Competitive analysis should be an integral part of every business’ strategy. Earlier this year, we conducted a survey and published the 2018 State of Market Intelligence Report to uncover how businesses are analyzing their competitive landscape. It was encouraging to find that 82% of people are tracking their own company alongside their competitors. This may seem like a high percentage, but truthfully, the number should be 100% - every company should be tracking themselves alongside their competition. Let’s take a look at the value tracking yourself can bring to your competitive strategy.
Benchmark Your Activity
It’s great to know every move your competitors make, if possible, even before they make the move. Are they posting a lot of content? How often are they updating their product? Are they using their social media accounts for customer service? Which positions are they recruiting for? Discovering the answers to these questions, and similar questions, are great tactics for gaining competitive insight. Tracking yourself in addition to tracking your competitors can give you a better understanding of where you are over investing or underinvesting in comparison. For example, here’s a look at content marketing insights over the course of about one month within one industry.
Here we can see that this a very crowded market. Most of the companies are clustered together with roughly the same volume of content but one clearly stands above the rest, having a more robust digital footprint - so they are someone to keep an eye on. And, by adding yourself into the mix, you can see where you stand within your market for content activity. You can also take a look at where you stand in other specific areas such as product, messaging, and customer happiness. Gathering the information about where you stand in comparison to your competitors will allow you to see if you’re a leader or laggard in each business area.
Spot Relative Changes in Investment
In order to best analyze your competitive landscape, you should look for relative changes in investment. It’s common practice that companies will ramp up certain strategies such as content, social media, or campaigns when they have a big announcement coming up. If there is a sudden spike in content being produced about a certain topic, you can use the insights to predict where your competitors are headed. Companies may also ramp up certain activities when they are trying to fill gaps in the market. Tracking your own company’s activity against your competitors’ can help you catch strategic changes before they’re publicly announced.
For example, say your blog publishing cadence is eight posts per week, and you’re leading the charge when it comes to blog articles in your market. But when you’re digging into your competitive analysis, you notice that one of your competitors, who usually publishes three times per week, has doubled their posting frequency. This competitor likely noticed that there was a gap in the market and is increasing publishing efforts to take advantage of the gap. You may be on your way to losing your leadership position, and catching this shift allows you to be proactive about your strategy. The reverse trend can also be notable - finding a competitor decreasing their content publishing may offer up a new gap in the market that you can fill with your own marketing efforts.
Break Into Untapped Opportunities
While it’s important to pay attention to increasing efforts from competitors, it’s also important to keep an eye on where efforts are non-existent or have dwindled. The great part about tracking yourself alongside your competitors is that you can see where there are those gaps in the market - the whitespace. If you can find the whitespace in your market, you can break into that space and serve an unmet need.
This also gives you the opportunity to lead the charge in untapped areas within your market. For example, if the blog space within your market has become jam-packed, but few, if any, companies are releasing ebooks, it may be a good idea to publish an ebook. This is a great way to grab the leads that your competitors are missing out on. You’re now offering your target audience a valuable resource that they currently can’t get anywhere else, which will make you stand out.
Compare Strengths & Weaknesses
In addition to monitoring what you and your competitors are doing, it’s important to monitor what your and your competitors’ customers are saying about the solutions they use. There’s a lot we can learn from our competitors’ customers, including what they like and dislike about the product they’re using.
A good way to discover this information is by tracking the competition’s online reviews. Take note of the positives and negatives highlighted in the customer feedback. This information can be compared to what your customers are saying about your own company. Where are you struggling where your competitors are excelling? You can use the positive feedback from your competitors’ customers to learn, and you can use the negative reviews to better align yourself with the needs of your market. This information is valuable for all teams within your company. Not only is it beneficial to product managers, because they can develop your product accordingly, but it’s beneficial for account executives and marketers alike.
Make Competitive Analysis Actionable
The important thing to remember about competitive intelligence is that it’s not only about your competitors - it’s about what you do in response. You should be able to compare where you are in the market in relation to your competitors, and you need to be able to turn the competitive insight into actions that benefit your business. Benchmarking yourself against each of your competitors is the key to an actionable competitive strategy.