September 8, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Competitor analysis is a helpful tool to understand how your brand compares to others in the same market and targets the same audience. But the analysis is only as good as the resources you use and data you collect. Today we’re covering 25 competitor criteria to include in your analysis with topics like:
If you’re looking to create a full analysis of all the potential comparison areas between your company and your competitors, collect information on topics like:
Brand geography refers to where your competitors do their business. You may look for their headquarters locations, storefronts, and shipping or service locations. This factor may be most important to in-person firms, but it’s also worth tracking for online-only companies. For in-person businesses, it’s important to know where your competitors have locations so you can appear in the same areas or towns. You’ll see this often with chain businesses like gas stations. When a new brand comes to town, its top competitors usually aren’t too far behind in opening a location.
Brand geography is also important for online businesses. Even for companies that exist only or primarily in cyberspace, there can still be limits to how and where those companies work. For example, some online businesses may only work within the United States. Others may have an international reach. To learn about the brand geography of an online-only company, consider the company’s customer service hours, shipping locations, and other policies related to where clients work or live.
Keeping track of your competitors’ business hours lets you know when they’re available to the public. This may be more important for companies with in-person locations but can also affect how they work online. For example, if a company is online only, it may offer consultations or make customer service representatives available during East Coast business hours. That could turn away customers in different time zones or countries that aren’t available on that schedule.
It’s important to compare your business hours and your competitors’ to the needs of your clients. Consider your industry and when it would be most convenient for your target audience to visit or contact your brand. If you’re a B2B company, you may not need availability on nights and weekends. Most B2B audiences contact brands during the workday. But other services may need expanded hours to reach their audience during those off hours.
Customer or client reviews are a good channel to track for competitor analysis because they tell you more about a company from the audience’s perspective. First, you can determine if your competitors even give customers the option to review products and services. Do they have profiles on third-party review websites like Yelp? Do your competitors use things like Google Reviews or online product reviews to collect information from their audience?
Unless your competitors pay for excellent reviews, most of what you see from customers should be authentic. Once you see where the audience is both satisfied and dissatisfied with the way your competitors do business, you can then determine how to make adjustments to your own products or services.
Company culture is how a leadership team runs the organization. It includes both how the company interacts with its audience and how the leadership team treats other employees within the organization. To learn about the company’s culture, you can study its mission statement. This short blurb usually lists the values and goals the organization wants to achieve or uphold. Other places to look for information about the company culture are on its about page or about us sections of social media profiles.
Employment websites, like Indeed and Glassdoor, and professional social networks, like LinkedIn, may be other options for finding out more about a company’s culture on the inside. Within these spaces, current and former employees can comment about aspects of company culture like diversity in the workplace or other benefits or drawbacks of working for a brand. Learning more about company culture helps you better understand a brand’s image and how internal employees and external audience members perceive the company and view yours in comparison.
If you’re conducting multiple competitor analyses or if you’re comparing multiple brands in your analysis, it’s important to keep all your information organized. Look for competitor identifiers like associated parent or child businesses, brand URLs, social media handles, company leaders, and contact information. These bits of information can help you form your analysis to better compare your brand to competitors.
While most of your competitor analysis focuses on direct competitors, other types of competitors are also important to research. Note the competitor types of each business you’re analyzing to determine how the information fits into your strategic plan. There are three types of competitors you can audit during an analysis:
All three of these types of competitors could appear in your analysis for different purposes. You look at direct competitors most often because they’re the biggest threat to your market share. But if you’re looking to grow your business or expand into new markets, it’s worth looking at indirect and substitute competitors to get a better understanding of the industry landscape.
Content analysis is one of the most common types of analysis you can run on your competitors and your own brand. The process looks at how well your content performs online, both in search results and with your audience. Running a content analysis on your competitors helps you see if they’re outperforming your pieces, such as ranking higher in search or receiving more engagement.
Once you see how much better a competitor’s content performs, then you can figure out why. Is it because they have a better understanding of search intent? Do they use different channels than your brand and have a better following there? Learning where your competitors’ content is performing better may encourage you to look into new channels, or adjust your SEO strategy to get better rankings and more organic traffic.
Where and how do your competitors provide customer service to the audience? Some may use chat bots or contact forms, while others have phone or email options. The channels themselves may not matter as much as what the audience thinks of those channels. Are they able to get in touch with a customer service representative? Do they get the answers or help they need once they get in touch?
You can learn how the audience feels about a brand’s customer service channels through reviews. Many will list if they’ve had a good or poor experience when they leave a review. Another option is to do social listening online to track a competitor’s indirect brand mentions. Sometimes, clients or customers may not review when they’ve had an unpleasant experience with a company, but they’re not shy about talking about it online or mentioning the brand by name.
