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How to do a competitor analysis?

A man analyzing some document with a blue pen to do a competitor analysis
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In today’s economic climate, most businesses prefer to focus on internal strategies rather than external strategies, such as conducting competitor analysis to initiate business growth and profitability. When last did you go out there to see how your competitors run their businesses?

Most businesses have never even done a competitive analysis to determine who their competitors are.

And even in cases where this has is done, the odds are that it is barely carried out efficiently?

What competitor analysis template did they use?

Most business owners are not sure of what a competitive analysis is.

However, for those that are quite unsure of what it is, they would have performed a minor competitor analysis without knowing it.

If you once got online to see how a similar company/brand like yours handled their business, you may have done what is professionally known as “competitive analysis” in business circles.

However, it would take more than several minutes to browse websites and sift through social media posts.

Also to see how your competitors are moving their enterprises forward.

What is a competitive analysis?

Competitive analysis is a branch of strategic research that businesses undertake to collect.

And review organizational and formulaic information about competitors.

Competitive analysis is also known as competitive research.

It involves finding out the current affairs of your competitors.

Insights obtained from this research then used to improve specific areas in the company.

What is competitor analysis in marketing?

If you were performing a competitive analysis for your brand, you would execute a business strategy to identify your primary competitors.

And conduct research on their products, marketing, and sales strategies.

When you do this, you can create robust business plans that are an improvement of that of your competitors.

When you conduct competitive analysis, you become informed about the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

This analysis further helps you to perform a SWOT analysis on competitors.

The SWOT analysis identifies your competitor’s strong points, weak points, opportunities, and the threat they face.

The SWOT analysis exposes a gray area that your competitors might have.

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This will help you develop your business strategy around this area to develop a better marketing strategy or product than your competitors.

Competitor analysis in marketing helps your internal strategic management.

It helps your business as it enables you to create a defensive and offensive strategy to become a leading and authority brand in your chosen industry.

This is significant in making organizational progress in today’s often crowded and competitive marketplace.

Then again, it is not usually enough to know your competitor’s products.

Due to the advancement of the field of information technology, business owners.

And marketers can get more information and insights about their main business rivals than previously possible.

Comprehensive analysis

For your brand to be ahead of the competition and be relevant to a specific marketplace, it is always essential to conduct a comprehensive analysis.

You need not attend a Harvard or an Oxford University to understand the essence of knowing what your competitors are up to from time to time.

Competitor analysis should be a significant part of the corporate strategy of every business and brand out there.

Technically, experts believe most companies do not systemically conduct this form of analysis well enough.

Instead, many companies and brands work on what is refer to as “unconfirmed impressions, guesswork, assumptions, and feelings obtained from the insufficient information from a trusted source.”

To effectively go about competitor analysis the right way, it is essential to the following things.

  1. Know how to select the right set of competitors to analyze. Depending on your industry, you could pick the top ten closest rival businesses that are similar to your brand.
  2. Choose the best areas of their businesses (such as products, promotions strategies, customer engagement, etc.) and analyze them. At this point, no one expects you to investigate an entire business! It is a simple time waster and eats up your budget.
  3. You should be well informed about where to get the correct information/data.
  4. Know how to apply information obtained from your analysis to grow your business as a brand in the market place.

Some benefits of Competitor Analysis in Marketing

All businesses and brands can gain useful insights about their competitors when they perform frequent competitor analysis.

If a company or brand conducts a practical competitor analysis, they can:

  • Discover marketplace gaps
  • Create new and competitive services and products.
  • Unearth useful market trends
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of rival brands.
  • Replan its marketing and sales strategy to improve market penetration.

In business circles, brands adopt competitive frameworks to optimize their presence in their niche markets.

One of such competitive structures includes conducting a SWOT analysis of their top potential competitors.

This framework is beneficial to business owners, entrepreneurs, marketers, start-up founders, and product managers.

Most brands technically conduct their competitor analysis when they are about to launch a product.

The study involves business metrics, marketing assessment, and product(s) analysis.

The marketing part of this framework is often very deep in scope.

However, depending on the maturity/financial power of a business, its implementation varies across all brands.

Regardless of the nature of your business or the type of products you have.

To implement the framework, you could have a thoroughly developed product, an idea for a product, or any other competitive business strategy.

How to do a competitor analysis?

1). Find out who your primary are competitors

The first part of researching your competitors is to discover who are your close rivals.

If you were going to compare your brand to competitors, focus on your direct rivals.

That is, they should cover the same geographical location as you while offering similar products.

