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Competitive analysis shows market trends, helps you improve the performance of your sales team, and identifies strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that await your company.
The process of competitive analysis will help you at every stage of your business journey.
Whether you are a startup looking for a market niche or an established company trying to introduce new products or services to the market, competitive analysis will bring you useful insights.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to competitive analysis!
- Find and classify your competition — you have to know who you’re competing against
- Take a note of the basic information — company overview, revenue, number of customers
- Analyze the product your competition offers — take a deeper look at the features, perks, and technology
- Analyse their customers base — the type of customer will tell you who the desired audience is, what is the level of brand awareness, which social media platforms they use, and much more.
- Take a look at the SEO efforts — SEO competitive analysis will tell you how your competitors use search engines to their benefit
- Analyze their social media presence — a lot of activities will take place on social media. Take a look at the channels your major competitors are using and what message they send.
- Understand your competition positioning — who is the ideal customer of your competitors? What’s the most important part of their messaging? How are they reaching their target customers?
- Compare their prices — maybe you’re missing a low hanging fruit by pricing your product too low or too high.
Analyzing all the above mentioned categories will give you an excellent overview of your competitive landscape and will help you improve your marketing strategies and spot market trends.
Here’s our detailed itinerary for today:
- What is competitor analysis?
- How to do a competitive analysis?
- Competitor analysis example
- Competitor comparison
What is competitor analysis? Definition
Let’s start with the basics. What is competitive analysis, and why should you care?
Competitor analysis is a strategic process of identifying and evaluating competitors. This process aims to understand competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The ultimate goal of this analysis is to discover insights that can help them achieve a competitive advantage.
Here are some insights that you can discover thanks to competitive analysis:
- Identify your position: Understand where your business stands compared to your competitors.
- Competitor’s positioning: Grasp how competitors position themselves in the market, including their value proposition and target audience.
- Product offerings: Evaluate the range and quality of products/services offered by competitors.
- Unique Selling Propositions (USPs): Identify the unique aspects they bring to the market.
- SWOT Analysis: Identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Innovation and development: Identify areas where competitors innovate or invest in product development.
- Pricing strategies: Understand competitors’ pricing models and strategies.
- Advertising and promotion: Analyze how competitors market their products and which channels they use.
- Sales tactics: Understand their sales processes, including any unique selling points or tactics they employ.
- Customer engagement: See how they engage with customers and the effectiveness of their communication strategies.
- Technology usage: Identify the technologies they employ for operations, customer service, and other areas.
- User experience: Understand the customer experience they provide, including any pain points.
- Customer feedback: Analyze customer reviews and feedback to gain insights into their strengths and areas for improvement.
Start competitor analysis! Track their mentions, reach, and sentiment!
How to do a competitive analysis?
Competitor analysis is a huge task – both in terms of the amount of information you will have to process and the resources it takes.
To have a comprehensive view of your competition activities and strategies, you should analyze many different aspects of companies’ presence. A thorough market research is the cornerstone of competitor data.
Here’s a list of areas you should take into account:
- Company overview
- Products or services
That doesn’t seem like a lot, but once you start digging, you’ll discover a lot of useful information!
Competitive analysis is not about copying competition solutions. It’s more about positioning your company at the right place on the market, knowing what industry trends are worth following, and improving your products and services.
The process is about defining your strengths and weaknesses and increasing your market share.
Start competitor analysis! Track their mentions, reach, and sentiment!
Competitor analysis example
While analyzing your rivals, you need to dive into their marketing and business strategy. Here’s a guide on how to do it. You can use it as a competitive analysis template.
- Find competitors
- Check publicly available data
- Examine the products
- Analyze competitors’ SEO efforts
- Analyze competitors’ social media presence
- Put the social media competitive analysis insights into action
- Understand how competitors market their product
- Take a look at the pricing
- Compare the customer experience
01 Find your competitors
Competitor analysis should start with identifying and classifying all your competitors.
You can divide the competitors into three groups:
- Primary competitors – businesses which target the same audience or have similar products.
- Secondary competitors – businesses which sell products in the same category. For example, a secondary competitor to a brewery is a vineyard.
- Tertiary competitors – business who are not your direct competitors but might become one in the future, if you expand your product line or service.
The difference between direct and indirect competitors is important to correctly assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We’ll discuss the ins and outs of SWOT analysis later on.
