Growth Marketer Academy: Episode 6 – Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis: The key to jumping over your competition to reach your common customer.

If you’re like most marketers, faced with the task of building an ad campaign you probably start with a whole lot of guesses.

You take your best guess of what your customer is searching for… what words will entice them to click… what images will engage? And you build ads around those guesses.

There’s a better way. What if I told you that you can hurdle past your competitors by studying them?

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What is a competitor analysis?

Identifying your competitors and evaluating their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own product or service. A competitive analysis is a critical part of your company marketing plan.

competitor analysis graphic

In digital we will:

  1. Determine who your competitors are in each channel
  1. Figure out who’s ranking highest in each of your target keywords
  2. Learn what is working so you can build off that success

Why do you care?

  1. You need to figure out the players on the field before you can compete.
  2. Let’s you mirror a strategy that’s already working
  3. Let’s you figure out which keywords are likely to be pricey (entrenched competitors)
  4. Helps you identify “hidden gem” keywords

How to do a Competitor Analysis:

Identify direct & indirect competitors:

Direct Competitor: 

someone who does exactly what you do

(sells the same product or service)

in the exact same space as you

 

direct and indirect graphic

Indirect Competitor:

a company that doesn’t provide the same service as you BUT can pull resources from your market

EXAMPLE:

If you’re DirecTv, direct competitors are other cable & satellite providers

(Dish, Comcast, Charter, etc).

Your indirect competitors are streaming services and direct content providers

(Netflix, Apple TV, HBO Go, even Facebook & YouTube)

 

Step 1: Brainstorm

Everyone has a few competitors they know of in their space

Start your list there.

Step 2: Survey your Staff

Query your sales team, customer service staff & executives

Step 3: Use search to expand your list

Go back to the keywords that you’ve identified in your Keyword Matrix

(go back to Episode 3 if you need a recap)

Add the brands/companies that you’ve identified from your brainstorm & surveys

For Google:

Plug your targeted keywords into Google

Example, search for “medical billing software”

Collect the top ten search results (organic)

Note the ads that appear in order (up to 6 Google Ads will appear in a SERP)

Organize Your Data

Create a table linking the competitors (with URLs) to each keyword/phrase you plan to go after

Excel or Google Sheets works for cataloging by hand

OR

Use a program like SEMrush or SpyFu to automate

SEMrush:

Enter your targeted search terms

Results page shows you top SERP and paid ad results for that keyword

You can export data in several formats (like spreadsheet or CSV)

 

Identify the biggest competitor targets in your space

Identify those competitors that show up most often

Identify those competitors that are most relevant

This is going to take some cognitive decision making on your part.

Use your value propositions and long word keywords to identify relevant competitors.

competitors

EXAMPLE (from Dominate Your Market Through Ruthless Competitive Analysis blog post)

You’re looking to launch a small batch organic soda

Coke and Pepsi will show up as strong competitors in the “soda” space, but they aren’t going to be particularly relevant to the competitors you’ll be up against at launch.

You should focus on organic drinks (juices, teas, etc) more than soda.

Launching in a specific geographical location?

Focus on local competitors you’ll be up against on the store shelf or at the farmers market you plan to promote through.

Determine strengths and weaknesses of your primary competitors

Research top 4-5 relevant competitors in depth

You’re looking to identify:

Where do your competitors have the advantage?

How is your product/service better?

Identify marketing Opportunities from your Competitor’s Weaknesses:

Step 1: Assess Their website

Is it up to date?

Is it easy to navigate?

What are the value propositions they’re focusing on:

Do they have a comprehensive e-commerce platform (if applicable)

Try to buy something: is the process smooth?

Sign up for their lead magnet (newsletter)

Are you entered into an email automation series?

Step 2: Search Assessment

Search competitor’s products and brand

Are they ranking for their own targets?

These tools will give you an idea of how they rank:

Estimate of how much they’re paying for ads/traffic

This will show you the keywords and campaigns that your competitors are using

 

internet browser

Tip: Determine your margin of error with these tools by putting in your own URL

How accurately does the tool identify your marketing strategy & costs?

Use that modifier when reviewing the data the tool provides you about a competitor

Step 3: Ad Assessment

You’ve identified the platforms (Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter) that your competitors are going after.

You’ve identified the keywords they’re targeting

Now you need to delve into HOW they’re marketing to that keyword

Click on the ad to see where traffic is being directed:

Identify:

If it’s a sales page, go through the sales process.

Step 4: Explore the 3 Ps

Gather data about how they’re marketing by collecting their:

Step 5: Look at Their Content

Look at the content they’re offering

Do they have a blog?

What SEO keywords are they targeting?

How easy is it for a customer to find information (is it behind a paywall?)

Take a look at their:

Blog posts
Whitepapers
eBooks
Videos
Webinars
Podcasts
Slides/Powerpoints
Visual content
FAQs
Feature articles
Press releases
News
Case studies
Buyer guides

Step 6: Explore Their Other Marketing Avenues

Are they investing in billboards, TV or radio ads, direct mailers, etc.

Are they getting TV placements?

Check out their social profiles.

Monitor your competitors for new activity surrounding their brand/products

Set up Google Alerts

Mention.com 

Step 7: Assess Your Competitor’s Health & Wellness

  1. Explore hiring behavior
  1. Look at networking engagement
  1. Look at reviews

What are customers complaining about?

Example:

Complaint: product didn’t last.

Target your product’s durability

Complaint: software support was poor.

Target your reliable “always there” support staff

Identify what their audience is most impressed with

Keyword Matrix + Competitor Analysis = Fine Tuned Marketing Strategy

Compare the keywords your competitor is going after with your own Keyword Matrix

Are there keywords that you overlooked?

Helps you identify possible needs in the market

Use what you’ve learned about your competitor strengths & weaknesses to determine how best to frame your product/service to your target audience.

You should be able to identify:

Most important: how can you show your potential customer that you are doing it better?

SWOT analysis on computer screen

Model after the best of the best

Identify the most successful ads for your targeted keywords and mimic them

A super similar ad to one you KNOW works gives you a control for A/B testing

Well, they DO say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

But you’re really just doing it to jump ahead and start improving on what’s already working

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