This distinction is a concept that most businesses approach wrongly.

In this context, direct competitors for Airtel Africa would be MTN, Globacom, 9Mobile, Orange, etc.

Then its indirect competitors would be T-Mobile, AT & T, Sprint, Metro PCS, TIM, Verizon Wireless, Deutsche Telekom AG, Telenor ASA, Telefonica S.A, Vodafone, America Movil, Jio, and so on.

Of course, it can be seen that all these brands offer similar services; however, they are separated geographically.

This would mean that Airtel Africa would not want to waste any part of their time analyzing the business practices of Jio, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, or any other mobile operator in a different geographical location.

However, this analysis does not mean that you should completely throw indirect competitors out of the window.

It would be best if you prepared to welcome some indirect competitors within your business zone as more businesses aspire to expand their geographical coverage.

Because your chosen niche market can change at any given time, you should routinely carry out an extensive competitor analysis.

If you do not scope out the competitive terrains of your niche market, you could be left behind.

And watch new bigger competitors come along and snatch off your little piece of market share.

2). Get more information about your competitors’ products/services

The core of every business is the service or product they offer.

When running the SWOT analysis of your direct competitors, one right place to begin is their product.

It is recommend that you research and study the entire product range offered by your competitors.

Furthermore, you should also check the quality of the services or products provided.

See how they price their products and notice their approaches towards promotions/discounts.

While doing this, you should ask yourself some critical questions such as:

  • Do they provide high or low-cost products?
  • Do they offer single purchases or volume sales?
  • What share of the market do they control?
  • What are the pain points and demographics of their customers?
  • How does their pricing strategy differ from other brands like yours?
  • What sets this company apart from other businesses like yours?
  • What method do they employ to get their services/products out to customers?

3). Research the sales strategies and results of your competitors

It can be quite challenging to research your competitor’s sales strategy, even when they may be geographically close to your business.

  • How do they organize their sales processes?
  • What preferred channel(s) do they use for sales?
  • Does this competitor have several outlets and does this benefit them in any way?
  • Is the company scaling down or expanding its operations?
  • Are they using reselling partners to get their products out there?
  • When they lose customers, what is the reason behind this?
  • What is their yearly revenue and cumulative sales volume?
  • Does this competitor regularly give out discounted services or products?
  • What is the level of influence of a salesperson in the selling of their products?

When you asked such questions, you would be able to get useful information from rival businesses to boost your internal strategies.

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You could quickly get some useful insights from publicly owned companies.

Private enterprises will have to go on an “information gathering” mission to come up with valuable details.

4). Study the product marketing strategy of your competitors

One excellent method of studying the move made by your competitors is to check their websites to see how they market and promote their products.

  • Does this company operate a blog?
  • Also, does their online platform contain webinars or videos?
  • Does this competitor use podcasting as a promotional tool?
  • Do they employ non-dynamic visual contents like cartoons and infographics?
  • Is there an FAQ section on their website?
  • Do they have featured articles on their website?
  • What method of promotion to they adopt?

5). Observe the content strategy been adopted by your competitor

Once more, it would help if you looked at the number of items on your competitor’s website.

How many blog posts are on their blog/website?

Do they create eBooks and white papers?

In the next phase, find out the frequency at which these contents get posted.

Do they publish new contents monthly or weekly?

How often do they release a new case study or eBook?

Perhaps, if your competitor has a substantial archive for their content, they regularly publish content.

Depending on what these archives contain, you could find useful information about how they generate their sales leads.

Furthermore, it would help if you advanced to research their content quality.

Thus, if the content lacks any real quality, their prospective audience will never find this useful.

To help you better manage this process, you should review a few samples instead of just going through everything.

When choosing samples, choose pieces from a wide variety of subject matters to reasonably understand what your competitor distributes to its audience.

Use this question to study the content of your competitor:

  • Check the accuracy of their content.
  • Does their writing contain grammatical or spelling errors?
  • What is the technical depth of their content?
  • What is their tone of communication?
  • How are their content structured?
  • Do readers opt-in to access these contents, or are they free?
  • Who is responsible for writing the company’s website content?
  • Do they add a bio or by-line to written articles?

6). Understand how the competitor’s content use to engage their customers

To know how your competitors use their content to get their readers involved, you need to examine how their prospective audience reacts to their posts.

Observe the number of responses, comments, likes, and shares on the competitor’s content.

