FAQ: What’s the Definition of a Competitive Analysis?

Christy Walters


August 10, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

white chess pieces on a chessboard with black background to represent definition of a competitive analysis

As much as you’d like your brand to be your audience’s only source and option for the products and services you sell, it doesn’t work that way. If you run a regular competitive analysis of your industry or top rival brands, you’ll have a smaller chance of getting blindsided by someone else’s accomplishments. This awareness helps keep your brand on top of its industry and win market share. In this article, we’re discussing some of the critical questions about the definition of a competitive analysis like:

What Is a Competitive Analysis?

A competitive analysis is an audit process that allows you to see how successful your competitors are in your industry or a particular niche of the market. A competitive analysis looks at things like content, products, or overall business to provide insight into another company’s strengths and weaknesses.

The more you learn about other brands the better you can make your own. Every competitive analysis is relative to what your own business is doing. While your direct competitors might not be the best or the top names in your industry, they’re the ones your brand goes head-to-head with when trying to attract customers. When you can learn their marketing secrets—legally, of course—then you have a better chance of going into that battle and making it a close and fair fight.

Are There Different Types of Competitive Analyses?

There are many types of competitive analyses your team can run, depending on what information you want to gather about your brand rivals. Some that are best for content marketing analysis include:

Business Model Canvas

A business model canvas helps you look at the key elements of a brand to discover exactly what it does and how successful it is in its efforts. The nine analysis areas include:

  • Customer segments: What are the different groups of customers they target?
  • Value propositions: What does the brand leadership find to be its best selling points?
  • Channels: What channels does the brand use to share its messages?
  • Customer relationships: How does the brand interact with its audience?
  • Revenue streams: How does this brand earn money from its marketing and sales efforts?
  • Key activities: What strategies and practices does this brand use to share its marketing messages and get conversions?
  • Top resources: Where does this brand get the majority of its reach, readership, or support?
  • Best partnerships: What brand partnerships or influencer agreements does this brand engage in?
  • Cost structure: In what areas does this brand use paid vs. organic marketing methods to share its message?

Porter’s Five Forces

Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter created this analysis framework to look at five key marketing influences on any industry, including:

  • The intensity of a competitive rival
  • The threat of new entrants to the market
  • Bargaining power of new clients or buyers
  • Bargaining power of industry suppliers
  • The threat of substitute products or services within an industry

This type of competitive analysis helps you look at the industry overall, or a niche market, rather than drilling down to one specific competitor. But it may help you reveal new competitors you haven’t considered based on what you uncover about the industry.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis stands for:

  • Strengths: Internal brand factors that benefit a company
  • Weaknesses: Internal brand factors that work against a company’s goals or achievements
  • Opportunities: External factors that allow a company to grow or expand
  • Threats: External factors that challenge a company or prevent growth

You can run a SWOT analysis on any company, including your own. This framework is a beneficial analysis tool because it gives clear indicators of what a brand is doing to influence strategic decisions, whether right or wrong.

What Are the Key Components of a Competitive Content Analysis?

white chess pieces on a chessboard with black background to represent definition of a competitive analysis

Image via Unsplash by @rollelflex_graphy726

By customizing your research and reports to include only the data you need, each competitor analysis you run will look slightly different. But even with individual differences, there are several key points to a competitor analysis should cover to guide your content planning:

Brand Rivals

You have to know who your competitors are before you can do an analysis. And finding your brand rivals comes down to market research. Talking to your current customers and leads, exploring social media engagements, and analyzing search results to see which brand names appear alongside your own are just a few ways to do that research. Once you know who your direct competitors are, you’ll have a better idea of the best analysis framework to choose and the data to gather.

Feature Comparisons

In content analysis, feature comparisons look at the layout and organization of a competitor’s content and how they affect user experience. Do your competitors use media or interactive elements in their content? How long are their videos? Do their web pages have pop-ups or other ads? Comparing features like these in competitors’ content can give you a better idea of which elements could be strengths and which could be weaknesses in a content marketing strategy.

Content Channels

Discover where and how your competitors share their content online. Do they rely on organic search traffic? Do they share content through social media platforms or direct messaging? Are they engaged in paid advertising or social media boosting for their content? Dig into places like these to see where competitors share content and how they gain traffic. For example, if a competitor has an active LinkedIn presence, they may get a lot of their readership from that platform. This information can help you determine when and how to add new channels to your marketing strategy to stay competitive in these spaces.


Finding out how competitors get backlinks is another important area of competitive analysis. Try a free backlink checker to search a competitor’s domain or a specific piece of content to find all the backlinks they have. Running a backlink check can tell you who your competitors’ content partners are and even where they get organic mentions. Using these insights, you can plan a backlink strategy that gets your content in similar spaces.

Keyword and Topic Choice

What topics are your competitors covering with their content? Marketers often ask this question when looking to other brands for guidance on their own content’s next steps. You want to cover many of the same topics and keywords as your competitors because you want your pieces to appear alongside theirs in search. Not only does it help your company enter thought leadership discussions, but it creates the perception that you produce high-quality resources and references on those topics, too.

By seeing what topics your competitors cover, you can also find ways to make your own content better. Uncovering a competitor’s focus keywords gives you the building blocks to create 10x content that’ll be more engaging and better suited to your audience’s search intent.

