Table of Contents
Ultimate Guide to Competitor Analysis: How to Analyze Competitors for Maximum Business Growth
Introduction to Competitor Analysis – What It Is and Why It Matters
Competitor analysis is the strategic process of identifying, monitoring, and analyzing your competitive landscape to uncover opportunities for outperforming rival businesses. It involves thoroughly researching competitors’ product offerings, pricing, positioning, strengths, weaknesses, and strategies across all key areas of their organization.
Conducting competitor analysis provides actionable intelligence you can use to set goals, craft data-driven strategies, and gain a sustainable competitive advantage to win market share. Understanding the competitive landscape is mission-critical for informing major business decisions and strategic planning. That’s why savvy enterprises invest substantially in ongoing competitor research and analysis.
Why Competitor Analysis Matters: Key Benefits
Performing competitor analysis delivers numerous commercial benefits, including:
- Reveal Vulnerabilities: Pinpoint rivals’ weaknesses you can exploit with your strengths.
- Avoid Surprises: Anticipate competitors’ upcoming products, features, or campaigns earlier.
- Outmaneuver Rivals: Predict competitors’ potential strategies so you can counter them quickly.
- Uncover Opportunities: Spot unmet customer needs you can uniquely solve before competitors do.
- Fuel Innovation: Inspire new differentiation ideas by seeing what rivals are missing.
- Boost Competitive Edge: Gain an information advantage that lets you craft smarter strategies.
Without understanding competitors, you are essentially operating blind, allowing rivals potentially launch better products and successfully chip away at your market position. Competitor intelligence removes blindspots so you can play offense and defense smarter.
Different Types of Competitors to Analyze
When conducting competitor analysis, it’s important to analyze beyond your direct competitors fighting for the same customers. You should also monitor indirect competitors and substitute offerings that meet similar customer needs.
Direct competitors offer the most similar products and services to yours and are targeting the same groups of potential customers. Monitoring direct competitors should be the priority focus of your analysis since they pose the biggest threat to your market share when fighting for the same pool of buyers.
Indirect competitors sell to the same overall market as you but don’t offer nearly identical offerings. Their offerings may be targeting different segments, positioning differently, or solving adjacent needs. While not a major threat today, you must still track them as they could pivot to become direct competitors.
Substitute offerings also attempt to satisfy the same basic customer need or solve similar problems to your offering despite being different products. For example, cars and bicycles both solve transportation needs. If the competing product gets better or cheaper, it could pull buyers away so tracking is worthwhile.
Competitors for Search Visibility
In some cases, companies that aren’t even commercial competitors will be competing with your content for the same keywords and high search rankings. So for complete competitive visibility, also analyze non-commercial sites focused on building authority through content for commercial queries.
How to Identify Your Top Competitors
With an expansive view of different competitor types established, the next step is identifying specific competitors to focus your analysis and tracking on. Here are proven techniques to pinpoint key competitors:
Analyze Your Industry and Niche Landscape
Leverage industry research reports and directories like Hoovers, Crunchbase, and Owler to find major players in your niche along with emerging threats. Review industry classifications databases like NAICS to see full landscape of assigned codes.
Use Competitor Discovery Tools
Specialty tools like SEMRush, BuzzSumo, and SimilarWeb provide automated competitor suggestions based on factors like search/social visibility, website traffic sources, and backlink patterns.
See Who Your Buyers are Considering
Survey customers and prospects asking what other companies they considered. Also review customer reviews and community discussion mentioning alternative solutions.
This multi-pronged approach yields the most comprehensive view of competitor types to include in your intel gathering.
Once you compile your universe of competitors, prioritize researching the top 5-10 companies garnering the most industry mindshare and representing the biggest potential market share threats.
Example Competitor Identification Process
Here is an example of concrete steps RM Digital, a website design agency, would take to pinpoint key competitors:
- Search “website design agency competitors” to find high visibility results we’re competing with for search share. Review and add relevant sites to competitor list.
