Growth Marketer Academy: Episode 6 – Competitor Analysis
Competitor analysis: The key to jumping over your competition to reach your common customer.
If you’re like most marketers, faced with the task of building an ad campaign you probably start with a whole lot of guesses.
You take your best guess of what your customer is searching for… what words will entice them to click… what images will engage? And you build ads around those guesses.
There’s a better way. What if I told you that you can hurdle past your competitors by studying them?
What is a competitor analysis?
Identifying your competitors and evaluating their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own product or service. A competitive analysis is a critical part of your company marketing plan.
In digital we will:
- Determine who your competitors are in each channel
- Twitter, etc..
- Figure out who’s ranking highest in each of your target keywords
- Learn what is working so you can build off that success
Why do you care?
- You need to figure out the players on the field before you can compete.
- Let’s you mirror a strategy that’s already working
- Let’s you figure out which keywords are likely to be pricey (entrenched competitors)
- Helps you identify “hidden gem” keywords
- Are less popular search terms hidden gems?
- or are they abandoned for a reason – not worth your time?
How to do a Competitor Analysis:
Identify direct & indirect competitors:
someone who does exactly what you do
(sells the same product or service)
in the exact same space as you
a company that doesn’t provide the same service as you BUT can pull resources from your market
If you’re DirecTv, direct competitors are other cable & satellite providers
(Dish, Comcast, Charter, etc).
Your indirect competitors are streaming services and direct content providers
(Netflix, Apple TV, HBO Go, even Facebook & YouTube)
Step 1: Brainstorm
Everyone has a few competitors they know of in their space
Start your list there.
Step 2: Survey your Staff
Query your sales team, customer service staff & executives
- Who are they losing sales to?
- Who are customers mentioning?
- Are customers canceling to migrate to a different company? Why?
- Is there a company that executives are stealing/losing staff to?
Step 3: Use search to expand your list
Go back to the keywords that you’ve identified in your Keyword Matrix
(go back to Episode 3 if you need a recap)
Add the brands/companies that you’ve identified from your brainstorm & surveys
Plug your targeted keywords into Google
Example, search for “medical billing software”
Collect the top ten search results (organic)
- Write down the companies & their URLs
Note the ads that appear in order (up to 6 Google Ads will appear in a SERP)
Organize Your Data
Create a table linking the competitors (with URLs) to each keyword/phrase you plan to go after
Excel or Google Sheets works for cataloging by hand
Enter your targeted search terms
Results page shows you top SERP and paid ad results for that keyword
You can export data in several formats (like spreadsheet or CSV)
Identify the biggest competitor targets in your space
Identify those competitors that show up most often
Identify those competitors that are most relevant
This is going to take some cognitive decision making on your part.
Use your value propositions and long word keywords to identify relevant competitors.
EXAMPLE (from Dominate Your Market Through Ruthless Competitive Analysis blog post)
You’re looking to launch a small batch organic soda
Coke and Pepsi will show up as strong competitors in the “soda” space, but they aren’t going to be particularly relevant to the competitors you’ll be up against at launch.
You should focus on organic drinks (juices, teas, etc) more than soda.
Launching in a specific geographical location?
Focus on local competitors you’ll be up against on the store shelf or at the farmers market you plan to promote through.
Determine strengths and weaknesses of your primary competitors
Research top 4-5 relevant competitors in depth
You’re looking to identify:
Where do your competitors have the advantage?
- Larger marketing budget?
- Existing loyal customers?
How is your product/service better?
- More flexible
Identify marketing Opportunities from your Competitor’s Weaknesses:
Step 1: Assess Their website
Is it up to date?
Is it easy to navigate?
What are the value propositions they’re focusing on:
- “Our tires are cheapest” vs. “Our tires last the longest”
- “Our juice cleanse will make you… (sexier, happier, feel better, etc”
Do they have a comprehensive e-commerce platform (if applicable)
Try to buy something: is the process smooth?
- Inventory in stock?
- Do they hand you off to a 3rd party platform?
Sign up for their lead magnet (newsletter)
- DO they send it?
- Is it awesome, or not so much?
Are you entered into an email automation series?
- Is it targeted/compelling?
- Does it offer value or just sales pitches?
- Are you inclined to like the brand more or less after getting added to their marketing automation system?
Step 2: Search Assessment
Search competitor’s products and brand
Are they ranking for their own targets?
These tools will give you an idea of how they rank:
Estimate of how much they’re paying for ads/traffic
This will show you the keywords and campaigns that your competitors are using
Tip: Determine your margin of error with these tools by putting in your own URL
How accurately does the tool identify your marketing strategy & costs?
Use that modifier when reviewing the data the tool provides you about a competitor
Step 3: Ad Assessment
You’ve identified the platforms (Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter) that your competitors are going after.
You’ve identified the keywords they’re targeting
Now you need to delve into HOW they’re marketing to that keyword
- Type of ad (banner vs. display ad? Paid ad vs. boosted post on Facebook?)
- Identify their strategy:
- Calling out a competitor (“we’re better than XXX because…”)
- Focusing on a specific color/style theme?
- Focusing on specific pain points?
- Offering discounts/coupon codes?
Click on the ad to see where traffic is being directed:
- Site’s homepage?
- Content page?
- Landing page?
- Squeeze page?
- the goal your competitor is focused on with that keyword (lead generation, sales, etc.).
- the audience they’re targeting (example: are they targeting an ad to contractors when you thought your focus should be homeowners?)
- the ad’s value proposition (“we are the cheapest,” “our platform is customizable,” etc.)
If it’s a sales page, go through the sales process.
- Are you offered upsells/down sales?
- Is there a cart abandonment series
Step 4: Explore the 3 Ps
Gather data about how they’re marketing by collecting their:
- Product lists: Which products are they highlighting hardest in ads and on their site?
- Promotions: Are promotions offering discounts or add-ons?
Step 5: Look at Their Content
Look at the content they’re offering
Do they have a blog?
What SEO keywords are they targeting?
How easy is it for a customer to find information (is it behind a paywall?)
Take a look at their:
Step 6: Explore Their Other Marketing Avenues
Are they investing in billboards, TV or radio ads, direct mailers, etc.
Are they getting TV placements?
- What types of shows
- What do they do with the video (post to site as social proof, promote on social media, etc)
Check out their social profiles.
- Are they active?
- Engaging with followers?
Monitor your competitors for new activity surrounding their brand/products
Set up Google Alerts
Step 7: Assess Your Competitor’s Health & Wellness
- Explore hiring behavior
- Are they hiring?
- Can show you where they’re growing… or struggling
- Look at networking engagement
- Are they going to specific conferences?
- Are they speaking at engagements?
- Are they members of trade affiliations/organizations?
- This info will come in handy for setting up custom audiences when we talk about marketing on Facebook
- Look at reviews
What are customers complaining about?
- This lets you focus your campaign on their weaknesses
Complaint: product didn’t last.
Target your product’s durability
Complaint: software support was poor.
Target your reliable “always there” support staff
Identify what their audience is most impressed with
- Customers love that they answer the phone instead of using an automated queue
- Customers love that they put on little booties before going inside
- They offer good value for cost
Keyword Matrix + Competitor Analysis = Fine Tuned Marketing Strategy
Compare the keywords your competitor is going after with your own Keyword Matrix
Are there keywords that you overlooked?
Helps you identify possible needs in the market
- you may consider offering that product/service if there’s a high demand
Use what you’ve learned about your competitor strengths & weaknesses to determine how best to frame your product/service to your target audience.
You should be able to identify:
- Your top 4-5 relevant competitors
- What are they doing right?
- What are their weaknesses?
- Are they growing/profitable or breaking even/struggling?
- How are they pricing their products/services?
- How do they upsell/promote and what are they offering for value add-ons?
Most important: how can you show your potential customer that you are doing it better?
Model after the best of the best
Identify the most successful ads for your targeted keywords and mimic them
- Not so much as to create brand confusion
- That would erode trust with your lead
A super similar ad to one you KNOW works gives you a control for A/B testing
Well, they DO say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…
But you’re really just doing it to jump ahead and start improving on what’s already working