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WHAT YOUR COMPETITORS DONíT WANT YOU TO KNOW


Analyze your Competitorsí Web Sites/What They Donít Want
You To Know:

Accurate and timely information is essential for any business
to remain competitive. Read their financial information,
compare companies on several different types of investment
data.

It's much easier to obtain information on companies that are
publicly held because they must report financial information
to the Securities & Exchange Commission. Therefore, the first
step in researching a company is determining whether it is
traded on the stock exchange.

Following are some sources for a variety of information that
your competitors don't want you to know:

1. Check at http://www.hoovers.com for just about any
information you would want about a company; a corporate
description, financial information, key officers, competitors,
and more.

2. Corporate Information provides U.S. and international
Companyís information including research reports, company
profiles, earnings information and analyst reports.

3. Business.com reveals news, research and contacts for
10,000 public and 44,000 private companies.

4. You can research public opinion of a company and its
competitors by using Google's Usenet Service, at http://groups.
google.com. Silicon Investor's Stock Talk, at http://www.silicon
investor.com/index.gsp and Raging Bull at http://ragingbull.
lycos.com/cgi-bin/static.cgi/a=index.txt&d=mainpages.

CEO's Express, a business research service is a wonderful site
for gleaning information on a company.


Opportunities to profit from competitors' mistakes:

Read competitors' information and prices at more than 2000
online shops; collect information from any online store.
Most services are free.

You can learn what good web site design is by looking at bad
Web design.

If your prospective customer is bedazzled and confused by
your web site home page, he/she will instantly leave.
Your storefront (index page, or home page) should have a
graphic, or logo, which acts as a sign over your storefront.
The site must be easy to navigate, and well organized.
The background color or texture must be truly a background
pattern, and should not interfere with the text, making it
difficult to read. Too many graphics draw attention away from the
text because they are distracting. With Web graphics there has to
be a fine balance; just enough to dazzle and entertain but
not so much as to annoy. Graphics don't have to be animated
for the most effect, they can be static--- i.e. the straight
line, either horizontal or vertical--- and still have a strong
dynamic power. Line serves as a guideline for the eye. But
this depends on what audience you are targeting. Sometimes
more graphics are more effective.

The customer must be able to easily contact you. Sign your page,
make the e-mail address prominent. Sometimes a customer may wish
to contact a live person so you need to connect with your
customer by having a place for name, address, phone number, fax,
and check-boxes for requesting information on products or
services.

Privacy:

Does the competitor's site have an effective privacy policy? Will
the sensitive data you enter during a purchase by encrypted? A
"layered" security model, where internal assets are secured,
partitioned, and monitored is of the utmost importance. For credit
card numbers security, you need to use the secure hashing
algorithm (SHA-1) in order to make a unique surrogate value that
can be referenced, but not used to charge against the account.

Advanced encryption should be used for credit card numbers; at the
least, a Triple-DES algorithm with a 168-bit key and the use of a
hardware device or secure key storage system to store the keys.
It's important to frequently rotate the keys and to provide
physical control over who can access them. Then when the data is no
longer needed, the disks must be physically destroyed or destroyed
by using a wipe algorithm. If it doesn't need to be recovered, the
key should be destroyed.

Importance of finding other areas for improvement:

In order to succeed in e-marketing it is an absolute must that
a business have a reliable web site. This must be addressed first
because choosing a web site host is one of the most important
decisions an e-marketer will ever make for her business. Without
it, your business will fail.

The web site must be reliable, without frequent technical difficulties,
one that offers personal contact and available and prompt service.
The Web host will have to be able to solve problems and answer
questions, with 24-hour staffing for maximum reliability. It's
important for the site to provide industrial strength hosting if
the e-marketer expects to have a very high traffic site---it's
important to have a host with a large pipeline, mail, access to
the site's log files, and to have system programs.

Businesses need to reference programs in a cgi-bin directory. Most
Web hosts allow FTP access to a cgi-bin directory but not Telnet
access. So this can slow down site programming. Without Telnet
access the e-marketer cannot compile programs in C or C++, and
technical support to do it. Therefore it is imperative that the
host allows Telnet access to a cgi-bin directory.

It's important
to avoid being locked into a contract where the e-marketer can't
choose another Web hosting ISP in case the first one that's
chosen doesn't work out. If the Web developer is listed as the
Administrative Contact, it may be difficult to change to a new
developer if needs be. This can be checked out with http://rs.
internic.net/cgi-bin/whois.