How Does a Competitive Analysis Help Improve Your Content?

There are many benefits to running a content analysis to see how your brand stacks up against the competition. Check out several benefits of an in-depth competitive analysis:

Find Strengths and Weaknesses

Competitive analysis helps you see your brand’s own strengths and weaknesses when compared to another. Using a framework like a SWOT analysis, you can reveal areas where you’re ahead of the competition—like having pieces that rank higher in search results. The data also tells you where you’re falling behind, and these areas are even more important to know than your strengths. Within any weaknesses you find are opportunities for growth and improvements to your content marketing strategy. Let’s face it. A lack of testing and adjusting only leads to strategy failure and keeps your brand stagnant.

Review Current Trends

You may think you know what content your audience wants to see, but an educated guess is just a guess without any proof. A competitor analysis can help you tell if your research and predictions about customer content trends match up with the actual desire.

Think about it. Let’s say you think creating TikTok videos is the next best way to create content for your audience, but you haven’t created a brand account yet. A competitor analysis of related brands that use this method can tell you if it even has a chance of working. If you find that all of your competitors’ TikToks have few views and a low follower count, it’d be safe to say you’d pass over this strategy in favor of one that has more ROI potential.

Understand the Climate of Your Market

Some of your competitors are obvious. They’re the ones who show up on every SERP for the same keywords as your brand’s content. Other competitors are less obvious, either because they’re new to the market or because they don’t seem similar enough to your brand to be a competitor. But don’t be fooled.

These unknown rivals can help you get a better understanding of the current climate of the market. When you know all the players, you can plan better strategies for reaching the right audiences and avoid surprises by unknown challengers coming in to take a share of your target market.

Get Into the Minds of Your Audience

Doing competitive research doesn’t just tell you more about your business rivals. It also helps you gain a deeper understanding of your audience. People are unpredictable, and the things they say and do can change based on the environments they’re in. The way your audience acts when interacting with your brand may not be how they interact with another. The more you know about the multiple facets of their buying personalities and how they move through various stages of the buyer journey, the better you can target all their needs through methods like hyper-personalization.

Avoid Mistakes

If you find that one of your competitors tried a new strategy and it crashed and burned, you can learn from their mistakes without having to make your own. Sometimes, a competitive analysis can be just as much about telling you what not to do as it is about what you should emulate. Finding out what strategies didn’t work and why can help you adjust your marketing plan to avoid costly mistakes.

Set Goals

Learning what to do and what not to do from your competitors can help your team set department goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for your next campaign. The information you learn and the improvements you make translate into measurable and achievable goals for your strategy.

For example, if you find that your competitors are really active on LinkedIn, you might set a goal to grow your company’s LinkedIn presence. Then, you can pair that goal with measurable KPIs, like increasing social shares or boosting engagement rates.

Who Can Use a Competitive Analysis?

Any brand, no matter its size or number of competitors, can use a competitive analysis to learn more about its rivals, market, and its own strengths and weaknesses. As long as your company has at least one direct competitor, it’s in a suitable position for a competitor analysis. Within a company, marketing and sales teams are the most likely groups to conduct this type of analysis. They use the data to plan their own strategies and deliver valuable insights to stakeholders and C-Suite-level executives.

When Should You Run a Competitive Analysis?

It’s important to run a competitive content analysis regularly, at least once per year. Going through this process helps make sure your team is always aware of what’s happening in your industry and market. Trends, SEO best practices, and customer expectations fluctuate frequently. Without constant review and attention, you might miss key indicators that it’s time to change up your marketing strategy to better target the current landscape of your industry. The more data you have and the more analysis you do, the better prepared you’ll be to make those changes more quickly and come out ahead of the competition.

How Do You Apply the Results of a Competitive Analysis to Your Brand?

When you do any kind of research or analysis, you need to remember that it’s not actually about the data you collect. The analysis process is about learning how to apply the data to your strategies and marketing plans. You always want to take your analysis to a higher level by putting what you learn into practice.

This process typically involves figuring out what your rivals do better than your company and making changes and adjustments to the things you do to get ahead. Here are a few questions to ask your team when looking for ways to put the data you find during analysis to practical use:

  • What features or elements can we add to our content to improve on what the competition offers?
  • Should we engage in new or different paid methods to boost certain content on specific channels?
  • Is there a better way to share information about our value proposition so it emphasizes how our brand is better than the competition?
  • Can we create new content that more smoothly bridges the gap between segments of the marketing funnel?
  • Are there content gaps and topic coverage we’re missing in our own pieces?
  • Should we expand or condense the channels where we’re sharing our content?
  • How are any changes we make going to affect our marketing goals and KPIs?

Get Your Competitive Analysis From CopyPress

If you want to develop a competitive content analysis but don’t know where to start, turn to CopyPress! Our content marketing analysis generates a personalized report. The document shows how your pieces compare to those of your top three competitors. Then, it shows you other brand rivals in your industry you may be unaware of. This feature shows how your content fairs when it goes head-to-head with theirs. Use the data we provide to identify content gaps that get you closer to putting your brand at the top of its niche and grabbing the largest audience and market share.

“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.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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