Before launching your new product, introducing a new brand, or just planning your next campaign you have to know exactly where, in the market, you stand. Your current market position helps you maintain a realistic view of your marketing strategy. It also gives you an idea of what you have to achieve.
Competitor research is not only a valuable way to discover what place you currently occupy but also what your business potential. This valuable analysis compares you with competitors outlining strengths, weaknesses, key selling points, and differences.
Based on this information, you can gain powerful insight into market opportunities, strategic changes required by your audience, and generally what your target market responds well to and what issues you need to approach carefully.
Who You Need to Take a Look at
Many marketers focus on researching similar or lower-level competitors. While this practice will give you a -good idea of where you currently stand market-wise, it won’t be useful when polishing your brand’s marketing strategy.
To be able to develop your strategic initiatives and increase their effects, you have to gather information that focuses more on market leaders with the same audience as you. Such research will give great ideas to keep your target market engaged and will point out the flaws in your current marketing strategy.
Start with Their Website
A company’s website is an incredible source of information if you know where to look for it. Understanding what you need to analyze to complete your competitor research will save you time browsing information.
The way the content is organized on a website will give you an idea of your target audience’s
information preferences. For example, if you’re a website development company and most competitors display the industries they serve prior to a listing of their services, this may point to the fact that customers are quite knowledgeable about what you offer (they don’t require more information on your services) and are more interested in understanding whether your services could fit their needs.
Other important data you need to find are the types of content your competitors are using. Whitelists, buyer guides, blog posts, news, and competitive critique all appeal to different audiences. Knowing what content other brands in your industry are using to attract prospects gives valuable ideas on how to generate more leads and what your audience is generally interested in.
Let’s say you’re a provider of network solutions. This is a highly technical product and your audience has a medium to novice level knowledge regarding it. While researching competitors you might discover that brands regularly posting competitive critique are attracting and converting more leads than companies that don’t use this form of content. The data shows that audiences find material explaining solutions and advantages useful and educational.
The gathered information shows that competitive critique serves to help consumers make a more informed decision, resulting in prospects building trust with companies that provide them with such data. This research suggests that implementing a similar content strategy could be useful in generating more leads, building trust with your audience, and converting prospects into clients.
You should also (be able to) find the business model of each company in your competitor search. This could help you improve your offer and come up with new ways to reach potential customers and convert them.
You may, for example, see that some market leaders are using, not just a direct sales channel (website, eStore, Amazon, eBay) but also one for recruiting resellers and distributors. This partner program could lead you to opening a resellers network yourself which could be helpful when reaching a wider audience and leveraging a substantial market opportunity.
Research Product or Service
Start searching the most obvious places – your competitors’ websites. There you’ll find descriptions, functionalities, specifications, key selling points and the unique value proposition each brand offers This might help you obtain substantial insight into why market leaders are doing better than you.
Now, the tricky part. Although the website looks like it contains all the information you need about a competitor’s product or service, there you may only find a glowing description of it. Look through blogs, forums, reviews, and comments on social media for users’ opinions.
Combining what the company says about itself and its products, along with positive and negative user opinions, will help you understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. It’ll also help you formulate competitive advantages, key selling points, and value proposition.
When conducting competitor research, one of the most important things is what your target audience is interested in. Look through similar brands’ blogs and social media pages to see what they share and what are the best performing topics.
Collecting such data will also provide you with insight into your current marketing strategy, giving you an idea of why certain types of content perform better and how you can polish your current strategy.
Slash Through Competitors’ SEO Strategy
SEO is a vital part of any marketing strategy. Research how competitors are using keywords, header, alt-tags, page titles, URLs, content (keyword density), and internal links. Try to relate their SEO practices to their ranking in SERPs.
It’s also helpful to look at the keywords other brands in your industry are using. Are they short strings or longer ones? Do they use a single phrase or a subset of keywords? Have they made topic clusters or generated a large number of external links? What makes their SEO strategy successful or disastrous?
The goal is to help improve your strategy by:
- Including keywords that your competitors use effectively to generate leads in your GoogleAds campaigns
- Discovering high-volume, low-competitiveness keywords to reach a broader audience and generate new leads
- Finding high-volume keywords to include in articles/pages as a subset of keywords to increase your ranking in SERPs
Related article: How to Develop Better Content Strategy with Competitive Analysis
Regularity Is Key
Different audiences use the web at different times. This means that while some people browse Facebook or read your blog during the weekend, others might do so right at the end of the workday or shortly after work.
Your competitor research will help you find out how often competitors post content and at what hours. Looking through the engagement of each publication based on the time its posted, you’ll discover general behavioral patterns of your target audience. For example, if publications posted during the weekends get significantly higher engagement, it’s a good idea to start posting during Saturday and Sunday as well.
Furthermore, users have habits, and once they find a brand that has an established posting schedule, they start checking the company’s content channels regularly, especially on the dates they supposedly post.
Thus it’s highly advisable to create a well-planned content calendar. It’s a highly effective marketing tactic that lets users know the days in which you post content and can result in greater engagement.
The Power of Social Media
An extremely important part, in every competitor research, is to understand how brands in your industry are reaching customers and communicating with their audiences. The channels your competitors use can be easily found on their website, most commonly in the footer.
Although, in general, social media is much more relevant for brand awareness initiatives. Some businesses, especially B2C ones, use it to convert leads. Look through their followers, and try to find a relationship between the audience on Social Media and the company’s clients. This will show you, to what extent, social media is important in your industry.
For example, the B2B cybersecurity industry is a sector where customers do not usually use Facebook or Twitter that much and as a whole are very private individuals. This makes social media marketing counter-intuitive at first glance. But when you look at the company “Secured Communications” social media pages, you’ll understand that gaining brand awareness in the industry is connected to building trust with the audience.
This relationship shows that followers on Facebook or Twitter directly contribute to the number of leads you attract and your potential to convert them.
Another thing to look for is what competitors use social media for. Find out whether their posts lead to their website, or to an event they’re going to participate in, whether they share employee stories or industry knowledge. This will help you come up with ideas regarding your social media content strategy and will give you ideas into what works for your target market and what doesn’t.
Competitor research is one of the most crucial information gathering initiatives a marketer could perform. Yet, to conduct it the right way and use it to improve your marketing strategy, you need to know what data to search for and how to use it.
Look for relevant info about your competitors, and always keep your strategic goals in mind. This will help you use the gathered data to come up with new ideas, develop critical thinking, understand your customers’ behavioral patterns, and think of powerful growth-hacks that will help you slash through the competition and become a market leader.