There’s no room for guesstimates and hunches when running a business. To make strategic decisions that lead to growth, you need to let data show you how.
That’s what competitive analysis is all about. In this post, we’ll discuss everything there is to know about competitive analysis and how you can utilize it in your business.
What Is Competitive Analysis?
In simple terms, competitive analysis refers to cumulative data gathered from various external sources about the most prominent players in your market. These companies may compete with you on any number of fronts including:
- You might have the same addressable market of potential customers
- Their pages might surface on Google for the keywords that matter most to you
- You may be struggling to outdo each other when it comes to “share of voice” on social media and/or earned media channels
Indeed, defining who your competitors genuinely are can be a challenge. Regardless business leaders can compile competitive analysis reports and then leverage the collected data to make data-driven decisions that give them a competitive edge.
Four Types Of Marketing intelligence
There are four main categories of marketing intelligence, and each is useful for different purposes.
1. Understanding your customer
Gaining a better understanding of your customers is one of the most important pillars of a well-rounded marketing intelligence strategy. As the term implies, it involves multiple levels of data about existing customers, including:
- Customer pain points your products solve
- What drives repeat purchases
- Which types of content lead to conversions
- What improvements customers want from you
Why Comprehensive Customer Discovery?
Acquiring comprehensive insights about your customers will increase your ability to:
- Attract their attention
- Close deals with them
- Retain their loyalty
- Turn them into vocal advocates for your brand
Customer discovery can also provide enough data to build accurate, up-to-date buyer personas that accelerate lead generation.
2. Competitor intelligence
While customer understanding requires gathering information about existing and potential customers, competitor intelligence aims to unravel your competitor’s marketing.
What are the key differences between top competitors and your business? Which areas do they outperform you, and vice versa?
Competitor intelligence reports answer these questions, so you’ll know why customers choose other brands over you.
In turn, you will be able to identify and capitalize on improvement opportunities to earn a more significant market share.
3. Product intelligence
In many cases, losing customers to competitors can be attributed to gaping differences between your products or services. As you gain information about the other businesses in your niche, look for ways to differentiate your product and brand promise.
That’s where product intelligence comes into play. In this branch of marketing intelligence, your primary concern is your own product’s pros and cons.
More importantly, you need to analyze how it compares with similar products.
Just don’t get tunnel-visioned on the actual product’s design or features. To make the most out of product intelligence, consider everything that affects the performance and pricing of your product. This includes your manufacturing process, shipping, packaging, and everything.
4. Understanding your market
Lastly, understanding your market involves a broader analysis of your product’s markets.
The end goal here is to identify demand for your products in your market and other markets, so you can develop strategies for penetrating them. Most of the time, you’ll have to tweak your product’s features, pricing, or both to fit and compete in new markets.
For example, a social media management platform may target individual users or full-on marketing agencies. Through better market understanding, they can offer flexible plans that match the needs and budgets of different buyers.
How To Obtain Competitive Intelligence
Now that you understand the importance of analyzing your competition, it’s time to take action.
Here’s a comprehensive list of the ways businesses can obtain intelligence data and use it to enhance their decision-making.
1. Invest in analytics tools
Several competitor research tools let you spy on your top competitors’ marketing strategies. True, many of these platforms may be positioned as SEO research tools.
But since SEO is already comprehensive in scope, using them for competitor research yields extensive data. You can figure out your competitor’s top organic keywords, backlink sources, best-performing content, etc.
2. Take a look at first-party customer data
Don’t underestimate the value of your first-party data sources.
CRM, sales platforms, website analytics—you probably use plenty of solutions that come with audience insights tools. Use them to gain a complete view of your customer base and reinforce your knowledge.
3. Use analytics tools for your digital assets
Analytics tools for your website, social media, and paid advertisements are a goldmine of customer data.
Google Analytics, for example, covers every single aspect of your website’s performance. You can track important metrics such as session duration, conversion rate, scroll depth, and top traffic sources.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube also have built-in marketing analytics tools for businesses. Anything from content engagement to user demographics is provided for free—no third-party device required.
4. Run surveys and polls
Sometimes, it’s not enough to rely on analytics for making data-driven decisions for your business. After all, statistics and numbers don’t always paint the complete picture of what your customers want.
Using tools like Typeform or SurveyMonkey, you can allow customers to directly voice their concerns and suggestions. You can also easily run polls on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram via Stories.
5. Encourage customers to leave their feedback
Apart from surveys, there are several other ways for businesses to extract valuable customer feedback. A typical approach is to send review request emails as soon as a customer completes a purchase. This process can be automated using email marketing tools like SendInBlue, MailChimp, and GetResponse.
Businesses can also feature a numbered or emoji rating widget to better understand the customer experience and sentiment. Some user feedback tools like Emojics also let users write detailed comments about their experiences.
6. Use intelligence data providers
If you need a refined collection of digital marketing intelligence, you can get them from third-party providers for a price.
Platforms like these can help you to benchmark traffic acquisition sources, paid advertising channels, and the organic keywords that matter most to the others in your space. You can also identify websites that send traffic to your competitors but not to you.
Afraid that you’ll turn analysis into paralysis? Third-party competitive analysis data providers often make it easy to polish reports and make them readable through a user-friendly interface. You can also use their APIs to create custom dashboards that contain crucial data categories for your digital marketing.
Begin Utilizing Competitive Analysis
Here’s the deal: there’s no such thing as a perfect marketing plan. There will always be roadblocks between you and your marketing goals. Using reports to keep track of what your competition is up to can help you maneuver around these challenges and achieve marketing growth with maximum efficiency.