There are numerous ways to conduct market research and identify your competitors; I’d like to recommend five that proved the most effective for us.
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 competitive 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, for instance, when was it established, the number of clients, etc.
Try to put yourself in the position of a potential customer looking for your products or services 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 your industry and start googling. You should get a list of your competitors ready in no time.
While we’re at search engines – take a look at paid ads. Some of your indirect and direct competitors might not be interested in SEO positioning (which takes some time and resources to develop). Instead, they will pay for promotion.
Follow the same process as in the previous point, just take a look at ads, not organic results.
Some competitor monitoring tools will help you to find your rivals. You can quickly find direct competitors by using SEO software like Ahrefs or SEMrush, which conducts keyword analysis and lists competitive websites.
Here you can see the top competing domains of nike.com:
Use Brand24 and conduct competitive analysis!
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.
You can ask your new clients to answer a few question, fill in a survey, or schedule a short phone call. Try to build an email list, so you can reach your clients easily.
02 Check publicly available data
Once you identified the most relevant competitors it’s time to dive deeper into the available data.
Take a note of the name of their CEO and other prominent employees, the total number of employees, and how long they’ve been on the market.
An important piece of market research for competitor analysis will be the data about their funding. Most of the VC don’t invest in two companies from the same group, so if you see someone already invested into one company there is probably no point in approaching them.
You can look up the number of employees on LinkedIn. Of course, that will be just an estimate, but the number will give you an idea where your company is headed.
03 Examine the products
Now it’s time to take a closer look at the products or services your rivals offer. Take a closer look at these aspects:
- Technology — what technology was used to build the product?
- Perks —do they give anything for free, for example, ebooks or webinars? Do they offer discounts?
- Core selling point — who exactly are they targeting?
A thorough analysis of the product will help you identify gaps in your competitors offering. Once you identify the gap on the market, you ca try to fill it with your products. Are there any opportunities on the market for your products?
Look for any affiliate programs they might run. Affiliate programs help spread brand awareness and boost sales.
Another aspect of competitive analysis, especially for tech companies, is to assess what technology they use. You can check it in two ways.
First, there are websites, for example BuiltWith, that will help you discover the technology behind the product.
Secondly, take a look at job listings. Companies will list the stack needed for new hires, including programming language, email marketing services, analytics systems, and much more.
04 Analyze 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.
Another aspect of an SEO competitive analysis is a keyword gap analysis.
A keyword gap is a list of keywords other 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 the competitors’ 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.
Analyse which domains are linking to your competitors’ content. It will give you three pieces of information:
- It’s a checklist of sites which you can ask to replace links to your competitors with content linking to your site,
- It gives you a general idea on what type of content is suitable for link building,
- 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.
05 Analyze 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 rivals 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
Use Brand24 to perform advanced competitive analysis!
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 media monitoring tool will collect mentions from different social media 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:
- 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.
- 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’ products and services or not.
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 points 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.
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 recognisable 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 competitor 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 or product.
Why is social media reach important for competitor analysis?
First of all, the more people see their message the highest brand awareness and possible conversions.
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.
Monitor influencers talking about your competitors
Influencer marketing has been a hot topic for quite some time now and we’re all well aware of that. Influencers are the people who amplify the brand message and get the word out to the masses.
Instagram seems to be the go-to platform these days, but the focus of your influencer marketing efforts is heavily dependant on where your target audience is and who are the leading influencers in your niche on that platform.
That’s an aspect of competitive analysis that can also be supported by media monitoring. Once again, you’ll need to use one of the filters available in the dashboard that will help you separate the wheat from the chaff.
Using this filter, you are going to find who are the influential users talking about your competition and what exactly do they say about them. Obviously, you’re not going to try to approach those who are in love in with your rivals, but chances are there are some of them who had a bad experience and who you’d have a chance to convert to your brand ambassadors.
I am sure a person of nearly 2 million Twitter followers is somewhat influential and some brands might want to co-operate with them.
It might be a little risky considering we’re talking about the Geordie Shore star here, but anyway, if I was doing a social media competitive analysis or simply running social media customer service for one of Ryanair’s competition, I’d surely try to somehow engage him so that the next time he chooses to fly with someone, he flies with the airline I work for and recommends it to his followers.
Explore the context of a discussion
The context of a discussion is a very informative addition to the social media competitive analysis.
