When did you last conduct a competitor analysis? Do you even know how to complete an effective analysis?
If you can’t remember ever completing a competitor analysis, you are missing out on vital information that could help your business grow. Read on to find out how to do a competitor analysis.
What is a Competitor Analysis?
A competitor analysis is the process of identifying and evaluating your competitors and analysing their strengths and weaknesses. In essence, you’re finding out how they compare to your business.
The information can improve your business strategy and help you take advantage of competitor weaknesses. A competitor analysis is a key element of your marketing strategy. If this isn’t the case, you cannot possibly get ahead of your competitors. It’s from this where you can develop your USP to the same customers you’re all targeting.
Competitor Analysis in Marketing
A marketing competitive analysis is important for every business. With marketing being the key driver of bringing customers to your product or service, it’s vital that you know what your competitors are doing. Once completed, you’ll be able to:
- Identify gaps in the market
- Create new services and products
- Find the latest market trends
- Market your business and sell products/services more effectively
1. Find your competitors
To start your competition analysis, you must find out who your true competitors are so you can compare accurate data. Some businesses may work similarly to you, but include processes that aren’t suitable for your brand. That is why you divide your competition into two categories: direct and indirect.
A direct competitor is a business that offers a similar product or service as you and operates in the same area as you.
An indirect competitor is a business that provides different products and services but could also satisfy your customers’ needs or solve the same problems.
Often these terms get misused and some businesses forget to monitor their indirect competitors, even after they’ve taken a step into their customer base. It’s also important to remember that direct competitors may do exactly what you do, but there’s always a chance you could find something they don’t do to use it as your USP.
Therefore, we recommend that you run a competitive analysis often. The market is constantly changing and unless you’re keeping an eye on changes, you may realise changes far too late.
Once you have a list of competitors in place, you must look at what they have to offer.
2. Identify competitor products/services
The key ingredient of every business is the product or service that they offer. You need to analyse their complete product line and how much quality they offer in each of them. Pricing is also important as there could be discounts being offered that undercuts how much you’re charging for the same product.
You should ask:
- Is the competitor a low-cost or high-cost supplier?
- Do they work in volume sales or one-off purchases?
- What is the current market share for each competitor?
- Who are their ideal customers? What do they want/need?
- Is the pricing different in-store compared to their website?
- What is their USP?
- How are their products/services distributed?
3. Research competitor sales tactics and results
It can be difficult to put together a sales analysis of your competitors, because that information isn’t always freely available. However, there are questions you’ll want to find the answers to including:
- What is their sales process?
- What channels are they selling through?
- Do they have stores in multiple locations?
- Is the company expanding or scaling down?
- Why are customers leaving competitors?
- What is their yearly revenue? Current sales volume?
- Do they have regular sales or discounts?
- How often are salespeople involved in the process?
With this information, you will have a better idea of how competitive the sales process is in your sector, and pass on the information your sales team needs to get leads past the final buy stage.
While public companies have to share their annual reports online, the same doesn’t apply to privately owned businesses.
Some information you need could be sourced by contacting customers who are considering switching to a competitor. You can find what made them switch out your product or service for theirs. Sales reps can also ask their leads who their current service providers are, who they’ve used in the past and anyone else they are considering.
If a customer switches to a competitor, you should follow up with them to find out exactly why they did so. What features were better for them? Was it the price? What’s their opinion on your sales process?
By asking open-ended questions, you can find out what about you is turning customers away and into the hands of your competitors.
4. Conduct a SWOT analysis
As you go through each element of your competitor analysis, you should be making a note of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to give each competitor an overall grade.
Some questions you will ask yourself include:
- What is your competitor doing well? (In terms of products, content, social media, marketing, etc.)
- Where does your competitor have an advantage over your business?
- What is the weakness in your competitor’s model?
- Where is your business better than your competitor’s?
- Has a competitor identified an opportunity that you haven’t?
- How is this competitor a threat to your success?
5. Evaluate how your competitors market products and services
Your competitors will have a website that you can browse and is the fastest way to identify their marketing efforts. Take note of key URLs and ask yourself:
- Does your competitor regularly update a blog?