- Visit Hoovers, Owler, and Crunchbase and lookup “website design agency” filtered by location and size to discover key players.
- Use SEMrush website traffic analysis report to surface additional competitors ranked for valuable impressions.
- Survey recent clients asking what other agencies they considered to reveal direct alternatives.
- Use SimilarWeb to analyze our website traffic sources and visitors to identify sites targeting the same customer segments.
Following the above process yields the most intel-rich competitor identification effort combining both manual investigation techniques and technology tools. We would then prioritize 5-10 firms for deep analysis.
Competitive Analysis Frameworks
When tackling competitive analysis across various parts of a business, it helps to leverage established strategy frameworks that guide what intelligence to gather. Two of the most useful frameworks are Porter’s Five Forces and SWOT Analysis.
Porter’s Five Forces Model
This famous strategy framework dissects the level of competition within an industry based on five forces:
Bargaining Power of Suppliers: How much control do suppliers have over pricing and product availability?
Bargaining Power of Buyers: How much power do customers have dictating price points and quality levels?
Threat of Substitutes: How likely are customers to switch and adopt substitute offerings if prices or performance changes?
Threat of New Entrants: How easy or challenging is it for new competitors to enter the market?
Competitive Rivalry: How fierce is competition between existing players? How aggressively do firms use tactics around pricing, product releases, marketing etc?
Analyzing these areas gives visibility into how the competitive ecosystem impacts profitability and reveals opportunities to strengthen your position.
SWOT examines competitive factors divided into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats:
Strengths & Weaknesses reflect elements related to your internal organization’s culture, offerings, and expertise compared to rivals.
Opportunities & Threats pertain to external dynamics in areas like industry trends, emerging technologies, market needs, and events impacting you and competitors.
Conducting a SWOT analysis assessing you versus competitors uncovers strategic insights to build on differentiators and improve vulnerabilities.
Using both frameworks provides broad coverage spanning internal, external, and directly adjacent competitive factors.
Now that we’ve covered techniques for competitor identification and strategic frameworks for guiding analysis, let’s explore the key areas to research.
Key Areas to Research About Competitors
Conducting holistic 360-degree competitor intelligence gathering across all parts of their organization yields complete information to formulate strategies against.
Here are crucial focus areas of competitor companies to thoroughly analyze:
Products & Services
Gather in-depth intelligence across all facets of competitors’ product and services portfolio including:
- Product range/SKUs: What breadth of products and variants do they offer? How many SKUs exist? How often are new products introduced or updated?
- Core offering: What is the key product or service forming basis of their position? What value does it provide? How mature is the product?
- Product development: What investments are they making in R&D and product enhancement based on public comments or hiring?
- Launches: What launches have they previewed? When are they expected to ship new offerings? How could it disrupt your niche?
- Reviews: What do customers and industry experts say about competitor products? How do reviewers rate ease of use, satisfaction, and capabilities?
Analyzing competitors’ core offerings and roadmaps provides both offensive and defensive intelligence. It anticipates potential disruption so you can counter effectively or reveals product gaps you can fill.
Business Model & Processes
Look beyond just offerings to examine competitors’ overall business model and operational processes for revealing areas to outperform such as:
- Revenue model(s): What monetization model(s) like subscriptions, transactional, etc fuel their business? What are the price points and structure? How consistent is this?
- Cost structure: What production and operational costs allow competitors to underprice you? What resources/partners keep their cost base lower?
- Workflows: What are their internal workflows, procedures and production processes? Are any innovative, patented or more efficient?
- Operational metrics: What KPIs like order accuracy, delivery times, or support response have they published? How do competitors benchmark operationally?
- Patents: What processes, technologies or differentiators do they have protected patents or IP around?
Finding creative ways to deliver value by enhancing business model efficiency is powerful competitive leverage.
Online Presence & Visibility
Analyzing how competitors show up online offers rich insights into their marketing and customer acquisition strategies across mediums like:
- Website traffic: What is competitors’ monthly site traffic and search visibility based on tools like SEMrush and SimilarWeb? What are traffic trends?
