A competitor analysis encompasses many different facets of your competitor’s business—revenue, product, marketing, sales, engineering, organizational structures, and more. But there’s something to be said for digging deep in one area and surfacing insights that drive action.
Analyzing your competitor’s marketing strategy is more than simply understanding what your competitor is doing on their blog or social media channels. It’s about understanding the story your competitor is telling the market, the methods and channels they are using to reach their core audience, and which types of resources they are using to achieve their goals.
When conducting a competitor marketing analysis, you’ll want to analyze five key areas:
- Content Marketing
Let’s dig into how to gather the required data, analyze to surface key insights, and then leverage those insights to drive action in your marketing strategy.
How to Gather Competitor Marketing Insights
Ten years ago, the digital footprint of a company was small—it was pretty much limited to their website, and maybe a Twitter account if they were particularly advanced. Nowadays, a company’s digital footprint is rather vast—from social media channels, review sites, news sites, and blogs. To conduct an effective competitor marketing analysis, you’ll want to gather a lot of data from various sources.
Where to Find the Data
Competitor website, social media channels, landing pages, etc.
Competitor website pages including homepage, product pages, solution pages, about page, etc. Social media profiles, press releases
Competitor website/landing pages, social media channels, blog, YouTube, etc.
Competitor website (logos), case study pages, third-party review sites (e.g. G2)
Competitor job pages, Glassdoor reviews, LinkedIn
How to Analyze Competitor Marketing Insights
Once you’ve gathered all of the information, it’s time to analyze and surface key themes that will help you craft a narrative about your competitor’s strategy. Here are the key areas and elements you should look at when analyzing different dimensions of data.
The campaigns your competitor is running tells you exactly what message or initiatives their business is prioritizing. When looking at campaign data, you’ll want to analyze who and what the campaign is targeting, and how your competitor is executing on promotion.
- Audience: Who are they targeting? Are there certain audiences or use cases that your competitor is targeting in their campaign?
- Offer: What exactly is the campaign offering? A special discount or sale? A free ebook or webinar?
- Calls-to-action: What is the action they want their audience to take?
- Landing pages: What is the messaging being used on the landing page? What is the design? Is there a form, and if so, how many and what types of questions are on it?
- Social media posts: How are they promoting their campaign? How often are they promoting the campaign on these accounts?
- Channels: Are there certain channels they are leveraging (or not)?
Take a look at this example from Toast. From a single shot of their homepage, you can see that they are running a campaign for $10k off of a hardware trade-in. You can also see what types of calls to action (CTAs) they are leveraging to drive the desired behavior.
Understanding your competitor’s messaging will allow you to differentiate and position yourself effectively across many contexts, including your marketing materials and sales conversations.
- Target markets/verticals: Your competitor’s messaging across their website (homepage, product pages, etc.) can expose the markets they are targeting—are they going after any underserved markets, or growing markets with similar needs?
- Use cases: Product pages or case studies can tell you the use cases your competitor is going after—for example, are they targeting alternative use cases like Customer Success, Sales, etc.?
- Strengths & gaps in competitor offerings: Product and pricing pages will allow you to see where the strengths and gaps are in your competitor’s products and services in comparison to yourself and the rest of the market.
This example is a case study from Salesforce, and from this one page you can glean tons of information such as the personas they are targeting and the use cases their product serves.
Content is king, and executing a killer content strategy is the key to dominating your market. However, part of an effective content strategy is understanding what your competitor is creating, and then finding ways to differentiate yourself. Here are some areas to analyze when looking at your competitor’s content marketing efforts:
- Formats: Which formats is your competitor investing in? More traditional formats like ebooks and blog posts? Or other formats like video, Slideshares, podcasts, etc.?
- Frequency: How often is your competitor releasing content? How often are they releasing each type of content offer?
- Channels: Where is your competitor promoting their content? Are they investing in certain channels such as YouTube or LinkedIn? Or perhaps there are channels where they are not present?
- Topics: Are there certain topics your competitors covering/not covering?
- Keywords: What keywords is your competitor going after? Also, make sure to assess what keywords they are currently ranking for and identify what opportunities you have to outrank them.
HubSpot’s resource page shows you exactly what their content investments are—you can see which topics and keywords they are targeting and what formats they are using.
Every marketer knows that receiving and acting on customer feedback is useful for both short-term initiatives, such as case studies, as well as the long term success of a company, such as product investments. Getting feedback from your competitor’s customers is also extremely useful—it allows you to understand your competitor’s real strengths and weaknesses, the markets they are targeting, and potentially what their product roadmap might look like. When analyzing competitor customer data, here’s what you should look for:
- Logos: Which logos does your competitor put on their website? Typically companies will put A+ customers on their website so they can attract the attention of similar companies.
- Case Studies: Take a good look at your competitor’s case studies to see why their current customers view them as a successful solution.
- Feedback: Case studies are great, but they are conducted with happy customers. Leverage those third-party review sites (like G2) to understand what customers are really saying about your competitor - the good, and the bad.
The examples from Mailchimp show a few things—the review highlights some potential issues with pricing and comments on the ease of using their email templates. The second example shows their A-list customers, giving you an idea of what types of businesses they sell to.
There’s no better way to tell where your competitor wants to invest their marketing efforts than by looking at how their team is structured. Here’s what you want to look for when analyzing your competitor’s marketing team:
- Future investments: Open job positions will tell you exactly where they are going with their marketing strategy. For example—if they are hiring for a paid media marketer, that’s a signal that they are looking to invest in PPC, paid social, etc.
- Current investments: Who is on the marketing team currently? For example, if the team is largely made up of content and demand generation folks, you can assume that they are a team that’s largely focused on inbound marketing.
This example from HubSpot’s career page shows you that they are making a big investment in product marketing and their EMEA segments.
What Now? Drive Action Based on Your Insights
You’ve gathered your findings and are ready to present to your team. Before you do, make sure you have a list of action items based on your analysis. An analysis without corresponding action items is fairly useless, and your team will likely feel that the time spent analyzing was time wasted. Also, be sure to ask for additional action items from the group—your analysis will likely spur some great conversations and ideas.
Here are some recommendations for how you can drive marketing actions based on the insights from your analysis:
- Run a competitive campaign: Did your analysis find any effective campaigns that your competitor is running? Run your own campaign that will help set you apart from your competitors and—hopefully—drown them out.
- Messaging review: Is your messaging getting a bit stale compared to the competition? Task Product Marketing with a messaging review to see if you need a messaging refresh.
- Promote your customers: If your customers aren’t front and center, then they should be. Publish some fresh case studies with top tier customers, or run a campaign to get more reviews than your competitor on a third-party site.
- Publish new content or try a new channel: Did your analysis show any areas that your competitor is not investing in? If so, it might be time to try something new by publishing content in a different format or promoting content on a new channel.
Conducting a competitive marketing analysis is an excellent way for you to better understand your competitor’s strategy, as well as iterate on your own strategy. These are simply suggestions to help drive inspiration—you’ll want to be sure that your action items align directly with the insights you gleaned from your analysis. Once you conduct your analysis, drill into key insights, and drive action based on those insights, your marketing team will be able to shape a successful competitive marketing strategy.
Topics: Competitive Analysis