Guide To Conducting Online Competitive Research

Written by Tammy Durden

When Was The Last Time You Did Competitive Research Analysis for yourself (your business)? I dare say many of you haven’t done it since you started your company. I happen to love doing competitive research. I find it very interesting and often validating. This type of research is imperative in helping us stand out both in our messaging and in our pricing. This Guide To Conducting Online Competitive Research will equip you to do comprehensive research analysis for your business so that you understand better how to stand out in your industry.

Why You Should Do Competitive Research

There are many benefits to doing competitive research. Some of which I’ve already mentioned but a few others include:

  • It Will Test Your Pricing
  • To Give You Insight into an underserved audience your competition is neglecting (thereby helping you stand out in this audience)
  • Give You Insight Into Their Content and Engagement
  • Help You Develop A Better, More Strategically Informed Marketing Plan as you move forward.

Another reason to do competitive research is that It can save you time from producing wasted content that will not reach your intended audience. You have to know your audience and who else is trying to reach them and how they are going about doing this in order for you to stand apart (be different). It helps you produce better content. It will also help you set up a wise marketing plan to guide you.

[See additional benefits to competitive research in this article, U.S. Chamber.]

Defining Competitive Research

One of the first things we should discuss (as always) is to define competitive research. While we define what it is we should also consider what it is not. I hope to address both of these and more for you.

What Is Competitive Research?

Let’s first tackle the obvious question and define competitive research. Competitive Research is an important part of any good marketing plan. It is necessary and gives critical information that will help you know your audience better and stand out more in the crowd, as well as, guide you in your online presence. It is as important as understanding your client base. Competitive research empowers you to put into place many critical aspects of your business.

“Competitive research involves identifying your competitors, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their products and services. It also helps you identify industry trends you may have been missing.”

Entrepreneur

What Competitive Research Is Not?

Competitive research is not to be done so that you emulate your competitor and copy what they do. You do not want to take their content or copy and duplicate it. No, rather you should take the information and discern ways you are different and also connect with their underserved audience.

Benefits of Competitive Research

As discussed, there are many benefits to competitive research. It will help you in a number of ways including:

  1. Identifying a number of your competitors
  2. Find possible prospective clients that they are not serving and you can help
  3. Help identify messaging flaws that can help you create better messaging for your brand
  4. Creates analysis to use when you compare in the future
  5. Identify key pieces to implement in your marketing plan

Comparing Packages

Competitive research will also help you to either build up or verify your pricing packages. When you compare your products or services to a similar company with their price points, it will either validate you or hit you in the gut. Validating that you are in the right range of pricing. Hitting you in the gut would mean that you find you are very overpriced compared to your competition.

Keep in mind that all services are not similar or equal. This is why you need to compare, so that you may begin to position yourself in a different way. Be different in a way that is not currently being used by the other companies you are comparing yourself to at this time.

How Often Should I Do Competitive Research

I spend time on this activity approximately every 4 to 6 months. I have taken to doing it more regularly and more often in the current times. Why? Everything is changing so rapidly. In the past, I would do this research every 6 -12 months. In the long run, keeping it on a regular schedule whether you do it every 4 months or every 12 months will save you time.

Tools To Help You

Before we begin the steps to starting your research I wanted to share some tools that can help you do a deep dive into your competitor’s online presence. These are crucial to finding out the information you need.

  1. SEMrush – helps to track keywords and content
  2. Ubersuggests by Neil Patel – gives you keywords your competitors are utilizing.
  3. BuzzSumo – helps generate ideas for content & identifies influencers
  4. Owletter – captures and stores competitors’ emails
  5. Google Search – general overall keyword search to see who competitors may be
  6. Google Trends – can identify trends for your keywords and help find competitors
  7. Facebook Business Suite – helps provide analytics and other data about your business on the platform
  8. Instagram Business Suite – provides data for the platform

How To Conduct Competitor Research

Now that we have established the need to do it and the benefit of it, let’s get into the details of ‘how’ to do it.

