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.
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:
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 attract 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 offers. If a potential customer conducted a search for the term “b2b marketing software,” would they only choose yours?
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 know the opportunities that will enable you to do so. This step aims to spot what your competitors aren’t already doing but should be and 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 the enemy. 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.
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. Remember – 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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