Competitive Analysis

 

This is the third article in our series Parts of a Digital Marketing Strategy. Continue to follow along in the coming weeks as we release the various pieces to forming a successful strategy.

Parts of a Digital Marketing Strategy:

  1. Creating Client Personas ✓ 
  2. Market Research ✓ 
  3. Competitive Analysis
  4. SWOT Analysis
  5. Keyword Research
  6. Content Research
  7. Which Social Platforms to Use
  8. Determining Your KPIs
  9. Pulling It All Together

What is Competitive Analysis?

By the time you are forming your Digital Marketing Strategy, you should already know who your competitors are. You should have already done that particular type of research during your initial business planning phase. The type of Competitive Analysis we will be doing now is studying what your competitors are doing in the digital world. It may seem obvious, but we will state it here anyway… Choose competitors that are successful at what they do! You don’t want to waste your time figuring out what a business less successful than you is doing.

Competitive Analysis (as defined by Entrepreneur) is: “Identifying your competitors and evaluating their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own product or service.”

[[TIP]] – We have created a worksheet you can use while you are doing your research. Go ahead and fill in your name and email at the top of this page to get your document right away. Then, you can reference it in each section of this article! 🙂 

Research and analyze.

The first thing you want to do is determine your top 3 competitors. You want to choose companies that are similar in size to your company and that offer similar services. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you don’t want to choose an extreme outdoor sports photographer as your competitor. You want to choose other wedding photographers in the same geographic area you operate in.

Next, you want to write up a brief synopsis of this competitor. Places where you can find this information may be the home page on their website; or sometimes the ‘About Us’ page details what they are all about. If you can find their mission and vision on their website, that can be insightful too. Put this information in the “Overview” section on the worksheet we provided.

The next section is about the competitors’ Target Customers. When you were gathering information on their website, did you come across any testimonials or portfolios? These can be great insights into the group(s) they are targeting. Look at their social sites… what type of imagery and verbiage are they using? Are you able to decipher who they are speaking to in their posts?

Have you seen any print advertisements they have done? If so, what type of periodicals or channels did you see/hear them in? That can help you determine who they are speaking to as well. For instance, if you saw the ad in a men’s golfing magazine, you can deduce that they are speaking to men. Take notice of the language they use as well. Are they speaking to a higher income clientele or using “low cost” “sale” terms trying to entice a lower income demographic.

Another detail: Are they advertising a lot on Instagram and not so much on Facebook? That could tell you that their demographic might be a younger age group.

Find the winning keywords.

In this next section, we are going to look a bit deeper into the information you can get from your competitors’ websites. One of the big pieces in digital marketing is keywords. This is how people find you. So you want to make sure you are using relevant keywords throughout your website. Whether it’s copy on your home page or sprinkled throughout your latest blog, keywords are your best friend online.

While there are many products out there for researching competitors’ keywords, a great FREE resource is SpyFu. Yes, they have paid plans, but we’ll stick to their FREE services for now.

Simply type in your competitor’s website, and you can start diving into their results.

 

Here we entered a local competitor of ours (we’ve concealed their identity to protect the innocent 🙂 ).

You can scroll through all the options on the left column to see the different information for the website you are researching. We would recommend going through this exercise for your own website, as well.

In the image below, you can see the top 5 long tail keywords that this company ranked on. You can see more with a paid version. Write these down in the Keywords section on the worksheet for this competitor.

Once you do this search for all the competitors in your research, you will start to get a better understanding of what people are searching for/on regarding your product/service.

What are the competitors doing online?

The next few items on the worksheet should be relatively easy to fill in. You will be combing through their website to gather this information (note: you may get directed off their website to find the final info). To start, see if they are blogging or writing any articles. You want to write down how frequent they publish them. If they do not have publish dates associated with their articles, you will want to sign up for their email list or RSS feed and record how often they release a new blog/article.

