The practice of analyzing competitors as a strategy has been around for quite some time which, unfortunately, may not be a feature in any account management software that you currently have for your digital marketing agency.
It is a strategy that our ancestors had to use before they were going to fight battles, and it is the same strategy that we have to apply today in the market.
One of the most significant differences between these two approaches is that in modern times, we don’t have to shed blood while we fight, and we use sophisticated tools to help us analyze our competitors.
Why Is Competitor Analysis Vital?
This is a method of identifying your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses based on the information you already have.
An analysis of your competitors can help you better understand your position in the market, which might provide you with a distinct edge over them.
Take, for instance, your TikTok influencer marketing campaign, which can be compared with similar campaigns of your direct competition, and see how they are faring.
Understanding your competitors is one of the keys to becoming a market leader. The more you know about them, the better.
As a result of competitor analysis, you can get a complete picture of what needs to be improved in your business, such as keywords they rank for, market gaps, top-selling products, marketing and sales strategies, SEO approaches, site backlinks, and whole lot more.
The purpose of competitor analysis is to arrive at a practical understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of your company in comparison with your competitors and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competition.
Understanding the Value of Competitor Analysis
It can be defined as the process of researching and analyzing the marketing strategies of companies operating in a particular market to determine which is the most effective.
Researching your competitors will help you understand what other brands in the same niche are doing to acquire and retain customers.
For example, are they positioning themselves as a TikTok marketing agency or into affiliate marketing on TikTok?
By researching the competition based on their target niche, you can see a clearer picture of their TikTok market value.
This analysis evaluates as many factors as possible to gain a clear insight into what drives traffic to your competitor’s pages and what results in customers clicking on their ads.
As a result, it helps you identify the gaps in your plans and estimates your potential and opportunities for filling them.
There is no denying the fact that you and your competitors are fighting over the attention of the audience, and your leads are going to check similar sites to find the best solution.
It is crucial to conduct a competitive analysis to identify areas and channels that are too competitive and untapped growth opportunities in those channels and areas.
Make sure to avoid being tempted to mimic what your direct competitors have done for years. Instead, focus on better attainable and more realistic wins that are more relevant to your digital marketing agency than what your direct competitors have been doing for years.
When you analyze your competitors thoroughly, you can determine the best action.
Researching Your Competition
The four most important areas of performance that are crucial when it comes to analyzing a competitor in the digital marketing arena are:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Social Media Marketing
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
You should be able to identify the full spectrum of organic and paid digital strategies your competitors utilize based on their current marketing strategies. By doing so, you can better understand where your brand stands in the market.
Doing Your Competitor Research
Find out what tools you can use, as well as steps you can follow, to conduct actionable and comprehensive competitor research.
All your competitors’ maneuvers in the digital marketing arena can be tracked and analyzed using paid channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google Adwords, as well as the organic performance with the help of SEO and Content benchmarks.
- Identify Your Competition
To analyze your competitors, you must first decide which ones you wish to explore. As part of your competitor analysis, you should look at your direct and indirect competitors – brands serving the same target audience with a similar solution that you offer.
It would be best if you didn’t overlook competitors who offer a completely different service. Still, they can target the same challenge your ideal buyer persona is experiencing, so you should also keep a close eye on them.
As a brand and marketer, you’d be surprised how often there is a misperception about who your main competitors are.
Major players spend thousands of dollars yearly on digital marketing and target the same audiences as the competition to gain an edge over them or avoid them altogether.
To better understand who your competitors in your specific market are and what strategies work for them, you can utilize tools such as Ahrefs, Semrush, SimilarWeb, and Facebook Ad Library.
Depending on your objectives, you can either focus on 3 – 5 competitors and explore their digital marketing efforts across all channels and platforms or take a closer look at your top competitors per channel, like the top 3 organic competitors and the top 3 paid search competitors.
- Investigating Social Media Ads Strategy
Before you build yours, you must investigate what other companies are doing with their social media marketing strategy.
