Notes & Quotes from Mequoda Summit Boston 2009: Online Market Analysis

“It’s about learning who you can partner with in your space, before your other competitors beat you to it,” Don Nicholas notes in this session about conducting an Online Market Analysis

“The #1 skill you must have as an online publisher is to know who’s in your online market,” Don Nicholas told the audience at the Mequoda Summit today in this session called Online Market Analysis.

The goal of this session is to find out who your online competitors are, so that you can take a few lessons from those who rank higher than you in Google, but also to establish mutually beneficial marketing relationships.

“Retailers seem to grasp the idea that online is a great way to make money. One of the things we know about online is that when you’re a product seller, a retailer, and you purchase a publisher, it’s because it works.” Nicholas explained that Amazon.com bought IMDB.com simply because they had been a great affiliate that they were starting to notice IMDB expand into the Amazon space around 1998. So what did they do? They gobbled them up and bought them.

“Retailers are learning how to compete in the online space more quickly than us publishers,” Nicholas noted.

Don explained the five things that you can learn from conducting an online market audience: size, growth, seasonality, keywords and neighbors. In other words, you can learn how big your audience (and competition) is, how quickly it’s growing, its seasonality, how many keywords are in your universe, and who your neighbors (competitors) are.

Can you answer these seven questions about the online market in which you operate and compete?

  • How big is your market?
  • How fast is your market growing?
  • What is the seasonality in your market?
  • What keywords does your market use?
  • Who are your top competitors?
  • Who are your potential content partners?
  • Who are your potential marketing partners?

Out of respect for our paying Mequoda Summit attendees, I don’t want to give away too much from this session, but in its simplest form, the following is how you can do a very simple online market audit.

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Begin with a quest for the leading keywords associated with your website.

Do you know the 10 keyword phrases that best define your overall content? How do you answer if someone asks you what your site it about?

If you ask that question of the Motley Fool, at www.fool.com, according to the site navigation, the answer is investing, retirement and personal finance. Those are three of the über words they would use to describe their site.

When we conduct our own online marketing audits, we  limit the list to 10 primary search terms because the next step is to search every term and record the top 30 websites that Google returns for each. These are the websites that are most authoritative on the particular keyword phrase.

From this list, you can determine who the biggest players are in your universe, and you can “snoop” a little to see how they search engine optimize their sites, which keywords they’re targeting, how many inbound links they have, how many unique visitors they have, and other information you want to collect.

Some ideas for partnering with your competitors include:

  • contributing with user generated content like blog comments or joining their social network, posting relevant content and links back to your website
  • offering a product that the site can review to build inbound links to your site from your competitors
  • check to see if they do content syndication and ask how you can get more involved with that

If you’d like to learn how to build a more in-depth Online Marketing Audit, you can join Mequoda Pro and watch our Online Market Analysis session (along with a dozen other training sessions). In this session, attendees will learn the ins and outs of conducting their own online market analysis. In this session, you will discover how to find their pureplay competitors and build traffic to their own site by turning competitors into marketing partners. Learn more about Mequoda Pro.

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