If you're looking to strengthen your company's marketing strategy, one of the most important tactics is to check out your competition and take some pointers from them. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses will be helpful to take a look at when putting together your own business plan.
Since there are tons of things to take a look at when comparing businesses, so we asked some marketing professionals: what things should you prioritize when doing a competitive analysis?
When performing competitor analysis it's vital not to ignore what is likely your largest online channel - organic search, or SEO.
Use widely known tools such as Open Site Explorer to find what links your competitors have from strong and relevant websites and think about how you may be able to obtain links from these same sources, or those that are similar. If you find a strong website linking to two or more of your competitors and not you, then this is particularly interesting as they may be impartial. Your Competitors should be chosen based on having strong rankings for competitive keywords that you would like to rank highly for.
Getting strong, relevant links will continue to be an important factor when it comes to ranking well on Google Throughout 2018 so it absolutely requires focus."
Gavin Duff, Friday
For any marketing activity, there must be a set goal and objective of what the extracted information will be used for.
So for the competitive analysis, before starting, ask yourself why do you need a competitive analysis in the first place? What specific goal will it help you achieve? Are you seeking data to improve ad and email campaigns, or are you trying to hone in on your value proposition?
Whatever your goal is, your information gathering techniques, and questions you ask during the process will vary accordingly. The reason why this is so critical is because too many times companies go through the activity of competitive analysis only to find it doesn't provide actionable insights. However, when we hone in on a specific problem we are trying to solve, our competitive analyses become a lot more targeted, and extract the information we can use to create actionable solutions.
Ayat Shukairy, Invesp
The first thing you must do is confirm your competition is actually your competition. Unfortunately, it's easy to fixate on the wrong companies. Sometimes, they look better, their message resonates with ourselves, or there's something about them that we envy. Whatever the reason, be aware that what we find appealing, our target market might not care about.
Who are your prospects actually buying from instead of you?
A quick and easy way to discover if you're looking at the right competition is online. Find out:
- What are your best performing keywords?
- Who is outranking or ranking near you for those keywords?
- Are the same companies consistently appearing across all those keywords?
- What are their best keywords and are they relevant to your business?
It's a bit simple, but this is a necessary first step. You don't want to analyze the wrong companies. That'd be a waste.
Daniel Davidson, By Dan Design Co.
When conducting a competitive analysis within your industry there are a few different angles to look at. It is important to look at all of the different facets; paid media, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and the competition's website.
With paid media, the focus should be on messaging, keyword selection, and PPC spend to determine how you can differentiate yourself based on your budget and product offerings.
For search engine optimization it is important to note the competition's site speed, domain authority, and page load time to determine how you can improve your SEO to rank higher than your competitors in search results.
What social media channels your competitors are active on is also important. You can learn a lot about your customers and how they prefer to interact with brands by looking at how they interact or don't interact with your competitors.
Lastly, the competitor's website is very important to look at. You want to see what promises they make and what features they present to your customers, along with the thought leadership materials they offer that you don't (i.e. blog posts, webinars, whitepapers, infographics, etc.). These promises, features, and materials can evoke trust and leadership in a brand that can make or break a potential customer relationship.
Paris Klees, Anvil Media Inc.
After 9 years of work, I can assure you that the MOST important thing to prioritize when doing competitive analysis is: follow the competition for 6 months!.
This means that before making an analysis and drawing conclusions, a person from your marketing team should be in charge of following day by day the evolution of your competitors' marketing campaigns (in social networks, in AdWords, in content marketing, etc).
In order to make a decision you do NOT need a "photo" of how your competition is doing marketing today, but a "video" of how it evolved over time and that you can learn from them.
This strategy helped us improve the effectiveness of our competitive analysis since the results obtained improved our return on investment by 31.1% (yes, AMAZING!), Give priority to studying your competition at least 6 months before making the competitive analysis.
Cristian Rennella, elMejorTrato
Targeting and positioning precedes all aspects of a competitive analysis. If you know how your competitors are positioned and what communication they are using, you can outperform them on any marketing front.
And how to do so? The most open asset of any company is their social media profiles! It's all there: the messages they send out, their response to their customers, the words they focus on, their tone and voice, and much more. Just by focusing on hashtags, we were able to tell how Flipkart (India's Leading competitor against Amazon) was more focused on discounts as opposed to their public statements.
Some of the best tools that can help you do so are Socialbakers, Agorapulse, Rival IQ, and Quintly.
Ashima Gupta, Vaizle
For a deep and accurate competitive analysis, it's imperative to gather as much information as possible about at least three or four top competitors of yours: company size, products, revenue, pricing structure - discounts etc.
Secondly, make sure you identify your competitors' target customers and find out their needs. I would start by learning more about their existing and former customers.
Also, try to determine your competitors' strengths, but also their flaws - analyze information objectively: all related to products and services, pricing and customer service. It's crucial to understand how their marketing works and what are their marketing priorities. Analyze their website, social media; find out about their partners and hosted events.
Your competitors can teach you a lot. The main goal is to run a profitable and competitive business. A well-documented analysis would be the first step, probably the most important one.
Mihai Corbuleac, ComputerSupport