- Search rankings: What keywords do competitors rank for organically? How do search CTRs and rankings trend over time?
- Social media: How large are competitors’ social media followings and engagement levels? How does it compare relatively?
- Influencer marketing: Are competitors leveraging influencers? Who and how extensively? How does engagement and visibility from influencers enabling their growth?
- Reviews: Do competitors have extensive positive external review coverage providing social proof? Or many complaining reviews?
Website analytics quantifies digital influence, reach, engagement and buying consideration driven by online presence. Review analysis gauges brand sentiment. This data helps estimate sales impact by channel and focus SEO/advertising dollars accordingly.
Marketing & Sales Funnel
Marketing and advertising essential for not just driving website traffic but persuading visitors to become buyers. Key facets of competitor intelligence here include:
- PPC Ads: How large are competitors’ paid search and display advertising budgets based on tracking tools? Which keywords are they bidding on?
- Discounts & promotions: What seasonal discounts, sales or promo offers are competitors running to incentivize trials and purchases? Are there exploitable patterns?
- Web conversion optimization: Do competitors have highly optimized sales funnels on their site ensuring visitors convert to sales? What tests are running?
- Sales process: What sales methodology does their team use to close leads? Is it high-touch or automated? Does their sales funnel beat industry benchmarks?
Uncovering competitors’ marketing and sales tactics provides both offensive opportunities to out-execute and counterstrategies to deploy if they encroach on your business.
Customers & Market Share
While winning over customers depends on many areas like product-market fit and conversion rate optimization, assessing the raw number of customers and market share is also invaluable:
- Market share: What is competitors’ % share of total category revenue or sales? Is their share growing while yours shrinks? Does it vary by segment?
- Number of customers: Approximately how many total active customer does the competitor have? How has this trended historically?
- Customer demographics: What customer profiles and segments are competitors targeting primarily? Do they align with your best buyer personas? How do demand trends for each segment vary?
- Enterprise customers: How many major enterprise customers name competitors as vendors? Landing lucrative enterprise clients provides resources to funnel into growth.
Quantifying competitors’ penetration capturing customer mindshare guides investments towards underserved segments displaying more potential.
Public Reputation & Brand Identity
Beyond commercial metrics, analyzing brand identity and public sentiment is crucial for anticipating potential reputation impacts and maintaining trust:
- Brand positioning: What is the competitor brand’s positioning statement? How do they want the public and customers to view them? What attributes and values make up that brand identity?
- Public & media perception: What does a broad sentiment analysis say about overall press and consumption related to the brand across news and social channels?
- Controversies: Have competitors faced major public controversies or crises damaging public opinion recently? Were they transparent in response? What impact did it have short and long term?
Social listening provides early warning signs regarding changes in brand perception and controversies which influence trust and ultimately purchase consideration.
Company Culture & Workforce Strength
The competitor’s culture, mission and ability to attract top talent influence innovation capacity over the long run enormously:
- Mission & values: What mission statement and company values indicate what motivates competitors? How does their proclaimed culture contrast with employee sentiment on sites like Glassdoor?
- Employer brand: According to rankings on channels like Glassdoor and Comparably, do talent view the competitor as a highly desirable firm to work for? Does their employer brand aid recruiting against you?
- Leadership: Who are the executives leading the competitor? What are their bios and track records innovating? Do they bring unique experience driving disruption?
- Employee skill sets: Based on hiring demands and LinkedIn talent analysis, what specialized roles indicate what expertise competitors are building internally? What does their org design look like?
Talent and culture fuel innovation velocity. Analyzing them provides strategic foresight and recruiting intelligence so your talent brand stays differentiated.
Financial Positioning & Stability
Whether bootstrapped or heavily funded by investors, assessing competitors’ financial footing guides decisions:
- Profitability: From public documents and estimates, how profitable is the competitor? Are they sacrificing profit to fund aggressive growth or already profitable?
- Revenues: What is the competitor’s annual recurring revenue (ARR) and growth multiple year over year? How much of revenue is recurring subscriptions versus one-time purchases?
