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Competitive Analysis: How Your Competitors Help You With Digital Marketing

Jean Camille Silva

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Smart methodology and effective competitive analysis help you get the upper hand in SEO ranking, content marketing and social media. What is competitive analysis and what does it do for you?

Businesses, no matter how small or large, share one common predicament– competitors. How do you beat your competitors? By knowing and understanding them.

A lot of clients still don’t understand the importance of knowing their competitors. How do you win a battle if you don’t even know who and what you’re up against?

Knowing your competitors leads to understanding how they work. A competitive analysis uncovers who your competitors are, what they do and where you stand with them.

“Failure to build a strategy that considers your competition will ultimately lead to a failing web marketing strategy overall. Web marketing is a race that can be won. You just have to know what it takes to win it.”

– Search Engine Journal

What is Competitive Analysis?

Competitive analysis is a critical part of a marketing plan. It is a strategic technique used to evaluate your competitors and how your business compares to them. With this evaluation, you can determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to your business. It’s not done with a quick trip to their websites. You analyse their presence all over the web, what campaign and strategy they are doing and how well they perform.

Competitive Analysis and Digital Marketing

Marketers using laptop on round table gathering data

Knowing your competitors is an important part of building a successful digital marketing campaign. You identify your direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer similar products or services as you do to a shared audience. Indirect competitors offer different products or services but can still cater to the needs of your customers and use the same key phrases.

Analyse their campaigns and strategies. Compare their strengths against your weaknesses and vice versa. Based on the information, you formulate a digital marketing plan to give your company an advantage.

Competitive Analysis on SEO

Competitive analysis helps in planning your organic and paid search strategy. Information on the keywords targeted by your competitors and thorough knowledge on their search traffic work to your advantage as you formulate your campaign.

Identifying keywords you share with your competitors is as important as looking at the ones you don’t. You can determine which keywords to prioritise and which to let go.

Competitive Content Marketing Analysis

Most digital content are available for public viewing. You have a bird’s eye view to see what your competitors’ content strategies look like. You don’t need to plagiarise their content. You just need to start looking. Get ideas. How does their published content engage your shared audience? How can you do the same or do better than them?

By gathering competitive intelligence, you can start predicting the course of your key competitors. This allows you to utilise gaps in their strategies, which your business can fill.

Why Run a Competitive Analysis: In Summary

  • Competitive analysis gives you a broader idea of what your competitors are doing. In which area they excel, those they don’t and everything in between.
  • You get factual data about how well their campaigns and strategy perform.
  • You can compare your website performance— website responsiveness, load times, server performance, etc.
  • You can compare the topics, tactics and channels affecting you and your competitors’ performance.
  • Competitive Analysis How Your Competitors Help You With Digital Marketing

  • Discover opportunities to outperform your competitors by using your strengths against their weaknesses.
  • Likewise, you can also fill the gap in areas where they are stronger than you.
  • By keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing, you stay updated on new tactics and strategies.
  • Benchmarking against your competitors may explain the sudden increase and drop in conversions on your website in comparison to your competitors’.
  • You’ll be able to formulate goals and strategies based on factual data instead of assumptions and gut feelings.

How to Run a Competitive Analysis

1. Identify your competitors.

The amount of competitors you need for the analysis depends on the level of competitiveness in your industry. If your business is in a more niche industry you can research on fewer. As a rule of thumb, analyse at least three competitors.

It’s a wide battlefield out there. Anyone ranking for your keywords is a clear competition, whether or not they offer the same products or services that you do. Run keyword searches to find out which businesses and websites are holding the top spots and which competitors are investing in PPC.

2. Gather data.

For a successful competitive analysis, you must identify the right marketing KPIs and metrics to track. RACE or Reach, Act, Convert and Engage is a marketing framework created by Smart Insights. You can use RACE as a guide for your data gathering for your competitive analysis.

RACE Marketing Funnel Infographic by Smart Insights

Source: Smart Insights

Reach

Reach involves brand awareness. Gather information on your competitors’ big numbers. Track your competitor’s online performance and audience growth across different social media channels. Brand search trend analysis should also be done. Compare traffic sources and volume of searches you and your competitors are getting.

Act

Act involves interactions on websites and social media. Gather data on how your competitors generate leads. Analyse your competitors’ websites in a customer’s point of view. Compare landing pages and see if the websites are easy to navigate and responsive on different devices.

Convert

Discover how your competitors perform in the conversion stage. Gather data on their strategy to convert leads to sales. Track their on-site messaging and determine if it reflects their paid advertising. Review your competitor’s ad copy and ad extensions. This is important, especially for eCommerce sites.

Engage

How are your competitors engaging with your shared audience? Collect information on your competitor’s content and social media strategy. What social media platforms are they using and how many followers they have. Gather data on the content distribution of your competitors. How frequent do they post content and in which channels? Tracking how many social shares or content engagement your competitors get is also important.

We provided a list of tools below to help you in gathering data for your metrics.

3. Analyse data and formulate a plan.

With the gathered information, analyse how your competitors are performing. You can do a SWOT analysis to determine you and your competitors’ strong and weak points.

Action plan drawn on board

Analyse the data thoroughly and look for gaps your competitors are not paying attention to. It gives you an opportunity to do something different to attract more audience. Identify areas for improvement and work out your weak points before your competitors can take advantage.

With this analysis, you discover what tactics are working on the industry that you can start or keep doing and which are not. Formulate a digital campaign or strategy with competitive and SWOT analysis in mind. This competitive analysis template from Hootsuite may help you in analyzing the data you’ve gathered.

Tools for Competitive Analysis

The following analysis tools can help you gather and track data you need to run a competitive analysis.

Google Trends

Google Trends compares search trend data among different brands. You can use Google Trends to compare and analyse specific products.

Advanced Web Ranking

Advanced Web Ranking lets you discover your top competitors in the search engine result pages (SERPs). It allows you to compare websites ranking reports side-by-side.

QuickSprout

QuickSprout helps you learn about sites similar to yours. This tool determines SEO score, Estimated Traffic Score and social network share score of your competitors.

SEMrush

SEMrush conducts competitive research on any domain name. It provides real-time insights on search engine result pages (SERPs) and keywords.

Similar Web

Similar Web allows you to analyse multiple areas of your competitor’s strategy. It provides data on your competitor’s estimated traffic in the last 6 months from all channels. This tool also gives you an insight into your competitor’s traffic sources.

Keyword Competitor

With Keyword Competitor, you discover your competitor’s organic and paid keywords with a preview of their ads and landing pages. It shows you keyword opportunities that your competitors are ignoring.

Rank Signals

Rank Signals is a backlink checker tool that uncovers the SEO backlinks and traffic sources of your competitors. It provides a dashboard of how many unique backlinks your competitor’s site has and it’s social network strength.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo identifies the most shared content for a given topic or competitor. It gives an insight on social shares each content has generated over time.

Brandwatch

Brandwatch Analytics allows you to monitor your competitor’s social media output. With this tool, you can track all mentions of your competitors across the web.

Prisync

Prisync is an eCommerce competitive tool that tracks the prices and stock availability information of your competitors. It provides the details of the products or services’ prices and availability in a comprehensive dashboard.

Competitive Analysis is the First Step to Success

Every business should never overlook their competitors. Your business must be doing good based on your analytic reports but do you know if you’re doing better than your competitors?

Keep up with your competitors, or do better. Formulate an effective strategy to match and beat them. Data from your competitive analysis helps you establish SMART goals, strategies and tactics.

Competitive analysis is the first step towards success. It provides useful information– a weapon you can use to win against competitors.

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