How To Research Your Competitors: Step By Step Tutorial

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Even if you do not consider your competitors your enemies, this is highly important to your business success to understand their weaknesses and strong points. Because every good idea grows from improving an area of someone’s weakness.

Moreover, a competitive analysis is the right way to examine your market closer. This complex method allows you to analyse a business as if you were a part of their company, a marketer and a client as well. Analysis performance does not need any specific knowledge, but it needs your time and diligence.

So, let us help you complete this important task step by step.

We divided the whole process into the three main stages according to the principal “from simple to complex”.

1. Identifying

The point of departure – Your analysis is to understand who your competitors are, and categorise them. This is the easiest section, nonetheless, the most crucial step for the later stages of your research.

To organise your time better, download the Competitive Analysis Template spreadsheet. Change this by adding or removing the columns that you feel are relevant to your requirements.

Begin looking for your competitors on Google Advanced search or other search platforms that are popular in your country or city. Use the same keywords that your business targets. Then, check your rivals products on sales markets such as Amazon, Alibaba Group, or Asos if you offer fashion products. One more important channel is social media networks – Facebook and Instagram. These allow for detecting competitors which may not have websites but can be found using hashtags.

When you have finished adding these to the spreadsheet, you need to break your competitors into tiers. The most popular way is to categorise them into three groups:

Primary (A). These are your direct competitors with the same products and audience, as well as business size.
Secondary (B). These are competitors who offer similar products but to a completely different audience segment.
Tertiary (C). These are businesses, who are just tangentially related to yours. They may become your competitors if you decide to expand your product catalogue. Or they can also be your partners for affiliate advertising.

Put their store names, links, locations, slogans, and segment notices into a spreadsheet to have an opportunity to monitor and change the data from time to time.

2. Examination

After your competitors have been identified and categorised, you can move on to the next stage – examination. To come closer to these rivals and discern more details you need to analyse their websites as a client and become their client.

Thus, this stage consists of two steps: external (visual) and internal examination.

External (Visual) Examination

Firstly, we advise getting started analyzing the websites of your direct competitors. Just take a view of their online store, and answer several questions:

  • Check, if their design is attractive, clear and user-friendly.
  • Is their website optimised? Do they have a mobile application?
  • How do their navigation and filters work?
  • Are their product photos and other images high quality? Is there any stock content?
  • How do their product cards look like? Where are their CTAs placed?
  • What is the quality of their text content?
  • Do they have a blog?
  • How do their promotion banners look like?
  • Do they have links to social media? Where are they placed?
  • Are their social media pages or channels active? What content do they publish there? How do they interact with their followers?
  • How many reviews do they have? How often do they answer questions?

Pay attention to all the areas and features you wanted to have on your website, and please do not forget to make notes.

Internal Examination

To get deeper expertise, fall back on secret shopping. This step will be necessary for improving the customer experience on your own website. Therefore, try to be a difficult customer if you want to find out all pitfalls of the purchasing process, and learn from their mistakes in future.

  • Do they have a cart?
  • Do they have abandoned card features?
  • Is it easy to make a purchase?
  • How long time does their reply take?
  • How do they speak with their clients?
  • Are transactional emails send immediately? How do they look?
  • How they solve problems with shipping?
  • How can you return the products? How long does this process take?
  • Do they have physical stores or showrooms?
  • What emails do they send after you have visited their website?

3. Digging into

To better define your strategy and effectively maintain the competitiveness of your web resource, you need to start analysing some technical aspects of your company rivals. The main questions you should answer:

  • When was their online store found?
  • What kind of promotions do they have?
  • What position does the site take in the search results?
  • What contextual ads do they use?
  • What pricing strategy do they follow?
  • What is their current ranking behaviour?
  • How are their pages and content ranked?
  • What is their keyword relevance?

Feature-rich Tools

To minimise your efforts, check a few useful tools which can help discover and analyse your competitors’ strategies.

1. SimilarWeb allow for analysing the multiple areas of digital marketing strategies of your competitors for free. Pasting any website link into the search bar, you will receive the full data of its activity:

  • Total visits
  • Traffic by countries
  • Traffic sources
  • Referring sites
  • Organic keywords
  • Paid keywords
  • Social traffic
  • Display advertising
  • Audience interests
  • Competitors and similar sites

 

2. SEMrush can also provide you with the same competitors’ insight. But it has its benefits. Firstly, you can compare four-five competitors at the same time, secondly, this platform builds motion charts based on SEMrush reports data in your Google Sheets. So this will be easier for you to analyse the broad picture of your marketing position.

 

 

3. Alexa is an effective metrics and tool for spying on competitors rankings. With a paid account you can also estimate popularity, demographics and behaviour data of your competitors: time on site, bounce rate and so on. All data will be put into a table, and ranked automatically.

 

 

There are also a variety of other tools which can help you on each stage of the competitive analyse.

In Summary

Competitors analysis help new businesses assess their opportunities and threats. Spend your time to find and categorise your rivals correctly. Spend more time to perform detailed examination of your direct competitors first. Pay attention to their market position, website solutions, social media activities, and pricing strategy as well. Analyse their SEO structure. Become their secret customer to test their clients support, email marketing activities, and shipping solutions. Make notes using different tools to gather the data needed and see your competitors’ weak points.

Transform their weakness to your strengths and improve their strong spots to your extra features, so you can build your ultimate digital marketing strategy.

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