- Funding: How much funding have they raised historically or recently? Does their latest funding round massively boost threat level? What valuation does the funding round suggest?
- Stock performance: If public, how strong is the competitors market cap and how volatile is the stock? Does Wall Street view them positively?
- Debt & Liabilities: How leveraged is their balance sheet? Who are major creditors/lenders enabling operations? Could debt obligations force non-growth decisions?
Based on competitor financials, you can assess threats to sustainability, anticipate aggressive moves if flush with capital, and spot vulnerabilities.
Leadership Team & Competitive Advantage
A competitors leadership team sets the vision, strategy, and competitive differentiation so their bios offer pivotal insights:
- Executives & founders: Who are the executives and founders leading the competitor? What are their backgrounds? Do they bring public company experience driving scale or successful exits?
- Strategic priorities: In public comments and earnings calls, what strategic priorities and growth levers are executives emphasizing this year? Where are they investing? Do plans reveal competitive responses or differentiation moves?
- Core innovations: Does the competitor hold patents or have protected proprietary tech that fuels their differentiation and defensibility? What would it take to replicate?
- Acquisitions: Has the competitor acquired innovative startups or IP revealing intentions of expanding into adjacent categories or new features? What teams have they acquired?
Leadership commentary provides rare strategic insights you won’t find in company blog posts or marketing materials. Combined with bios/data, it reveals growth models and innovations influencing unique value delivery.
Now that we’ve explored all core areas of competition to research, let’s examine important metrics for quantifying how competitors benchmark.
Key Competitor Analysis Metrics to Gather Intel On
In each area of competitor intelligence gathering outlined, you should aim to quantify performance using metrics for accurate comparison.
Here are the most insightful metrics to gather during competitor analysis across all business facets:
Market Share – What % of total category industry revenue does this competitor capture? Is their share increasing while yours shrinks?
Revenue Growth – What is their annual and quarterly revenue growth rate year-over-year? How does their growth curve compare to yours in terms of acceleration?
Average Order Value – What is their average order size? How often do customers purchase and what is their lifetime value? How do your ecommerce conversion metrics compare?
**Pricing – Dive into competitors’ product portfolio pricing across plans, features, and use cases. Analyze discounts and incentives layered on to base pricing.
**SKUs – How many product SKUs and variants do competitors have for customers to choose from? A wider array drives conversion optimization opportunities.
Profit Margins – What are competitors’ gross and net profit margins? How do margins compare to yours based on production/operational efficiencies?
Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) – What’s the average customer acquisition cost based on sales & marketing spend divided by new customers? How does it contrast with yours?
Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) – What’s the average lifetime value of an acquired customer factoring in repeat purchases, referrals and retention rates? How does this LTV:CAC ratio compare?
Share of Web Visits – What % of total category web traffic does this competitor capture? Is their share increasing while yours shrinks?
Web Conversion Rates – What % of website visitors convert into paying customers? What’s their ecommerce purchase conversion benchmark? How do you compare?
Top Keyword Rankings – What top-traffic keywords and phrases does this competitor rank for organically? What % of rankings are first page?
backlinks – How many total backlinks does the competitor have? From what sites and domains? How valuable and relevant are linking domains?
Employee Count – How many employees does the competitor have currently and over time? Rapid team scaling indicates aggressive growth goals.
Funding Raised – How much funding has the competitor raised to date over all rounds? When was their last round? Who invested?
This list of metrics spans all topic areas referenced earlier, enabling thorough quantification of competitors’ business performance.
Powerful Competitor Analysis Tools and Resources
Conducting manual competitor research across each key metric is possible but tedious. That’s why leveraging competitive intelligence tools for automated data tracking provides efficiency.
