Whether you’re a newcomer to the market, a long-standing industry leader or simply looking to revamp your current business, then ‘checking in’ with what your competitors are doing can be invaluable. We approach a competitor analysis from the viewpoint of gathering information to best equip businesses to make decisions around branding, the product or service, digital presence and the strategic plans for the future.
In saying this, it's important to consider the following:
“In a race, if you spend your entire time looking at those around you, you’ll never win.”
- A very wise person
Looking at your competitors in a valuable way is what's critical. So learn our guide to developing your own competitor analysis that actually works.
Who’s in the race?
The first step is to identify your competition. You may already know who they are, but we suggest doing some research to find any additional. When you type in your key offering and location into Google… who comes up on the first page? Checking companies with a good SEO ranking can be a good place to start.
We suggest segmenting your industry cohort into 4 different groups:
- Primary Competition: Your direct competitors, who are targeting the same audience with the same or very similar product.
- Secondary Competition: These competitors may offer a high- or low-end version of your product, or sell something similar, but to a completely different audience.
- Tertiary Competition: These businesses that are tangentially related. They offer a similar or different service/product to the same or similar target market. They aren’t exactly you, but they could challenge you.
- Ambition Competition: We always add a 4th category in our competitor analysis’ called the “Ambition Competition”. These are businesses in the same or similar industry who we consider to be ‘goals’. They are leading the way in whatever it is that they do, and are setting the benchmark for your business to strive towards.
What exactly are you looking at?
This is perhaps THE most important element to your analysis. Select components directly relevant to your industry, always coming back to the key questions you’re trying to answer. Use this list below as a bit of an industry-wide guide to help you get started.
These are the business operational pillars. This information can easily be found on their website and LinkedIn. This will tell a story of the company itself and who’s behind it:
- What year did they start operating?
- How many employees do they have?
- Who is the Founder / CEO?
- Do they have investors?
- Location - Where are their offices?
- Link to website
- What is their Value Proposition and Mission statement?
- Services / Products - What do they offer? Is it unique or different to your business? How?
- Packages and pricing
- Do they have Ecommerce?
Digital presence is a consumer's first impression of a business. It’s vital to get this right, but so many companies miss the mark. Here is what you need to assess:
Website - Critically assess their website. Some key areas to focus on would be:
- What is your first impression?
- What photography / image style do they use?
- Information - Amount, detail, clearness?
- Where are the ‘call to actions’?
- Do they use a lead magnet?
- Do they collect email addresses for subscription information?
- Do they have an effective eCommerce section?
- Access to social media links?
- What are the contact methods?
- Do they use a messenger bot?
- Do they publish regular blogs?
- Do they have case studies and or testimonials?
Reviews and Forums - Check online forums to find reviews (both negative and positive) for honest feedback from clients and business partners.
Digital PR - Are there any interesting blogs, articles and editorial pieces about their business?
SEO - What page on Google do they appear on?
This analysis is always helpful when your business is looking to rebrand. This information can easily be collected via their website and social channels.
- Colours - What are the main colours?
- Logo - Do they have an interesting logo?
- Images - What style do they use? Are they stock images or professional images?
- Look & Feel - What does the branding make you feel?
A modern day factor that really showcases the personality, values and popularity of a business. Keep in mind that each social channel could have a different strategy, style and tone of voice. We suggest you look at the following:
- What social channels do they use? Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter?
- Followers - How many do they have? What types of people/businesses follow them?
- Post activity - How frequently do they post?
- Content type - Breakdown of images, blogs, videos etc
- Engagement - Average number of likes and comments
- Hashtags - What hashtags do they use? Do they have a hashtag strategy?
- Paid ad campaigns - Do they do them, how frequently, what they look like? Tip: Use Facebook Ads Library for this.
At the end of this primary research, you’ll have all the facts you need to to complete a SWOT analysis. Clearly outline the strengths & weaknesses of your competitors and highlight the threats & opportunities to your business. Identifying gaps in the market is one of the best ways to differentiate and grow your business.
No doubt you’ve heard of ‘stalking’ via social media, so now is the time to implement this inquisitive behaviour to benefit your business. Don’t just read up about your competitors, engage with them. Here are some of the best ways to do this:
- Enquire about pricing. Many businesses in the service-based industry don’t have their pricing online. We suggest inquiring about pricing by asking for a quote. This will also test their communications.
- Purchase a product: Assess the retail or e-commerce process. Was it efficient? Was the service good? Is the product itself good? What does the packaging look like?
- Sign up for their newsletter. Do you get a welcome email? Is their newsletter and email marketing effective?
- Read their blog posts. Do they add value? Are they interesting? What topics do they focus on?
- Follow them on social media
- Check out their employees on LinkedIn
- Search databases like Crunchbase - to find out funding and investment information plus monthly website traffic.
The Snapshot Matrix
Once the research and the competitor analysis fields are complete, it’s important to simplify and measure the huge amount of information you’ve gathered. That’s why we like to include a snapshot matrix.
It’s a simple way to calculate the strength of a business's functions, digital presence, branding and social activity. You can either use ‘ticks and crosses’ or use a points systems like below:
The ultimate objective of a Competitor Analysis is to uncover where your business currently stands amongst the crowd. So we recommend including an analysis of your own business within the snapshot matrix, so you not only have a clear vision of where you currently sit, but have a benchmark to improve upon.