As the name suggests, competitive analysis is the process of identifying your competitors, evaluating their product and marketing strategies, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately determining how your company stacks up against them.
Doing so will give you a better understanding of your niche market, enable you to learn from the strengths of your competitors, and capitalize on their weaknesses. It’ll help you develop your own unique value proposition, improve your products/services, and uncover customer needs that aren’t fully served by competitors.
Now, a lot goes into performing an effective and comprehensive competitive analysis, such as identifying the right competitors to analyze, segmenting them, learning about their products, pricing, employees, customer demographics, revenue, and so on.
However, we live in a digital age wherein all your target audience is online, searching for information about brands and their products, talking about them, and engaging with them on the social web. Thus, when analyzing your competitors, you need to have a strong focus on the following three things:
Search Engine Presence
Your competitors’ presence on search engines, particularly Google, is an extremely important factor to take into account during your analysis. That’s because there are over 3.5 billion searches per day on Google, making it a major source of traffic and leads for nearly every business today.
To evaluate a competitor’s search engine presence, start by searching for their brand name on Google and going through the top ten results. Search for relevant keywords related to your business (such as for products and services) and see who pops up where. Check for your competitors’ brand mentions on media publications, PPC ad placements, guest blogs, and knowledge graphs.
Furthermore, use available tools to audit any competitor’s organic and paid search traffic, backlinks, keywords they are ranking for, and more. In this way, you can figure out the top-ranking content of your competitors, find gaps in it, and consequently improve your own content on the same/similar topics (say, by making it more comprehensive).
You can also find out which sites are linking back to your competitors’ content and reach out to them, letting them know that you’ve covered the same stuff more effectively, and possibly getting them to link to you instead.
Long story short, by analyzing your competitor’s authority on Google, you can shape your own SEO strategy so as to outrank your competition and capture a bigger chunk of that potential traffic and customers.
The importance of having a functioning, user-friendly, and appealing website needs no introduction. For any business, a website serves as a home on the internet. It’s the base for all the branded content that’ll help you garner more search traffic, leads, and sales.
And so, another crucial aspect of a successful competitive analysis is the meticulous review of your competitors’ website content. This primarily involves analyzing their blog to answer the following questions:
- What topics do they cover?
- How often do they post?
- Which types of content do they publish? (how-to guides, listicles, ebooks, whitepapers, video, etc.)
- Does their content resonate with the audience? (in terms of comments and shares)
- Are there any gaps in the content you can fulfill?
- How are they using content to generate leads?
You can use a tool like BuzzSumo to figure out their best performing posts with the highest social media engagement and backlinks. After all, there’s nothing wrong with emulating and improving upon something that’s already seen success.
Moreover, you must also scrutinize your competitors’ website copy (homepage, product/services pages, the “About” page, and so on) to check how they’re optimizing for various keywords. Doing so will help you optimize your website’s keyword strategy.
To make sense of the online competitive landscape, you can use tools which shows your company’s current position in the market. Here is an example of such analysis.
Social Media Authority
There are over 3.2 Bn (42% of the entire population) daily active social media users with an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes spent on social media networks and messaging each day. What’s more, more than 1 in 3 internet users say they visit social networks when looking for information about a brand or product.
So, regardless of what your business is about, social media is a goldmine of potential leads and customers. You can safely assume that all your competitors are using social media to build brand awareness and nurture sustainable relationships with their target audience, and hopefully, so are you.
But besides using social media as a means to market your products/services and engage with your audience in a meaningful way, you can also leverage it as a powerful tool for competitive analysis.
That is, there’s a tremendous insight to be gained by assessing not just how your competitors use social media, but also how people on social media talk about them. So put on your spy hat and consider the following questions:
- Which platforms work best for your competitors?
- What kind of conversations are they having with their audience?
- How often do they post?
- Which type of posts is performing best for them? (has something gone viral?)
- What are the demographics of their following audience?
- What are their engagement metrics? (likes, retweets, comments, etc.)
- Is their follower count going up or is it stagnant?
- What is their share of voice?
- Do they work with social media influencers or other brands?
- How do they encourage more user-generated content? (hashtag contests, surveys, etc.)
- Do they newsjack often?
- Do they run ads on any social platform?
- Are they proactive in providing customer support? Do they have a separate account dedicated to customer service?
As you can see, social media can provide you with an absolute slew of intelligence about your competitors. It gives you an opportunity to understand what your customers desire (their pain points) and where your competitors are lacking.
Plus, using a social listening tool like Mention, you can easily monitor what people are saying about your competitors (and you!) on the social web (including blogs, forums, and review platforms). All these insights are invaluable in establishing your business’s online authority.
Market research and competitive analysis is not a one-and-done activity. Your competitors are constantly changing in almost every regard, so you must keep updating your analysis insights on a regular basis to stay on top of your competitors.
Once every few months, take the time to do some thorough manual digging while also leveraging the right tools in order to gather valuable data about your competitors, and consequently use that data to guide your business’s product, marketing, and growth strategies.