Here are the top software tools for monitoring competitors segmented by use case:
SEO & Website Analytics
- Ahrefs – Backlink analysis, organic keywords and traffic
- SEMrush – Rankings, search visibility, keywords, traffic sources
- SimilarWeb – Website traffic volumes, geography, referral sources, more
Social Media & Brand Monitoring
- Mention – Social listening, brand alerts, sentiment analysis
- Hootsuite – Social publishing and analytics, influencer discovery
- AdBeat – Competitor advertising campaign tracking
- WhatRunsWhere – Cross-channel ad spying based on location/demographic targeting
Reviews & Reputation Analysis
- Grade.us – Review site aggregations and sentiment tracking
- Product Hunter – Feature requests, alternative analysis, founder commentary
Predictive Product Analysis
AppTweak – Mobile app store optimization and ASO analytics
This covers primary categories, but many tools provide cross-category mix of data. Expert competitive analysts leverage a technology toolkit based on intelligence needs.
To demonstrate how digital marketing agencies like Razak Musah Digital apply these in practice, we track 5 key benchmark reports:
- Organic Traffic Analysis – Using Ahrefs and SEMrush to monitor changes in competitors’ search visibility and keyword rankings monthly. We layer in website traffic volume data from SimilarWeb.
- Paid Ad Intelligence – Leverage AdBeat’s automated paid search monitoring campaign summaries from Google and Bing forbudget spend tracking and new advertisement creatives.
- Social Media Benchmarking – Compile engagement metrics across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn usingMention for monthly updates. Alert on surging influencer partnerships.
- Reputation Scorecard – Blend online review sentiment scoring from Grade.us with press and news analysis for complete picture.
- Product Analysis – For ecommerce competitors, gather mobile intelligence using data from Amazon store, AppTweak and SensorTower.
Step-by-Step Process for Performing Competitor Analysis
With competitor research tools saving time gathering data, the next phase is creating an analysis methodology.
Here is a eight step approach I recommend based on leading competitive intelligence best practices:
Step 1 – Set Specific Goals
Like any strategic initiative, begin competitor analysis by defining specific goals and questions you want the research to answer.
For example ecommerce merchants may want to:
- Uncover why competitors are gaining more site traffic
- Assess how new entrants may disrupt market dynamics
- Identify how competitors are optimizing sales funnels for higher conversion rates
Well-defined goals inform hypotheses and guide data gathering priorities.
Step 2 – Select Key Competitors to Focus Analysis On
Attempting to monitor every competitor is exhausting. Instead carefully select the top 5-10 posing the biggest potential threat based on factors like:
- Current market share – Recent growth acceleration
- Buzz/mindshare – Similarity of offerings
- Revenue scale
Most analysis tools outlined in the last section make this segmentation easy.
Step 3 – Gather Intelligence Data Points on Metrics to Analyze
Tap into all the competitor tracking software tools referenced earlier to populate a spreadsheet/dashboard with metrics on:
- Search visibility – Advertising spend
- Website analytics – Customer demographics
- Market share – Pricing & promotions
- Reviews & sentiment – Product launches
Expand beyond surface level reporting by exporting raw dataset CSV exports from tools for deeper manipulation.
Razak Musah Digital Example – We compile monthly snapshots across 130+ metrics providing holistic intelligence on key competitors. Our competitive analyst spends 2 days each month gathering the latest figures across all areas.
Step 4 – Compare Metrics Visually to Internal Benchmarks
With new numbers gathered, import everything into spreadsheet and data visualization platforms like Google Data Studio.
Create time series charts plotting competitor numbers relative to internal benchmarks over time revealing trends.
Visualizing competitve positioning exposes rising/declining strengths and vulnerabilities.
Step 5 – Synthesize Findings Into SWOT Framework
To prevent data overload, use SWOT structuring to digest insights based on internal strengths vs. external opportunities.
Catalog competitive discoveries across helpful/harmful and external/internal quadrants:
Group key competitor advantages like innovations or commercial traction as threats. But also log weaknesses like high churn as opportunities.
This perspective shifts analysis from demoralization towards offensive strategy.
Step 6 – Reveal Specific Differentiation Opportunity Areas
Moving up the value chain from SWOT intelligence, accurately defining differentiation opportunities translates insights into strategic commercial value.
