A competitor analysis is a lot more than a feature comparison sheet. In fact, some competitive intelligence specialists will say to cover product features last, and instead focus on areas like finances, positioning, or campaigns. Ultimately, the most powerful competitor analysis provides a complete view across many aspects of the competitive landscape, including where each company compares to the other on various dimensions.
There are five main aspects of a competitor's business to evaluate as part of an analysis: Market, Team, Product, Marketing, and Sales. Let's dive into each and some of the key elements to include for each area. You can also download our editable Competitor Analysis Template that walks through each of these components with additional detail.
But first, a note on making a competitor analysis constructive. The most impactful analysis is not merely a report -- rather, it's a blueprint for a company's competitive strategy. The full cycle of an impactful competitor analysis includes these four steps:
- Benchmark Performance - Take stock of the current landscape and compare your own business to the market.
- Identify Opportunities and Action Items - Drive follow up actions in response to the findings from the benchmarking process. Be specific where possible and tie action items to desired results.
- Keep Stakeholders Updated - A competitor analysis is not a one-time effort, it is an ongoing strategy for winning in a competitive market. So, stakeholders across the business need the latest intel on an ongoing basis.
- Close the Loop - Connect with each department or employee that owned an action item to understand what actions were taken and how it performed. Revisit the competitor analysis regularly to see how your strategy has impacted the market.
This full cycle is key for an impactful competitor analysis effort. Where most analyses are lacking is going past the first step of benchmarking performance to driving action across the business and ultimately impacting the market. Be sure to complete this cycle to make the most of this effort.
So, what do you include in your competitor analysis to make sure it provides a complete and insightful review of the market? Let's dive into each of the five areas.
Starting with market insights helps provide a high level view of the landscape and key financial factors. A market analysis should include:
- Competitors plotted by dimensions, such as direct or indirect, legacy or emerging, vertical, or solution
- Financial standing and funding history to get an understanding of scale and stability for each company
- Key market trends, whether tied to a specific competitor or generally to the market, to get a view into how the market is growing, shrinking, or changing
Plotting your competitors along various dimensions can provide a quick and easy framework for evaluating the impact of all other insights.
Team details give you insight into what goes on behind the scenes at each company, influencing how leadership and employees think about the market and subsequently act. A team analysis should include:
- Team overview to see each company's scale, resources, and geographic focus
- Key executives to get a view into their expertise and industry connections
- Employee review trends and themes to identify strengths and weaknesses for further research
Employee reviews and ratings give an "inside peek" into each company. Looking at overarching rating trends as well as themes from comments can provide great intel.
Product insights are key for many of your departments, from sales, who want to know how to respond to product comparison questions, to product and services, who want to know how to drive development to better serve the market, to marketing and executive management, who can use this intel to influence overall strategy. A product analysis should include:
- Pricing and packaging comparisons for products and services
- Deeper feature comparison to dig into coverage and product focus
- Product review trends and themes to identify customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction in different areas
Customers' product reviews can be rich with intel on how the company delivers on its products and services, and uncovers what customers care about most.
There are many different insights regarding marketing strategy and tactics to include in a competitor analysis. Each member of the marketing organization, from product marketers to PR managers to demand gen specialists should be digging into these insights to improve each of their efforts. A marketing analysis should include:
- Positioning comparison to see how each company's messaging helps them or hurts them in differentiating their solution
- Website traffic information to get insight into how each company is fueling their acquisition efforts and at what scale
- Social media reach across various channels to review if and how they are engaging their audiences across different platforms
- SEO details, like keywords and inbound links, that drive organic results for each business, to see where and how you can increase your SEO results
- Content overview to understand where and how each business is leveraging content to drive acquisition or retention, as well as reinforce their positioning and SEO strategies
- Calls to action and conversion points to get insight into each company's marketing funnel and the steps they want a prospect to take to engage and become a customer
- PR activity and results, including news mentions
- Other key marketing programs as relevant, whether events, email, promotions, or others
- Tech stack for each company to see where they're investing their marketing efforts
Marketing insights can provide inspiration on new campaigns to launch, give perspective on key acquisition channels by competitor, and direction on if and how to best differentiate.
Sales insights give the next level of detail regarding how each company is succeeding or failing in the marketplace in terms of acquisition and retention. A sales analysis should include:
- Sales snapshot, including customer count, geographic focus, and sales model, so you can see a company's sales success and focus
- Partner channel overview, including count and key partners identified, to get insight into the company's channel strategy and how it relates to sales and product
- Win/loss data, including win rates and win/loss trends, to see where your team struggles or succeeds in the competitive market
It is critical to collect data on when and why you win or loss against each competitor. This can highlight where you need to invest in product, sales enablement, or other areas.
An initial benchmark of the above business elements is simply the first step in understanding and out-maneuvering your competitors. The key is to leverage this information to create a strategy and ultimately close the loop on activities driven by this strategy. This process is an ongoing one, to stay on top of each competitor's moves and the many changes that can happen in the market. Armed with this intel, every leader across the business can make smarter and more strategic decisions to win in a competitive market.
Want to get your analysis off to a fast start? We've created an 50+ slide template that you can download and edit with your own data and analysis. The template also includes a list of (mostly free) resources to help gather competitive intelligence data.