An Internet business must have
mailing list management programs available for newsletters, as
well as autoresponders for automatic responses to e-mail
messages. The Web host ISP must provide access to the log files.
SSL is needed for credit card security and an ISP operating
system that is compatible with the system that the e-marketer
uses to maintain a database. The ISP's current customers can be
questioned for this information as it may be difficult to get the
information from the ISP host.

Success in e marketing will go to the site that offers unique
services, superior service, enough resources to support your
clients to their satisfaction, i.e. customer interaction and
feedback resources.

To evaluate whether it is wise to trade with companies that merge
through acquisitions we must be mindful that their capabilities
diminish with a merger. In order for companies to create and maintain
service, it takes time, and the value of these acquisitions cannot be
determined at the outset. These newly merged companies face many
challenges and many of them do not succeed. Read their financial
information, compare companies on several different types of investment
data; graphs and charts, on financial performance, review annual
reports.

"Promotion Stat" provides solutions to help web owners evaluate the
effectiveness of their advertising and promotion campaigns.

It tracks sites visitors that are referred to your page from individual links
and ads and tracks the visitors' behavior while on your site.

Evaluate the quality of your competitor's sites, their sales promotions
and pricing---look for sales and discounts, and customer feedback
facilities. A simple domain name, easy site navigation and use, working
links, a prominent efficient privacy policy and an easy to find e-mail
address are important features to consider. These can make a difference
between your site succeeding or failing.

Focus on your niche and the content of your first page will be more
credible. Web sites that focus on a very narrow theme will create
visitors of greater interest who are more willing to buy. People don't
have time to search for what they want. If your site visitors are
confronted by too many things, they will do nothing. Don't overwhelm
them.

Your business web site should not take over 30 seconds to load or your
potential customer will not wait and simply surf elsewhere; download
speed has to be a prime consideration as it is of the most benefit.

A company should concentrate on the ability to pay a bill online.
This aspect has transformed home-based, start-up companies to Fortune 100
companies. You can accept checks over the phone or Internet, handle credit
card transactions online, transfer funds, with http://www.paybyweb.com.
This program uses live people; it is not an automated system. Because
they use people to verify your data instead of machines. They can often
"fix" an account where the banking information incorrectly. They do credit
card processing; check processing, electronic funds transfers. You can do
all your banking using your computer, phone, notebook computer, cell phone,
or fax. There are no monthly fees, transaction fees, or recurring charges.

Assess the added value resulting from this analysis by:

Monitoring your company's competition in the search engines or
directory listings, the number of links they have pointing back to their
web site or what their business reputation is in the usenet/newsgroup
community, as well as yours, and the number of third party links pointing
back to your web site you can use tools such as LinkBank
at http://webpronews.com/rd/smithrenaud.html. This enables you to
understand how to maximize your marketing dollars by learning where you
need more of an online presence. The alternative to this program is to do
the monitoring by hand, which is time consuming but worth the effort--if
you have lots of time.

Do others' sites trade links with yours? Spy-BOT, a reciprocal link tracker
will check those sites linking to yours. Spy-BOT is affiliated with The Dev
Web.

Targeting a niche market:

Because you can't be everything to everybody, to be successful on the
web you normally have to have very specific products or services that
target a niche market. Your site must be as personal as possible, as if
you're face to face with a customer. Visitors should get the idea that
your site is the premier source of ideas and information on whatever your
web site specialty.

What aspects of a competitor's online activity should a company concentrate
on in order to gain the most benefit?

Because general presentation is foremost, avoid those ads that mention
"free web space". You'll give away more business to the advertisers whose ads
that the hosting company will paste all over your web page than it would cost
you to pay for web hosting. These ads are designed to give your visitor an
opportunity to click out of your site before getting the first words of your
presentation, as they are usually placed at the top of the site.

Free hosting services become overcrowded and half the time your web site won't
come up. When this happens, your business is closed.

With your own hosting and domain name, your visitors have more confidence in you
and are more willing to do business with you.

How are companies already analyzing competition online?

By examining sales copy and headlines, by how quickly pages are displayed with
different modems and how they look in different browsers; by checking the search
engines for high placements; by analyzing ads [the visitor's first impression of
a business can make or break a business. Ads must not be duplicates of others
but must be different, unique, to make real money.] By discerning who the business'
affiliates are, and whether they offer products that meet the needs of their
potential customers. By determining whether the affiliates' products are of high
quality and whether they provide good customer service; by checking with the Better
Business Bureau; by checking a competitors' log files; and noting who the sponsors
are.

