Digital Competitive Analysis for Your Business – Best Practices for Performing6 min read

Hugh Deraps October 8, 2018
Digital Competitive Analysis for Your Business - Best Practices for Performing 1

Digital competitive analysis (also called competitive research) is an in-depth investigation which focuses on collecting and reviewing information about your competition.

This analysis has the purpose of helping you figure out:

  • what your rival companies are doing
  • what are their strengths and weaknesses
  • how you can stay ahead of the competition

Performing a digital competitive analysis goes beyond doing a few Google searches. That’s why we wanted to write this article so we can show you how to perform a research which will help you develop a sustainable competitive digital strategy.

Why You Need to Perform a Digital Competitive Analysis?

Chances are that there are quite a few companies out there which are offering the same products or services as yours.

Simply knowing what they offer or looking at their website isn’t enough – you need to go deeper.

This is going to help you identify industry trends and most importantly, the campaigns and strategies your competitors are implementing to attract new customers.

Let’s talk about the best practices when conducting your own digital competitive analysis.

Tips for Performing a Digital Competitive Research

1. Identify your competitors

Even if you may have an idea of who your rival companies are, it’s important not to skip this step and do your research properly. We recommend identifying 5-10 competitors.

Google is a good resource you can use at this stage. Simply type in the search bar the type of services you’re offering or products you’re selling and in a fraction of a second, you’ll see on the search results page your top competitors.

You can then organise all the data you find about the competition in a spreadsheet.

To start, you can add basic info such as the name of the company, location, value proposition, service/product offering, strengths and weaknesses.

2. Examine the competitors’ website and user experience

The easiest way to start the digital competitive analysis is by looking at their site. Here are some of the most important aspects you need to pay attention to:

  • Does the site have a modern design?
  • Is the site updated often?
  • How are the services/products presented?
  • Do they use stock photography or high-quality images created by them?
  • What type of language it’s used to communicate details about the products/services?
  • What type of content are they publishing? How often are they doing it?
  • Is the content they’re publishing better than yours?
  • What sort of calls-to-action do they use?
  • Do they have a pop-up on the site? If not, are they using another way to build an email list or leads?
  • Are their social media icons visible on the site?
  • Is the site optimised for mobile visitors?
  • Is there an easy way to contact a member of the team?
  • How many contact options do they provide?
  • Do they have an SEO structure? (you can look at page title, URL architecture, H1 tags, internal links, categories, tags)

These preliminary questions are exactly what you need to you can kick start your digital competitive analysis.

3. Identify the competitors’ position in the market

This is important because it’s going to help you understand why customers are drawn to a particular company and figure out what you can do to stand out and attract more customers.

To identify their market positioning, you can use these questions as guidance:

  • Are customers buying from them because they offer an affordable product/service, because of the experience or the high-quality they provide?
  • How is their product/service different from the competition?
  • What key features and benefits are they emphasising in their marketing copy?
  • What makes their product/service unique (according to their copy)?

To get an even better understanding of how your competitors communicate, we recommend the following:

  • Sign up to their email list. Analyse the type of content you’ll be receiving and the type of messages they are using to transform leads into customers.
  • Read their blog. It’s important to read their most popular articles, or case studies, in case they have this type of content.
  • (optional) Test the purchasing experience. If your competitors are selling affordable products, then it’s going to be easy to purchase one of the items they have available. By doing this, you can check not only the quality of the product but also the packaging, how long it took for the product to be shipped and the overall customer service experience. If your competitors are offering services or products which cost a large amount of money, then you can do some research online to see if there are customers who have detailed their personal experience.

4. Analyse the competitors’ social media presence

Social media platforms represent a great way for companies to interact and connect with current and potential customers.

Because of this, it’s important to determine how your competitors are using social media and integrate it into their marketing campaigns.

The first thing you need to do is check to see how easy or hard it is for your competitors to be found on social media. Then, it’s time to see whether their profiles are active or not.

If they are, you’ll want to analyse them closely so you can assess whether they are using social media profiles effectively.

There are many companies out there which created social media profiles when they first started. However, nowadays it appears that these businesses are not publishing content anymore. If this is the case regarding one of your competitors, then you can definitely leverage their weakness to your advantage.

When it comes to active social media profiles, take a look at the type of content they’re posting and which posts have the most engagement. Also, you need to pay attention to how many followers they have on each profile and which one has the highest following.

It’s important to study the competitors’ profiles and learn from what they’re doing – perhaps you can get a few ideas on what you can do to improve your online presence.

What to Do After Performing the Digital Competitive Analysis

When you’re done with the research, you will have a much better understanding of what the competition is doing.

By looking at all the information you gathered, identify at least one area where you can improve. It can be anything from content creation, search engine optimisation or social media engagement.

Remember you don’t need to spy on your competition every single day, but it’s important to keep tabs on what they’re doing every once in a while.

If your goal is to shape a strong digital presence, then you need to create new opportunities for your audience.

Read more here on Digital transformation: How to maximise the leverage within your organisation. Additionally, you can contact us here for a no-obligation assessment of your digital ecosystem and online presence. Our team can help by creating an action plan to align your brand identity and customer touchpoints against your goals.