Competitors: how to compare and analyze them

Why is it Important to Research Competitors?

The research you gather about your competitors helps you to quickly identify industry trends and adapt to competitor campaigns or strategies in order to maintain a foothold or out-compete them.

You can also use researching competitors to verify your business idea and to see whether there is a demand for your product, site or services.

How to Conduct Your Competitive Analysis

1. Find Your Competitors

There are many ways to identify key competitors in your industry, but Google and Amazon will likely be where you do most of your legwork.

Start with a simple search for your business name, product ideas, and overarching business idea.

From there, check out different social media channels, organizations, and online communities.

Other resources you can use to dig up information on your competitors include AlexaKeyword SpyHooversAhrefs and ReferenceUSA.

Your ultimate goal at this stage should be to cast a wide net and get a comprehensive view of the competitive landscape.

2. Categorize Your Competitors

As you find competitors, you’ll want to categorize them into various levels, from direct competitors to businesses that don’t currently compete with you but could easily start doing it.

Here is an easy way to categorize sellers in your industry:

  • Primary Competition: These are your direct competitors, which means they’re either targeting the same audience or have a similar product — or both.
  • Secondary Competition: These competitors may offer a high- or low-end version of your product, or sell something similar to a completely different audience. If you’re building a site for swingers, a secondary competitor might be a non-swinger site with couple profiles in it.
  • Lesser Competition: This category includes businesses that are tangentially related to yours, and really comes in handy when you’re looking to expand your product catalog. These could be related products and services that are trending, as well as businesses that may be beneficial to partner with further down the line. For example, a tertiary competitor may be a markething company that sells traffic.

3. Examine your competitor’s website & customer experience.

Once you’ve identified your competitors, you’ll want to analyze their websites.

To start, take a close look at the following items:

  • How detailed are their site descriptions? What information do they include? What information is missing?
  • Where are their calls to action elements on the main landing page? Are they obvious or do they get lost due to a poor color scheme or positioning?
  • Where are their social media icons positioned?
  • Do they have a blog? How frequently do they post? What type of information do they publish?
  • Is their site optimized for mobile?
  • What methods for contact do they offer?
  • How long does it take them to respond to email, live chat and contact form submissions?
  • Do they have an abandoned cart saver feature? If so, at what moment do they send the emails and what messaging is included?
  • What information is included in their marketing banners and callouts? This may help you start uncovering their competitive positioning within the market.
  • How frequently are they running promotions? What benefits do those promotions provide to their customers and potential users?

Again, these are just to get you started.

Each website will be different depending on the niche they are working it and the services they are offering.

The goal here is to not only get a handle on their strengths and weaknesses, but to help you start thinking as a dynamic business owner.

From there, you’ll be able to identify your competitive advantage in the marketplace.

4. Identify your competitor’s market positioning.

By identifying your competitor’s positioning strategy, you’ll start to get a feel for your market’s demands and expectations.

Take a look at their website and marketing messaging and ask the following:

  • Why are users really buying from them? Are they going for the price? Experience?
  • How are they differentiating their product from their competition? What features and benefits do they highlight the most?
  • What makes their product or service unique (according to them)?

These questions will help you understand to whom your competitors are speaking and how they position themselves within the market, which will pay dividends as you work on how you’ll position yourself against or alongside them.

To gather as much information as possible, be sure to:

  • Sign up on their site: Get an understanding of their business and examples of communication, which says a lot about the competitive environment.
  • Subscribe to and follow their blog: See what types of content they are covering and at what cadence
  • Follow them on social media: Get a feel for how they speak to and serve their customers
  • Purchase a product or a service: Check out the product itself

5. Take a peek at pricing.

Your pricing strategy is going to be one of the most important aspects of your online business — and potentially a competitive advantage.

The best place to start is to look at how your competitors have priced their products. You’ll learn what your target market is willing to pay and get an understanding of what prices might work well for your business.

6. Check the reviews.

Take the time to find as many reviews of your competitors as possible, including everything from product reviews on their website to business reviews on social media to comments left on their blog.

Check how healthy and client-centric their business is and decide if it’s a strength or weakness you can capitalize on.

If you find a lot of reviews on a product similar to the one you’ll sell, it’s a good sign that people are interested in buying it.

If the reviews are from customers who aren’t happy with the service provided, the condition in which the product arrived, or the product quality, those could be ways to help differentiate your business.

Best site to do that are: https://www.capterra.com/ and https://www.trustpilot.com/

7. Review social media.

Looking at your competitors’ social media accounts has multiple benefits.

If they have many followers, and especially if they are actively engaged, it’s a good sign that there is a market for your products.

Plus you’ll get a good idea of how customers feel about their business, and see what works well and what doesn’t for engaging with your own client base.

