In the business world, no matter business-building process you’re undertaking, which product you sell or what service you’re offering there is always a competing business working to outdo you from just about all angles.
Whether their service is designed to trample yours, or they’re simply working on a campaign to take your customers, you’re going to need as much data, know-how and perseverance to keep up.
Of course, you might know what service or product they offer and can work to design or enhance yours to be better — though without knowledge of how they’re reaching their customers, or who their customers are, you won’t stand a chance.
In short — just knowing the ins and outs of their product or service offering is not enough to succeed.
As we step into 2021, consumer and rival business data has become more important and readily available than ever before, and with this data, yourself as a business owner or a marketer can greatly improve your understanding of your competitors and work to overtake them.
All that said, it’s important to perform a competitive analysis prior to releasing a new product or service, and to also continue undertaking these analyses on a routine basis.
Let’s keep you one step ahead, take a look at how to perform a competitive analysis below.
Researching Competitors is Just as Important as Researching Customers
When it comes to business, there is nothing more important than being calculated and strategic. Your competitors will be keeping an eye on you even if you think they’re not, and in terms of getting the edge, you need to keep an even closer eye on them.
Technically known as competitive intelligence, competitive research and analysis is essentially the process of researching information regarding your competition and gathering as much of this information as possible to undercut and acquire their customers and market share.
Although the collection of this data seems rather sinister, it’s still imperative to gather it to ensure the success of your own business in a profit and growth-focused economy.
You’ll be required to find out what your rivals are doing and to detect threats to your business as soon as possible.
With this rival data on your side, you’re able to make movements and plans within your company to remain successful. In fact, more than 40 per cent of businesses surveyed by Crayon in Boston, stated that their competitive intelligence processes are one of the sole reasons for their company’s success.
A Few Examples of Competitive Intelligence Data
To take some of the confusion and possible ‘fear’ out of undertaking competitive analysis procedures, a few dataset examples you can expect to find when analysing your competitors includes:
- Financial Filing Information
- Data on Customer Profiles from a Rival
- Search Engine Data
- Keyword Information Used in Ad Campaigns
None of this information is too worrisome or grimy. It’s simply the insight that’s required to be known by your team in order to successfully compete in the market.
All that said, you can undertake a relatively comprehensive analysis right from your desk, and below we’ll give you plenty of pointers and tips so you know how to perform a competitive analysis.
Conducting Your Own Competitive Analysis
Identify Your Competition
Off the top, the most important part of your competitor analysis is determining who your competition is and what you need to know about them.
It’s relatively easy to figure out who these rivals are (or their brand name) because you’ll be able to run a search online for a service you offer, and take a look at the other businesses that come up.
However, it’s important to note that you need to factor in whether you have rivals in other locations beyond just your local area.
For example, if you’re a local business serving just a single suburb or two, your competitors will be in this area. However, if you’re an online business or you service customers nationwide or globally, your competitors will be far and wide and will take a little more elbow grease to locate.
If you have a professional in marketing working for your business, you may be able to ask them to run a competitor analysis for you, or you’ll be able to reach out to a firm to undertake this for you. Whichever pathway you choose, it’s essential to gather this intelligence.
All that said, Google will still be a great place to start if you’re doing the analysis on your own — simply Google your product or service and see which other brands come up offering these services and products.
Using a Search Engine Platform
When it comes to getting a little extra data, head over to platforms like SEMrush for your competitive analysis. You’ll be able to input your website, a specific service or product keyword or a rival’s website and get all of the insight you need.
You might even find some data on their active campaigns and advertisements. This will show you who they’re advertising to, in what way (banner ads, etc) and give you some pointers for your next campaign.
Analyse the Content You’ve Collected
In the steps above, you’ll have been able to find a little of the content, marketing information and some data on keywords used by your competitors. Continue collecting this information and use it to go further down the rabbit hole in finding everything you can about your rival’s services, products and advertising processes.
It’s also a good idea to understand the types of content and marketing materials your competitors put out. If you’re noticing a pattern and a gap, you may be able to fill this with your own media and reach a new target audience your rivals have yet to find.
For example, if a business creates blogs, case studies, image media or banner ads but forgoes working with video — this might be your opportunity.
It might also be worth your while to take a look at whether your rivals have created pay-walled content for their users, and work to determine why this is the case. It might be used to pair with a product or service. For example, paid cooking tutorials to go with a Mix Master.
All that said, once you’ve located a majority of your rival’s marketing content, or any content in general, you can then work to analyse and grade it. Compare it to the content you offer and determine whether you’re doing better or worse, and work to improve.