Find out if they are on LinkedIn and Facebook, see if they have a YouTube channel, and see if they use TikTok.
Facebook has a free tool to see what your competitors are doing for their campaigns on the platform. In the Facebook Ad Library, you can find all the active ad campaigns on Facebook by searching based on a keyword or brand name. Although you will not be able to track the activity of competitive brands on Facebook in the past quarter, you will be able to monitor your own movement.
Businesses often use lead ads on Facebook and LinkedIn to direct visitors to landing pages specifically tailored to their needs.
You will always have options for branding and customization that will make conversions seem as if they are right at your fingertips. Consider digging deeper into the competition’s offers, visuals, and messaging to see what they believe works best for them.
- Benchmarking Google Ads
What are the best ways to track your competitor’s PPC efforts? Here are some of the most reliable tools we can use to help you with your social media marketing.
If you want to access Google’s Keyword Planner for free, you don’t need to run paid ads, but you will need to create an account for Google Ads to unlock the accessible features of the tool.
Using the Keyword Planner, you can see the number of clicks and the average cost per click (CPC) of the keywords your competitors are running in the selected region and the volume of those keywords. By doing so, you can learn new phrases about your brand and see how often people search for specific words, allowing you to plan your advertisement spending accordingly.
As well as scanning which keywords your competitors are bidding on, Ahrefs is also helpful for determining what landing pages are the most effective for your competitors.
Using the paid search tab in the tool, you can see how well the company performs with its PPC investment and how well they are doing with it.
Although the PPC investment data is good, one should know that it could be more reliable since it can only give an approximate value. Therefore, it is different from a marketer’s actual PPC investment data.
Semrush is another tool professionals use regularly and has a free trial for a limited period where they can access all of the essential tools in their toolkit.
Semrush’s Advertising Research tab allows you to look at the competitor’s ad strategy and budget by just entering their URL.
It is possible to read through ad copies, watch live ads, track the most profitable PPC keywords, and monitor the ad spend of your campaigns. Using all this data to fuel your paid ads strategy quickly is possible – from building high-converting landing pages to creating campaigns with the right keywords targeted at the right audiences.
It allows you to see the ad text and banners used by your competitors as well – you can take a look at what they are doing with their Display Advertising campaigns.
Your CPC is likely to be very high when your Google ad campaign is competing in a hyper-competitive market. It is expected that if you notice a similar trend in your own campaigns, you will be in a ‘race to zero’ situation. It would be wise for you to invest in your brand with SEO and Content marketing to avoid that risk. As a result, you can check on how the organic competition is performing regularly.
- SEO Performance
Several SEO experts advise that if you want to track your competitors’ organic growth, you should run crawlers, identify the top-performing pages and keywords, set up visibility reports, watch out for rising SEO trends, and manually track E-A-T signals.
Crawlers or web spiders can scan your and your competitors’ websites to collect important information.
Using a tool like Screaming Frog, you can detect a full range of technical issues that might affect the page’s visibility on Google, for instance.
Using this tool, you can uncover duplicate, thin, or ill-fitting content on a page and the status of all links going to and from that page.
Using the crawler’s free version, you can analyze up to 500 URLs simultaneously.
You can use Ahrefs to analyze competitors’ organic performance using their high-traffic pages and the keywords they are targeting with their high-traffic pages.
If you look at the content of these pages, you will also be able to see how the content matches the intent of the searcher.
No SEO toolkit is complete without analyzing keyword volume and difficulty score as part of its features and functionalities.
Find out which keywords your competitors rank for and how they target them through content to see how you can do the same.
What other factors should you consider?
For any website to perform well, its speed, performance on mobile devices, and the removal of any page errors are crucial. Using Google’s free tools, you can test your website’s speed and check if it is mobile-friendly.
It is possible to determine where your competitor’s traffic comes from using SimilarWeb. This is especially useful if you have a large domain with traffic from multiple channels.
