Performing a competitor analysis is an essential step in any business strategy.
Analyzing your competitors shows you your greatest threats (competition wise), as well as where your biggest strengths could lie, and any gaps in the market that you could benefit from.
A website competitor analysis can either be used before setting up an online business and website; or to improve an already existing one.
The results of your analysis will help you create a more effective marketing strategy; identifying where there is opportunity to take your business to the next level.
A website competitor analysis researches your competitors, identifying them and how their business elements compare to yours.
This will identify strengths and weaknesses (both on your competitors side, and yours), and help you craft an effective business plan, by answering questions such as:
· What’s the current state of our brand?
· What are our competitors doing that is working for them? How should we match (or beat) this?
· What should we do that’s different to our competitors?
· Are there any unanswered opportunities in the market?
· Where and how should we focus our efforts?
Performing a competitive analysis will allow you to streamline your digital marketing more efficiently. The more info you have, the more you know where and how to direct your efforts – for the best results. Benefits include:
· Identifying opportunities in the market that you could benefit from
· Observing what methods your competitors are using, and how they might benefit you also
· Discovering gaps and niches in your industry that you could use
· Seeing where your marketing strategy might be lacking
· Competing more effectively with your biggest competitors
So we’ve identified the importance and benefits of a competitor analysis – now let’s see how to perform one.
Identify your industry competitors by searching for companies that offer similar or the same products or services as yours.
You should segregate these based on:
· Target audience – who are they primarily targeting?
· Problem solution – what customer problem do they claim to fix?
· Product type or service – what products and/or services do they sell?
You may find competitors that are the same as you in all three of these factors. These will be businesses that target the same audience as you, solve the same problem, and offer the same (or similar) products and/or services. These are going to be your primary, or ‘direct’ competitors.
Don’t lose sight of your indirect (secondary) competitors though. These are businesses that match yours in two out of three of our listed factors.
Indirect competitors might solve the same problem with the same products as you, but they might target a different audience (for example, they might market to an older audience, while you might target a younger audience).
Alternatively, you might find businesses that target the same audience as you and with the same ‘problem solution,’ but with different products or offerings.
Although they might not offer exactly the same things as your business or other competitors, we must also analyze these secondary competitors.
Research them to see how well they deliver factors relevant to you; and keep an eye on them to see if they expand and venture into new territories.
A business’s website is it’s online representation – and should be set up as it’s most powerful selling tool. When conducting your website competitor analysis, consider the following:
· Design: What colour themes and fonts do they use? Does their website design grab your attention well?
· Structure: How is the site structured? Is it effective and easy to navigate?
· Content: How do they present their products and services to you?
· SEO: What SEO practices are they using, and how are they implementing this?
· Offerings: Do they offer anything you don’t – for example, a discount pop-up or free trial?
· Message: What is their overall message to customers – how do they sell their brand?
Pay attention to anything that makes a certain site stand out to you – it will have the same effect on customers.
Many of your competitors are likely to use common features in their site. These are tried and tested methods that already work well in your industry. Take note of these, and also note anything unique.
No two competitors will be exactly the same. What makes each business different from each other?
Identifying what common features work for all businesses in your industry will give you a solid foundation for how to structure or improve your own site. You’ll know from your competitors that these site features work well on your target audience.
Any unique features you notice will give you some inspiration on how you can make your site stand out, by matching or beating what your competitors offer.
Your competitor website analysis will give you in-depth insight into how your competitors present themselves, answer market needs, and differentiate themselves from other businesses.
Now you want to understand their strategy. How do they sell effectively to their audience?
To research this, approach their sites as their target audience. Take note of how they capture leads – do they offer a sign-up discount with a pop-up?
Sign up to mailing lists, read their content, follow them on social, and try out anything free they offer you.
This will help you analyze what problems they answer for their customer, how they promise to do this, and what their key message is.
Your competitor’s business wouldn’t be successful without buyers.
As well as examining your competition, you need to examine their average buyer. Use your research on their site to determine what kind of audience they are targeting.
You’ll be able to tell this from their content – everything from the kind of language they use to their imagery. Look at audience factors like age, gender and location.
Do they service locally, nationally or internationally? Are they aimed towards one gender or both? What kind of age group does their language and presentation appeal to?
Experience the site as the average buyer. How is their customer response? If they sell products online, how is their checkout procedure? Do they have a live chat feature?
The factors you examine here will depend on your industry and offerings. The idea is to assess how well your competitor services the average buyer, and identify how you can match or even beat this.
Compare the products and pricing of your competitors against other businesses and your own. What products do your competitors offer, and at what prices? Are the products and/or prices different to yours, and how so?
How does your competitor structure their prices? Are they including anything you aren’t – such as free shipping, a free service quote or discount?
Examine their refund policy as well as their FAQ. Researching these factors will help you better understand the business model of your competitors.
This step will show you where your competitor’s strong and weak points are, directly from the customer’s mouth.
Reviews provide you with an unbiased representation of how the business is performing, from the customers who have already engaged with them.
You’ll see any weaknesses when it comes to their products and / or services, as well as what they do well from a customer perspective.
This is essentially your insight into the average user’s experience with this business. Also take a look to see if (and how) the business responds to reviews.
What outside platforms are your competitors using, and how do they utilize them?
You’ll want to find out if (and how) they use:
· Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. What is their presence like on these platforms – how many followers do they have? Do they use one more than the others, and how does content differ on each platform?
· Email marketing: Sign up to their email marketing list and analyze their campaigns – how often do they send them out, what do they offer, how are they designed, etc.
· Video content: Are they using videos in their marketing as well as written content?
· Blogging: If they use articles on their site, what kind of content are they covering?
· Other third party platforms: If they make their own products, do they sell these on third party platforms?
· PPC (pay per click): Do your competitors use paid searches? You’ll be able to recognise this if they have an ‘Ad’ icon next to their link when you search for them on Google.
Finally, you’re going to want to look at keyword strategies. How do your competitors approach their SEO? What keywords do they focus on?
You should identify which websites are bringing in the most traffic for the top keywords in the market – the highest frequency search results.
These are likely to be bigger websites, ones that currently dominate your industry.
Examining how your competitors utilize keyword research and planning will help you craft your own keyword strategy, and be more competitive for the keywords you do choose to focus on.
You might choose to focus on less competitive, long tail keywords for a better chance at higher rankings. Read more on how to approach your keyword strategy.
Examining how your competitors have approached their business model will help you develop and improve your own strategy.
This checklist will enable you to identify competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, gaps in the market, and how other businesses successfully reach your target audience.
You’ll also gain valuable insight into how you can improve your own business, and potentially deliver your customers something that might be lacking in your market.
The biggest brands in your industry are your stiffest competition – these should be your benchmark for business success.
What do these competitors do successfully, and how can you match, or even beat this in your own business strategy?
Take careful note of any weaknesses you notice in your competitors. These are areas where you can gain a competitive edge, offering you an opportunity to take your business to the next level.