Analyze competitor metrics against your own to innovatively brainstorm all gaps representing chances to:
- ProvideMISSING functionality lacking from competitor product roadmaps
- OUTPERFORM operationally by enhancing website conversion rates beyond their benchmarks
- UNDERCUT financially via lower pricing driven by superior cost efficiency
- OVERTAKE commercially by stealing customers through targeted sales & marketing refinement
Quantifying precisely where competitors fall short or could be exploited shapes high ROI gameplans.
Razak Musah Digital frames opportunities revealing exactly how much revenue currently goes to competitors that we could capture. This grounds analysis in reality.
Step 7 – Prioritize Opportunities Aligned to Resources
The last step entails being ruthlessly selective by choosing only game-changing opportunities offering asymmetric payoff potential compared to effort required.
Not all competitor weaknesses can be addressed. So gauge each along metrics like:
- CONFIDENCE – How achievable is sustaining this advantage long-term?
- IMPACT – Order opportunities by projected financial or strategic impact. Bigger payoffs take priority over incremental gains.
- UNIQUENESS – Is this gap truly unique to exploit before competitors catch up?
- INVESTMENT – What budget, development and opportunity costs are required to deliver?
This scoring model informs developing 1-2 year roadmaps chasing smart plays over pipe dreams. Ongoing competitor monitoring verifies if opportunities remain open.
Step 8 – Continuously Track Metrics and Refresh Analysis
Competitive intelligence isn’t just a one-time project. To stay on top, rebuild metrics dashboards monthly or quarterly as the latest numbers are released.
Stay vigilant for surges by competitors signaling new funding rounds, product successes or visibility gains.
Set email/SMS notifications through tools for alerts when competitors reach key milestones like site traffic increases. Or automate reports to make continuous analysis easy.
Repeating this eight step approach sustains an intelligence advantage as market dynamics shift.
Executing a structured competitive analysis process, combined with leveraging automation tools for tracking competitor metrics, is invaluable for long term domination.
Turning Competitor Analysis Into Strategic Action: Offense vs. Defense Moves
Performing an insightful competitor analysis is useless without responding strategically.
Catalog every major insight from ongoing tracking into either offensive plays to capture market share or defensive moves to protect position.
Offensive Moves to Gain Advantage
Analyzing competitors reveals pockets of opportunity wide open for the taking if you move swiftly including:
Superior Positioning – Find instances where competitors are failing to deliver core benefits sought after by customers. Retool messaging and positioning to convey you offer a better solution.
Spot Gaps in Product Line – Look for missing niche segments, geographies or features competitors haven’t built solutions for yet. Quickly fill the void before they wake up.
Predict Next Moves – Anticipate what product enhancements competitors are likely architecting 12-18 months out based on past pacing. Build these features first.
Out-Invest in Customer Intelligence – Actually talk to and survey customers more often than competitors to uncover unmet needs earlier. Ship solutions faster.
Improve Web Conversion Optimization – If competitors have inferior site conversions from traffic to sales, rigorously optimize experience to double sales simply by better capturing existing demand.
Scale Paid Ad Campaigns Into Uncontested Keywords – Identify high-value keywords competitors haven’t targeted yet either through ignorance or budget constraints.redirect discretionary dollars here.
Smartly spotting gaps, holes, and opportunities to super-serve customers that competitors deprioritize or lag on injects rocket fuel revene growth.
Defensive Moves to Protect Position
Competing doesn’t only mean playing offense. Also anticipate threats and prepare counter strategies:
Reduce Competitor Keyword Rankings – If competitors begin steadily rising in organic rankings across valuable keywords, bolster content and backlinks targeting the same terms.
Address Negative PR or Reviews – If competitors face scandals reflected in social media sentiment analysis, ensure no skeletons exist that could attract similar negativity.
Highlight Unique Selling Proposition as Competitors Emulate – Devilishly monitor competitors’ websites and product releases for signs of copying unique features or advantages. Remind customers through messaging why you provide superior implementation.
