Marketing competitor analysis
The most successful marketing efforts begin with planning and research. A valuable step that some companies skip during the planning stage is doing a marketing competitor analysis.

When developing your marketing competitor analysis, you will review your top rivals, audit their marketing tactics, and identify areas of overlap with your audience and goals. Through this scrutiny, you will get a clearer idea of how saturated the market is with different types of digital content (and, which messaging is already on your target audience’s radar).
Competitive analysis definition: Pinpointing who your competitors are and evaluating their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses in regards to your product or service. (Entrepreneur)

What to expect when doing a competitor analysis

The comparative marketing analysis is an important process because it will help you get a better idea of what kinds of marketing messages your audience is already seeing. By knowing what your competitors are doing to reach customers, you will improve your chances of success when drafting your marketing strategy.

Messaging channels look a little different in the digital marketing realm than in traditional marketing. Some types of digital marketing opportunities include:
  • social media marketing,
  • website design and user-friendliness,
  • any content marketing pieces like infographics, ebooks, or webinars,
  • and more.
As part of your planning, you may also find it helpful to audit your competitor’s traditional marketing tactics as well, including print ads, billboards and signs, radio spots, and television commercials. When you consider all the ways you can use marketing to attract new customers, it helps to know where your competitors perform best.

If you’re looking to attract customers locally, you probably already know who the top competitors are, and you can use these findings to get even more granular with your campaigns based on geographic market constraints.

The benefits of doing competitor marketing research

Conducting a competitor analysis has multiple benefits, including helping to save you money and ensuring you’ll reach the right audience at the right time. For example, if you were to launch a Google Ads campaign without first conducting keyword research, you might choose a highly competitive keyword target without realizing it.

Even this blog post has strategic keyword targets based on data:
  • competitive analysis in marketing has medium competition
  • competitor analysis has low competition
You can get keyword target insights, like these, using Google Ads’ keyword planning tool, but you can do some manual investigation as well. For example, some of our competitors are targeting competitive analysis, market research, and competitive research. Simple web searches are a great way to get a better idea of what your competitors are saying on these topics.

When you know the competitiveness of key terms, you can tweak your overall marketing campaign (or one specific effort, like a blog post) to get the most bang for your buck.

See competitive analysis marketing in action

We work with a client who provides a range of services in document management, scanning, and storage. After conducting a competitor analysis last year, we determined who was our client’s competition in scanning services and used this information to optimize their new inbound marketing campaign. We targeted those people identified as potentially unhappy with their current scanning services provider (our client’s competitor) because they frequently were visiting relevant “help” and “customer support” pages or searching for alternative vendors.

RESULTS: We used competitor marketing research to optimize our client’s inbound marketing campaign, and this planning work paid off. The campaign resulted in 6,000 sessions, 25 new contacts, and one closed deal within 12 months.

Tips for a successful competitor analysis

Completing a competitor analysis can be overwhelming if you’ve never done one before, making it difficult to know where to start. Though tactics will vary by industry (and other factors), here’s a high-level look at some of the general ways you can find success.

Focus your marketing efforts

For many of our clients, we get the best results when planning at the campaign level. Concentrating on a specific product or service line will make it easier to identify your specific competition within that parameter.

For example, a large hospital that competes for patients in your area may not have online resources for expectant moms or total joint patients. By creating those resources and promoting them geographically, you’ll answer patient questions and help them find the care they need at your hospital.

Narrow in on marketing tactics

In addition to focusing on product or service line, it also helps to understand where you’ll have the most impact with your marketing budget dollars. This will include determining how to allocate funds for digital marketing vs. traditional marketing, and—within each type—figuring out which tactics or assets that resonate best with your audience (and generate the greatest ROI).

For example, should your company promote its next campaign on Twitter?
  • If targeting young adults, 40% of people ages 18–29 use Twitter
  • If targeting seniors, only 8% of people age 65+ use Twitter (Pew)
Once you’ve used data to determine whether or not you should use Twitter, do a quick audit to see how your competitors are utilizing the same platform (and if they’re finding success).

Set realistic expectations

Another way to get more from your competitor analysis is to be realistic about your expected results, especially when it comes to paid ads results. For example, if a company pays considerably more each month for paid ads and promotes content of high quality, the results will likely fall in their favor over another who spends much less to reach the same audience.

However, by testing the waters with keyword targets, audience targets, and different spending allotments, you may be surprised to find a niche where you can outshine your competitors.

Keep in mind that we’re all competing for audience impressions, engagements, and click-throughs on the web, so a marketing competitor analysis can save you time and money before your campaign ever launches.
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