Do you really know your competitors?
How to carry out a competitor analysis
Understanding your competitors, who they are and what they are up to, is a vital part of any marketing strategy and a thorough competitor analysis can provide important intelligence to help better position your company within the market and uncover areas of improvement within your brand.
But when did you last carry out a full analysis of your competitors?
It's good practice to regularly browse a couple of your known competitors’ websites and follow their Instagram profiles to examine what they’ve been up to, but it might not be providing you with the in-depth intelligence that is so vital to ensure you are keeping ahead of the game and not being left behind in the marketplace.
Why is a competitor analysis important?
Keeping abreast of your competitors’ activities is essential for directing your marketing strategy. A competitor analysis can help you identify what they are doing well and the potential threats to your business. It will also allow you to identify opportunities and take advantage of gaps in their approach to help you maintain your position at the top or to obtain more market share.
Spending some time researching your competitors will allow you to:
Adapt your own marketing strategy to become more efficient and effective
Identify market opportunities
Feed your product and service development
Keep on top of market trends
So how do you carry out an effective competitor analysis? We are sharing our top tips for carrying out a thorough analysis of your competitors. But first things first, do you even know who your competitors are?
Most businesses will already be aware of their main competitors, but if you’ve not carried out an analysis recently then it’s a good idea to check that there are no new players within the market that could be a seen as a potential threat. In addition, recognise that your competitors could be directly competing with you in terms of selling the same services and products, but could also be offering something different to the same audience that serves the same purpose.
Once you have established your full list you can get dug into the research!
Competitor general information
LinkedIn is often a good place to carry out an analysis of the employee base of a company. Visit their company profile page to view the number of employees on LinkedIn. Although not always accurate, as it depends on the employee to update their personal profile, it can often give a good indication. You can also find out the distribution by team and whether they’ve invested in certain areas of the business resulting in a stronger output, for example do they have a large business development team to draw in sales?
Location is not always relevant and depends on the industry and business type, but geographical presence can have a profound effect on customer acquisition. If your competitor has multiple office locations across the country, or even internationally, they may be winning more market share with customers local to their locations, despite your ability to provide a national service.
You can find where your competitors operate via their website, and if they don’t have multiple locations, then it’s a good idea to note the messaging they are using to promote a national or even international service.
Businesses that have been around for a long time tend to highlight the fact. Looking into how they’ve evolved, whether they are stagnant in their approach or have moved with the times can offer some excellent insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
You will know your products and services inside out but analysing how your competitors are marketing their products is important in driving your overall marketing strategy.
Make a note of the products and services they are offering; how do they differ from yours? What messaging are they using to highlight the benefits and do these benefits resonate with the market more than yours?
Maybe they are offering additional products or services that you don’t, or vice versa. Do they target another audience that you are currently missing out on?
What do their customers really think?
Analysing reviews of your competitors from their customers can offer some useful insight into what they are doing well and not so well. Analysing their customers’ feedback will reveal their weaknesses and provide an opportunity for your business to pick up on their slack and potentially even acquire their customers!
It's likely your competitor will feature mainly positive reviews and testimonials on their website and across their other communication channels, so where else can you find what their customers really think? Below are some of the most commonly used platforms for reviews, however this will greatly depend on your industry and associated forums. So have a search for [Company Name Reviews] on the major search engines and get digging!
In addition, take a look at if they respond to their reviews, be it to good or bad feedback. This is a good indication of their customer service. Responding to bad reviews is an amazing opportunity to turn a customer around and even build strong brand loyalty - if they are ignoring the bad then this can be seen as a weakness in their customer service approach.
Awards & Accreditations
Have they received awards for their products and services? These will usually be listed on their website. These may be helping boost their credibility - perhaps it could be worth engaging in awards and accreditations as part of your strategy going forward if you aren’t already.
Have a look at your competitors’ websites - what are your first impressions? Is it instantly clear what they do? Do they offer clear navigation?
Reviewing your competitors’ websites is a good tactic to gain insight into their overall marketing strategy. A well designed and responsive website that offers excellent user experience will indicate quality to their audience and help them with future customer acquisition. Write down what they are doing well and not so well. What plugins are they using? Are they using live chat and providing clear case studies of their work?
In addition, review how they appear within search results for the keywords you compete for. If they rank higher than you do or if they are always at the top as a result of their Google Ads, it might be time to think about investing in your SEO or PPC strategy to make sure you don’t miss out.
Their social media presence & strategy
Social media presence and audience engagement is a strong indicator of a brands strength, as well as their investment in marketing. Have a look at the platforms they are using, are there any platforms you should be appearing on that you aren’t currently? How large is their follower base and how engaged are their followers (likes, mentions, shares)? Are they posting more frequently than you are? What type of content are they sharing on each platform and what gets the best engagement? Finally, are they reaching an audience that you are missing out on through paid social?
How much content are they producing? And how frequently are they sharing with their audience?
Reviewing your competitors’ content strategy can reveal some of their lead generation strategies and can also be a good indicator of how much resource they are putting into their content.
The quality of their content is also important to review, if the content is frequent but poor quality then this could be a weakness for them that you can utilise on to your advantage.
It’s also beneficial to review the channels they are using to share their content and the engagement they are receiving from their audience.
Have a look at the news and blog sections of your competitors’ websites, as well as their social media channels. If they’ve been featured (positively) in particular publications or news articles, the chance is they will have shouted about it at some point. This can provide some great insight into the types of news stories that journalists feel are worthy to share with their readers, which can help feed your PR & comms plan moving forward.
Using the news section of search engines can also shed light on mentions of your competitors in the news. There are several tools that can also help trawl the internet for coverage and mentions of your business as well as your competitors’. Mention is a good example of a relatively cheap tool for tracking online mentions of your competitors across social media, reviews site, forums, blogs, and the rest of the web. Google Alerts is another great free tool to use.
For each competitor it can help to develop a SWOT analysis to summarise the points above which will allow you to compare their weaknesses against your strengths and vice versa so you can better understand your position in the market and adapt your marketing strategy and plans accordingly.
We understand that resource isn’t always be available to carry out a thorough competitor analysis, but we are here to help! We’ve worked with several of our clients to provide a full competitor report including actionable insights to help adapt and develop future marketing strategies.
Chat with us to see how we can help you.