- January 25, 2024
- Posted by: Adrian James
- Categories: Competitive research, Expert Roundups
How To Approach Competitor Analysis to Inform Your Marketing Strategy
In the cutthroat world of marketing, understanding your competitors can be as crucial as understanding your own business. We’ve gathered insights from SEO Leads to Marketing Managers, distilling their expertise into seventeen distinct strategies. From adopting a ‘Sherlock Holmes Strategy’ to conducting thorough competitor listings, discover how top professionals use competitor analysis to refine their marketing tactics and messaging.
- Adopt a Sherlock Holmes Strategy
- Chart SEO Efforts Against Competitors
- Exploit Competitors’ Content Gaps
- Zig When Competitors Zag
- Discover Bottom-of-Funnel SEO Opportunities
- Leverage Competitor Insights for Personalization
- Humanize Brand Against Sterile Competitors
- AI Integration Spurs Marketing Efficiency
- Quarterly Competitor Content Analysis
- Identify Gaps with SEO Competitive Assessment
- Emphasize Emotional Benefits in Messaging
- Capitalize on Emerging Market Trends
- Evaluate Competitors’ Affiliations and Events
- Refine Competitor Engagement Strategies
- Uncover Opportunities Beyond Benchmarking
- Capitalize on Competitor Service Weakness
- Adjust Strategy Based on Funding Stage
- Conduct Thorough Competitor Listing
Adopt a Sherlock Holmes Strategy
When diving into competitor analysis to supercharge our marketing strategy, I adopt a mix of Sherlock Holmes’s keen observation and a chess grandmaster’s strategic foresight. I start by mapping out the competitive landscape, identifying not just the usual suspects but also the niche players and emerging disruptors. My tools of choice? A combination of SEO sleuthing, social listening, and content analysis, all aimed at decrypting competitors’ moves and uncovering hidden opportunities.
Let me take you back to a game-changing campaign that truly set us apart. We noticed a trend: while everyone was zigging with standard blog posts and static imagery, there was a huge, untapped potential in dynamic, engaging video content. This wasn’t just a hunch; it was a calculated move based on observing competitors’ lackluster video presence and the skyrocketing user engagement with video platforms.
Seizing this opportunity, we launched a blitz of SEO-optimized, eye-catching video content. These weren’t just any videos; they were a series of customer-centric masterpieces, blending product insights with storytelling that resonated with our audience’s deepest needs and aspirations. The result? Our brand didn’t just rise in search rankings; it became the go-to source for engaging, informative content in our niche, driving up engagement rates and conversions like never before.
But the game is always on, and staying ahead means never resting on our laurels. With the digital landscape constantly evolving, I keep my strategy fresh and adaptive. Whether it’s the rise of E-A-T in Google’s algorithm, the shift towards voice search, or the latest in AI-driven content creation, I’m always on the pulse. This approach doesn’t just put us ahead in the SEO game; it positions our brand as an innovative, customer-first leader, always ready to deliver the next big thing in our market. So, when it comes to competitor analysis and marketing strategy, it’s about being bold, creative, and relentlessly forward-thinking – that’s the mantra that keeps us winning!
Chart SEO Efforts Against Competitors
We recently did this specifically for our SEO efforts. We created a chart that lists our business and what we consider our top competitors across the top. We also Google keywords important to our business and note which competitors outrank us for those terms. We then include those competitors in the analysis.
For the analysis itself, we look at the following: how many words are on the homepage, how many pages are indexed in Google, and what keywords they appear to be targeting on the homepage.
Using various digital marketing tools, we note the domain authority of the websites and the number of linking domains.
We also use tools like Schema Markup Validator to see what types of schema markup competitors have on their websites.
We do all of this and more to see where we fall short against the competitors that are outranking us in organic search results. We can then make the needed adjustments on our website and, in turn, improve our own rankings in search results!
Exploit Competitors’ Content Gaps
We approach competitor analysis with a multi-stage approach. To help explain, I will use the example of a beach towel manufacturing company.
Our strategy will first focus on identifying a list of our top four major competitors, which we will do by comparing rankings on our top-performing non-branded keywords and identifying the most common competitors. You can do this on search engines or using third-party tools such as Ahrefs or SEMrush by researching your top keywords (non-branded) – for example, an e-commerce beach towel manufacturing brand can look up beach towel product-related keywords.
Once we have identified our top four competitors, we will embark on a deep dive of comparisons. We are comparing everything to our current strategies and analyzing their every move. From website design and social media engagement to marketing campaigns and customer feedback, we dissect their strategies to uncover their strengths, weaknesses, and hidden opportunities.
Further, using third-party tools such as Ahrefs, we can identify potential content gaps that these competitors aren’t targeting, which aids our content strategy with new areas to exploit.
With this strategy in mind, we will start pushing content to rank for lightly or completely untargeted content by our competitors. Take, for example, the phrase ‘Summer Beach Towels’; in this example, none of our identified competitors rank for it, and further, it has a registered keyword difficulty of 0. Thus, this would be a great keyword to target, and in the appropriate season (summertime for further engagement), we could publish content to target this keyword. The goal of this blog post should be to forward users to our beach towel e-commerce page. This strategy can be incorporated into any e-commerce and product-focused brand.
