How to Do Competitor Analysis in Digital Marketing
How to Conduct Competitor Analysis to Improve Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Doing in-depth competitor analysis should be a key part of your ongoing digital marketing strategy. Studying your competitors provides invaluable insights that allow you to refine and enhance your own efforts for greater success.
Follow this comprehensive guide to performing a complete competitive analysis in digital marketing:
Identify Your Core Competitors
Start by making a list of your key competitors. Be sure to include:
– Direct competitors – Companies selling very similar products/services to the same customer base.
– Indirect competitors – Businesses offering different but related products that meet the same consumer needs.
For each major competitor, research their positioning, target audience, products, messaging, and digital presence to gain context. This initial orientation sets the stage for more detailed analysis.
Now conduct a thorough audit of their digital marketing efforts across all major channels and platforms:
Analyze Their Website
Examine their website design, content, calls-to-action, and structure. How does it compare to your site? What best practices can you identify?
Review Search Engine Optimization
Use SEO tools to analyze their organic search performance. Review keywords ranked, backlinks, site speed, technical optimization, and content.
Examine Social Media Presence
Assess their activity on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Look at followers, engagement, content, ads, and community building.
Audit Content Marketing
Evaluate their blog, videos, podcasts, ebooks, whitepapers, and other content. Analyze topics, formats, promotion tactics, and calls-to-action.
Uncover PPC Advertising
Use ad spy tools to uncover their PPC campaigns on Google, Bing, and social channels. Review targeting, messaging, landing pages, and keywords.
Sign Up for Email Marketing
Sign up for their email lists to evaluate their strategies. Examine frequency, segmenting, promotions, automation flows, and list building.
Check Conversion Optimization
Check their website copy, calls-to-action, lead gen forms, and checkout process. Identify areas to optimize your own site.
Analyze Their Overall Digital Strategy
Zoom out and examine their broader digital strategy. How do they integrate various activities across platforms? What is their content marketing strategy? Which tactics get priority? How do they drive traffic and conversions?
Look for gaps or opportunities you can capitalize on in your own strategy.
Conduct a SWOT Analysis
Perform an in-depth SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) for each major competitor:
– What do they excel at digitally? What are their weaknesses?
– How can you leverage their weaknesses and your strengths?
– What elements of their strategy could evolve to threaten your business?
This reveals strategic insights into their vulnerabilities and advantages relative to your own.
Learn From Their Successful Content
Pay close attention to the specific content and offers that gain maximum engagement and conversion for competitors. Don’t copy it outright, but use it to inform your own content approach.
Monitor Performance Over Time
Treat competitive analysis as an ongoing initiative, not just a one-time effort. Set up alerts and automations to regularly monitor competitors for new activities. Check their performance periodically to identify trends.
This allows you to adapt quickly to sustain an edge.
Apply Learnings to Improve Your Marketing
The payoff comes from taking action based on your analysis:
- Improve website or campaign elements that underperform against competitors.
- Create content focused on topics/formats competitors ignore.
- Shift budget away from areas where competitors dominate.
- Test innovative partnerships, tools, or strategies they haven’t.
- Optimize pages and campaigns for keyword gaps competitors are missing.
- Share findings with your team and agency to inform future work.
The goal is to continuously apply insights to boost marketing performance.
Tips for Maximum Impact
Follow these tips to get the most from your analysis efforts:
- Look beyond current competitors for blind spots.
- Focus on your unique value proposition, not just reacting to others.
- Share key findings internally so all teams can capitalize.
- Don’t get distracted by metrics alone – focus on strategy insights.
- Repeat the analysis quarterly to identify trends over time.
- Directly apply learnings to improve ROI on initiatives.
The Benefits of Ongoing Analysis
Maintaining consistent competitor analysis provides many advantages:
- Reveals optimization opportunities you may otherwise overlook.
- Allows you to adapt quickly to changing competitor strategies.
- Keeps you updated on emerging digital marketing trends.
- Motivates your team by highlighting areas for improvement.
- Provides a sustainable competitive advantage by applying the right strategies.
Tools to Streamline Analysis
Conducting thorough competitor research does require time investment. But tools are available to streamline parts of the process:
- SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz and SEMrush for website/keyword analysis.
- Social media analytics like Sprout Social and Socialbakers to evaluate social presence.
- Ad spying tools like SEMrush, SpyFu and WhatRunsWhere to uncover PPC ads.
- Email tools like Mailshake and Voila Norbert to get on competitor email lists.
- Website analyzers like SimilarWeb and Alexa for evaluating and comparing sites.
- Keyword research tools like UberSuggest and Keyword Planner to identify new opportunities.
Turn Analysis Into Improved Performance
The true measure of effective competitor analysis is whether it drives better marketing results. Be sure to:
- Make your website and campaigns demonstrably better than competitors in key areas.
- Act on keyword opportunities competitors are missing or ignoring.
- Create differentiated content focused on gaps in competitors’ efforts.
- Improve poor performing pages/assets compared to competitors’ equivalents.
- Leverage strengths competitors lack for strategic messaging advantages.
- Shift budget away from areas dominated by specific competitors.
- Test innovative approaches competitors have not explored.
- Capitalize quickly on identified weaknesses or threats.
- Share findings with your team/agency to inform strategy and planning.
Avoid Common Pitfalls
While competitor analysis is highly valuable, be sure to avoid these common mistakes:
- Focusing too much on competitors vs. your own goals and ideal customer.
- Putting more energy into copying competitors than differentiation.
- Failing to repeat the analysis frequently enough to spot trends.
- Only looking at current competitors and overlooking emerging threats.
- Getting distracted by metrics vs. high-level strategic insights.
- Not disseminating findings internally for wider application.
- Simply gathering data without applying insights to optimize marketing.
The Benefits of Consistent Analysis
Maintaining an ongoing competitor analysis process provides tremendous benefits:
- Strategic insights that would otherwise be invisible.
- Ability to quickly adapt to changes in competitor strategy.
- Early warning system for new threats and disruption.
- Motivation for your team by revealing areas for improvement.
- Valuable data to inform content, messaging, and budget decisions.
- Sustainable competitive advantage by applying the right strategic learnings.
How to Do Competitor Analysis in Digital Marketing: Key Takeaways
- Make competitor analysis a consistent process to maximize your digital marketing success.
- Look at both strategic high-level positioning and tactical execution in detail.
- Use tools to streamline analysis, but human insight is still crucial.
- Focus on applying learnings, not just gathering data on competitors.
- Translate insights directly into improved performance – close the analysis-action loop.
- Never lose sight of your core positioning and goals in the process.
With the right competitive intelligence framework in place, you gain an invaluable strategic edge to beat rivals. But don’t forget the customer remains at the heart of marketing. Let competitor and customer analysis inform your strategy and execution. With this market insight, you will elevate marketing results and sustain competitive advantage.
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