You need to research if:

  • The most essential subject matters/topics that their audience is most interested in.
  • Check to see the tone of the comments; are they positive, negative, or mixed comments.
  • Check to see which topics people tweet about the most.
  • Research, their Facebook, updates to see specific content that readers respond more to. Most readers prefer to engage brands on Facebook. You could also check Instagram and Twitter to check for useful insights.
  • Research to see how your competitors categorize their web content by using tags. Check the type of social media buttons (share, like, and follow buttons) attached to each content. These buttons are to enhance engagement activities with readers.

7). Analyze Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques

If your business rivals post similar content, frequently get the contents updated, and create high-quality content, you may want to take a closer look to see how they do things differently.

It could be their search engine optimization (SEO).

For those whose businesses depend on their blogs, they know the importance of SEO.

If you are analyzing the type of content generated by your competitors, you might check their SEO.

With the introduction of updated algorithms such as Google’s BERT, many search engines have optimized to understand customer’s search intentions.

These days, you no longer guaranteed of high website search rank by stuffing random keywords in your posts.

Rather than imitating your competitors with their SEO strategies, try to improve on their failures.

You would conduct a SWOT analysis to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their SEO strategies. It could be beneficial for your competitors’ analysis.

One right way to improve on what your competitor has done is to research their published content.

Trading in cryptocurrencies

If they have a post that explains seven tricks on how to make money from trading in cryptocurrencies, perhaps you should try something which shares either ten or eleven tips to trading in cryptocurrencies.

Thus, the aim here is not to copy them, but to one-up them.

If they have search results of topics on bitcoins that are irrelevant and outdated, you should try to outrank this article by creating a more updated article on bitcoin for your brand.

Do they have the names of leading stockbrokers that miss more famous people?

Does the post have a featured preview into the article?

Do they have the right keywords for each post?

Check their pictures, are the images exciting and appealing?

Is there an infographic to help engage their readers?

If you analyze the post’s strengths and weaknesses, you should be able to do better than what failed.

If you carefully analyze your competitor’s contents, you should spot several shortcomings and gaps.

Then get your professional and creative team to improve on these voids.

Then again, from the perspective of SEO, you should focus on two essential elements:

These are the keywords that help their web content rank and the backlinks they use.

When you check the keywords, it will make you know which types of search terms bring visitors and sales.

The insight you get from this can also help you craft your unique keyword and SEO strategy.

The backlinks will help you show what more established website in your market place is used to link to their website.

These links will also be useful to associate your business with these brands.

Analyzing your competitor’s SEO strategies is one of the essential aspects of your competitors’ analysis.

There are several rank tracking tools to see the keywords which your competitors rank for.

You can check their website to see the list of keywords that make them rank higher.

You should note down the most popular search keywords.

This can use to craft your SEO strategy.

Then again, you do not stop at one competitor.

You want to develop a superior and leading SEO strategy.

One that is a force to reckon within your industry.

Therefore, you should repeat this same procedure for every other competitor; you should check their traffic number as well as their keywords.

Furthermore, there are several tools that you can use to study your competitor’s backlinks.

Use these tools to run an analysis to see how their backlinks work in comparison to yours.

Using backlinks for your website can help you link to useful industry websites that will become useful to your website’s backlink profile.

8). Check to see how their marketing contents promoted

Your competitive analysis should include a study of their adopted promotion strategy.

You can use the following questions to focus on and prioritize your competitors use for their market promotion strategy.

  • What keywords do the competitors use that you are yet to make use of yourself?
  • Which one of their contents gets highly linked and shared? How do you compare your content?
  • What social media website does your prospective audience use?
  • What other websites have backlinks to the website of your competitors, but are they not yours?
  • And what other people share your competitors posts?
  • What other people are referring to your competitor’s website traffic?
  • What is the difficulty level of the keywords you are focusing on? Just in case you are wondering how best to do this, the good news here is that you have multiple free tools (as well as the paid tools) that will comprehensively evaluate the search engine optimization (SEO) technique of your competitor.

9). Check their social media strategies and activities

Further to checking their activities on their blogs/websites, you may want to check how your competitors execute their social media promotion strategies as well as their level of engagement with their audience.

Check how they move their brand engagement by using social media.

Understand the different share buttons that they use with every article.

Do they have active links to their various social media platforms by way of headers, footers, or anywhere else in the post?

Are social media

Are buttons visible to you?

Is there any calls-to-action prompts used that make their readers want to engage with them using these buttons?

If you use a social media platform that you are yet to establish your presence on, you may want to see how this may also enhance your business activities.

If you’re going to check whether a new social media website is useful to you, check that of your competitors to see their engagement level.

