Competitive analysis is just a fancy way to describe the process of checking out what your competitors are doing, or not doing, and using that information to your advantage. Observing your competitors’ marketing strategies is a great way to measure their strengths and weaknesses and gain insight into your own. The first step into developing a solid competitive analysis strategy is determining who your main competitors are. After you’ve established who they are, you can begin to monitor and analyze. Below are four simple ways:
1. Sign up to receive their email or newsletter – Many companies make it easy for just about anyone to sign up and receive email newsletters. Most link to a signup form on either their website or Facebook page. A good way to receive a competitor’s non-newsletter emails (such as their signup or purchase confirmations, lifecycle series or other transactional emails) is to sign up for a free trial, or make a small purchase in order to be classified as a new customer. Be aware, though, some savvy companies will “blacklist” competitor work email addresses.
Receiving emails from your competitors can help you see things from the perspective of a customer within your industry. You can get a good idea as to the tone of voice, creative style and offer you want to include in your email, and which ones you would like to steer clear of. It’s always interesting to consider a point of view or positioning that may be different or even similar to your own.
2. Explore their website – Visit competitors’ websites to see what they’re doing right and what they may be doing wrong. For example, if you’re unable to find certain vital pieces of information such as contact info, a simple way to sign up or make a purchase, it may give you some insight into what you can capitalize on for your own website.
Viewing a competitor’s website is also a great method to get information on new products they’ve released, positioning, special promotions and discounts or other strategies you may not have been aware of.
Also, take a look at their “careers” or “jobs” sections as well. You can learn valuable information about a company and their areas of growth based on the positions they’re looking to fill.
3. Like and follow on social networks – ‘Like’ your competitors on Facebook, connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. Many companies release special promotions on their social networks, so if you don’t see their pages or profiles, you won’t be aware of their social media strategies. You can also check out competitors’ social media networks to see how they position themselves, and how individuals interact with their brand. Again, this gives you insight into what strategies and ideas are effective and which to avoid.
4. Give them a call – This strategy can give you insight into the way your competitors do business, especially if you and your competitors sell over the phone. You can find out how firm their pricing structure is and whether or not they throw in incentives in order to close a sale. The best part of this competitive analysis strategy is that you can basically ask them anything you’d like to know while you’re on the phone with them.
Competitive analysis is an important part of your overall marketing strategy. And, there is much more information on this topic out there. If you’d like further details on competitive analysis and the tools used to measure and rate competitors, Wikipedia provides a nice overview.
Do you have any other suggestions on strategies you’ve used for competitive analysis? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Savannah Stewart is a Lifecycle Marketing Coordinator at VerticalResponse. Connect with her on Twitter at @savannahstewart.