20 Mar, 2017

Mile 2 on the road to digital transformation – get to know your market

 -Stepping stones for step 2 - market research

Undertaking digital transformation is not easy. There are many factors to juggle, many of which are out of your control and can often have the greatest influence on the route your journey takes.

As we’ve discussed before, any journey steps with the planning phase. Step 1 being the identification of your goals, which often fall into one of these 4 boxes.

CUSTOMER – Customer demands change. Digital transformation can make your business agiler, so in the future, you can identify and adapt faster.

INNOVATION – Novel approaches have always changed the direction of human endeavor, and answered business challenges. Whether it be a medical discovery changing healthcare, or a new technology changing the way we interact, innovation is a huge advocate for change.

TECHNOLOGY – Whether it be new or existing technology, leveraging what our customers, partners or competitors adopt is a leading cause of the disruption.

ECOSYSTEM – Many factors can disrupt your organization’s or your markets’ ecosystem, a dip in the economy, regulatory changes, Trump becoming President.

What’s Step 2?

Understanding your market and where you fit is vital to digital transformation. Take the time to conduct a ‘SWOT Analysis’ of your organization, your competitors, and your market. This will enable you to identify strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business and your market. It will also help you identify the assets you have or will need. Once this is complete, you will be able to put together your future business model.

How do you conduct a SWOT Analysis?

The SWOT analysis always begins with a look at your own organization. Start by identifying your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t forget to ask your colleagues for their insight as well. No need to take on all the work on your won. Also, there is no need for lengthy paragraphs, bullet points are all you need. Google SWOT templates and use that as a basis.

Strengths indicate the positive attributes of your business, that are within your control, or internal. These can include resources, unique product attributes, culture, customer reputation, partners etc. Weaknesses are the opposite. They indicate the areas of your organization that you need to improve and if you don’t work on them, may prevent you from obtaining a competitive advantage.

The Opportunities and Threats elements are the external factors influencing your business and your market. What technology is disrupting the space? What newcomers entered the market? Can you draw a comparison to a similar market for insight? Have there been any political or economic changes? These areas are to assess external factors. If you have identified internal factors here, move these to the strengths or weaknesses side.

There are 4 key areas you should make sure you assess:


Begin by cataloging and reviewing your own digital assets. This is the starting point of your analysis. It is from this that you will be able to identify current strengths and weaknesses within your organization’s infrastructure, which will guide the steps you need to take to achieve digital transformation.


Whilst examining your assets, look at how your company currently manages innovation.

  • Do we foster an environment of experimentation?
  • Are we ready with adequate cloud capabilities for team collaboration?
  • How open is our senior management team to change?

The importance of this process cannot be underestimated.

Many people assume that this process would start with the idea generation itself. That is not the case.

Similarly to the digital transformation journey, it starts with planning. You need to make sure that there is a clear framework for all employees to be able to submit, discuss, debate, and analyze new ideas.

Although digital transformation has to be led from the top. It is important that all staff feel involved and are invested in the process. One of the most effective ways to ensure this is to open up the discussions to your entire team.


And look at your competitors. In the words of Neil Patel, ‘Think like a Detective’. This is where growth hacking principles can offer quick (cheap) ways to check on your competitors.

What search terms do your competitors’ use? – SEMRush
Where do they run their digital adverts? – What Runs Where
What technology do they use? – Built With
What are the websites linking to your competitors’ websites? – AHREFS

Here are a few of the best tools available online:

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.

For a more in-depth look at how to undertake competitive analysis, take a look at this blog post >

Or, take a look at the infographic below.


And finally, examine the technology available in your market. This step may seem obvious considering the link with technology, but it cannot be overlooked.

Look beyond just Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. There is a lot happening with intelligent automation, virtual reality, Internet of Things, and Cybersecurity.

How to conduct competitor analysis - market research

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