Discussions about your rivals are related to a wide variety of topics. Word cloud a.k.a. The context of discussion gives you a comprehensive overview of the words that are used the most frequently in relation to your competitors. We’ll use the example of Ryanair once again:
Strike seems to be the standout word and it indicates that many people are probably disappointed with the cancellations of different flights caused by employees’ strikes. It’s another example of a situation where a competitor might chime in the conversations with an alternative offer.
It seems like there’s nothing here that the competitors might take advantage of, which is bad for them, but great for the Hungarian airline. Nevertheless, it’s well-worth reading those conversations in search of some ideas you could implement yourself, especially considering the fact that you can click on any of the keywords visible, and the tool will display all mentions containing this particular keyword.
06 Put the social media competitive analysis insights into action
Since we’re talking about comparisons, Brand24 allows comparing projects to one another, so when you conduct a social media competitor analysis, you can either compare yourself to various brands or compare them against each other. Once again, I am going to stick with the airline example:
It’s obvious at the first glance there’s a huge difference in the volume of conversations for those two brands. This might be caused by spelling WizzAir correctly, as it’s sometimes written with, and sometimes without the spacing. I only used one of those spellings for the purpose of this blog post, but it still looks like Ryanair gets a lot more mentions both on social and outside social media.
When you scroll down the Comparison tab, you’ll find a detailed diagram representing the Sentimental breakdown and Categories share:
It’s instantly visible that the sentiment for both brands is different. It’s 80% of negative comments regarding Ryanair, and it looks slightly better for WizzAir. However, we must remember about the huge difference in the number of mentions.
What’s also interesting is the difference in percentage for the sources. Twitter is where over 85% of conversations about Ryanair happen, whereas it’s at 50% for Wizzair.
In contrast, TikTok is the second most prominent platform for talks about the Hungarian airline, while it only constitutes 4% of the whole in the case of the Irish airline.
Such differences are a perfect representation of how conversations about different brands are spread across the platforms, and what are the social networks that some of the brands should invest more time in by engaging their customers and potential customers.
Monitor your competitors. Discover their strengths and weaknesses!
07 Understand how competitors market their product
Messaging is a vital part of competitive analytics. Messaging will tell you how a company sees itself, who their ideal customer is, and what are they trying to achieve. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor marketing strategies? Are there any opportunities and threats that could benefit your company?
You have to analyse a range of different mediums, including:
- Their website;
- Social media;
- Ebooks or reports;
- Leaflets, flyers, brochures, and other physical materials;
- Product or service descriptions.
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.
08 Take a look at the 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!
09 Compare the customer experience
A crucial part of your competitor analysis should be focused on customer service. Many established companies that already gained a significant number of clients don’t have time or resources to provide exquisite customer service. That’s a gap you can fill in to distinguish yourself from your competitors.
Another thing you should keep an eye on is any technological innovation your competitors are using. Do they use chatbots to help their clients? Is there a live chat box on their website?
You can use all of these insights to improve your own customer service and gain competitive advantage.
Now that you comprehensively understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to compare key metrics.
By using the social listening tool, you can discover how many mentions your competitors gain, their social media and non-social reach, presence score, AVE, and other metrics.
Let’s compare two competitive brands, Nike and Adidas.
After setting up a monitoring project, I discovered that Nike generates significantly more online mentions than Adidas. In the last 30 days, Nike noted 587,000 mentions while Adidas 230,000.
As a result, Nike generates a wider reach.
X (Twitter) and Instagram are the main sources of mentions.
Now, let’s analyze the share of voice. No doubt, Nike generates much more online buzz than Adidas.
Both Nike and Adidas are perceived positively, but Nike tends to receive slightly more negative mentions than Adidas.
As you can see, comparing competitors brings lots of metrics and insights. You can discover your competitors’ main source of reach and try to invest in these channels. Overall, it will help you understand your market position.
Competitor analysis is essential for digital marketing success. Analyzing your rivals aims to:
- Detect their business strategies and USP,
- Discover the main sources of traffic,
- Detect the most effective sales channels,
- Find out their straightness and weaknesses,
- Benchmark their results to yours.
You can analyze competitors using great tools to speed up the process. For example, Brand24 will help you measure the volume of mentions, social media reach, sentiment, and online presence of your rivals. Start a 14-day free trial!
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