Benchmarking of competitors’ websites is vital in positioning a website to compete effectively with competitors that already have websites.
Benchmarking should not only be based on the obvious tangible features of a website such as its ease of use and the impact of its design. Benchmarking criteria should include those that define the companies’ marketing performance in the industry and those that are specific to web marketing as follows:
Available from About Us, investor relations and electronic copies of company reports. This information is also available from intermediary sites such as finance information or share dealing sites such as Interactive Trader International or Bloomberg for major quoted companies.
Sites can be compared to published results of average conversion rates.
Market share and sales trends, and the proportion of sales achieved through the internet. This may not be available directly on the website but may need the use of online sources. For example: easyjet achieved two-thirds of its sales via the website and competitors needed to respond to this.
Business and revenue models
Do these differ from other marketplace players?
The elements of the marketing mix such as Product, Pricing, Place.
Marketing communication techniques
Is the customer value proposition of the site clear? Does the site support all stages of the buyer decision from customers who are unfamiliar with the company through to existing customers? Are special promotions used on monthly or periodic basis? Beyond the competitor’s site, how do they promote their site? How do they make through use of intermediary sites to promote and deliver their services?
What is offered beyond brochureware? Is online purchase possible? What is the level of online customer support and how much technical information is available?
Implementation of services
These are the practical features of site design such as aesthetics, ease of use, personalisation, navigation, availability and speed.
A review of corporate websites suggests that, for most companies, the type of information that can be included on a website will be fairly similar. Many commentators make the point that some sites miss out the basic information that someone who is unfamiliar with the company may want to know, such as:
- Who are you? “About us” is a standard menu option.
- What do you do? What products or services are available?
- Where do you do it? Are these products and services available internationally?
- What makes you different? Why should I use your site/services compared to your competitors? This includes communicating the online value proposition (OVP).
Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F., 2012. Digital marketing: strategy, implementation and practice (Vol. 5). Harlow: Pearson.