using a friendly interface. Thus, you start a partner program based on your commission rates while your brand benefits from expanding awareness, entering new markets, and more. 

Launch your partnership program and start leveraging your results with partners

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Andressa Lara

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Andressa is a Content Marketer passionate about art and technology. She is curious, ambitious, creative, and motivated to learn new skills. She wants to write good stories that inspire businesses and also people. When she's not writing, she loves to travel and discover cultures from around the world.

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