Fundamentally, as a marketer, your key focus should be identifying and exploiting gaps in your competition. Messaging strategy and brand focus should serve as a way to exploit these gaps.
Zig When Competitors Zag
Don’t just copy your competitors! You need to zig when they zag. Figure out what they’re not doing and:
1. Decide if they are not doing this for a good reason.
2. As you whittle down the good reasons, you’ll find things they’re not doing that they should be doing. Do that!
Discover Bottom-of-Funnel SEO Opportunities
Competitor analysis is my best friend when I do SEO for a new project.
Oftentimes, competitors will accidentally rank on Google for bottom-of-the-funnel, low-volume keywords.
Because these keywords are bottom-of-the-funnel, the conversion percentage is high—sometimes 75% or more.
Because these keywords are low-volume, the competition is very low. The sexy thing for brands is to go after keywords with the highest monthly search volume. Brands don’t realize that the low-volume, bottom-of-the-funnel keywords will actually bring more customers.
I’ll use my SEO software (in this case, it’s Moz) to see all the keywords my competition ranks for. I’ll look for keywords that resemble use cases or keywords that are solution-oriented. These keywords show that the searchers know what they want; they just don’t know the brand to get it from.
Then, I’ll look into the competition for these keywords. It’s usually low.
Then, I’ll create pages for these keywords.
It won’t take long for me to start showing up on Google.
These pages will give me customers for years because bottom-of-the-funnel SEO is evergreen—the pages will rank #1 for a long time.
When I did SEO for our edtech, Reverb, I found use-case keywords like ‘Students Record Themselves Reading’ or ‘Voice Recording in the Classroom.’ These are keywords that teachers were searching, desperately trying to find solutions for.
I found these keywords through competitor analysis, and nobody was targeting them directly! The search engine results were lacking in direct solutions.
By targeting these keywords, I gave the teachers the solutions they were looking for, while getting many new users. One teacher does not equal one user. A teacher could represent a class, school, or even a district. It worked out well for us.
Competitor analysis is one of the most important things I do in marketing.
Leverage Competitor Insights for Personalization
As a seasoned digital marketing veteran, competitor analysis is the cornerstone of my strategic approach. It’s not about copying, but about gleaning insights and refining my own path. My process begins with a deep dive into their digital ecosystem, dissecting their website experience, social media engagement, content strategy, and paid advertising campaigns. Tools like SimilarWeb and BuzzSumo provide valuable quantitative data, while actively engaging with their brand and community reveals qualitative nuances.
Take a recent campaign for one of our massagers. Competitor analysis revealed a saturation of generic ‘pain-free’ messaging. We pivoted to a hyper-personalized approach, leveraging user data to tailor messaging based on individual pain levels and needs. This resonated deeply, leading to a 20% increase in sales and a surge in user engagement. Competitor insights weren’t just helpful; they were game-changing. They allowed us to carve out a unique space, resonate with our target audience on a deeper level, and ultimately achieve measurable success. Remember, the goal isn’t to mimic, but to learn, adapt, and outmaneuver. That, for me, is the true power of competitor analysis.
Humanize Brand Against Sterile Competitors
We mostly look to our competitors for ideas of what not to do. Our niche in the moving space is very much built around offering a much more personal, local, transparent experience. One of the things we’ve noticed is that most of our competitors don’t actually feature their frontline employees or their customers in the way that we do. When you see the movers in other companies’ ad copy at all, it’s almost always paid actors, and usually, it’s just pictures of trucks and boxes. Our whole aim is to bring a more human touch to the industry, and so far, it’s been serving us well.
AI Integration Spurs Marketing Efficiency
When ChatGPT first came out, it was all the rage, but I personally didn’t pay much attention to it. Soon after, other AI solutions began showing their faces in the industry, and now, just over a year later, most people know what AI is. But before this entire ‘revolution,’ very few people had any idea about these technologies, or maybe they had just heard the word somewhere before. After finding that so many companies are jumping on board, I decided to do some competitor research and saw huge growth spikes among those that were using AI for various tasks. This research helped me understand how artificial intelligence was shaping businesses and becoming an integral part of our future. It didn’t replace any human workers but has helped to streamline our working processes, even in marketing, to reach more customers with less effort—which also gives us more time to focus on being productive.
Quarterly Competitor Content Analysis
As part of our digital marketing strategy, we perform a thorough competitor analysis every quarter using Ahrefs. This involves examining the latest content published by major competitors to identify any trends or strategic changes. For example, when we noticed that a competitor had translated their website into Arabic, we concluded that they were expanding into new markets. This gave us valuable insights into potential new markets to explore. Similarly, we discovered that a competitor had launched a new landing page for FinOps (Cloud Cost Optimization), which indicated an emerging service demand. This encouraged us to consider offering a similar service. Our systematic approach using Ahrefs helps us stay up-to-date with market movements and enables us to identify new opportunities for growth and differentiation in our services.
Identify Gaps with SEO Competitive Assessment
A deep competitive analysis is a very powerful tool and exercise. The main benefit of this process is that it identifies gaps that exist. Once you have identified the gaps, you can then align them with the marketing tactics you will use as part of your strategy.