A feature matrix is a chart that compares the selling points of one product or service to another. For example, if you and your competitors all sell content writing services, you would compare the features offered by each company in the service packages in your analysis. A feature matrix lets you see how your brand stacks up against others on a product-to-product or service-to-service basis.
The market share percentage of any company is the total sales percentage of one brand in an industry over a particular period. To find your company’s or competitor’s market share, use the following formula:
MS = Company Sales / Industry Sales
With this formula, you also need to define a period to track sales. It’s common to track market share quarterly or yearly. Learning the market share of your competitors tells you more about their sales and income revenue. The larger the market share they have, the more money they have to spend on research and development, marketing, and other growth tactics.
Exploring your competitors’ marketing strategies helps you understand how they’re getting the word out about their products and services. Doing this type of analysis also tells you how they interact with their audience. Analyzing how your competitors connect with the target audience gives you ideas about what your leads expect to see from brands in your industry.
You can see what tactics work for your competitors and see if there are ways to incorporate those strategies into your own marketing plan. Looking at your competitors’ strategies is also a good way to learn what not to do with your marketing. If you find there’s a strategy that didn’t work for your competitors, you can avoid it altogether or improve it to make it more successful for your company.
Discovering your competitors’ pricing for all products and services is a great comparative metric. Not only does it tell you what your rivals are charging for their services, but it also lets you know what the audience expects to pay. Often, pricing isn’t the most important factor for your audience when they’re making a purchase. Quality and convenience are typically more important to most businesses and individual consumers.
But tracking competitors’ pricing gives you additional insight into what you could charge for your own offerings. For example, if you review your product quality and unique selling proposition and find that you produce higher-quality products than the competition, you may increase your prices without losing sales.
What do your competitors’ products look like? What makes them appealing to the audience? You can do a product audit to find out more about the quality, appearance, and appeal to the audience of any rival offering. You may use the feature matrix along with your product audit to see if the results uphold the promise the company makes. If they don’t, that’s a way you can showcase your own product quality or unique selling proposition to draw customers to your own brand.
Tracking a list of all the products or services your competitors offer may help you decide if it’s time to expand your company. While you don’t have to offer everything your competitors do to stay relevant, it’s helpful to know when other brands grow. Growth often comes with an increase in audience interest, which leads to more sales and conversions. Keeping track of rival expansions lets you reevaluate your unique selling proposition and determine if you offer similar solutions to customer pain points even if you don’t offer the same products or services.
Similar to a product design audit, you can test out your competitors’ products or services to see if they really do what the company claims. Almost everyone had had an experience where they buy something and expect it to work one way. Then they get the product home or start using the service and it doesn’t work that way at all.
When companies make claims about what their products or services do, but don’t uphold them, they’re not providing quality service to their audience. Product or service quality is a helpful factor in finding your unique selling proposition. If the products and services your brand puts out are better than the competition, make sure your audience knows it.
Conducting a resource audit on the competition can tell you more about how the company operates. Resources include any factors or functions that make the company run, such as materials, revenue, and staffing. Work to understand where your competitors get their supplies. Understand their workforce and who does what within each company. Learn how they use their revenue to conduct business and where they spend that money to make improvements. The more you learn about a company’s resources, the better equipped you are to evaluate your own and learn how to use them smarter to get better results.
One thing we always want to know about the competition is if they’re making more money than we are. We can determine who has the upper hand by determining how much money the competition makes in sales over a specific period. Companies often track their sales by quarter or by fiscal year. By law, publicly traded companies must post financial reports for stakeholders’ convenience. Brands that don’t engage in public trading don’t have to post these reports but some do for transparency.
Learning more about a company’s sales can tell you which of its products and services are the most popular. It can also help you see projections, like if a company is growing or shrinking. Sales figures also give insights into other areas of a brand’s financial health and help you find its market share percentage.
Looking at your competitors’ SEO can help you determine which brand is the best in the organic traffic game. Companies with high-quality SEO strategies often perform best in search and get more reach and conversions from their audience. When evaluating your rivals’ SEO portfolios, look at areas like:
The more you learn about another brand’s SEO strategy, you can uncover why they perform the way they do in search. If they perform better than your company, you can take notes on how to improve your own strategy.
If you know which social channels your competitors have a presence on, you may learn more about their target audiences. Depending on the industry, companies share content on traditional social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. B2B companies often do a lot of work on LinkedIn and niche businesses may create a presence on platforms like Goodreads.
