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Mohan Ganesan
Mohan Ganesan

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SAAS Strategy: Apply the 80/20 Rule To Your Competitor’s Efforts

Here is how I look to learn what my competitors have done before me.

My product, Proxies API, is not the first to the market.

That means I can learn a lot from people who have come before me. Specifically here are the tactics I used to do 20% of what they have done over the years to achieve 80% of the results.

  1. Product features:

I look at all the features available in the market and use the Jobs to be done framework to work out the specific jobs, the scenarios that trigger the tasks, the benchmarks that tell me what a well-done job looks like, etc. Then I try to get to the main task and do just that. Focus on just that even if it means driving the prices down. It should encourage the costs down because most software needs to be good at only one thing. And I will pick a constraint to work around. For me, at Proxies API, it was to access all the 2 million rotating proxies and subsequent functions just from one API call. Everything had to be supported by only one API endpoint.

  1. Looking at the reviews from customers to learn what they love and what they hate:

This task is about finding out the jobs-to-be-done. What responsibilities do the competitors do well and what do they not do well consistently. What do I want to take on? What I feel the most empathy for?

  1. Picking SEO Keywords:

I will look at 20% of the keywords, get 80% of the traffic, and see if I can win at that. This one is tricky. If, for example, my competition has put years of work for ranking high in a specific keyword, it is foolhardy to go after that for the time being. But if it is happening because a single article is ranking very high somehow, I feel like I can outrank by putting in an outrageous effort.

  1. Picking top-performing content:

a) It is merely reversing the concept earlier and saying what the top performer is picking the top few content pieces that produce the majority of the traffic; By the way, I use ahrefs for getting this data. Then I decide how the content can be 3–4 times better written and more valuable and get to work at it.

b) I also look at the backlinks that are bringing in the most incoming traffic and go after them in the same vein.

  1. Looking at the evolution of their A/B tests:

Using archive.org, I can see the growth of the home page of my competitors. I can see all the messaging they tried over the years and the branches that they settled in. You can almost read their mind. That gives me an idea of what works are more important than what doesn’t work.

  1. Looking at the ads and landing pages they use:

Spyfu is an excellent tool that gives you exact ads that competitors are using on different networks. I can see the long-running ads and the kind of money they are spending on them. No point reinventing the wheel. We can start where they started and A/B test from there.

  1. Looking at the areas on the internet they advertise:

Some of my competitors advertise on Q&A forums and communities and even on GitHub. I’m learning that itself is sometimes half the battle.

  1. Looking at the cities, they regularly participate in:

It is to build long term goodwill. We want to be able to be more helpful than all the competitors combined. That has always been my goal. We also want to be timely. No point going and answering questions that are a year old because the people who ask have moved on. It is more important to be real-time in places like Quora & Stackoverflow to be helpful to the community genuinely.
The author is the founder of Proxies API, a proxy rotation API service.

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