Competitor Marketing Analysis: How to Go About It, the Smart Way

Competitor analysis is crucial to digital marketing. Without this nifty approach, one cannot make a splash on the digital medium. In fact, it is a classic marketing research technique that relies heavily on Michael Porter's Five Forces model to pinpoint the weaknesses and strengths of business competitors: competition from new entities, supplier strength, customer potential, alternative options, and the level of competition between businesses.
If you don't know your competition too well, how can you survive but also thrive? This is particularly true in the Internet Age where everyone is measured by the extent of their digital footprint. In the online world, you are dealing with contextual advertising indicators, link activity, number of subscribers (if we are talking about accounts on social media), and traffic volume, among others. In other words, there are a variety of parameters, metrics and strategies to choose from.
Confusing you already? Not to worry. There are ways to accurately analyse your competition online. There are abundant tools that offer a range of solutions to achieve your goal. This article will hand-hold you in this endeavour.
Without further ado, here goes our definitive guide to conducting a competitor marketing analysis.
But first, the benefits of competitive analysis...
  • To gauge the market and your category volume, and understand the extent to which you can be profitable
  • To channel the company's resources towards the most effective marketing mediums
  • To find partners and contractors to increase your online presence in the market of your choice
  • To position your company in the marketplace with your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and Emotional Selling Proposition (ESP).
Find your competition
Take a deep breath, and relax before you go all out to find every small or big competitor you have to face off. That's the biggest mistake you can make of your time and energy. Instead, just focus on the Top 3 or the Top 5 businesses that you directly compete with. Having a long list of competitors will only demoralise and confuse you more.
Just focus on the 3-5 competitors as this will keep you rooted to the business at hand.
Identifying the competitors
  • 1
    Go through the customer surveys on the product or service you are trying to sell.
    Go through the customer surveys on the product or service you are trying to sell. Create your own survey on any of the social media platforms and ask people to fill up. Better still, ask your existing clients (if you already have enough) about their preferred sites/vendors/businesses and what they like about them.
  • 2
    Conduct a manual search by a set of keywords or what the industry calls 'semantic core'.
    If you were to describe your product or service with a few words, what would they be? Now that you have them, just go ahead and type each one of those, one at a time, on any of the search engines (we suggest Google as the others are not as popular or commercial). The first few pages will throw up results. Focus on those that are directly in line with your business. Make a list of those competitors.
  • 3
    This step is critical. Just a list will not do. Find the industry rating on such competitors.
    If it's a product, how highly does it rank on ecommerce sites. If it's a services-driven company, how do the employees perceive it. All these facts will give you an understanding on the competitors you really need to watch out for, and not some fly-by-night firms who might vanish before you say, 'Hello there!'.
Wondering which tool to use to compare?
SEMrush is one such convenient software that helps you track your competitors as it crawls their sites to measure your competitor's organic (unpaid) traffic, and backlinks to generate a 'keyword map'. This is super useful as this list will help you in the next step of your competitor marketing analysis.
interface of the service SEMrush for competitor analytics
Comparison chart
Before we begin, here is something to remember. There are various online platforms that offer comparison charts and diagrams. However, it is best you create your own table as it is more convenient because you can enter the key characteristics of your business. The best online tool that can help you here is the data provided by SimilarWeb.
Lifehack: Install the SimilarWeb extension for Chrome and check key site metrics without switching the tabs.
interface of the service SimilarWeb for competitor analytics
The characteristics to look for:
  • site traffic;

  • the ratio of organic and paid traffic;

  • the main traffic sources;

  • sites where the traffic comes from;

  • search result rankings;

  • content;

  • responsive web design;

  • marketing and advertising campaigns;

  • social network activity.

