a drawing of a person and different aspects of competitors analysis pointing at him

How to perform competitor analysis

Marta

Content Manager at Brand24. An avid reader and amateur baker. Passionate about mountains, travelling and jazz.

Performing competitor analysis is the first step to becoming an industry leader. A competitor analysis is the foundation you need to build up your brand. 

Assess the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors and identify threats and opportunities to your business. Based on that knowledge, you can establish a plan of action for your brand. 

Competitor analysis is a time-consuming, complicated process, but the rewards are worth the effort.  

Conceptual 3D illustration of two gauges with text competitors and our company to measure performance,  horizontal image. Concept of business benchmark or comparative advertising

Conducting a competitor analysis will give you a competitive edge over other companies.

You will be able to

  • position your products better
  • meet your customers’ needs
  • exploit your competitors’ weaknesses
  • learn from their strengths

Hopefully, you’ll see the benefits of competitor analysis by yourself! Here’s our itinerary for today:

  • Why should you carry out competitor analysis
  • A step-by-step guide to competitor analysis
  • How to write a competitor analysis
  • Competitor analysis made easy
  • Why should you carry out competitor analysis

    As I mentioned before, competitor analysis is a huge task – both in terms of the amount of information you will have to process and resources it takes. 

    But the rewards are hard to miss. 

    Competitor analysis will help you:

    • identify market opportunities to increase market share
    • exploit your competitors’ weaknesses and convert their customers to your product
    • provide information to plan future marketing strategies
    • allow you to make well-informed decisions about on how to develop your product

    If you want to be one step ahead of your competitors, you have to assess the status quo first.  Knowing which areas you need to improve and where exactly can you gain competitive advantage easily, will help you shape your business decisions. 

    A step-by-step guide to competitor analysis

    You know the benefits of competitor analysis; now it’s time to see how competitor analysis process looks like.

    The definition of competitor analysis was fairly simple.

    However, considering all the platforms and the amount of information businesses produce every day, finding your way in all the data seems complicated. 

    Don’t worry, we got you covered!

    We prepared a step-by-step guide to competitor analysis!

    Hopefully, with our competitor analysis manual, the process will be less daunting and better organised. 

    Step 1 – find your competitors

    Competitor analysis should start with identifying and classifying all your competitors. 

    You can divide the competitors into three groups:

    1. Primary competitors – businesses which target the same audience or have similar products. 
    2. Secondary competitors – businesses which sell products in the same category. For example, a secondary competitor to a brewery is a vineyard.
    3. Tertiary competitors – business who are not your direct competitors but might become one in the future, if you expand your product line or service.

    There are numerous ways to identify your competitors; I’d like to recommend five that proved the most effective for us. 

    Google search

    That one is a no-brainer. When you want to know something, you google it (or bing it or duckduckgo it).

    When it comes to competitor analysis, it’s a great starting point. 

    Of course, Google will only spit out uncategorised results. Your job will be to divide the businesses into categories and check all other available information. 

    print screen of Google search results showing the companies that are your potential competitors you should analyse further

    Try to put yourself in the position of a potential customer and search for terms related to your business niche. It’s best to do it in an incognito mode, so the search engine won’t take your previous searches into account. 

    Prepare a list of keywords related to you industry and start googling. You should get a list of your competitors ready in no time.  

    Google ads

    While we’re at search engines – take a look at paid ads. Some of your competitors might not be interested in SEO positioning (which takes some time and resources to develop). Instead, they will pay for promotion.  

    print screen of google search results showing paid results for your competitors analysis

    Follow the same process as in the previous point, just take a look at ads, not organic results. 

    Internet monitoring

    Media monitoring will help you with a few steps in competitors analysis process. Let’s start with identifying your competitors.

    You can give it a spin for free – Brand24 offers a 14-day free trial (no credit card required!).

    You can compile a more thorough competitor list by creating an Internet monitoring project.

    You start by creating a project. In the project creation wizard, enter the keywords related to your industry. 

    a project creation wizard you could use to perform competitors analysis

    The tool will start gathering all the mentions from the Internet containing your keyword and organize them in one neat dashboard. 

    You will not only get a list of your competitors, but will also see which companies people recommend and why. That’s a beginning of the more in-depth analysis, mainly assessing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, which I’ll discuss in more detail later on. 