If your competitors don’t have a decent following, it could indicate that the market is weak, your target market doesn’t use social media, or simply that there is room for your business to take the lead at engaging with customers.

8. Use these bonus items and tools for competitive analysis.

  • Want to know how long your competitors have been in business? How about the date they registered their domain, their contact information, server statistics and more? Check out WHOis.net.
  • Find out what positions they’re hiring for. This can indicate the health of the business, plus give you a feel for the company culture.
  • Are they seeking additional funding? This can tell you how well they’re doing and give you ideas on how to position yourself. Be sure to look on Crunchbase for their investment portfolio. Also, Check out places like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.
  • Google Alerts will send you email updates based on keywords. Setting up alerts for your competitors in addition to your own business will help you keep up with any news you need to know. Also, set up alerts for industry terms to monitor new market developments that could affect your business.

Remember, regularly performing a competitive analysis doesn’t mean you need to watch your competitors like a hawk or let them keep you up at night, but you should keep tabs on how their businesses are changing and watch for new challengers in your space.

 

Competitor analysis tools

There is now no shortage of competitor analysis tools on the market, and each can offer insights relevant to its own particular niche and contribute to competitive benchmarking. Here is the list of tools that cover a range of areas, from paid adverts to email marketing.

General competitor analysis tools

While many tools target a particular niche, these tools analyze multiple areas of your competitor’s online marketing strategy to give you an overview of their efforts to spot potential avenues for growth.

Pi Datametrics

With Pi, you can measure the impact of the brand and your performance against competitors after any campaign. You can identify the “what” and the “when” by analyzing emerging trends and audience intent, and help to influence the message and the timings of campaigns to match consumer needs.

You can also use brand search intelligence data retrospectively to understand the impact of your campaigns as well as where they sit alongside the performance of their competitors.

Kompyte

Compare traffic, referrals, visitor behavior, keywords and search rankings, paid ads, and site by site social metrics. Stay updated with competitor emails. You can input competitors to track, or let Kompyte suggest them based on the keywords you are tracking.

SimilarWeb

Provides an overview of website traffic, referrals, search traffic and keywords, social media, display advertising, audience, and similar sites and apps.

 

Competitor audience analysis

Brandwatch Audiences

You can get some great insight by looking at the people who follow your competitors on social. With Audiences you can analyze a following and look at their demographics, influencers, and the content they share.

You can even download their followers as a list to target them with competitive Twitter ads.

SEO and keyword analysis Tools

Spyfu

As well as tracking backlinks and rankings, Spyfu has a great keyword feature showing how many keywords your competitors rank for and how much their keyword focus overlaps with yours.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a great SEO and keyword research tool. You can use it to see what your competitors are ranking for, how much organic traffic they’re getting, and see what content of theirs is performing the best.

You can also compare domains to see content gaps, track specific keywords over time, while they’ve also added keyword data for sites like YouTube, Baidu, and Amazon.

SEMRush

Analysis shows a range of metrics around keywords, paid search, and rankings. You can search 10 URLs which will show limited results.

Backlink analysis tools

Open Link Profiler

A wide range of link analysis is available, including an overview of backlinks, country and industry breakdown, and link age.

Monitor Backlinks

New links, lost links, new competitor’s links and weekly domain changes will all be emailed to you once you have set up your account.

Content discovery tools

BuzzSumo

The free tools allow you to search for content by keyword or entering a competitor’s URL. You can then refine the search by publish date, content type, and shares across social sites. It also has a trending section for different industries.

  


Paid advert and PPC tools

iSpionage

The tool identifies your top PPC competitors, reveals their monthly budget and entire Adwords strategy. You can access seven years worth of PPC and SEO keyword data.

Whatrunswhere

See where your competitors are advertising and what their ads look like, and how effective these adverts are. You can also access campaign data from 150,000 top performing display publishers.

Social media conversation tools

Brandwatch Analytics

With detailed searches, categorization, rules, alerts, and over 85 million sites monitored, you can refine the platform to monitor what matters to you.

Facebook and Twitter channels allow you to monitor your competitor’s social media output. You can create searches to track all mentions of your competitors across the web, staying up to date with their content and news stories.

SERP rankings tools

Searchmetrics

Searchmetrics SEO visibility score which shows how well a domain is ranking. You can then chuck in some competitors to see how they’re performing too.

Web traffic tool

Alexa

Founded 20 years ago and owned by Amazon, Alexa ranks sites based on their traffic volume. Alexa also provides metrics such as daily pageviews per visitor, bounce rate, time spent on site and demographics.

 

A/B testing tool

iSpionage

Knowing when your competitors are conducting A/B tests can be invaluable. It offers an insight into their campaigns and approach, while giving you a warning system if they’re about to try something new.

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