Competitive Analysis & Project Management

July 21, 2009

So I just finished creating a competitive analysis of 9 sites that offer website traffic. This was the first paper I’ve written since graduating college in 2004. I had forgotten how much work needs to go into such an important project.

Like most projects, I dove in head first. I did a keyword search on the type of traffic/media buys that were of interest. My list grew to 33 companies. I collected data from each site: Alexa Ranking, Type of traffic offered, Other Services offered, etc. Since 33 companies at almost $80 a pop is a little much, I decided to narrow the search even further. I decided to segment the companies into the *types of traffic that they offered. I was looking for a specific type of traffic and was able to narrow my search to 9 companies. Again, I dove in head first. I created my list of prospects and started the 1st process: “Tracking”.

If you are going to test ANYTHING online or even offline for that matter then “tracking” is absolutely essential. I mean, think about it… you have to “track” the campaigns. You have to “track” the results. You have to “track” the correspondences. Tracking is a BIG deal!

So, let’s expand upon this topic. If your doing a competitive analysis, what needs to be tracked? Well, I can tell you from my experience that you better keep close tabs on the traffic you purchase on the internet. My experience was incredibly confusing.

For Example, and this is for real, I identified a company that offered exactly what I was looking for. They looked totally legitimate. I read through their terms and conditions and everthing appeared fine. Thinkin the company was kosher, I made my purchase. Once I made my purchase I was taken to a confirmation page that told me that I needed to email a company with a completely different domain name the url that I wanted to promote. Guess what… the company name that I purchased from was not even listed on the receipt!

If I hadn’t been smart about purchasing traffic and documenting or tracking my actions then I may have never received my traffic. I mean, think about it… what if I had spent several hundred dollars with this company. Do you think that just because a company has customer support that their really going to help you “find” your order? No! Probably not, especially if the company goes through added steps to make the purchase path incredibly confusing. There is a good possibility that I would have NEVER received my visitors if I had not been tracking and documenting my purchase step by step.

So, that was kindof long winded. I’m sure you get the point. If you’re going to perform a competitive analysis on anything that requires a purchase then you need to document every step. Here’s how I did it:

1. Set up a special Google Mail Account. Gmail.
2. Created Labels in Google Account that corresponded with name of each company that I planned to purchase traffic from.
3. Set up an ad tracking account. (I used Adminder.com for this particular experiment. They offer a 14 day trial with no credit card request. It’s simple but does the trick.)
4. Set up an ad tracking code that helps you identify the company that you purchased traffic from
i.e. I created an ad code called xyz b/c I purchased from xyc company. This helped me identify my purchase b/c the term xyc was in the url which was listed on my receipt
5. If you set up a username and password then place that info with your ad tracking information. For me, this was added to the description alread in my ad tracking tool. I documented the sign up link, user name and password.
6. Take a screen shot of your confirmation page. Save it in a folder that corresponds to that particular company.
7. Immediately check your email for a receipt of purchase.
8. If recieipt of purchase is in your email then quickly label it using the labels you set up in Gmail.
9. Ask questions. Send customer support tickets. You can do this right of the bat. If the company does not answer your customer support tickets then do NOT do business with that company.
10. Hold the company accountable. Make sure you have every piece of information/correspondence available documented. I cannot stress this enough. If the company does not give you the information that you requested then go to IMReport.com or any other review site and write about your experience.

Hope this helps you better organize your media buys. I’m sure this post will get cleaned up in the future, so feel free to ask questions. We’re in this together!

Rant Over- AffiliateGeek Out!

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