In an SEO competitive assessment, it was identified that the ratio metrics aligned with content is where the biggest gaps were compared to competitors. This highlighted that there was a significant gap in content where the main competitor was getting more traffic for relevant keywords purely as a function of the content they were producing. This led to the development of a content calendar and topic research to fill said calendar.
Executing this took staying power and discipline. Seeing the growth curve of highly aligned, relevant traffic is very rewarding.
Emphasize Emotional Benefits in Messaging
When analyzing our competitors’ messaging, we noticed that they mainly focused on product features and specifications. Through our research, we identified a customer pain point that none of our competitors were addressing in their messaging—the emotional aspect of the product experience.
We decided to pivot our messaging strategy to emphasize the emotional benefits and the transformative impact our product could have on our customers’ lives. By highlighting the emotional connection and the positive outcomes our product could deliver, we were able to resonate with our target audience on a deeper level.
This shift in messaging allowed us to differentiate ourselves from the competition and establish a strong emotional connection with our customers. As a result, we were able to drive higher engagement.
Capitalize on Emerging Market Trends
Organic being our primary acquisition channel, we regularly check what topics our competitors are writing about and also look at things like backlinks and referring domains. We pay close attention to finding content gaps using tools like Ahrefs, and then work to fill those gaps. This way, we make sure our content is useful and stands out. Our goal is to keep up with industry trends and provide valuable information to the people who use our platform.
Apart from this, one thing that has worked really well for us is to monitor the recent trends in the market and be the first to provide informative content around it. For example, when the WhatsApp Cloud API was launched, we were among the first few companies to publish a detailed article on it, and that really worked for us—we were able to generate 100+ signups from this article alone in the first month.
Evaluate Competitors’ Affiliations and Events
One effective approach is to evaluate their website for affiliations and events they attend or sponsor. This offers valuable insights into their target audience, brand values, and personality.
By examining the causes and events they support, we gain a deeper understanding of what matters to our shared target audience. Competitor analysis can be a powerful tool in shaping a marketing strategy that resonates with your audience’s interests and values.
Refine Competitor Engagement Strategies
In shaping my marketing strategy, competitor analysis has been instrumental, particularly in understanding the dynamics of search-engine traffic. Recognizing the critical role this plays, I routinely assess what competitors are doing and identify elements of their strategy that yield success. A notable example is their approach to engaging with reporters and outside websites (hi there, American Marketing Association – Phoenix Chapter). By sharing their strategies with the media, competitors have managed to gain significant visibility and traction.
Observing this, I adopted a similar tactic but aimed to refine and enhance it. Be upfront. Be honest, and don’t just tell the outlet what they want to hear. Be yourself. Be your brand. My approach isn’t just about imitation; it’s about learning, adapting, and outperforming. If a competitor ranks higher in search results, I delve into understanding why. It’s about dissecting their methods and then applying those insights to my strategy, but with added innovation and efficiency.
This philosophy underpins my belief that successful marketing isn’t just about following trends but being one step ahead. By studying competitors and improving upon their strategies, I ensure that my approach is not only current but also distinctive and more impactful.
Uncover Opportunities Beyond Benchmarking
Benchmarking isn’t just about tracking competitors. It’s about deeply understanding their strategies, uncovering the ‘why’ behind their decisions. This insight can guide whether to adopt, adapt, or avoid their strategies. Look beyond what they do, to where they fall short. These gaps are your opportunities to innovate and stand out. Stay insightful, think differently, and craft a path that’s authentically yours.
Capitalize on Competitor Service Weakness
I approach competitor analysis by focusing on their customer feedback loops. In one instance, competitor reviews unveiled dissatisfaction with slow customer service. We adapted, emphasizing our lightning-fast support in marketing. Highlighting this advantage significantly impacted our strategy, resonating with dissatisfied customers of the competitor. By capitalizing on their weakness, we attracted a wave of new clients seeking swift assistance, swiftly boosting our market share and credibility.
Adjust Strategy Based on Funding Stage
When approaching competitor analysis to shape our marketing strategy, we begin by evaluating the investment stage of our competitors. It’s important because how we approach customers changes if we are a new startup or a more established company at a later funding stage. Even if we’re selling the same kind of product, we can’t talk to customers in the same way as enterprise-level competitors.
For example, when we were competing with companies at a similar funding stage, we took a close look at what they were doing. This helped us adjust our website, social media, and how we engage with our community to better fit the preferences of customers who are more likely to support a startup.
Conduct Thorough Competitor Listing
List your competitors. Make a thorough list of every person involved in your industry to start. Write down any competitors that provide comparable goods or services for the time being. You can eliminate the less relevant ones later. Small local businesses have nearby competitors that you probably know a lot about, or, at the very least, you are aware of. However, it’s crucial to identify your competitors for an online service or e-commerce store. Begin by conducting rudimentary keyword research. Try several different searches for your product category on Google, perhaps adding keywords like ‘price,’ ‘cheap,’ or ‘sale’ to make your query seem more commercial.
Submit Your Answer
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