Remember, you can mix both the manual and automated search results for your final analysis. However, responsive design and usability is something only you can measure as it's your business idea and you know how to approach it. But the other numerical indicators can be handled by services like the one mentioned above to analyse the competitors.
Useful tools
Alexa, a subsidiary of Amazon, is used by many firms, big and small. It measures the traffic coming to the sites of your competitors. You can also search traffic based on keywords. The free version is not too useful for your kind of analysis. You need to budget for this, a minimum of $150 per month should do you a world of good.
Ahrefs is the go-to place if you want to create comprehensive reports on competitor analysis. What's more, this SEO tool also offers practical tips on how to outrun your competition by getting to the top of the search rankings. Isn't that what you wanted all along?
Backlink analysis
Backlinks can make or break your search engine ranking. Therefore, it is important to use a tool that evaluates the link value of your competitors that is making them rank so well on search engines. Once you have this important tool, you know where to get your backlinks from, don't you?
Useful tools
Majestic –– This site has perhaps the largest database of backlinks. However, if you want to make full use of its capability, you will need to buy a full version. This little investment will not go wasted, so go for it.
Analysing search engine rankings
This step is the best way to analyse your competition. All the businesses online are jostling with each other to be on SERP (search engine results pages). Here is where a thorough analysis of the search results will help you understand how to get to the top. What do successful competitors do that you don't? Are they focussed more on content or promotions? Or is it marketing and contextual advertising?
Useful tools
Serpstat –– This is a great multi-functional platform, but you should be interested in the Tree-View algorithm. This function shows the structure of the analysed site and the keywords that are most useful.
section "Tree view" in the service Serpstat
MOZ –– This versatile SEO tool measures not only your search engine rankings but also the grades of your competitors.

Advance Web Ranking –– If you are looking for detailed website stats under one roof, including Google Analytics and Search Console, this site is your best bet.
Lifehack: SpyFu is the best tool to precisely target your competitors and figure out their Google Ads strategies. It can show you a number of things that will help you in your online promotional campaigns.
Some of the information you can find here are:
Some of the information you can find here are:

  • The keywords used by your competition

  • The keywords that are doing exceptionally well

  • The length of their ad campaigns for certain keywords

  • The clicks and impressions they registered from their promotions

  • The best performing ads

  • Your competitors' ad copy

  • Your competitors' monthly ad spend

Analysing social media activity
Another way of analysing your competitors is through their social media networks. Not only can you drive business from these platforms but also engage with your target group. Quite often, social media channels are even more important than the corporate site. This is why it's important to look at the tools that can help you analyse your competitors on social media: Twitter and more.
Social media brand mentions are a great source of consumer insights based on user opinions. Importantly, it shows you the audience's pain points and desires, what they like and dislike about other brands, the solutions they want for their problems, and how much they are willing to pay.
This information will help you at all stages of your competitor analysis. For example, you can know if speed is most important to customers from a food delivery service. If the competitors are criticised for their high pricing, you could price your product much lower. You could even get ideas for an innovative service based on customer feedback.
Social listening is key to business success. You give what the people want, and not the other way around.
Useful tools
Social Ad Scout –– This site helps you take a look at some examples of social media ads with targeting details, views and timelines.

Hashtags –– Over here, you can find all your competitors by their hashtags.

Google Alerts - This is great if you want to monitor all the news about your competitors. Google will send you an email every time your comment is mentioned in any news story.

For an in-depth social media analysis you can use social listening platforms like Brandwatch or Youscan.
What else can you learn from the competition?
BuiltWith –– This is a service that shows you the competitors' site integrations, like Google counters, call tracking, hosting service, and so on. This will allow you to find new tools that you can use for your site.
service BuiltWith which shows the competitors' site integrations
Bonus tip: subscribe to the mailing list of your competitors, so you know what they are doing at every step of the way, and also learn the ways in which they communicate with their customers.
And finally...
That's a lot of data out there if you use many of the services above. But your job has only just begun. You need to sit and analyse each of the data strands that make sense for your business. Use this competitor marketing analysis report as a free resource to build on the strengths of your competition, and avoid the mistakes they have committed. Once you do that, your product is ready for primetime.
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