A few pointers from us are to take a look at:
- How often they post new content
- What the type of content is
- What category the content falls under
- Whether it has a lot of interactions (likes, comments, etc)
- If there are comments asking specific questions that you could answer in your content
Essentially, work to grade their content, find gaps in what they’re posting and determine if you’re missing anything that your competition is doing.
Understand the Rival’s Content and How it Affects You
One key thing to keep in mind is to understand if or why your rival’s content is affecting your business. The brand you’re competing with may have case studies on offer that directly call out your business without naming it.
That in mind, take a look at how you can create combative content to ‘fight’ back by letting your potential customers know that you’re the brand to choose, rather than trusting exactly what the rivals are saying about you.
With that out of the way, it will then be time to analyse blog posts and other content.
For rivals that are big on blogging, Instagram or YouTube, you’ll need to match the quality of this content but also offer up something informative that your rivals aren’t.
That said, read the comments — there’s bound to be questions there and comments that routinely point out things that customers want to know.
In all, do your best to understand your rival’s content, their posting schedule and the content they’re creating. With a good understanding of what they’re posting and what’s coming next, you can catch up and overtake their advertising media.
Break Down The Rival’s Search Engine Optimisation or SEO
Once you’ve completed the analysis of your competitors content, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed that it’s quite similar. In fact, it may be the same type of content at the same quality as yours, though their media might still be performing better than yours.
That in mind, they might be doing something else a tad better than you — their SEO.
Both yourself and your marketing team will know that the SEO rating of your content is imperative to reaching your customers through platforms like Google, and this SEO focus should be baked into everything you’re doing online.
In the past, adding keywords into blog posts and captions at random did a great job at placing your content quite high on the search list, though today it’s a lot harder.
Google understands what users mean when they search for something, and that means your content needs to come across as genuinely answering user questions before it gets ranked high on the list.
That in mind, let’s beat your rivals in a better way — creating better content.
As an example, you may have a competitor who routinely offers the ten tips to clearer skin, and so what do you do to beat this? Offer the fifteen best skin care tips instead.
Take a look at their list of blog posts and web pages that do well, and if you notice that a top performer of theirs is from a year or more ago, recreate this post yourself and keep it up to date.
Your post will be prioritised and will see more web traffic than your rival’s piece did.
In all, our biggest tip is to find any shortcomings, dig deep into what your competitors might be doing to beat you out and then do better. With some creativity, competitor intelligence and a good marketing team on your side, you’ll be on your way to success in no time.
Head to Where the Consumers Are
As you’ll already know, social media is the way to a consumer’s heart in 2021 and that means you need to take a trip to all of your rival’s social channels right after finding out their SEO and marketing agenda.
Social media, thankfully, is rather open. If you’re seeing your rival’s posts you’re able to see who’s following, what people are commenting and any frustrations they have. Use this material to your advantage and weaponise it when it’s time to develop a new product, service, blog post or ad campaign.
On top of this, be sure to understand how your rivals are making use of their social platforms and delve into what types of content they are posting.
Is this content to help their customers use their new products? Are they offering tips on getting the most out of their products or something else entirely?
Adding to the type of content your competitors are posting, take note of post frequency and what type of content it is. Are videos taking priority above images? Are written posts more popular? With this in mind, you can strategise and work on your own content to better compete.
It might be worth keeping a schedule or a list of when your competitors post, and use this to make sure that you’re not going to post at the same time.
Once again, we suggest taking a deep dive into the type of engagement these posts are seeing and make a list of which content types are most popular. Add this information into your competitor profile.
A quick tip here is to use this engagement data to build a brief profile of the types of consumers your competitors have. Are the most engagements from men or women? Where are the engagements located?
It’s good to note that you should ask yourself as many questions as possible about your rival’s posts and work to find out as much about the users who engage with this content as possible.
In doing so, you’ll have a good insight into who they are and how to usher them to your brand above the rivals.
In all, work to figure out what’s going on across a rival brand’s social media platforms and ask yourself or your team what you can do better.
Work On Finding Where Your Brand Can Improve
Once you’ve completed all of the above analysis and research tasks, you’ll have a pretty deep look into exactly how your competitors operate — and also how to perform a competitive analysis.
You’ll have a good data set to go off when it comes to working on your own brand, and that said, your marketing team will know where to go from there.
All of the insight you’ve gathered will allow you to better enhance and target your ideal consumers, and you’ll be more able to compete with your rivals.
That in mind, turn your sights to improving content creation, SEO and matching your opponent’s advertising style. You’ll want to be able to grab the attention from their target market, and this means offering a similar yet better suite of marketing materials.
At the end of the day, be sure not to blatantly copy any materials as this is more likely to damage your brand image than anything else.