Knowing who your audience is and what problems they need solutions to will help you build an effective digital marketing strategy, helping you spread the word about your solutions. While this step is crucial, one of the most important pieces of information is not only your customers but also knowing who your competitors are. To do this, you need to do thorough competitor research.
What is Competitor Research?
Competitor research is a vital part of building your digital marketing strategy because it tells you not only who you are working against, but what has been working for them and what hasn’t. This insight is important as it can save you quite a bit of time and resources, avoiding the trial-and-error period that many brands in your market have to go through to find success.
This research involves identifying:
- Who your competitors are
- Their business strengths and weaknesses
- The product/service strengths and weaknesses
- Customer needs – especially those that aren’t being met
Taking the time to conduct adequate competitor research can help your business jump ahead of the game.
What Belongs in a Competitor Research Report?
It’s important to understand what belongs in a competitor research report, especially if you are working on a competitor research template that can be used repeatedly. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A detailed description of your target market
- Descriptions of your products/services and how they compare to those of current solutions on the market
- Current/Projected market shares, sales, and revenues
- Pricing model comparisons
- A detailed comparison of your current marketing plan and that of competitors
Once you’ve got your competitor research template organized, then you can get started.
How to Conduct Competitor Research
Thanks to the many available tools on the internet, conducting thorough competitive research is a lot easier than you may think. Even if you aren’t using a tool designed explicitly for competitor research, you’ll want to make sure you are following each of these steps:
- Identify your main competitors: These are the individuals who have already established themselves in your market and built their community of supporters.
- Carefully analyze each competitor’s online presence: This means analyzing their websites, social media pages, and even their email marketing practices. The goal here is to understand their marketing efforts, what they are sharing with their community, how they interact with their community, etc.
- Analyze their business strategy: How are they marketing their products/services? How are they pricing their products/services? What do their sales look like?
- Where have other brands succeeded/failed: Knowing this helps you identify market gaps and learn from others’ mistakes so you can avoid them entirely.
These are all required steps when conducting your competitor research. However, it’s essential to remember that competitor research shouldn’t be a one-time project. Ideally, you should be conducting fresh research each time you are preparing to launch something new.
How Competitor Research Helps You Build Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Whether you’re building a brand-new startup or getting ready to release a new product or service, conducting competitor research helps you strengthen your digital marketing strategy. Here’s how:
1. Helps You Understand and Keep in Touch with Your Market
Conducting competitor research gives you an idea of who you are up against and helps you view the market from your customer’s point of view.
How? By putting you in their shoes. To truly understand your competitors and their tactics, you need to conduct your research as if you were one of their clients, allowing you to identify what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your customer journey map, communication tactics, etc.
2. Helps You Identify Market Gaps
By analyzing your competitor’s business tactics and successes and failures, you will start to identify gaps in the market. These gaps show you what has worked for your competitors in the past and what is currently working for them now. They can also show you what hasn’t worked so that you can avoid mistakes made in the past, helping you save time and valuable resources.
Competitor research provides you with an opportunity to fill in marketing/business gaps that your competition may not address.
For example: Can your product be purchased online without talking to a sales representative?
- If the answer is yes, you want to make sure your e-commerce strategy is flawless to ensure the best customer experience.
- If the answer is no, you need to make sure your content includes engaging promotions that encourage your visitors to reach out to a sales rep to move forward with a purchase.
Again, this step helps you better build your digital marketing strategy to ensure you are giving your potential customers something that your competition doesn’t.
3. Enhances Your Marketing Process
By analyzing your competition’s marketing efforts, you’ll have a better idea of what consumers in your market are looking for as far as content and communications go.
Customers no longer expect sub-par communications. They expect to be treated like the individuals they are and receive prompt replies to comments and questions. They also expect you to create and/or curate content relevant to them and their needs. By conducting competitor research, you’ll be able to see how your audience has reacted to certain types of content and tones of voice – better preparing you for creating content and conversing with your leads in the future.
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