Competition is fierce within marketing. Businesses are constantly trying to outdo one another for market share, brand awareness and customer loyalty. While it can be easy to get over involved in what your competitors are doing, gaining valuable insights into their behaviour is beneficial for your bottom line. Having a deep understanding of how your audience engages with your competitors will put you in the best position to improve your own performance.
You can get insights into virtually any aspect of your competitors’ performance using the right tools and information. It’s important to pick the metrics that make the most difference to your own strategy. Trying to gather too much data can take your focus away from the insights that really matter. So, what is competitor analysis, why is it important, what can you gain and what are four key insights you should have into your competitors?
Why is it important to research your competitors?
Developing an effective marketing strategy often begins with conducting a competitor analysis. Competitor analysis is the process of evaluating your competitors market, products and strategies. It’s a great opportunity to discover your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in different areas of performance. Knowing what your audience does and doesn’t respond well to can help you build solid strategies focused on engagement.
Look closely at what you do that your competitors don’t. What do your competitors do that you don’t? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you establish your unique position in the market. If your competitors’ offering is stronger than yours, you can understand why and what you need to do to achieve similar results. If you identify a strategy your competitors haven’t tapped in to, you can use it to your advantage.
What can you gain from competitor insights?
Regular competitor analysis is essential for keeping track of the progress your competitors are making in the market. Your audience’s needs change so frequently that you have to actively monitor and respond to behaviours to stay ahead of the competition.
You can gain so many insights from conducting competitor analysis:
- Identify market opportunities from gaps in your competitors’ strategies
- Discover industry and audience trends that your competitors are or aren’t using to their advantage
- Create new products and services developed around market successes and audience needs
- Learn how to market and sell your brand more effectively.
It’s easy to get discouraged if your competitors are performing better than your business. Remember that you should never directly compare your business with your competitors. Every brand is unique and audiences will respond differently based on your identity, channels, communication, products or services. Similarly, you shouldn’t always look at the biggest players in your market. Their performance won’t be relative to yours as you have different resources and market share available. Market leaders are great to track for innovative ideas and direction, but it’s important to benchmark yourself against companies that share similar size and resources as you.
You might want to identify your indirect competitors. These are businesses that don’t offer the same products or services as you, but they address the same customer challenges. Look at the alternative solution they provide to your audience’s needs and how effectively it solves their problems. Is there anything more you could be doing to gain customer engagement and sales?
If you’re looking to enter a specific market that your competitors are already in, you can identify whether the move will be effective or not. If your competitors have captured audience attention, you can understand how and why their strategy was effective. If they failed to enter the market successfully, you can understand what they did wrong. Is the audience not viable or did your competitor fail to solve the customers’ pain points effectively?
4 competitor insights that make a difference to your marketing strategy:
There are so many insights you can gain from analysing your competitors. You can look into products, pricing, revenue, geography, share of voice, advertising and customer service to name a few. This list doesn’t include the marketing insights you can gain too. Here are 4 competitor insights into marketing and sales that will make a difference to your strategy:
If your competitors have a high position in the market, it’s clear they’re selling products successfully. They’re likely doing something better than other brands on the market that are encouraging customers to buy their products or services over competitors. You should analyse:
- What does their sales process involve?
- What channels are they using to sell their products?
- What is their annual turnover?
- What is their pricing strategy? Do they offer regular sales and discounts?
- What is their sales followup?
- Are they selling in a number of locations?
This information can be difficult to obtain but you can usually pull it from public sources. Companies House should give you overview information regarding turnover and revenue. If you have an up to date customer relationship management (CRM) system, look at your data regarding your customers’ opinions on your competitors. You should be able to understand why they do or don’t buy from your competitors.
2. Social media
There’s so much information available on social media. You can identify which metrics are the most important to you and set up tracking to monitor them. You can see how fast your competitors’ followers are growing, how often they post, what engagement they get and whether there are opportunities for new digital channels.
- How many followers do they have and how fast are they growing?
- How many likes, comments and shares do they get?
- How often do they post?
- What content do they post?
- Are customers talking about them? Do they use hashtags and mentions?
- Where are they sending audiences? Is it to drive website traffic?
This data can be found manually, but if you’re doing it regularly, this isn’t the most efficient way. Use social media tools like SEMRush, Sprout Social and Buffer to track activity regularly. This could be day to day or month on month depending on what you need to know.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the most telling metrics you can track. You can learn how well competitors’ strategies work depending on the traffic and engagement they gain to site. You can identify opportunities your competitors aren’t using, or improve your own.
You should look closely at:
- The amount of website traffic they get
- The quality of website traffic they get
- Where do their searches come from?
- How many backlinks do they have?
- Which keywords do they use?
- What’s their top-performing content?
SEMRush is one of the best sources for this information. You can track all of your competitors easily. All the data is in one place and can be pulled from any date range. You can monitor changes in their rankings and if there are any effective keywords you could also try to rank for.
There’s a lot of insight to be gained from analysing your competitors’ content strategies. You can understand how much effort they’re putting into their marketing, the value they’re providing and if there are gaps you can fill with your own content.
- Do they write a blog?
- How often do they post?
- What topics do they create content around?
- Do they create videos?
- Do they have a podcast?
- Do post up to date case studies with visuals?
- Do they write guest blogs and have guest blogging opportunities on their own site?
This information can be found manually by searching on your competitors’ digital platforms. You can see which types of content are the most effective, or ineffective, and if there’s an opportunity to make your content even better.
Competitor insights are invaluable to your marketing strategy. They give you the information you need to develop a strong strategy that delivers results. You can evaluate your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and how your business can improve to get ahead. You can tap into market opportunities no others have and develop audience engagement that moves your business forward.