I know it can seem overwhelming if you have not done this previously, but hang in there I will walk you through it, step by step. Let’s take it one step at a time. First, make sure you have your notes/notebook (digital notebook) together and are ready to proceed.

Steps for Beginning Your Competitive Research

  1. Gather Your Tools – Open any software you intend to use, such as those listed above. Also, open any notetaking programs or devices.
  2. Then Open Your Laptop/computer and be ready to utilize your tool(s)
  3. Begin Your Keyword Search – On your computer (laptop) open one or two of the tools listed above. You will put in keywords or keyword chains that you think your potential client would type into a search engine. OR You may be requested to put in your competitor’s website and they will pull keywords from these.
  4. Create A Chart – create this in your notes with these keywords and the results you find (or you can download them if the program allows).
  5. Utilize Google Search – After you use one or two of the Keyword Search tools, then open your Google Search and type in some of these keywords and key phrases (one at a time) that you believe your Buyer Persona or Prospective Client would type in to find services similar to the ones you offer. For example, if you provide social media management your potential client may search Google for “Social Media Manager” or “Great Social Media Managers”.
  6. Collect Competitor Names collect a few of the top names in your chart/excel file. Add columns to your chart or simply create sub-tabs with each name in your notes or OneNote (this is what I do under my notebook tab labeled “Competitive Research”).
  7. Collect More InformationAdd more information by viewing your competitors’ websites and either collect screenshots or information. Some of the information you will want to record are (a)Packages offered, (b)Pricing (if available), (c)Who They Target, (d)Clips of Copy They Use, and any other items you think are significant.
  8. View Three to Five Competitors – After you have viewed at least 3-5 of your competitors’ websites you should also visit their social media presence and add notes to your chart or in your OneNote folder. Some important items to collect may be a specific post that had a lot of engagement, the type of posts they create, how they address their audience, and any other significant factors you find.
  9. Review Your Chart or Notes – make notes on another part of the chart or in your OneNote tab for analysis. Write down anything that stands out and any areas that are not being met by your competitors. For example, if one of your competitors for social media management only targeted freelancers but neglected other service-based businesses. Then you begin to build content, campaigns, blogs, and more around that for your near future posts and articles.

You can begin to create your marketing campaigns around these underutilized keywords and phrases by adding them to your content. You will also gain valuable information about your audience and ways to develop your copy around this data.

“Good competitive research could put your business in a unique position to reach customers who are being underserved.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Competitive Research Via Social Media

It is important to mention the need for competitive research on social media as well. I mention it above but would like to discuss it a little further.

Learning about your competitors is not the only reason to do a competitor analysis on social media. It will also give you insights into your own business and your audience (which likely overlaps with your competitors’ audiences).

-Hootesuite

I know this is a lot of information. Be sure to bookmark this guide to come back to as often as you need. Also, check out this great Hootesuite article about social media competitive research.

Summary

  1. Definition of Competitive Research – helps us to identify competitors, find underutilized potential clients, find keywords not being used by competitors, and more.
  2. We found out what Competitive Research is Not.
  3. There are many benefits to competitive research (see multiple reasons at the beginning of the guide).
  4. How often we should do this type of research?
  5. Steps to conducting competitive research for your business.
  6. Competitive research on social media.

Final Thoughts

Your competitive research should be done on a regular basis. I try to do it every 4 to 6 months. This also depends on how quickly the world is changing around us, how the industry is changing, as well as, our target audience changes. These factors can impact our results greatly.

Set aside a good hour (maybe two if you like data and analytics like me) to get the information you desire. I look forward to hearing from you and finding out how your results turned out.

Until Next Time…

As always, thank you for stopping by. I truly count you as a blessing and hope you will comment or add some remarks regarding your adventure into competitive research, I’d really love to hear about it.

To Your Continued Success My Friends,

Tammy Durden blog signature
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