In the Other Content Sources section, list either quantity or frequency (or quantity and frequency) for each of those items. This allows you to see what practices/strategies they are using for other types of content for their audience. If case studies are really valuable in your industry (and this competitor produces a lot of them), then you may want to consider having that be part of your digital marketing strategy as well. If they are releasing 3 videos a week (and you haven’t done any), you may want to consider incorporating a video strategy into your overall digital strategy. Be careful not to overwhelm yourself. Maybe you need to start with 2 videos per month, then work your way up to 3 per week if you can!

… and on Social Media?

After the website section on the worksheet, we have the Social Media Accounts area. For this work, you will go to each of their social media accounts that they have and fill in the information. How many likes/followers do they have for that platform? How frequently are they posting? For the social shares, you can go to BuzzSumo’s site and enter the URL for your competitor.

 

After you enter their URL, you will be given a list of their top 5 socially shared items from their website. You can plug this into the worksheet for each of the social accounts they have.

 

Now that you have gathered some social account information on your competitor, can you glean what their online marketing strategy is? Look at the imagery they use, look at the tone and voice they use in their messages. If you come across one of their ads in your newsfeed, you can even see some targeting information from that ad.

First, click on the three dots in the top right corner of the ad:

 

When the pop up menu shows, choose “Why am I seeing this?”:

 

Then another pop up window will open detailing some reasons why that ad was served to you (whew…just made it in the under 45 category.):

 

Similarly, Twitter also has this capability:

 

 

Consider all the details.

You can also list any offline ads, mailers, promotions you have seen by your competitor. If you personally have not gotten or seen anything, maybe a client of yours has. You can ask that question when interviewing clients to create your Client Persona.

While you really shouldn’t base your pricing on what the competition is doing, you can do a quick search on their website to see if they list their pricing. If not, you can use resources like Gartner (for tech industry reports) or Pew Research Center (for various data) or even Statista (for various statistics). The main point of this section is to see if the market will bear your pricing. Be sure you include all your costs when determining your pricing.

Figure them out, and use it all to your advantage. 😉

You want to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Areas where they show strength, you will want to see how you can possibly incorporate those practices in your strategy. Areas where they show weakness, could be areas of opportunity for your business to jump in and fill that void/niche. For example, if their video production is lack luster, yet they put out a lot of videos, maybe that can be an area where you excel by producing better quality videos (in visuals AND content). Then, target their audience in the ads you run for the videos.

Finally, write down what you think is their competitive advantage. Have they chosen a niche that is complimentary to their strengths? Is there a way for you to niche in a different area, where you can turn from competitors to supporters of one another? For instance, if you are a chiropractor specializing in chronic and acute neck pain, and you learn of another chiropractor that specializes in pediatric chiropractics, then the two of you could actually become power partners and refer clients to each other!

By the end of this exercise, we hope that you have a stronger understanding of your top competitors and the way they work (or don’t work!). There are a lot of moving parts to this, and it might feel overwhelming when you sit down to start it; but just work methodically through our worksheet, and you can easily come up with a great analysis. Be sure to use a new worksheet for each company you research.

If you have any questions or get stuck on any part, please reach out to us in the comments below.


Stay tuned for the next segment in our “Parts of a Digital Marketing Strategy” series!

Up Next: SWOT Analysis.

  1. Creating Client Personas ✓ 
  2. Market Research ✓ 
  3. Competitive Analysis ✓ 
  4. SWOT Analysis
  5. Keyword Research
  6. Content Research
  7. Which Social Platforms to Use
  8. Determining Your KPIs
  9. Pulling It All Together

*Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, so you get reminders as these topics are published. 🙂 

 

Until next time…
Chill Digital Marketing

 

Sources:

business.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-write-a-competitive-analysis-for-your-small-business-with-template–cms-27028

impactbnd.com/blog/5-ways-to-perform-a-competitive-analysis-establish-your-presence

orbitmedia.com/blog/website-competitive-analysis-tools/

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