Lower Prices on Commoditized Offerings – If competitors introduce new products achieving higher marks through influencer reviews, concede defeat by reducing prices on these particular SKUs to remain price competitive. Protect margin on still-differentiated offerings.
Improve Keyword Targeting for Paid Ads – Adopt a tit-for-tat paid search approach by continuously optimizing bids against competitors’ observed budgets for contested keywords. Automatically adjust bids to just slightly outrank.
Balancing offensive growth and defensive protection is crucial to maximize market position as leaders and disruptors ebb and flow.
What is competitor analysis? Competitor analysis is the strategic process of monitoring, researching, and analyzing data on key competitors to uncover threats, opportunities, and create data-driven strategies exceeding rivals. It involves investigating competitors across all facets of their business to turn intelligence into strategic decisions.
Why should I conduct competitor analysis? Analyzing competitors is crucial for making informed strategic decisions, avoiding disruption, predicting future moves, revealing gaps to position into, inspiring innovation ideas, protecting your customer base, and sustaining competitive advantage over the long run in a strategic way.
What types of competitors should I analyze? Look beyond obvious direct competitors to also analyze indirect substitutes, niche players, emerging startups, threats for search visibility, buyer journey adjacency, and historically dominant leaders approaching from other categories. Cast a wide net.
What is the 80/20 rule for competitor analysis?
The 80/20 rule states that 20% of competitors likely drive 80% of market share. Prioritize analyzing the vital few competitors rather than diluting focus across everyone. Identify 5-10 competitors accounting for majority of market share.
How do I select competitors to analyze? Pinpoint specific competitors to analyze by researching your wider industry landscape through tools like Owler, leveraging automated competitor suggestions in SEMrush, surveying customers on other options they evaluated, and examining sites stealing your organic search traffic.
What metrics should I gather on competitors? Important metrics span search rankings, website visitors, repeat sales rate, average order value, lifetime customer value, churn rate, customer acquisition costs, email open rates, ad budget, social followers, customer demographics, product line breadth, market share percentages, hiring trends, funding rounds, press mentions, controversies, web conversion rates, organic keywords rankings, backlinks, reviews sentiment, app store rankings, and more.
What competitive intelligence tools should I use? Leading tools include SEMrush, SimilarWeb, Owler, Crunchbase, Alexa.com, Buzzsumo, AdBeat, Apptweak, SensorTower, SpyFu, Moz, Ahrefs, Social Mention, and Google Trends. Mix tools to cover SEO/traffic analytics, social monitoring, advertising intel, mobile metrics, keyword tracking, and business/funding data.
How often should I gather competitor intel? Re-analyzing competitors should occur quarterly at minimum, but monthly is best practice if resources allow. Set calendar reminders to revisit tracking tools and update key metrics spreadsheet. Immediately investigate any unusual surges flagging aggressive new focus areas.
What frameworks guide competitor analysis? Common strategic frameworks leveraged include Porter’s Five Forces analyzing factors impacting industry competition, SWOT examining internal strengths/weaknesses versus external opportunities/threats, position mapping quadrants, and McKinsey’s Three Horizons Model assessing threats.
How can I compare competitor metrics to my own? Design a dashboard visually plotting competitors’ KPI history next to your own benchmarks over time. This reveals relative trajectory across areas like revenue growth, website conversions, app downloads, search visibility, social engagement. Link dynamically to save time.
Should I survey customers on competitors? Yes, surveying both customers and non-customers asking which competitive brands they considered (and why) lends qualitative context to sentiment and reveals perceived positioning. Ask follow ups to quantify preferences, dissatisfaction gaps, and incentives that would trigger switching.
What role does company culture play in competitive advantage?
Mission statements, employer branding, and culture help companies attract talent to out-innovate, so tracking indicators – like brands as a top place to work – signals strategic strengths. Culture fuels long term disruptive capacity.
Why evaluate leadership team and funding? Executive moves, leadership commentary, and funding rounds suggest strategic priorities. Bio experience often demonstrates capacity to react faster. Funding amounts enable aggression, while funding shortfalls force weakness concession.