    Customers

    Your customers are a goldmine of knowledge. Most of them, before they came to you, have done a ton of research to choose the best solution for their problem. You should tap into that knowledge!

    Ask what other options they considered and which feature made them sway into your direction. 

    Moreover, new companies will most likely try to tempt your customers to switch to their product. Keeping your finger on the pulse will help you detect early signs of a new rival on the market. 

    Trade publications

    Trade magazines, both digital and printed, are a great source of competitors’ names.

    New entrants to the market will try to put their names on the map, so check the publications regularly. 

    Moreover, you’ll be able to examine your competitors’ offer.

    What are the most striking differences between your bid and your rivals? What messages do they send out? What features is your product missing?

    That’s all publicly available information you could use to perform competitors analysis. 

    Once you know who are your direct, indirect, and tertiary competitors, you can start analysing various aspects of their brand. 

    Step 2 – analyse your competitors’ SEO efforts

    SEO stands for search engines optimization. An SEO analysis can be divided into at least two subgroups. 

    Firstly, you should analyse the structure of your competitors’ content.

    How do their articles look like? Are they using any interactive components, for example, table of contents? Is the text on a colourful background? How do they use headings? These factors may all sound a bit trivial but they all could have an impact on website positioning. 

    a print screen of Brand24 blog posts showing formatted text on a red background which you should analyse while performing a competitors analysis

    Another aspect of an SEO competitor analysis is a keyword gap analysis.

    A keyword gap is a list of keywords your competitors rank for and you don’t. You could try to tackle certain keywords and outperform your competitors. 

    While we’re discussing SEO, take a look at backlinks analysis. To rank well in any search engine, a domain ought to have strong authority. One of the aspects that Google and other search engines take into account is the number and quality of links to the domain.

    print screen from Semrush, a SEO tool where you can analyse your competitors' backlinks

    Analyse which domains are linking to your competitors’ content. It will give you three pieces of information:

    1. It’s a checklist of sites which you can ask to replace links to your competitors with content linking to your site;
    2. It gives you a general idea on what type of content is suitable for link building;
    3. It’s an indicator of what you have to do to beat your competitors. 

    Of course, the details of your content strategy will depend on your industry. These three points are universal and will help you assess and give direction to your content strategy. 

    Step 3 – analyse your competitors social media presence

    No matter the business niche, at least some of your competitors are present on different social media channels. Considering the fact that more and more campaigns and conversions take place on social media, that’s a part of competitors analysis you can’t omit.

    You have to know which social media platforms your competitors are using. You can manually check channel after channel, or you can set up a social media monitoring project for your competitors. 

    Follow the same steps as when you were creating a social media monitoring project for yourself, but instead of entering keywords related to your industry, think of terms your competitors would use. It can be:

    • the name of your competitor;
    • their @handle;
    • their branded hashtag
    • their campaign specific hashtag

    Brand24 will provide a ton of useful data! Let’s see what’s in there for you. 

    Analyse how often your competitors’ post on social media

    The volume of mentions is a first metric you should assess while analysing your competitors’ social media presence. The total number of your competitors’ posts and posts mentioning them is a backbone of your analysis. Combining it with other metrics will give you a more holistic view of your competitive landscape. 

    A high volume of mentions might indicate a couple of things:

    • the content is resonating well with their target audience which sparks interactions and builds brand awareness;
    • seasonal changes in your competitors’ content distribution. There might be a time in a year where your opponents are extra active, for example on Black Friday or during Christmas season;
    a print screen showing volume of mention – a metric you could use to perform competitors analysis

    A social media listening tool will collect mentions from different platforms and analyse them. There are filters you can use to examine specific platforms or get a bigger picture and analyse the aggregated data. 

    Let’s start with the volume of mentions. That’s a total number of all mentions containing keywords related to your competitors. Brand24 automatically categorizes the mentions according to the social media platform they originated. 

    This competitor analysis metric will help you establish two things:

    1. Which social media platforms your competitors are using. If they are active and receive a  positive response from their audience, it means that your potential customers are actively using a particular social media platform. You can also peek on the type of content that sparks interactions.
    2. You don’t have to do the research and invest your energy into establishing your presence on different social media channels by yourself. Learn from your competitors’ mistakes. If they weren’t able to build a loyal following, it’s unlikely you could do that. Or, at least, establish a different strategy for a particular channel. 