Beyond knowing where your competitors have an online presence, it’s also important to see how effective their efforts are on each channel. For example, your top competitor may have a YouTube channel. But if the profile only has 10 followers, it’s not gaining the company much traction. That could be because they’re not using the channel correctly. It could also be because their audience isn’t interested in getting information from that channel. All these insights can influence your marketing and digital team’s decisions to expand or suspend a certain social presence.
When running a competitor analysis, strengths are anything your competitors do well, in any area of their business. This could include marketing strategies, types of products or services they offer, or the way they use their resources. It’s important to know your competitors’ strengths because you can use them as your goal markers for determining how to grow your brand and make it better.
This doesn’t mean you’ll copy the competition in everything they do. But knowing their strengths helps you view your brand and theirs from an audience perspective. It can give you an idea of what your potential leads may see and the decisions they might make based on the layout of the industry market.
Who’s on the rival team? It’s important to keep track of what roles and positions your competitors add and eliminate from the company. Adding new positions can signal a high employee turnover rate. This may mean there are problems within the company culture. New positions can also signal growth in certain areas of the company. Eliminating positions may signal a company downsize or increase in automation. Either way, knowing how your competitors’ workforce is changing lets you know if there are potential opportunities or threats for your own brand that could come in the future.
A unique selling proposition (USP is a specific benefit that your brand, products, or services have that makes them better than all other available options. Every company has a USP and each one should be slightly different. You can find out what your competitors think their USPs are by looking at their marketing materials and branding. What features do they call attention to on their websites or product packaging? What language do they use when describing their brand?
Understanding a company’s USP tells you what you’re up against with your marketing. Once you learn what the other company thinks is most important to its brand, you can find areas where yours is different and better. Then, you can use these selling points in your marketing materials to attack more leads and customers.
If the client isn’t happy, nobody’s happy. One aspect of competitor analysis you’ll want to review is the user experience and how user-friendly brand platforms are. This could include websites, apps, email marketing, social media channels, and customer service channels. Does this brand use adaptive features like alt text or screen modifications to make it easier for people of all abilities to interact with it? Are there things this company could do to make its channels more user-friendly?
When you find those areas of change, you can make sure your own brand follows them or finds ways to incorporate those updates into future marketing plans or rebranding campaigns. The more user-friendly a company’s channels are, the more satisfied clients and customers become. For websites and content development, user-friendliness is also a key ranking factor for search engines. The easier your content is to use or interact with, the better chance it has of ranking higher on a search engine results page (SERP).
In competitor analysis, weaknesses are anything your rivals aren’t doing right with their brands. This could include scaling too quickly, underselling their products or services, or using ineffective marketing techniques. Finding your competitors’ weaknesses helps open up opportunities for your own brand. If your rivals aren’t meeting the audience’s or customers’ needs and expectations, your company can come in to fill that role.
We discuss this topic often when talking about content marketing. If your competitors have content gaps, or areas where they’re not sharing information on topics the audience wants to see, your brand can swoop in and become the authority on that topic. Then the audience will come to your website, blog, or social media to get the information. While weaknesses aren’t just for content gaps, this is one example of how collecting this information for analysis could influence your brand strategy.
For an analysis focused on comparing and improving your brand website, you can look at the design features of other sites to see what’s working and what isn’t. Some areas of web design to include in your audit are:
Image via Unsplash by @glenncarstenspeters
You may not use every criteria factor in every competitive analysis. You absolutely can if you’re looking to get a comprehensive overview of another brand. But most often, you do a competitor analysis with specific goals in mind. Depending on the goal, some of these factors are unnecessary to track. While it’s important to collect as much information as possible about your competitors when doing an analysis, it’s also important to keep that data collection focused.
For example, if you’re looking at how to improve your unique selling proposition, you might not care as much about your competitors’ backlink profiles in that analysis. You only have a limited amount of time and resources, so make sure you’re using those wisely. Before you start your analysis, figure out what you need and what you don’t. Then use all your resources to focus on the areas that are going to help you reach your specific analysis goals.
When it’s time to do a content analysis for your brand, let CopyPress deliver a robust report right to your inbox. Our content marketing analysis report compares your content to the top three competitors you want to target. It also gives a list of potential competitors based on your content that expands your analysis.
From the data, get insights about content topics, keywords, backlinks, and syndication partners to expand your content quality and reach. To request your report, share your information with us below. After you receive your report, pick a time to meet virtually with our strategy team. These experts go over the results of your report with you and find ways to improve your content strategy and get a leg up on the competition.
“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”
Director of SEO at Auto Revo
More from the author: