Competitor analysis is the cornerstone of every good marketing or advertising campaign, be it online or offline. Conducting detailed research takes a lot of time and effort. You must firstly understand who your actual competitors are, understand what they do wrong, what they do right and how you can utilise this data.
Competitor research isn’t simply about stealing ideas from your closest rivals… although that is sometimes part of it! It’s more about finding opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t know existed and taking advantage of them.
It allows you to build out a strategic plan that you can implement in everything from your SEO and PPC campaigns to your Social Media Marketing and blogging endeavours. Here’s 5 tips for an effective competitor analysis:
1. Check out your competitors on social media
First of all, there’s no easier way to understand what a competitor is doing than by following them on all their social media accounts. In this day and age, it’s incredibly simple to find a brands tone and voice. What promotions are they posting to Facebook? How do they respond to customer queries on Twitter? What content do they post to Google+ and how do they present themselves on LinkedIn?
See if you can weed out their social media plan. How often and at what times do they post to each platform? Are they scheduling posts using online tools or do they have a full time social media employee doing so? Test their responsiveness on these platforms by asking questions.
Take a look at what types of accounts your competitors are following and how many. Are they using tools to auto follow? Do their numbers change regularly? Tasks like this can be very time consuming, but as with all this sort of competitor analysis, there’s online tools that can help save time.
What are they actually sharing? Remember the 80/20 rule – 80% of everything your brand shares online should be non-promotional where the remaining 20% is a chance for you to talk about yourself.
2. Competitor Backlink Analysis
This traditional SEO technique is perfect for understanding what your competitors have been up to online. Find out what sites they have been guest blogging on, what dodgy directories they have submitted themselves to and what other areas across the web they’re garnering that all important link juice from.
Paid tools such as Open Site Explorer and Majestic will give you a good idea of the inbound links that are pointing to your visitor’s websites, what domains they come from, the metric score of the site linking and other such details which should all be weighed up before you consider perusing a similar link.
3. What’s their content marketing strategy?
What, apart from their social media output, are your competitors talking about online? What sort of noise are they making and where are they making it?
There’s a huge variety of content types that brands are using today to bring in website traffic, gain links and drive conversions but what’s the best thing to do in your niche?
Your competitors may be producing helpful downloadable guides about common queries that your target audience has for them to take away and digest. This will inevitably lead their brand to stick in their head and drive them back to the website in future if they have any other questions.
Blogging, guides, guest posts and content marketing in general is a great way of establishing yourself as a thought leader in your niche. Stop and think who you consider to be the best at this sort of thing in your industry. How do they produce their content and how can you replicate it with your brands twist?
4. Subscribe to your competitors email list
Check out the content of your closest competitors emails by simply subscribing to their list. How often do they send them? Make a note of their sender score (do they ever end up in your spam folder?)
Once more, this an opportunity to analyse the techniques deployed by your competitors and what tone of voice they take when constructing copy.
5. Who are they hiring and why?
Take a look at the job descriptions that your competitors are writing. What sort of language do they use and what are the specific skillsets they’re after?
Find out whether they’re hiring a graduate an experienced manager role. This can tell you a lot about a company’s structure and how they operate.