How (and Why) to do Competitive Analysis
You know the ins and outs of your business, what drives your customers to your site, and what kind of problems you can help solve for them. But can you say the same thing about your competitors?
Knowing what they do and how they help their business achieve success can seem daunting, especially when you consider that their data can be hard to get. You may worry that, in the end, you’ll be left with more questions than answers. But it doesn’t have to be.
Conducting a competitive analysis—a deep dive into major competitors to learn about their products, sales, and marketing tactics—can give you the information needed to identify opportunities to outperform them and grow your client base. On top of that, it will also help you stay up to date on industry trends, uncover holes in the market, and ensure your work is meeting (and, hopefully, exceeding) industry standards.
While the reasoning makes sense, you may still be asking yourself how you actually conduct competitive analysis. Don’t worry; we’re here to show you how.
Table of contents
Determine who your competitors are and what products they offer
This seems like an obvious first step in your competitive analysis, but as with anything, there are some caveats to keep in mind. Make sure you’re looking at direct and indirect competitors. While direct competitors conduct work or provide services that mirror yours, indirect competitors may be solving a customer’s problem with a different product.
You’ll also want to consider who your aspirational competitors are—the businesses or organizations in your target market who you think really get it, who you want to be more like. Diving into their business will help you learn the lessons you need to steer any future strategies you create down the path to success you’re looking for.
Gather background information
There are a few different tools that you can use to conduct this research (like Semrush for their top ranking keywords), but oftentimes, you’ll get the best idea of their work and tactics from just browsing through the site. This way, you’re putting yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer to get the full user experience of the site. What offers do they have (if any)? How often are they publishing new content, and how helpful is it?
Some of the things you should look at and the competitive analysis questions you should be asking yourself are:
- Brand messaging and their mission statement: Is there a key term or phrase they use throughout their site?
- Keyword research: How do you stack up against your competitors for keywords related to your products or services? What terms do your competitors rank for that you don’t (and vice versa)?
- Company history: How does this background add to their authority?
- Blog and/or news content: What information are they sharing with prospects and customers? What’s their cadence for publishing new content?
- Content offers: What types of content are they offering? Is it gated and, therefore, a lead generation opportunity?
- Products and pricing: How are the products and services they offer similar or different from yours? Is their pricing competitive? Does the breakdown target different segments or customers?
- Website design and user experience: Is their design modern and engaging, or could it use a refresh? Are the elements on their site dynamic, or do they rely on static pictures and text? How is their page load speed? Are you able to easily find the information you want, or do you have to dig around?
- Social media platforms: Similar to blog or news content, what type of information are they sharing, and how often? Do they have a mix of owned and third-party content?
- Customer service experiences: What resources do they have for those that might need help? Is there a form, live chat, or chatbot on their site? Is there a knowledge base or FAQ section that’s easily accessible?
- Advertisements: What types of ads do they use, and what offers do they contain? Are they only using social media or Google ads? Are they text only, or do they utilize photos or videos?
By looking at these business characteristics holistically to see how they all work together, you’ll be able to better understand what works and what doesn’t.
Analyze their strengths and weaknesses
One of the last steps you’ll take is summarizing all of your findings. You’ve probably done this to some extent, but now is the time to dig in and determine what’s working and what isn’t. By doing so, you’ll start to create the foundation for your new strategy and put what you’ve learned into play. You don’t want to copy exactly what others are doing, but building a strong bridge between your customer’s needs and your services will allow you to market to them better.
A strategic partner can help
With your new strategy in hand, you can start making the changes you need to meet your marketing goals. Other tools will help you get started as well. At Raka, for example, our free website grader will give you insight in seconds on what you should focus your time and energy on. From there, you’ll have the option to meet with our team of digital marketing and web development experts to receive actionable next steps to improve your website based on your scores.