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4 Steps for Conducting an Impactful Competitor Analysis

Picture of Lauren Kersanske
Lauren Kersanske on Tue, Jul 16, 2019

A competitor analysis is the process of identifying and analyzing your competitors and how they compare to you. The challenge with a competitor analysis is that it’s a labor-intensive task that alone, often fails to make a measurable impact on company performance. While your colleagues will likely appreciate your findings when you present them, too often, the meeting will end with no tangible action items based on your analysis, leading to your hard work being wasted.

To make your competitive analysis impactful, you’ll want to follow each step of the competitor analysis lifecycle:

competitoranalysislifecycle

  1. Benchmark Performance - Analyze the current competitive landscape and compare your own company to the market. This is where you will spend most of your time. 
  2. Identify Opportunities and Action Items - Come up with action items based on your findings from the benchmarking stage. Be very specific and make sure that the action items are tied to results.
  3. Keep Stakeholders Informed - A competitor analysis is an ongoing strategy that will help you win your market—not a one-time effort. Make sure to keep stakeholders informed of the latest competitive intelligence on a regular basis.
  4. Close the Loop - Follow up with each colleague that owned an action item to see how they are progressing and how it performed. You should revisit the competitor analysis on a regular basis to see how it has impacted company performance.

Let’s dive into each of these stages.

Ready to get started? Download your free competitive analysis template

Benchmark Performance

The benchmarking step of the competitor analysis lifecycle is by far the most laborious part of the process because it’s where you will gather the data you need to present your findings. To gain a deep understanding of the competitive landscape, you’ll need to know all the strategic moves your competitor is making (or, even before they make them!). 

Here are some key areas where you can benchmark your performance against your competitors

Content Marketing

Understanding what your competitors are publishing and how often is a great way to gain insight into their target audience and where they might be going with their marketing efforts. You’ll want to look at the frequency of content published each month by competitor (blog posts, ebooks, videos, etc.). It’s beneficial for you to graph this information, like so. 

blogs

In this example, you can see that every company, which are each represented by one color on the graph, roughly published the same amount of content month after month, but one is far above the rest—this competitor has a robust digital footprint that you’ll want to keep an eye on. Remember to add yourself to this mix to see how your content efforts compare to the rest of the competitive landscape.

Product Innovation & Updates

Similar to the frequency of content marketing publishing, you’ll want to understand how frequently your competitors make changes to their products. Here are a few places to find those insights:

  • Product or pricing page changes on their website
  • Release notes or support pages
  • PR / News mentions

As you would do with content marketing insights, you’ll want to graph how often each competitor makes changes to their product and then add yourself in there to see how you compare. You can also compare product details in a feature comparison matrix to visualize your product strengths and gaps.

Changes in Investment

Another key aspect to spot is any relative change in investment. When a company has a big announcement coming up, it’s not uncommon for them to ramp up certain strategies like social media, content, or campaigns. If you notice a spike in content being produced about a certain topic, you can use that insight to understand where your competitor might be heading. 

For example, let’s say you lead the charge on video content in your market, posting two videos a month. But let’s say you discover that your competitor, who usually posts one video a quarter, now suddenly starts putting out videos once a week. This competitor most likely realized that there was a gap in the market, and now they are doing what they can to do take advantage. Catching this during your analysis will allow you to be more proactive in your strategy and adjust as needed.

Customer Happiness/Feedback

There’s no better way to learn about your competitors than by listening to their customers. Monitor third-party review sites like G2 and TrustRadius to see exactly what your competitors’ customers like and dislike about the products they’re using. Compare this with what your customers are saying about your product—are you excelling where your competitors are struggling, or vice versa? You’ll also want to see the number of reviews each competitor has across platforms and do an average rating to understand the general sentiment. This will help you understand how the market feels overall about you and your competitors, and whether or not you need to increase your presence on third-party review sites. 

Identify Opportunities and Action Items

You’ve now completed your analysis, and it’s time to identify opportunities and define action items. Remember that competitor analysis is an ongoing process, and you don’t want your efforts to be wasted on a single meeting, so this step is crucial.

When assigning action items, be as specific as possible and delegate tasks to certain people best suited for each. Here are some examples of action items that could come from a competitor analysis:

  • Content Marketing: If your analysis finds that one competitor is publishing on a specific topic with more frequency, task a content marketer with finding the “white space” in their content strategy or to analyze the current publishing frequency.
  • Product Innovation/Updates: Connect with a member of the product team (likely a product manager) to discuss the analysis and how it might affect the product roadmap. The action item can be for them to reassess the roadmap in light of your findings.
  • Changes in Investment: Did your findings show that a competitor has started publishing new videos twice a month out of nowhere? Get the marketing team on the case and have them assess (or revamp) their video strategy. A potential action item coming from that assessment could be that they will increase the frequency of their publishing to be greater than the competition.
  • Customer Happiness/Feedback: Did your analysis find that your competitor has more reviews than you? Expand your reach and elevate your brand by tasking a marketer to get customers to review your product across third party sites.

You’ll also want to make sure that for whatever action items you come up with, that you set metrics and/or KPIs so you can measure success.

Update Stakeholders

Competitive intelligence has multiple stakeholders across the company—product, marketing, sales, customer success, and the C-suite. You’ll want to keep stakeholders updated with the latest competitive intelligence on an ongoing basis via weekly competitive intelligence digests. Be sure to add context to your insights so stakeholders can understand quickly how a particular insight impacts them.

It should also be noted that stakeholders are likely from all different departments and they each care about different pieces of intel. Be sure to tailor your competitive updates and communication to their goals—not only will your work be more impactful, but it will allow you to nurture your unique relationship with each stakeholder.

Close the Loop

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there’s nothing worse than putting in a ton of work on a competitor analysis only for it to not have any impact beyond the meeting room. After you identify the opportunities and assign action items, you’ll want to connect with the action item owners to understand how they are progressing and what impact has been made so far. 

You’ll want to revisit your competitor analysis regularly to see how it has impacted company performance. Better yet, get the stakeholders in one room and give an update on action items and provide data on how those items impacted the KPIs you set—it will be sure to generate discussion and potentially new action items on how to improve your metrics even further.

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Topics: Competitive Analysis

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