Conducting a Competitive Analysis? Get Started With the Right Tools
Digital Analytics

Conducting a Competitive Analysis? Get Started With the Right Tools

Data & Analytics

Jennifer Flanagan

Sep 29 2022

A competitive analysis requires more than simply knowing your top competitors and checking their social media every once in a while. Think about it: sports teams watch films and review scouting reports before every competition. They don’t rely only on their rivals’ wins and losses and then hope for the best.

Ecommerce businesses can benefit from the same kind of preparation. When done correctly, a competitive analysis can provide businesses with a legitimate advantage in their respective industries. We’ll cover which areas of business to focus on during your next competitive analysis and offer recommendations for ways to streamline the research process.

The Importance of Competitive Analysis

First, let’s briefly review what competitive analysis is:

“In its simplest form, competitive analysis is comparing your own business strategies with that of your competitors… It can include industry reports, SEO page ranking comparisons, breaking down the finer details of the competition’s content strategy, and key differentiators separating their value propositions from your own.”

Essentially, the best way to strengthen your business plan is to properly evaluate the competition’s tactics. Without this knowledge, there’s no way to be sure that your business is operating at its full potential. Studying the strategy around competitor products as well as sales and marketing tactics can help you to:

  • differentiate your product.
  • better serve customers (with new features, helpful content, or another missing piece).
  • keep up with industry shifts so you can plan proactively and respond accordingly.
  • develop benchmarks to monitor growth and progress.

Simplifying the Process

HubSpot reports, “According to a 2020 survey, most businesses have an average of 29 competitors.” Imagine trying to monitor and analyze sales and marketing data for nearly 30 different companies without the help of the right software. You’d never have time to focus on your own business!

Using digital solutions makes it easier to conduct an in-depth competitive analysis and to rerun the process on a regular schedule. But it’s not just that tools make the process easier; they also cover more ground, more thoroughly, than a single person can.

For instance, businesses have direct and indirect competitors, and it’s important to monitor both types. Using competitive analysis tools means you can keep the total list of competitors to 10 or fewer while knowing the data you receive is accurate and actionable. This gives you time to focus on key competition.

Before diving into specific solutions, begin the analysis process with a simple Google search and social media monitoring. Completing a search for your product or service should yield a list of competitors — some you already know and perhaps some new faces. Visiting their respective websites will provide a general overview of their specific products, pricing, and shipping costs before close analysis begins.

Your Competitive Analysis Toolkit

Depending on what you hope or need to get out of it, a competitive analysis can get extremely granular. Focus on comparing metrics over messaging for insights your team can act on. Measurable results will eventually lead to better messaging, but first, you have to know what you’re working with.

Product marketing

Email marketing is a must for any comprehensive digital campaign, and your competition knows this: nearly 80% of B2B companies use email marketing newsletters in their campaign strategy. Using a tool like Mailcharts helps you gather data on competitor campaigns, including subject lines, send frequency, and how your emails stack up across your industry. Owletter offers similar services as well as suggestions for optimizing your email schedule.

Paid ads are an especially competitive space where digital marketers need all the help they can get. iSpionage is among the most popular tools for gathering information on a competitor’s PPC campaigns, projected monthly budget (good for comparing to your own), and their target keywords.

Another highly recommended option is SpyFu. Qualtrics notes that with this tool, you can “search for any competitor domain name and you’ll see every place it has shown up in Google over the last fourteen years – every paid keyword from Adwords, every organic rank, and every ad variation.”

Content strategy and engagement

One of the easiest ways to keep tabs on competitor content is by using Feedly. This digital solution aggregates content through an RSS subscription, so you’ll always know when a competing company publishes something new. For further content analysis, look into BuzzSumo for engagement metrics and SimilarWeb for traffic insights.

Tech stack

Stay up-to-date on the best tech by checking what others are using. BuiltWith lets you enter a company’s URL to discover what that site runs on, including:

  • third-party plug-ins
  • tracking pixels
  • payment systems
  • web servers

Content marketing

SEO is one of the trickier digital marketing components to keep up with because it has so many moving parts. Luckily, solutions like SEMrush and Ahrefs offer a comprehensive analysis to help you strengthen your strategy. Ahrefs in particular provides a breakdown of competitor content, backlinks, and keywords while also comparing your site performance to competitors you want to monitor.

Using the right tools for competitive analysis shortens the research timeline, yields results more quickly, and ultimately gives your team more time to capitalize on the findings. Find the right solutions and start your new journey toward ecommerce success.

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