One way to tell if a site isn't getting any advertisers is to note how many banners
advertise their own site. Either they aren't getting anyone to buy their banner
space, or the rates are so low it is more profitable to advertise the company's own
products.

Possibility to find a complementary service to partner with:

Webrings allow Web users to link similar sites and to form rings of sites on any
topic of interest.

Link to other sites like yours to increase traffic to your site by joining a Web ring,
such as http://dir.webring.yahoo.com/rw.

It is an alternative to the monopolistic and hierarchical nature of search engines,
providing an avenue for linking common Web-based interests.

There are some large ad networks that bring thousands of Web sites together. These
are very attractive to advertisers and big companies. TheAdStop.com can get you started,
they include how-to advice and a host of reviewed ad networks. ValueClick delivers ads
to a global audience, including over 30% of Internet users in the U.S. Banners range over
10,200 sites before 14 million people. A large corporation may need a more extensive
campaign designed by an ad agency.

Work with fellow marketers by attending seminars and trade shows.

Advertise on radio, TV shows, list with a
directory. Partner with an e-business consultancy such as E-marketing.com that offers
a wide range of strategic, design, technical and marketing skills. They help you develop
an e-business strategy, build digital brands, generate online revenue and build
personalized relationships with customers by e-mail campaigns and viral marketing
online ad campaigns. They help collect data about customers and prospects related to their
buying habits and Web behavior. This enables companies to begin a dialogue with their
customers in order to earn their loyalty and repeat-business.


Resources:
"E-Marketing Digital Business Guide to Online Marketing"

93 Newman Street, Soho, London WIT 3EZ UK
info@e-marketing
(8 Jul. 2001)


Flanagan, Debbie
"Researching Companies on the Internet-A Tutorial"
6/11/01
http://home.sprintmail.com/~debflanagan/financial.html
(1 Jul. 2001)


My Simon
"My Simon"
http://www.mysimon.com (4 Jul. 2001)


Flanders, Vincent
"Web Pages That Suck"

(4 Jul. 2001)

Flanders, Vincent
"Fixing Your Web Site" http://www.fixingyourwebsite.com/
top10/intranet.html (4 Jul. 2001)


Arnold, Tom "An Electronic Citadel" 5/01
www.siia.net/sharedcontent/divisions/ebus/citadel.pdf
(1 Jul. 2001)

Sterne, Jim
"Target Marketing of Santa Barbara" 3d Edition
http://www.targetingcom/book1chap1-3.html
(4 Jul. 2001)

Dr. Wilson, Ralph
"Web Marketing Today" Issue 27
http://www.wilsonweb.com 1/6/97
[7/7/2001]

Stamford, CT. Research
"The e-business consulting market evolves: Buyer beware"
www.techrepublic.com/articl.jhtml?id=r00720010704ggp01.htm
(4 Jul. 2001)

PromotionStat System
"General Information"
www.promotionstat.com/whati_sinfo.shtml (4 Jul. 2001)

Weiss, David
"Welcome to Paybyweb.com" 01/15/01
http://www.paybyweb.com (4 Jul. 2001)

http://www.link-spy.com (4 Jul. 2001)

The Dev Web
http://www.thedevweb.com (4 Jul. 2001)

http://webpronews.com/rd/smithrenaud.html (4 Jul. 2001)

"Image Cafe"
http://imagecafe.com
(7 Jul. 2001)

Purdue, Candice
"Web Design Weekly"
Online Success Internet Business
115 Chesterfield Hwy Cheraw SC 29520
support@onlinesuccesstips.com
(8 Jul. 2001)

Heywood, Pamela
http://www.iboost.com/index.html
(8 Jul. 2001)

Elmer, Greg
"Web Rings As Computer-Mediated Communication" CMC Magazine [Jan 1999]
http://www.december.com/cmc/mg/1999/jan/e/mer.html
(8 Jul. 2001)

Nunley, Kevin
"iBoost Journal"
http://www.iboost.com/profit/advertising/getting_started/3007.htm
(8 Jul. 2001)

"eMarketing Association"
http://www.emarketingassociations.com/benefits.htm
(7/8/01)

By Margot B
E-mail: margotb@wonderport.com
http://writersresources.tripod.com/index.html



------
Morgot B

http://www.writers.Org-HQ.com


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