It is essential to remember that the E-A-T signals (Expertise-Authority-Trust) play an active role in search engine ranking since Google somewhat rewards websites that fall into this category.
There is no doubt that some of these small changes can make your domain more trustworthy and help Google identify the people behind your business. An About Us page, an updated knowledge graph, and author credits for your blog posts are some examples of small changes that you can make.
The organic performance of a brand is also dependent on the content it publishes, promotes, and shares. So from a content standpoint, you’d have to investigate your competitors to keep up with them.
- Content Marketing Tactics
Most of the time, the research you need to do to determine how your competitors are marketing their content will have to be done manually.
At this point, you will have to do some research on your competitors’ websites, see what types of content and formats they use, and figure out how to differentiate yourself from them. Reviewing the following items is an essential part of the process:
Scope of the main navigation page
The interlinking of the pages on the website
What benefits and features do your competitors showcase
Formats they use for marketing content
Non-gated and gated content resources
Highly relevant and valuable content will satisfy your audience’s intent, expectations, and pain points. Competitors who develop such strategies will attract and retain visitors.
How do you know where to start? Identifying your clients’ searches and mapping the top, middle, and bottom-of-the-funnel content will enable you to come up with the answers you seek.
You must look at your competitor’s pages to see if well-designed pages support all three distinct stages of the buyer’s journey.
As well as this, you should check how they convey the unique selling proposition of their company and how they differentiate themselves from their competitors.
There is a good chance that your competitors are using behavioral tactics to nurture their prospects and trigger a purchase decision.
There are, for example, similar websites that use the concept of ‘the power of now, which can be seen on certain websites. In addition, you might want to consider putting ” easy access, ” “same day shipping, ” or ” round-the-clock service” offers on your product pages if you provide them but haven’t explained them well enough on your website yet.
It is also good to check whether your competitors use cognitive bias tactics on their pricing pages, such as anchoring, the decoy, and the bandwagon effect. If that is the case, then it may be worth considering how you present the value and pricing of your product and what it has to offer.
- SWOT Analysis To Determine Challenges
A SWOT analysis is essential to any thorough competitive research and is only complete with one. There is no need for a detailed SWOT analysis to cover every aspect of the company. Instead, develop a framework to show you the path by identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you face.
You will likely notice similar trends in your competitor’s paid and organic marketing if you go through the previous steps of your research.
In this way, you can tell where they have the edge over you and where you can outperform them with a reasonable investment of resources. Is there anything you can achieve in the short term, and what needs to be done over time?
Collate all your information and analyze your findings
As a final step, you should pull together all your collected data and insights into one document that can be shared with stakeholders to share them with them.
This way, you can refer to it when you begin to build up your digital marketing strategy.
There is no need to start from scratch as you can note down the points, compare them with your core agency functions and services, and customize them using Microsoft Excel or a Google spreadsheet.
Performing a competitor analysis takes some time, as with any research project. It’s essential to remember that competitor research isn’t a one-time thing; it should be added to your recurring digital marketing tasks as part of the work you do regularly.
Make sure you do it at least once a quarter or every year to ensure you’re aware of a new competitor or a competitor’s new tactic in your industry or market. Then, as you gain more experience, you can make better and more accurate conclusions.
What is your understanding of your competitors? Do you know them well? Is there anything new that they are working on? Do you know anything about their strategies to succeed in their business? You should take the time to learn more about it if you do not already. It is vital to perform a competitor analysis not only to be able to compete with your competitors but also to give yourself an edge over them.
To succeed in business, you must take a proactive rather than a reactive approach when analyzing your competitors.
Keeping an eye on your competitors is crucial if you want to keep searching for growth opportunities and staying one step ahead of them, so a practical competitor analysis will help you do this.
When you examine the results of your competitive analysis from the perspective of your business strategy, you can recognize new areas of opportunity. For example, you might discover the success formula or fill a gap that will help take your digital marketing agency to the next level.
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