A B2B competitor analysis is arguably one of the most crucial activities that any marketer can perform. The outcomes of your analysis will enable you to assess where your competitors are succeeding and what they’re doing right, giving you insights into how to improve your own strategies to better compete with them.
Additionally, a B2B competitor analysis can help you pinpoint your unique business marketing strengths because in some cases, you’re going to find that certain activities you perform produce more significant results than what your competitors are able to generate.
Analyzing what your competitors are doing and comparing it against the ways your own business functions won’t be a one-size-fits-all task. Depending on your unique industry and business model, there will be elements you want to pay closer attention to than another business leader might when comparing their own company with competitors in their field.
Although there’s no single correct way to conduct your analysis, the following are three high-level steps that will put you on the right path to identify opportunities for your business.
The first step is to simply write down what competitors exist in your market space. Begin by compiling a list of your top ten to 15 competitors. Then, using each competitor’s website as a reference, create a spreadsheet of all the competing brands with you for customers.
For maximum usefulness, your competitor list should include:
Add any other details or points that you find relevant for companies within your industry so that you have all the information you need to reach informed conclusions about your competitors.
Once you’ve compiled a comprehensive list of your competitors, you’ll have a better understanding of who they are and how they’re making themselves challenging to compete with. Now that you know what each competitor is up to, it’s time to figure out how your business stands apart from the rest. What makes you different from every other company trying to succeed in your target market?
The answer to this question is your business’s unique selling proposition (USP). No matter how difficult it may be, you need to ensure that your USP stands apart from what each of your top competitors has to offer. If a potential customer conducted a search for the term “b2b marketing software,” would they only choose yours? If so, what is it about your company that draws customers in?
It’s also helpful to think about your USP in terms of comparison with your competitors. How would you describe how your product or service is better than that of each competitor? This exercise will lead to a more nuanced understanding of where and how you can position yourself against the offerings of others.
Before you can take any action to succeed in business, you need to be aware of the opportunities that will enable you to do so. This step aims to spot what your competitors aren’t already doing but should be doing, then figure out how your capabilities make you best suited to take action.
A good place to start is by looking at each competitor’s marketing campaigns. How are they promoting their products? What channels are they using, and what kind of content do they produce? Is there anything that stands out as particularly well-executed or innovative? All of these findings should inform how you go about creating your own campaigns moving forward.
To get to the heart of what’s holding you back, take a look at where you’re struggling compared with competitors who are succeeding. Maybe traffic to your website is lower than that of others in your industry. Or perhaps conversions are down as well. The good news is that once you know exactly how you’re underperforming, you can make a plan to improve those metrics.
Backlinks are also an important consideration. If your competitors are already receiving high levels of natural links from authority websites, that might be a sign that you need to work harder to secure backlinks yourself. Be sure to take advantage of tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs, which provide thorough analyses of the backlink profiles for sites in your industry. Using one or both of these tools will help you identify high-value backlink opportunities that are worth your attention.
Once you’ve done the foundational work of identifying your competitors, uncovering their USPs, and determining where they are succeeding or falling short compared to your own business, it’s time to monitor their activities based on the metrics you’ve outlined as important.
As much as possible, you should keep an eye on everything that your competitors are doing, which means looking at their websites for changes, A/B testing results of their email campaigns, and following them on social media. Doing so will not only provide you with useful information you can use as a competing business owner, but monitoring competitor behaviors will provide you with a preview of what their target audiences experience.
By examining other companies from the perspective of their customers, you can discover some of the finer details associated with their marketing efforts, as well as the little things they do to retain loyal customers.
If you really want to get up close and personal with your competitor’s marketing efforts, consider investing in an SEO tool like WebSite Auditor or SE Ranking. With these tools, you can see how your competitors are performing in search engine results. You can even check the keywords they’re targeting, their backlink profiles, and their organic traffic levels.
When you know what’s working for your top competitors, you’ll be able to replicate those efforts for yourself, while putting your own spin on these strategies to make them truly your own. After all, it doesn’t matter if a tactic works well for someone else; what matters is if it works well for you. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing ideas or strategies, as long as you’re able to mold them into something that achieves success for your own business.
Just like you should keep tabs on all of the things your competitors are doing, it makes sense to keep an eye on the marketing channels they’re using as well. Monitor where they acquire new customers, which referral sources bring them the most traffic, and how much of their traffic comes from social media.
Similar to the SEO tools above, there are spy tools to glean insight into your competitor’s advertising efforts, SpyFu or PowerAdSpy are two great options. These tools can help you identify which ads your competitor is using, how much they spend on paid search, and where their budget is allocated.
Knowing which channels are working for your competitors will make it easier to determine what could work best for your own business. Don’t simply commandeer their entire marketing plan, as you’ll likely find methods and campaign strategies that work well for them but won’t translate to your marketing behaviors. Instead, research each acquisition method that your competitors use and discover exactly how these methods work. If you understand the strategy and can reshape it to fit your unique marketing goals, feel free to do so. However, if these tactics don’t make any sense to you, don’t attempt to launch marketing endeavors using a system you don’t have a complete grasp on.
What keyword tactics are they using? Do any of them seem particularly effective or innovative? What about social strategies; how active is the competition on Twitter and Facebook? Were there any standout pieces of content shared across their social networks? Use all this information to inform your online marketing efforts moving forward. Furthermore, take a look at the SEO-related content they produce and compare it against recent news within your industry. Are your competitors covering news and the release of new resources? If so, you should be doing the same so that you’re providing your audience with as much support and access to information as other professionals in your field.
Be sure to keep a close eye on your competitors’ websites for changes. If they add or remove pages, update their calls to action or change the layout of their homepage, you’ll be able to learn from these changes and apply them to your website when necessary.
Of course, it’s not always recommended to mimic the same changes to your own website if you have no idea why your competitors made those changes in the first place. Not all changes are good chances, so before you follow other industry leaders, research their methods to discover clues about why certain changes were made and whether those changes produced positive results.
If one of your competitors removed a couple of pages from the company’s website, monitor that company’s performance online before you attempt the same maneuver. Consider the possibility that the change made was a risky one, so waiting for a hint regarding the upcoming results can be a benefit. If the risk wasn’t worthwhile, you have the opportunity to step in front of your competitors because you adhered to a strategy that was already performing well.
Remember, competitors naturally change over time – some businesses will succeed while others falter, depending on the market and their ability to keep up with the times. The strategies that will achieve success for your competitors today might not work as well in a year or two, so don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas and methods as you move forward.
Now that you understand what goes into an effective competitor analysis, there’s only one thing left to do: apply it to your own business! Keep these three steps in mind as you conduct research on your top competitors and compile your B2B research insights. Revisit your work regularly to update the information you collected as well. This way, you’ll always have one finger on the pulse of your industry and you can be one of the first to discover whether new trends succeed or fail.
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