    Combine volume of mentions with sentiment analysis

    A high volume of mentions isn’t an indicator of success. To have a whole picture, you should combine the volume of mentions metric with sentiment analysis. 

    Sentiment analysis will tell you whether the response to a particular message was positive, negative, or neutral. In other words, it means whether people are enjoying brands’ messaging or not. 

    a print screen from Brand24 showing the volume of mentions combined with sentiment analysis which you can use to perform competitors analysis

    Sentiment analysis can give you valuable information about:

    • a reaction to a specific marketing campaign. A high volume of mentions and an increase in negative sentiment is usually a sign of a social media crisis. 
    • an understanding of how your messaging and marketing activities affect the perception of your brand. It will tell you whether you are sending the right message to the right people via the right channel. There’s no point in broadcasting into the void where no one is interested in what you have to say. 

    Take a look at the share of voice

    The share of voice point out what part of the whole discussion was generated by a specific author. 

    The share of voice is associated with brand awareness. Again, as with the volume of mentions, a high share of voice can be caused by a crisis situation, so you should always combine it with sentiment analysis. 

    a print screen from Brand24 showing the share of voice for particular social media accounts, a metric you could use to perform competitors analysis

    If your competitors generate a high percentage of the share of voice and the sentiment is positive or neutral, it means that the brand is recognizable among their target audience and the messaging is resonating well. 

    Measure social media reach of hashtag campaigns

    That’s one of the most important aspects of competitors analysis. Measuring the social media reach of a campaign allows you to see how many people could have seen your competitors’ content and are possibly aware of their brand. 

    Why is social media reach important for competitors’ analysis? 

    First of all, the more people see their message the highest brand awareness and possible conversions. 

    a print screen from Brand24 showing the social media reach of a keyword a metric you could use to perform a competitors analysis

    For all your metrics, you need a benchmark. You’ll never know whether your campaign performed well if you don’t compare it to other results. Comparison to your competitors is a good start. 

    Second benefit of measuring social media reach is the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing campaigns. Which social media platform should you choose? What type of content will spark interactions? You can gain all that knowledge by analysing your competitors’ online presence. 

    Step 4 – understand how your competitors market their product

    Messaging is a vital part of competitors analysis. Messaging will tell you how a company sees itself, who their ideal customer is, and what are they trying to achieve. 

    You have to analyse a range of different mediums, including:

    • their website;
    • social media;
    • interviews;
    • ebooks or reports;
    • newsletters;
    • leaflets, flyers, brochures, and other physical materials;
    • product or service descriptions.
    a print screen from Sprout Social showing who they are marketing their tool to, a feature you could use while performing a competitor analysis

    An extensive analysis of their copy will help you determine what your competitors’ see as an important feature, what is their buyers’ persona, and what they are hoping to achieve. 

    This will give you a general idea of how your competitors plan to expand their business. Will they penetrate new markets? Are they developing a new feature or product? You can look for some subtle hints in their copy. 

    Step 5 – take a look at your competitors’ pricing

    One of the most important aspects for your competitors when it comes down to making purchasing decisions – the costs. 

    Analysing the pricing can be a daunting task, as there are many variables involved. The offerings might differ slightly, depending on the features offered by each company. Find as much common ground as you can and compare the plans. 

    This will show you whether you’re charging an adequate amount of money for your product.

    Maybe there are some features you could add to your offering to make it more attractive?

    Or, on the contrary, you might have a competitive advantage over your rivals you’re not aware of. That’s a perfect way to promote your business!

    How to write a competitor analysis

    Once you gather the data, it’s time to put it all together. 

    First of all, set your priorities. Depending on the aim of your competitor analysis, you should focus on different parts of your data. 

    If you want to analyse main competitors, take a closer look at their strong and weak features. This will help you determine the areas you need to improve and spots where you have an advantage and can exploit some more. 

    Do you offer free shipping? Is your product manufactured locally? Do you offer unique customer service? Those are all features you could market to your potential customers that differentiate you from your competitors. 

    Once you perform a competitors analysis make sure the content is distributed across different departments at your company. Sometimes the most innovative ideas come from people you least expect it. 

    Competitor analysis made easy

    Competitor analysis is an ongoing, time-consuming, and crucial process. It’s much more than just a list of your competitors. 

    Competitors analysis will give you all the information you need to get ahead of your rivals, excel in your industry, and become a thought leader in your niche. 

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