Ethical spying can give your brand a competitive edge, and even the tiniest advance over your competition could mean the difference between success and failure.
It’s no secret that B2B marketers should be vigilant and always keep an eye on the competition. This can be done using three simple steps.
1. Assess Your Industry’s Thought Leaders: Who is the go-to brand in your field? Who’s the second, or third? If you don’t know, then this type of research that needs to be done. The best way to find out is to conduct a Google search for your primary keywords. See what comes up. Click on the first page of listings and identify the brands that are most closely related to yours. What are they doing that you’re not? What could you do better? Are there any ways your brand can improve by analyzing the competition via a Google search? Take copious notes, as this is a prime time to learn and streamline your operations by piggybacking off the research your competition has already engaged in.
2. Use Tools to Mine Competitor Data: New technologies are being developed all the time that let you view the competition’s online footprint in real time, and on a single dashboard. Various tools glean useful data, but to avoid analysis paralysis, you would be best served by identifying the data that most closely relates to your brand’s goals and online aspirations. Then, choose your competitive analysis tool based on that information.
SpyFu, QuickSprout, SEMrush, and a host of others, can help you perform a full investigation on your clients. We’re talking full reports, including what keywords they’re using, how their sites are performing, where their links are coming from, and how much they’ve grown in organic and paid search over the years.
But that’s not all. Brandwatch Analytics can track your competitors across the web, including across social. Prisync can help ecommerce sellers track competitor pricing and inventory, and Owletter even lets you track yourcompetitors’ newsletters. Amazing, isn’t it?
With the right tools, all the information you need is spelled out in front of you, and it’s as ethical as can be. What’s even more exciting is that nearly every platform has a user-friendly UI, making competitive analysis a breeze.
3. Engage in Ongoing Research: The ideal situation is that you will discover a technique your main competitor is using and that your brand is not. By putting that technique into place, you just might manage to surpass your competition and grow your business.
The mistake is stopping there. You should never stop engaging in competitor research. The tools you employ can help you keep periodic checks on the other brands’ online activities.
Questions to Ask When Performing Competitive Analysis
When performing competitive analysis, here are the answers you’ll want to identify.
1. Are You Targeting the Right Keywords?
Performing research on your competitors can tell you which of your keywords should become your priority. Google Keyword Planner can help. However, identifying your competitors’ keywords can give you a path to campaign domination.
Be sure to search competitors’ most highly coveted paid keywords as well as organic to get the full picture and improve your SEO performance.
2. Are You Using the Right Tactics?
Hubspot showed that B2B marketers who blog generate nearly 70 percent more leads than those who don’t. Blogging has also been shown to create 13 times positive ROI! If your competitors are blogging and you’re not, you may want to start.
Competitor analysis will not only let you know if your competition is blogging, but how their blogs are performing, and where their posts are most being shared online.
Use this data to help you map out a campaign strategy that stretches even further than it does now.
3. Is Your Navigation as Simple as It Could Be?
Perform a full analysis of your competitors’ websites by using a site like Website Grader, which grades your site’s copywriting, navigation, and mobile friendliness, along with all sorts of other data. Powered by Hubspot, the analysis can help you fix vital problems in your web experience.
Furthermore, when visiting a competitor’s websites, start searching for information. Gauge the ease of navigation and search functionality, just like you were a prospect. Can you find what you’re looking for quickly? Use this information to make your site more efficient.
4. Are You Gathering the Right Backlinks?
Backlinks aren’t bad in Google’s eyes, as long as they come from authority sources. Use tools like Open Link Profiler to analyze your site against your competitors’ sites to determine if your backlink profile is varied, authoritative, and maximized for search.
This data can help you determine if you should be distributing more targeted content throughout your buyer’s journey to surpass the competition.
6. Is Your Sales Journey Properly Mapped Out?
Is your brand everywhere it needs to be? By using platforms like iSpionage and Whatrunswhere, you can determine where your competitors are spending their PPC budgets, as well as what and how they’re advertising on various platforms like Adwords and Facebook.
7. Are You Getting the Highest Return on Investment?
Your prospects have essentially two choices – they can choose your competitors or your brand. By conducting a thorough competitive analysis on others that are targeting the same audience, you have an excellent way to optimize your digital marketing campaigns.
Using the tools mentioned above along with a sufficient amount of data and time, and you’ll have a list of improvements that can boost your traffic, leads, and return.
To make it easy, invest in an all-in-one platform like Kompyte or SimilarWeb to track keywords, social metrics, email, PPC, and more. Doing so will help you minimize your most important investment, which is your time.
But Don’t Obsess…
Many B2B marketers make the mistake of obsessing too much about the competition to the detriment of their customers. Be aware of this mistake and instead focus your efforts on your customers first and then worry about what the competition is doing, as a customer-centric marketing strategy is more assured to grow your bottom line.
Sounds obvious, but competitor centric brands only copy and never innovate. Don’t be that brand.
Focus on what your customers want most. You can then bolster your marketing campaigns with technology and techniques designed to analyze the competition to gauge their web profiles, reach, and customer engagement. Then keep your research ongoing so that your brand is never taken by surprise.
Competitive analysis, when done effectively, can be used to fortify your campaigns, patch holes where needed, and hopefully surpass your competitors to become the brand leader in your field.