Crush your next competitive analysis with this free guide
You know the saying ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’? Well, when it comes to competitor analysis, this old adage could actually be the cornerstone of your brand’s success. Friends flatter, but competition keeps you on your toes – and you’re going to need to stay on your toes in the rigorous world of marketing. After all, a friendly slap on the back doesn’t teach you half as much about yourself as swallowing a hefty piece of humble pie.
Your Guide to Conducting a Competitor Analysis
No brand is supported on the shoulders of just one marketing genius. It takes at least a handful of marketing minds to create, develop and launch a successful campaign. It also takes a lot of open eyes. Inspiration is everywhere, and sometimes, it’s exactly where you don’t want to see it; namely, being proudly displayed by your competitors.
Rather than sitting with a mouthful of sour grapes, use competitor analysis to help your brand – and your mind – grow.
When it’s all said and done, the main reason to do a competitor analysis boils down to this single, undeniable truth:
Competition prevents complacency, encourages creativity and ultimately improves your brand. Checking out the competition forces you out of your comfort zone, and while you may have to exert a little effort to get there, thinking outside the box is where the magic happens. After all, you aren’t the only one selling something. Your competition forces you to up your game and get creative.
More specifically, a thorough Competitor Analysis will…
1) Offer perspective on your website design. Look to your competitors to see what’s attractive and what’s not.
2) Improve your customer service. Evaluating how your successful competitors are wooing, pursuing and maintaining exceptional customer relationships can help you create more symbiotic connections with your clientele. Likewise, noting your competition’s pitfalls can show you what not to do.
3) Help bolster your SEO strategy. Competitor analysis can also help you refine your SEO efforts – especially the lesser touted tactics like:
- Page titles and META tags (How do they describe their web pages, video, photos, podcasts, documents? Look for the common words and phrases they use and seriously consider using them as well.)
- META Description (i.e. The descriptions under the website name and article link. Again, you want to see how your competition is describing their meta info.)
- URL. How are your successful competitors structuring their URLs? (Example: awesome.webpage.com or webpage.com/description-of-page.) This may seem irrelevant, but it matters when it comes to getting a subtle and successful edge with SEO.
- Backlink backup. Backlinks are links on other sites that lead back to your site. See how and to what extent your competitors are using backlinks to maximize their SEO.
- Check their local listings. Are your competitors using Google +, Yelp, or Yahoo Local to maximize local SEO and enhance their rank? This is something you should be doing in general, but you should definitely be doing it if your big competitors are utilizing these resources.
4) Expand your social presence. Seeing how your competitors are using (or misusing) social platforms will help you amp up your social awareness and optimize your social presence.
So now that you know why competitor analysis is important, how do you go about embracing your inner spy? It’s actually quite easy. Since anyone and everyone who understands the power of a competitor analysis is doing it, so the process has become relatively streamlined. Translation: you don’t have to go digging through the competition’s trash to get the goods. You can stay clean and glean the intel you need without having to get your hands dirty.
Here are our top tips and tools for conducting a Competitor Analysis.
Stalk the Social Scene. What’s being re-tweeted, liked and +1’d from your competition? Observing these trends can give you traction to optimize your own social presence. You should also follow your competition on social media and see who they follow.
Identify the Real Competition. See if your competition is really your competition. Who you think you are competing against may not actually be vying for the same space in the same arena. In other words, you could be misappropriating the info and misdirecting your efforts entirely – or at least partially. Think, for example, about a brick and mortar (B&M) store. They may think their competition is other B&M stores that sell similar products, but their main competition may actually be online.
Role Play. Play the part of the customer and ask your competitors questions about prices, products, as well as general information. The idea is to see how they interact with their clientele. Again, you may unearth strategies you want to adopt, or you may identify approaches you want to avoid. Either way, the information will help you improve your customer service.
Recruitment Recon. As we’ve already mentioned, successful brands don’t create themselves. That gut-crushing envy you feel when you behold a great strategy in the hands of your competitor was not created by a machine or just one person; it was carefully orchestrated by a group of talented people. Visit your competitor’s websites and stores to see how, where and when your competition is attracting these beautiful minds. Also be sure to check out popular job posting websites.
Website Envy. Totally floored by your competition’s incredible website? Don’t let the green-eyed monster get the better of you. USE envy as a jumping off point to see what you can do to mimic their merits. TIP: Use these helpful Internet Marketing tools to help you glean where you’re getting the hits and where you’re taking the hits from a website, SEO and social media standpoint.
Spy Specific. Have all the time in the world? Then by all means, take a gander at all your potential competition. Most of us, however, don’t have quite that much time at our disposal. If you want to make the most of espionage, focus on competitors with a big social media following, companies with ads that are ranked highest on Google and competitors who make the news on a regular basis.