Competitive research is a must whether you’re new to the market or a long-standing business. The market is constantly changing an,d the only way to take advantage is to stay ahead of the competition.
So what is competitive research? Competitive research is a process whereby you analyze your competitors including their websites, offerings, and overall web presence. You’ll also want to look at their marketing strategies and techniques.
How to Perform Competitive Research
If you’re ready to see how your stack up against your competitors, these steps will get you started with your competitive research and analysis.
1. Identify Your Main Competitors
To perform a competitive analysis, you need one main thing: competitors!
Even if you don’t have any direct competitors, you likely have tangential competitors who will work for your analysis. You really want to cast your net wide initially to consider all possible competitors.
The easiest way to locate competitors is to simply search for your product or service on search engines. What other businesses come up? Once you’ve compiled a list of five to 10 competitors, identify your top three competitors. This will help you to narrow your focus during your analysis.
2. Analyze Your Competitors’ Marketing Strategy
You don’t need a marketing insider to learn how your competitor is marketing their products or services. You can easily gauge your competitors’ marketing efforts with what’s freely available online. For example:
- Do they have a blog?
- Do they frequently guest post?
- Do they have an active social media presence?
- Do they have a podcast?
- Do they post videos?
- Do they publish case studies?
- Do they offer e-books or white papers?
- Do they have sponsored ads on shared search terms?
- Do they have sales or member perk pricing?
Sure, you can’t know the campaigns’ spending limits or ultimate reach. However, answers to the above questions will help you to understand their overall strategy and how you compare.
3. Analyze Your Competitors’ Content Strategy
I mentioned blog posts and other content above. It’s true that those channels are part of a well-rounded marketing strategy. However, it’s important to look more closely at their content strategy separate from marketing.
What do I mean?
Ask yourself more content-centric questions, like:
- How often are they posting to their blog?
- How frequently do they post to Facebook/Instagram/TikTok/etc?
- What types of blog posts do they produce (e.g. listicles, how-tos, buying guides, etc.)?
- What is the average length of their blog posts?
It’s easy enough to compare your own content habits with your competitors to see how you stack up.
4. Perform a SWOT Analysis
One of the best ways to look at competitors is with a SWOT analysis. This helps to prevent you from having overly optimistic or overly pessimistic views of your competition.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Here’s a rundown of the questions you should ask for each section when performing a SWOT analysis.
- What advantages do they have?
- What tools do they have at their disposal?
- What gives them their edge in the market?
- What is the size of their current audience?
- What disadvantages do they have?
- What doesn’t seem to be working for them?
- What limitations do they have?
- What tactics are they not using that their competitors are?
- What trends are they missing out on?
- What tools could they benefit from?
- What things are their competition (including you) doing better than them?
- What industry conditions may impact their current success?
- What are the ways competitors are quickly catching up with them?
The key here is to do this for each competitor as well as yourself. This will help you to easily identify crossover between yourself and your competitors and gaps.
You have completed your competitive analysis. Now what? Now it’s time to truly evaluate the gaps in your business and determine what you can do to improve your edge against your competitors.
Keep in mind that what works for one business may not work for another in similar circumstances. You don’t have to apply everything you’ve found, but instead, take what you like and what’s realistic for your business and leave the rest.