How to Do a Competitive Analysis in 5 Easy Steps
Unless you're marketing earrings made from old coffee cans, chances are there are other companies out there offering a similar product or service as you.
Establishing an edge over these competitors is just part of the daily grind, but ask yourself, to what extent are you prepared to gain an edge over your competitors?
Simply knowing what they offer is not enough.
With the advent of new software and technology, marketers, and business owners have the ability to know more about their competition than ever before. It is extremely important to regularly conduct a thorough competitive analysis in order to stay one step ahead.
Below, is a simple five-step process for completing a detailed competitive analysis based on one shared by our friends at HubSpot.
Keep in mind that by using software like HubSpot, all the information regarding your competitors is easily attainable. In fact, you can view each of your competitor's website grade in order to see how yours stacks up.
Why is it Important to Research Competitors
Competitive research or competitive intelligence is a field of strategic research that specializes in the collection and analysis of information about rival firms. It's an essential tactic for finding out what your competitors are doing and what kind of threat they present to your financial well-being.
Competitive research is completely legal, it's simply collecting bits of information available in the public domain, from financial filings to reports compiled by companies like Hoovers and Dun & Bradstreet.
You can also find articles written about companies in local newspapers or on a Nexis file. Online databases are available from soures such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Standard & Poors and news sources such as PR Newswire, and as we'll explain in this article, you can use search engines to find information on individual companies.
How to Conduct Your Competitive Analysis
1. Identify Your Top Ten Competitors
Now this might be silly for me to ask, but have you identified your companies top ten competitors?
Every company has those dreaded competitors they cannot stand, no matter what you do they are always using your ideas and taking your potential customers. Whether you are a local, national, or international company there is probably someone in your company, specifically the sales and marketing teams, that can quickly rattle off your top competitors as well as what differentiates them from you.
As a national company, you are competing with possibly hundreds, even thousands of companies going after the same group of qualified leads.
So, maybe you have no idea who most of your competitors are. You might have that one company you're competing with, but outside of them your lost and confused.
If you need a little help identifying your competitors, Google is a great resource. By simply "Googling" the type of service or product you are offering, it is pretty likely a few of your top competitors will show up.
Another great way to discover who your top competitors are, is by using online tools such as SEM Rush. SEM Rush is a great software to get a look into what other companies are ranking for your keyword and how you stack up against them.
2. Analyze and Compare Competitor Content
Once you've identified your competitors, you can kick start your competitive analysis and dig a little deeper to gain a better understanding of what type of content they're publishing.
Analyzing their content can help you determine what opportunities you have t0 help outperform your competitors. What types of content creation do your competitors focus on, a blog? Case studies? Premium content?
Different types of content can include:
- Blog posts
- Visual content
- Feature articles
- Press releases
- Case studies
- Buyer guides
Once you've located their content, you can determine the quality, and most importantly you can see how it compares to yours. Be sure that you look for how frequently they are blogging, adding, and updating new content, as well as what topics are they frequently discussing. Are they doing anything that you aren't?
Once you know what type of content and the quality of the content your competitors are publishing, it gives you a better perspective of where you need to put in more effort and resources.
If your competitors are consistently publishing case studies, this could be a part of the reason why your quality leads are going to your competitors.
A prospective client wants to know what it's like to work with your company. Not only are case studies important, but take a closer look at their blog.
If your competitors tend to blog three times a week compared to your one article every two weeks, it will be beneficial for your company to start generating more traffic to your site by blogging more frequently about relevant topics. Don't just blog because you want to add more content, it won't generate more traffic if the content your adding isn't remarkable.
3. Analyze Their SEO Structure
So far your competitors have the same type of content, update it just as frequently, and have awesome quality. So what are they doing differently from you?
It might be the structure of their SEO.
If your company has a blog, you know how important your SEO structure is. While conducting a competitive analysis on the type of content your competitors are generating, it is also beneficial to check out the SEO structure of that content.
How are your competitors using keywords, are they included in:
- The page title
- The URL architechture
- H1 Tags
- Internal links
- Image alt text
Not only should you check the SEO structure of the content but also what types of keywords your competitors are utilizing.
When trying to rank for specific keywords, rather than looking for keywords that have high search volumes, look for keywords that have lower search volumes, these types of keywords tend to be long-tail keywords making the keyword more specific.
Also by looking at your competitors keywords, you can generate a list of additional keywords that you can start to target.
4. Look at their Social Media Integration
A company's presence on social media is becoming increasingly important everyday and every company is utilizing each platform differently. Social media networks are a great way for companies to interact with users and fans.
Additionally these sites allow you to share your content.
The next step of your competitive analysis should be to determine how your competitors are using social media and integrating it into their marketing.
Not only is it important to see if your competitors can be found on social media platforms, but you also want to see how effectively they're using their profiles.
What type of information are they posting? Do they ever post? Are people following them? Do they have cover photos and profile photos?
These are all questions you should be asking yourself when you are checking your competitors profiles. Just because they have a profile does not mean that they are continually updating the pages and adding new content.
Do your competitors have awesome social media profiles? If they do, don't just click off the page quickly, learn from what they are doing. Are there things you could utilize and take ideas from to help establish your presence?
Maybe a company might not even be a direct competitor, but find a company in your industry that's established and develops great content, learn from key influencers in your industry.
5. Identify Areas for Improvement
After performing a competitive analysis, you now have a better idea and understanding of what your competitors are doing.
Take all the information you gathered about each competitor and identify particular areas that need improvement. After looking at your competitors, you cannot tell me that you didn't find at least one thing you need to improve on.
Not only will you be able to identify key areas that you can improve upon in regards to your content creation, search engine optimization, and social media engagement, but you can also help establish your company's presence with potential customers, blog readers/subscribers, and social media users.
About Dan Tighe
Dan is a Project Manager at IMPACT and has been an Inbound Marketer for over 3 years. He works with clients and his team to create high converting websites built to hit goals. In his spare time, Dan enjoys being terrible at golf, rooting for the Bruins and staying well caffeinated.