So you took a great, original idea and turned it into an incredible product. Your startup or scaleup is starting to gain traction and attract customers – but you’re noticing there’s more competition out there than you thought.
Maybe there’s a big conglomerate with a branch that sells a related product. Or you were at the forefront of a trend, but similar businesses are now popping up everywhere. Sounds like it’s time for you to do a competitor analysis. Here’s how.
What is a competitor analysis?
A competitor analysis is a process that involves looking at your competition’s marketing strategies, products, and services. It goes beyond a quick browse of your competitors’ websites and is a critical, thorough process that takes an in-depth look at every facet of their business.
Competitor analysis should be done quarterly, or more frequently if you’re new to the market. But this is just one tool in your toolbox. Always monitor your market and industry in general, and if you see a shift, it’s time to dive into a full competitor analysis. Make sure you’re gathering customer feedback as well – just because a competitor is doing something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right strategy.
Why is a competitor analysis critical?
You probably already know you should be doing competitor analysis. But you may not realize the massive benefits it can bring your business.
- Differentiate your product. You know you’re unique – but does your messaging and brand identity capture that? If your product looks the same and your marketing sounds the same, why will customers choose you? Competitor analysis allows you to refine your value proposition.
- Stay relevant. Competitor analysis allows you to evaluate trends in your industry and determine how you can leverage them to grow your business and stay ahead of opportunities. You’ll also uncover your competitors’ strengths so you can learn how to replicate them.
- Grow your website’s traffic. SEO analysis is a vital part of the puzzle. See what’s working for both the paid and organic strategies of your competitors, then do it better.
- Gain a competitive edge. Understanding your competitors’ tactics – and weaknesses – allows you to improve on them. You’ll also identify gaps in their marketing strategies and target audiences that will allow you to use new and different methods and get better results.
What tools do I need to perform a competitor analysis?
You could just jump on the computer, type in your competitors’ websites, and use your analytical eye to see what they’re doing. But you’ll get a lot more useful information when use some of these competitor analysis tools:
- SEMrush uses comprehensive data to help you explore market and audience trends, do keyword gap analysis, and uncover competitors’ link-building strategies.
- Ahrefs has similar tools to SEMrush to help you do SEO competitive analysis.
- SimilarWeb provides accurate and thorough website analytics around traffic, demographics, engagement and more.
- SpyOnWeb lets you see if a website is operated by a competitor.
- GoogleAlerts gives you updates on certain search terms and preferences you set, helping you track your competitor and industry.
- Buzzsumo is a great tool for competitive content analysis. See what’s working, who’s sharing, and what’s trending for content.
You don’t necessarily need paid tools to do a competitor analysis, but it really helps. Of course, you’ll also need the expertise to use them. That’s where a growth marketing agency like Tuff can really help.
How to do a competitor analysis
Before you can do a competitor analysis, you need to know who your competitors are. Check out our article on competitor research to learn how to identify your market competitors. Once you have that list, use the tools we talked about above – and your own critical thinking – to look at the following areas and ask yourself, “How can I do this better than them?”
Analyzing the traffic going to your competitors’ pages tells you a lot about what’s working and what isn’t. Take a deeper dive into:
- Traffic by channel: Are their visitors coming from display, paid search, organic search, social, or something else?
- Traffic by device: Do they get the most traffic from desktop, phone, or tablet?
- Traffic by geography: Does your competitor appeal to an audience from a specific part of the country or world?
If your audience gets to the page and then bounces, were they ever really there? Traffic is important, but audience engagement tells you whether a competitor’s marketing strategy is actually working. Look at:
- Bounce rate: This is the number of visitors that leave the site after only viewing one page. A low bounce rate indicates content marketing that’s doing its job well.
- Conversion rate: How many visitors complete a desired action, like making a purchase, downloading a piece of content, or submitting a form? Conversion is the ultimate goal of growth marketing.
- Demographics: Who is your competitors’ most engaged audience? What is their age, gender, and income? What are they doing right to engage this audience?
The laser-focused targeting abilities and relatively low cost of PPC advertising mean that your competitors are likely using this channel. Ask yourself:
- Are they running ads? What are they bidding on?
- What CTAs are they using to push people to purchase?
- What searches do they show up for?
Analyzing user experience requires your own critical thinking skills more than the other categories. Browse your competitors’ websites, clicking on crosslinks, menus, CTAs and more. Check out:
- Website layout: Does it move you easily through the discovery and purchasing phases? Was information easy to find? What are their CTAs?
- Aesthetics: What color scheme are they using? Is text easy to read and organized? What images do they use (lifestyle, product, stock images, etc.)?
- Mobile optimization: Use the “Inspect” feature on Chrome to see if the website is mobile optimized. Right-click anywhere on the page and go to “Inspect.” In the top left of the sidebar, click the icon of the phone and computer screen to toggle on the mobile view. How does it look?
For each of the above categories, ask yourself: How can I make this better on my website? After all, competitor analysis is all about knowing what your competition is doing so you can do it better.
Your competition is giving you a lot of information. You just have to take time to understand it. Performing a competitor analysis will give you a solid foundation for your business growth and a way to plan future strategies. Yes, it’s that important – but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact Tuff to discover all the ways we can help you get ahead.
Ellen is the founder at Tuff and one of the team’s core growth marketers. She is a versatile marketer with expertise in multiple channels – from ppc to seo to email to others – responsible for the experiments and testing. She is happiest when she’s on the ski hill or outside pointing her mountain bike downhill.