How to Conduct Competitive Analysis

There are many ways to learn how to beat your competitor. Most take time, patience and analysis. Here are some ideas on how to conduct competitive analysis. The concept of Competitive Analysis is not to criticise your competitors. Or scoff at their inadequacies. But learn and find those tiny opportunities where you can make the most out of.

Who are your competitors?

Many companies think that they already know about their competitors. And they believe there are very few of them. Indeed, in their experience, no more than ten serious players.

In the vast majority of cases, this situation is wrong, and your market is changing all the time. This sort of thinking gets in the way you are looking to the future. There will always new entrants to the market and others leaving the sector. Likely, your biggest future problem competitor’s founder is still at school. 

Google your industry sector, and you will see who your primary competitors are. And who are spending money on Google advertising? You will also see many red herrings, blogs and magazines about your industry. The industry influencers and platforms. Then take a look at social media, forums and blogs. Understand what they think your competitors are. 

Look at their website

I have to say that the website is never the first thing we look at when conducting a Competitor Analysis. And that not because most are complete rubbish as clearly, some are very good. We find looking at a competitor’s website makes it too easy to accept what they are is what the website tells you. 

Find out who they are first and then look at the website and see how things differ from reality. Go to their offices, factories or public-facing operations. Get a feel for them. Watch and listen. Understand what they do. Looking at the website ask if reality matches what they say about themselves. Determine if their website is mobile friendly and fast. Are your competitors regularly updating their site, or is it getting old and stale? How fresh is the blog content? Is it so old they are welcoming in the millennium?

You can monitor a competitors website to a code level. Some CI software lets you know when a single piece of code has changed. So price changes and new pages are child’s play. Ask:

  • Is their website a user-friendly interface? Can you quickly easily navigate through their website?
  • Is it correctly SEOed?
  • A modern design?
  • Are there clear calls to action? Where are they placed?
  • Is clear and obvious what they do?
  • Is their tone of voice consistent?
  • Anything you can improve on?
  • How in-depth are their product descriptions? What information is missing?
  • What promotions are they running? What discount offers are they providing?
  • How are they trying to up-sell their products?

Careful analysis of your competitor’s websites’ strengths and weaknesses maximises your website’s potential. And will get you more visitors to your site.

Job boards

Look at the main job boards and their own website to see what positions they are advertising. Does this reveal anything new? New locations, skill sets, experience. Or a replacement a vital member of the team? Where have they gone to?

Content

Marketing is changing. It’s not just about traditional advertising anymore. It’s more and more about content. Understand the content your competitors are producing to grab your customers’ attention. Does the content resonate with your target audience? Are your competitors getting any reaction? What are your competitors doing wrong? Can you improve on what they are saying? Track their every mistake and find their weak points by signing up to newsletters. See how frequently they talk to their prospects. What are they saying, how are they saying it, and what’s their tone of voice.

If possible, buy their product and look at the materials and after support that comes with it. Determine the overall feel and quality of the product. How does it look? Is the packaging impressive? Look at the overall design and marketing message that comes with it. Make a complaint and see how quickly they come back to you and see how they deal with you. 

Try putting a few items into the online cart. Then abandon the order. How do your competitors deal with this? Do they communicate with you, do they ask why or offer a discount? How quickly did the product get to you? Were you kept informed of progress during the delivery? If you return it, how easy was it to do? How does this compare with what your competitor claims?

Social media

Social media reveals your competitor’s audience and in turn, what they are saying to them. There are plenty of social media tools out there to review and understand competitor performance. As well as their audience reach on social media on the various platforms. 

Ask your customers

Ask prospects why they came to you and what you liked about your offering. Ask about pricing and the perceived benefits. Ask about who else they ave looked at and what features do they have that they would like to see you offer. If you have long terms customers, ask them what they think of your competition.

Keep up to date

Your business can stay up to date with the free notification service called Google Alerts. A better and also free alternative to this is Talkwalker. You can receive notifications daily, weekly, or monthly. And whenever there is a mention of your competitors on the web.

Once you realise you need more monitoring, there are better tools. Such as Crayon, Intelligence2day and Klue to develop your monitoring further. Remember whatever you use to monitor, it is only as good as the analysis you put in. 

How to conduct competitive analysis

It’s important to know your competitors, as well as possible. But the exercise has to be useful. So use Competitor Analysis to focus on your strengths. Focus on how you can improve your existing process. And identify your brand’s unique selling point. As you can see, there are many ways to learn how to beat your competitor. Most take time, patience and analysis. Here are some ideas on how to conduct competitive analysis. There are many more ways to do it. 

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