21 Feb, 2017

Conducting competitive analysis? Here’s what you need to know

 -Competitive analysis

No matter whether you are at the beginning of your digital transformation journey, or closer to achieving your end goals, keeping an eye on your competitors is vital to maintaining market position. Competitive analysis helps to identify strengths and weaknesses within the market. It also helps to identify trends in consumer behavior.

To do this, you’ll need to conduct a thorough competitive landscape analysis.

Below is a brief guide to conducting an internal SWOT analysis and competitive landscape analysis. This is a perfect tool for first timers. So if you’re doing it yourself for the first time, or delegating the task, here is what you need to keep in mind.

First, you need to start by assessing your own assets.

Understanding your market and where you fit is vital to digital transformation. Take the time to conduct a ‘SWOT Analysis’ of your organization. This will enable you to identify strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business. It will also help you identify the assets you have or will need to undergo your digital transformation.

How do you conduct a SWOT Analysis?

The SWOT analysis always begins with an inventory of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Ask your colleagues for their insight as well. No need for lengthy paragraphs, bullet points are all you need. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here! Google SWOT templates and use that as a basis.

Strengths denote the positive attributes of your business, that are within your control. These can include resources, unique product attributes, culture, customer reputation, partners etc. Weaknesses are the opposite. They denote the areas of your organization to improve and may be preventing you from obtaining a competitive advantage.

Next, take note of the external opportunities or threats that might affect your business (the competitive landscape will help here as well). What technology is disrupting the space? What newcomers have entered the market? Can you draw a comparison to a similar market for insight? Have there been any political or economic changes?

Opportunities and threats both assess external factors. If you have identified internal factors here, move these to the strengths or weaknesses side.

Once this is complete, it’s time to take a look at your competitors. This can inform the SWOT analysis of your organization, so consider it a working document and take another look at it post-competitive analysis completion.

So you’ve been asked to conduct competitive analysis, where do you begin?

Step 1 – Find your competitors

Start by making a list of your top competitors. This can be done in a variety of ways, ask your colleagues or conduct several Google searches.

If you’re a national or international company, your competitors could number in the hundreds or thousands. Next step is to prioritize them. You only want to conduct an analysis of your closest competitors. 10-20 is perfect.

Now you’ve narrowed your list down, you can group your competitors together. Think about the grouping that makes the most sense to your business. You can group by company size, market share, the technology they use etc. When conducting the competitor research for our assembly product line, I used a calendar-style chart and grouped each competitive event by calendar month. Timing is a key factor to take note of for us.

Step 2 – Start with their websites

Use your competitors’ websites to collect key data and links. Using Excel or a similar tool, start to take down simple notes at first:

  1. Company Name
  2. URL – note down their tagline or positioning statement, key titles and meta description
  3. Key leadership
  4. Product(s)/Service(s)
  5. Price
  6. Social links – take note of the descriptions on each channel
  7. Customers – do they have any testimonials?
  8. Partners/ Sponsors

Step 3 – Delve a little deeper

Now you’ve taken down the basic information from each website, you can start to dive a little deeper. The best bit, there are several tools online designed to help.

SEMRush – this simple and easy tool helps you identify the keywords that your competitors’ are ranking for in search. Knowing this can help you identify what keywords you need to rank for, or compete on. It also helps you to see how they are driving traffic to their websites, and also who is linking to them. Backlinks are extremely important for an effective SEO strategy. One simple way to start is to contact the companies linking to your competitors.

Ahrefs – Another great SEO tool, that allows you to check not only your own backlinks, keywords, and brand mentions, but also that of your competitors.

SpyFu – Use this tool to track your competitors’ most profitable keywords and ads, for both paid and organic search.

WhatRunsWhere – this tool is designed to help you keep track of your competition’s online marketing strategies. This knowledge will influence your future digital marketing decision by allowing you to more effectively plan and buy advertising.

Built With – What technology are your competitors using? Simply plug in their URL and find out using this tool.

QuickSprout – Designed to help marketers create better content, this tool helps you understand what is happening on your website, and those of your competitors.

There are hundreds more of these tools available.

Step 4 – Content creation

Their content will also provide key insight. Take a look at their blogs, subscribe to their newsletters, download their eBooks. Not only will this show you what content they are creating, it will also provide insight into your consumer. This will help you identify opportunities for content to push your own business to the front of your consumers’ minds.

Taking a look at your competitors’ content will provide insight into how they talk to their consumers, how they position their brand and also, how they market. All can influence your organization and how you market for the better.

Step 5 – SWOT Analysis

Now you have a spreadsheet packed full of data, it’s now time to undertake a SWOT Analysis for your competitor landscape, to identify market strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Typically, this framework is used to assess one’s own business. However, it can be used to take a look at the market at a whole.

Typically the strengths and weaknesses refer to your internal organization, opportunities and threats refer to external factors. The strengths and weaknesses can be your view of the market as an internal player, opportunities and threats are external forces or disruptors.

Now, go back to the SWOT analysis of your organization. Anything from the competitive landscape that stands out to you, include it now.

Summarize the key points. Make these key points actionable. For example, if you’ve identified an opportunity within the market for new content, action the creation of an editorial calendar, starting with a team brainstorm for content ideas.

For more on digital transformation in your industry, check out our assemblies. We’re bringing together digital leaders from marketing, healthcare, retail, enterprise, financial services, insurance, and security. See the full list of here >>

Handy infographic of the steps to conducting competitor analysis –

How to conduct competitor analysis

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