- Are they creating downloadable content such as whitepapers or ebooks?
- Are they producing videos or webinars?
- Do they create visual content including infographics?
- Do they have an FAQ section?
- Are they posting featured articles?
- Can you view press releases or media kits?
- Are there customer case studies or testimonials?
- Can you access buying guides and data sheets?
- What advertising campaigns are they currently running (offline and online)?
6. Analyse your competitor’s content strategy
Finding out your competitor’s regular content output will help determine how you approach your own. Have they posted a vast amount of blog posts or only a insignificant amount? Are there four white papers and only one ebook?
Next, identify the frequency that they post these content assets. Are they publishing something fresh every week or after a month? How often does a new ebook or case study get published?
If there is a huge amount of content on the site, this means they are posting content regularly. It will also allow you to find the lead generation strategies they are aiming for.
Next, investigate the quality of content. If the content is poor, it doesn’t matter how often they post because the target audience won’t find a lot of value there.
In the sites with a bigger bank of content, select a handful of samples to make the competitor analysis more manageable. Your stock of samples should include different types of content that cover various topics, so you have a complete picture of what your competitor is sharing online.
When analysing competitor content marketing, ask:
- How accurate is the content?
- Is spelling and grammar correctly used?
- Do they post in-depth content?
- Is there a particular tone they use?
- Is the content designed for readability?
- Is the content created for SEO purposes?
- Who is writing the content?
7. How is the marketing content being promoted
This is where you can analyse the way your competitors are promoting their content including:
- Keywords used in the content
- Image ALT text tags
- Internal linking
These are all part of the SEO structure of a website and digital marketing strategies that competitors are using to promote themselves.
When analysing, ask yourself:
- Which keywords are your competitors focusing on that you aren’t?
- What content is heavily linked to or highly shared? How does it compare to your content?
- Which social media platforms do they use and promote most on?
- Are there websites that link to your competitor’s site but not yours?
8. Analyse SEO Structure
If you want to be seen online, you need an SEO strategy. If you’re wondering why your competitors are always ranking above you in search engines and you aren’t focusing on SEO, then you will always stay behind them.
In the previous section, we’ve already mentioned analysing keywords in the content, image ALT text and internal linking, which are all elements of an SEO structure. It also includes:
- Page titles
- Meta titles and descriptions
- H1 and H2 tags
- SEO focused content
- Social media posts
- Online advertising/PPC
You should also check following details:
- Domain authority
- Root linking domains
- Sitemaps: XML, HTML, image, video
- Page templates: how a site is designed and if it’s responsive and optimised for mobile devices
- Analyse competitor backlink profiles – what websites are linking to their sites? Are they linking to your site?
- Topics in blogs and frequency of posting
SEO is driven by the keywords that a website targets which is in relation to what users are searching for on Google, Bing and others daily. Once you identify the keywords you are targeting, you can find out which ones your competitors are targeting and identify if there are any gaps in your keyword strategy.
Popular strategies include:
- Long-tail keywords
These are keywords made up of three or more words and tend to be more specific than short-tail keywords which are usually more generic. For example, you could target the generic term “books” but that doesn’t really inform us of what your audience is looking for. If you target the more specific “UK travel books” there’s less competition and a scope to add more information for that target audience.
- Trending keywords
Some keywords are popular for a brief period and are designed for content that captures the attention of that specific audience for a specific amount of time. We refer to this as news jacking and it’s a great way for gaining short term organic traffic and getting ahead of your competitors.
You can do all this with the help of Competitive Analysis Tools for SEO which give you vital information on your competitor’s SEO standing.
If you need a complete picture of your competitors and need support in creating your digital marketing plan, talk to the experts at Birmingham SEO agency Ricemedia.
We’ll use every tool at our disposal to give you a complete overview of your industry, who your competitors are targeting and what keywords they are focusing on. From this, we’ll help build a winning digital marketing strategy that puts you ahead of the competition.
Get in touch with us today to gain a competitive advantage.