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5 Signs That Your Competitors Are Lazy Examine your competition and use these strategies to get ahead of them online.

By Tony Messer

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


X-Ray specs -- one of my childhood biggest disappointments.

They made all sorts of promises about how you could magically see through solid objects. But when it comes to business you don't need a pair of X-Ray specs to see where your competitors are going wrong. It's all there -- hidden in plain sight. You just need to know where to look.

So here are five easy ways to spot signs that your competitors are lazy and how you can get a huge advantage over them.

Lazy content.

Just saying "Content is King!' isn't going to magically transform bad (or non-existent) content into great content. But lazy content is easy to spot.

First up, check out their blog. The majorities of businesses either don't have one or rarely use it. Why? Maybe they don't see the business value in it. Or maybe they just think it's a fad that will past.

Or if they do have a blog the chances are it will be filled with "me too' content that is either preaching to the choir or is just plain boring (or both).

However, there are proven content frameworks that you can use to your advantage. You can create content for authority, backlinks and social shares. Things like definitive guides, list-based content or expert round-ups are proven to attract traffic.

Related: 3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Successful Ecommerce Brands

If you're an ecommerce business and its better conversion rates you're after then content like how to guides, buyer's guides and case studies will get better results for you.

These types of proven content formats will attract people to your blog and will be amplified by your readers on social media.

So check out their blog and show them that content is king.

Lazy website.

A lazy website can kill your business slowly but surely. What are the signs? They're easy to spot: Not mobile friendly. They think that mobile doesn't affect them. But it does. Mobile is where the online action is. If you're not ready for a fully responsive website then a side by side, mobile version is the minimum entry price.

No live chat. They'll say "chat isn't right for us. Our customers don't like chat". That'll be the same customers who are on WhatsApp or texting all day long will it? If you have traffic, then live chat will give you an ROI in minutes.

Thin content. If their pages are short, then this is a clear sign of laziness. Also do they just have a generic "services' page? Google loves content and so do your visitors. More pages and between 500 to 1,500 words per page, please.

Slow website. Two important audiences want fast websites: Google and your visitors. SSD Hosting is super fast and reasonably priced.

Low trust website. Using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is not just for payment pages nowadays. SSL is a stated Google ranking factor but surprisingly few businesses have made the switch. Also, an anti-malware security seal shows that your website is malware free. These are two low cost, high return security services.

Lazy follow up

Contact your competitors with an enquiry. Maybe by email or even by phone. What happens next? You might receive some kind of "we value your enquiry' reply. But what next? Do they follow up with you on a regular basis?

Do they phone you quickly and ask about your requirements? Do they send a predefined sequence of emails with useful information to help guide your purchasing decision? If they're lazy, then the answers will be no.

Related: The Top 5 Ecommerce Trends You Should Look Out For

But follow up is what sets the "A-Graders" apart from the rest. And it doesn't have to be complex or expensive. There are loads of off the shelf Customer Relationship Management Tools (CRM) that have all of the above baked in.

Get new enquiries texted to you. Come to work every day and see a list of calls for you or your sales team to follow up with. See a list of prioritized leads with scores against them based on their browsing action.

Lazy reviews.

Getting genuine customer reviews needs to become second nature to you. In an increasingly connected world, prospective customers need to be reassured. Reviews are one of the best ways you can achieve this.

Nowadays you can check up your competitor's reviews in Google, TrustPilot and loads of other review sites. If you're a local business, then you should also consider that businesses with most Google reviews tend to get the highest rank in the local search results.

Imagine that for a low-cost way to get targeted traffic day in, day out. The businesses at the top are just cleaning up. You need to make sure that you are one of them.

Related: What's Next for Ecommerce in 2016?

So how do you do it? Just ask. That's all you have to do - just start asking. Run a Pareto analysis (the 80/20 rule) and identify your best clients. The chances are they'll be happy to give you a review.

A word of warning. This is an ongoing approach. Don't go from zero to 100 reviews overnight or that could start alarm bells ringing at Google. Just build in reviews as an everyday part of your business.

Lazy referrals.

Referrals are one of the easiest ways to grow any business. In fact, a study by Nielsen estimates that people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. They also spend 16 percent more according to the Harvard Business Review. But there is a fly in the ointment. Research by Gigaom shows that only 39 percent of marketers use referrals regularly as part of their strategy.

In a nutshell -- Referrals are great but they aren't happening enough.

Why is that? The simple fact is that businesses big and small are just lazy when it comes to referrals. They pay lip service to it but any referrals they do get are accidental referrals. This is more than likely where your competitors are. All you need to do is to get into the habit of asking for referrals. When's the best time to ask for them? When you have a happy client in front of you.

You just need to get into the mindset of asking for referrals and don't think you're hitting up on them or hassling them. You genuinely want their family and friends to enjoy the same high level of service as they are.

Create a referral card or use some referral software to automate the entire process end to end and reward both the existing client and the new client.

Many of your competitors will have easy to spot lazy habits. Whether it's their content, their website, their follow-up, reviews or referrals, it's all there if you look hard enough.Make a commitment to be better than them in these key areas and you'll get a massive advantage in no time.

Tony Messer

Co-founder and CEO of Pickaweb

Tony Messer is the co-founder and CEO of UK web hosting company Pickaweb. Having worked with thousands of small businesses, ecommerce retailers and startups, Tony knows what it takes to grow an online business. He is the author of two books on online marketing.

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