Eric Maganga — January 9, 2020
Competitor analysis tools and techniques to avoid being outdone
No matter the size or niche of your business, committing to learn from others in your industry using competitor analysis tools will prove to be very valuable. It will be able to inform your content marketing decisions based on data rather than on speculation and there is more.
Read on for a deep-dive into the process and find a pair of bonus tips at the very end and find key takeaways after each section to summarize.
Definition of competitor analysis
Competitor analysis is: the collection and analysis of data about rival companies. You assess their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own strengths and weaknesses in order to determine where you can improve and where there is opportunity to take a leap. The process is meant to use data from your competition to make sure you're taking advantage of what works for them, and that you always know the competitive landscape that you operate in.
The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis that we wrote about in when you’ve decided on marketing is one of the sets of competitor research tools you can use.
Now let’s move on to the different levels and categories of your competitors.
Different levels of competitors
Primary competition: This is your direct competition because they target the same audience or have a similar product, or a combination of the two.
Secondary competition: This is the companies that offer a similar product at a different price point or to a different audience.
Tertiary competition: These companies are more indirectly connected, and can be worth partnering with. Examples to follow.
Examples of competitor tiers
Nike and Adidas are direct competitors, both selling shoes and apparel to the same audience although there may be some who only buy clothes from one or the other due to brand loyalty and familiarity.
A high-end clothing company and a more affordable clothing brand are secondary competitors. They offer a somewhat comparable product but at different price points.
If you sell software, a tertiary competitor could be a company that sells computers. You can often partner with your tertiary competitors because although they sell different products, they are in the same industry.
Key takeaway: There are three tiers of competitors ranging from very similar product to different type of product in the same industry.
R.A.C.E: a set of competitor research tools
R.A.C.E. can be used for competitor analysis in the following way, it is an acronym for:
Reach (How much publicity does your competitor get)
Act (Sign up for their newsletter or trial and observe the quality of the experience)
Convert (Imagine you are one of your competitor’s potential customers, would you convert?)
Engage (Is your competitor’s audience one that is engaged and active and that provides repeat business)
Competitor analysis tools
Use a tool like Ocean to identify a list of for example 10 suitable competitors and analyze what works for them and where you could improve on their efforts. You could make separate lists for each tier of competitor.
Otherwise there is software that allows you to keep track of backlinks such as the Mangools tool KW (keyword) finder. You can pop in a website and see who is linking back to it.
There are many advantages to using online tools like SimilarWeb to see how the competition is performing in the following important categories. This freemium tool (free basic features and paid advanced features), gives free users five results to get started.
You can check up on some of your primary competitors. (There are for example categories for display ads, and search - organic/paid) Not only will you see what traffic they are getting and the volume, but also from which channels.
Let’s dive deeper into SEO:
A valuable way to do competitor analysis is to look at which websites link back to your competitors and not you also known as backlink gap analysis. If you are in the same space and you offer a comparable or better product or service then there will be opportunities to get links from the same sources. You’ll want to check factors like domain authority: a predictor of how well a website will perform in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), to ensure the links are of high quality.
With a little research, you’ll also be able to see how much your competitors prioritize SEO-focused content. Telltale signs of the SEO content might include features like keywords sprinkled in the copy, keywords in the H2s and H3s (sub-headings), and the length may be long-form.
Key takeaway: Find opportunities for authoritative backlinks by looking at where your rivals get theirs.
You can dig into not only which social media tools your competitors are using, but also how they balance posting about business with trying to entertain their audience and provide them with an enjoyable experience.
Are they taking advantage of user generated content to engage their audience? There could be some answers here that allow you to perform better on social channels yourself.
How are they talking? What tone are they using and if they don’t respond to and interact with their audience regularly, you know there’s an opportunity to one-up them there.
Lastly, check out their best performing posts and see what you can learn and also what you can do better.
Key takeaway: Make your audience feel appreciated and you will thrive.
Between social media and SEO, you’ll likely find if your competitor is doing better in either organic traffic or social shares. Once discovered, you can work to plug the gaps.
You will need the following for a competitor analysis template:
Summary of their products
Their strengths and weaknesses
Bonus Tip #1
By using the News tab in a Google search, you will discover how much and what types of press they are getting. Whether it is positive, negative or neutral. You will find out if they have done anything noteworthy and will be in a position to use their results for inspiration.
If you commit time to this approach you will see where opportunities are to recreate their strategy and improve upon it. Can you reach out to the same sources? If they haven’t exhausted the list of potential sources in your space, there is a chance to go after the press opportunities that they have left on the table.
Bonus Tip #2
By taking a look at your competitor’s social ads, you will be able to analyze the wording and visuals they use to position themselves by seeing the content they have paid for. You will be able to evaluate what value they are giving their potential customers upfront.
You will be able to see how you compare as well as see opportunities for improvement because you will know what is already out there.
LinkedIn ads are readily available on their company profile:
Your rivals’ Facebook ads can be found by visiting https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/ and searching for their page.
When you view an ad from a company you can click “Why Am I Seeing This Ad?” and see which retargeting (sending you content based on your previous actions online) options they used to send you one of their ads.
Unconventional marketing tactics for 2020
Snail mail: With so much competition in your email inbox, good old fashioned letters in the mailbox offer an opportunity for marketers to get around the clutter. You will be able to speak to people in a distraction free setting.
Messenger ads/chat: If a person has messaged your brand you can send them sponsored messages and it’s a great opportunity to reconnect with someone who has shown interest. Home screen ads show up in your Messenger inbox. The trend is growing with marketers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Grant Cardone featuring pop-ups for messenger chat on their websites.
Text message marketing: here you would bank on a text message being more of a priority to check than a notification or email. There is more of a sense of urgency when you receive a text.
Do a backlink gap analysis
There are three competitor tiers from Primary (close) to tertiary (loosely related)
Win the R.A.C.E.
Get an advantage by comparing your social media efforts with your rivals and paying attention to your customers
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