Should I map the competitor’s customer acquisition journey? Yes, flowchart how competitors attract and convert new customers across channels through sophisticated buyer journey funnel analysis clarifying successes to replicate and gaps representing opportunities to differentiate targeting and messaging.
What role does price and product feature differentiation play? Since product attributes, pricing tiers, and ROI value proposition weigh heavily on purchase decisions, ensure detailed intelligence on competitor product portfolios, features, and transparent pricing models. Benchmark to optimize price points, pack bundling/allocations, and attributes.
How can I predict competitors’ future product innovation pipelines? Analyst forecasts, new hiring LinkedIn analysis, semantic analysis of leadership interview transcripts mentioning new focus areas, recent funding announcements, and supplier/manufacturer partnerships help predict product development investment themes to get ahead of.
Why is gaining visibility into paid ad campaigns invaluable?
Obtaining glimpses into competitors’ paid ad histories, creatives, landing pages, and real ad budget spend via tools like AdBeat often reveals the most accurate depiction of messaging priorities and customer targeting insights compared to polished website/social content.
What does surging organic search visibility among incumbents signal? Accelerating keyword rankings and site traffic for established competitors indicates heavy SEO prioritization likely correlated to new leadership teams and focus areas. This signals rising competitiveness warranting urgency to match optimization investments protecting visibility.
How could monitoring business and funding news provide strategic advantage? Beyond tracking product launches, monitoring VentureBeat and The Information for executive leadership announcements, negative PR scandals, startup acquisition news, earnings surprises, or massive funding rounds provides warning signs to preemptively respond to pending initiatives competitors now have cash to pursue more aggressively thanks to new runway.
Why is competitor controversy analysis worthwhile? Scandals influencing public perception provide unusual leverage. Sentiment analysis and media monitoring allows faster reaction messaging to capitalize by comparison. Ongoing “competitor controversy” Google News alerts ensure seeing crises early before blowback subsides.
Which metrics indicate I’m truly losing customers to competitors?
The clearest signal of churn due to competitors comes from correlating historical quarterly customer additions and cancellations next to competitor product launches, promotions, or marketing campaigns stealing share. Drops directly overlapping competitor events pinpoint cause driving win/loss.
What leading indicators suggest emerging niche threats warrant attention? Rising momentum among potentially disruptive competitors often hid in long tail search queries, accelerating hiring on niche capabilities lacking internal, diversifying key influencers advocating new models, and consistently positive chatter among engaged early adopters flag threats before mass outcome data warns trends.
What strategies help incentivize customers to share intel on competitors? Directly asking loyal customers willing to advise categories “If I gave you a $100 Amazon Gift Card, which competitor details should I absolutely research more deeply to sustain innovations you rely on?” encourages transparent win/loss input without legal violations.
Which overlooked public data sources yield unique competitive insights? Underused public data sources like analyzing warehouse permits near factories for new production lines, FCC device testing submissions flagging proprietary tech, competitive patent filings by inventors demonstrating R&D priorities, customs records for import shipments, and even job descriptions missing internally provide rare strategic puzzle pieces.
What visualization best supports ongoing analysis? Regularly updating a competitive dashboard spanning key metrics across market share, web traffic, search visibility, social engagement, hiring trends, funding, product launches, and media sentiment allows visual trend spotting for quick prioritization of surging metrics warranting action.
Why does competitor CEO commentary provide rare strategic advantage? Earning calls and speeches contain unguarded insights into strategic priorities, metrics leadership focuses on, product themes, unique IP advantages, challenges faced, and operating metrics benefiting from otherwise private internal visibility. Read past transcripts applying sentiment analysis for patterns.
When do strategic alliances undermine competitive tracking effectiveness? B2B partnerships, channel agreements, investments, and technology integrations between competitors complicate visibility isolating proprietary advantages distinct to a single company, therefore requiring relationship graph analysis detailing all enmeshed allies and priorities.