But before you do this, you will have to check one of the underlisted social media platforms to check for your competitors’ presence:

  • Facebook
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Once you do checking their presence on social media platforms, you can then observe the following quantitative elements on every platform:

Check out social media

  • The number of fans/followers they have.
  • How often they post new articles and how consistent they are.
  • The level of engagement on each posted content (Do their readers share their posts or leave comments).
  • Check the virality of each content (You should check the number of repins, retweets, and shares that they get for each post).

You should check their social media content in a similar way that you would check their blog contents as well as their marketing strategy.

Check to see the type of content they post.

Are the competitors focusing on getting people to visit their landing pages, leading to new leads?

Are your competitors using visual contents such as flash videos, infographics, interactive images to enhance engagement and optimize brand awareness?

Furthermore, you should check to see the originality of their contents.

Check whether they share other web content.

Again, check to see the overall tone of the posted contents.

It would help if you observed how they communicate with their social media followers.

Also, note how often their followers engage with their social media content.

The presence of companies on social media is increasingly becoming significant for sustainable business growth.

Communications

And every company has unique ways in which they use their social media platforms.

These platforms are ideal for communicating with fans and users.

Furthermore, most businesses use their social media websites to share their web content.

It would help if you studied how your competitors integrate their social media techniques with their marketing mechanisms.

These are all essential elements that you should keep an eye out for when checking your competitor’s social media platforms’ level of engagement.

You should note their activities to see what they are not doing.

Just because they are on the platform does not always mean that they are doing the right thing.

It would also help if you learned what they are doing better to improve your own social media strategy.

10). Performing a comprehensive SWOT ANALYSIS on your competitors

The SWOT analysis involves checking the overall strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your competitors.

It is important to note that the SWOT analysis is a dominant theme when performing competitive analysis.

When you evaluate every single component in your competitive analysis (marketing, sales, online, and offline business strategies), you should often perform a simple SWOT analysis simultaneously.

Performing SWOT analysis involves assigning grades to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your competitors.

A specific metric system is to determine their overall grade in each area.

It would help if you used the following questions to get started on this:

  • What part of their business do they excel at? (Products, adverts and promotions, social media engagement, content marketing, YouTube marketing and promotions, podcasts, and so on)
  • What advantage does your competitor have over your business?
  • What areas do you believe that your competitors are weak in?
  • In what area do you have an advantage over the competitors?
  • What areas can they improve on?
  • In what areas do they feel like a threat to your business?
  • Have your competitor recently identified any new market opportunities>

Doing this will help you contrast your strengths and weaknesses to that of the competitor.

The results that you get from this critical analysis can then use to recreate a superior strategy to reposition your brand/business as a dominant force in your marketplace.

Checking to see how your business currently measures up with the competitors.

Before you compare your brand with other businesses out there, you should create a baseline.

This baseline can also use in the performing of SWOT analysis.

You should objectively access the marketing, sales, and overall business strategy of your brand with the same branding metrics you use to evaluate your competitor.

11). Find areas in your business that need improvement

After you finally concluding your close rivals’ business analysis, you are now better informed about their operations and strategies.

So, you should analyze every information obtained from your competitors and find specific areas within your enterprise that need improvement.

When you do this, you will find out that you can perform better in terms of content creation, SEO, and customer engagement on social media.

Furthermore, you can establish your business as an authoritative and dominant force with your target customers, subscribers/readers of your blogs, and your social media followers.

Now, you should get started conducting your marketing analysis of rival brands.

While this may be unknown to you, a recent study shows that modern-day marketplaces are fast changing into crowded, competitive, and aggressive environments.

Thus, businesses that are to slow to adopt new trends and innovate will force them to shut down.

With the current “innovate or sink” world of commerce that we operate in, there is never a better time to perform a competitive analysis of your close business rivals frequently.

When you understand their strengths and weaknesses, you would have an idea of your chances.

Nowadays, enterprises believe that if they know their business rivals’ strengths and weaknesses, they are one step ahead of the competition.

The best way to make your business as a leading brand in your industry is, to begin with, your competitors’ research.

Next, you can then strategize with your team to see how you can make your business stand out of the crowd, rank higher, and regard as the best choice in your chosen niche market.

Conclusion

You should know that key competitor analysis is not to tag your business rivals as enemies or steal their strategies.

It is primarily use to analyze the position of your business in your chosen niche market.

It helps you to develop new opportunities for improving your product and making them stand out.

Finally, it is always better to focus on your customer base and closing the gaps between market demand and supply rather than worry about what other brands do.

This is what competitor analysis means – looking for new ways of providing superior services for the customer.