It is what it is. Unless you’ve found yourself the nichest niche, chances are you have not one, but multiple competitors. All of you vying for the attention of the same target audience.
How do you differentiate yourself? What is your competitive advantage? You have to know how you want your audience to perceive your brand and create a positioning strategy accordingly.
Knowing your competitors, their strategy and how the audience perceives them is a step towards getting a leg up on your competition.
Learning their strengths and weaknesses so you can identify possible opportunities and threats is necessary really at this point. Which is where competitor analysis comes into place.
Where do you start, though?
Identifying the competition is your starting point. This is where Google and other search engines, social media, or even your customers come into play. Simply googling yourself or your business-related keywords can help you discover competitors by scrolling through results on SERP.
However, while this is a good way of discovering competition when it comes to actually analyzing your competitors, you may find it lacking. Sifting through all the data from different competitors’ websites, social media, and other sources can be rather repetitive and time-consuming, as it is all done manually. Nevermind the storing and analyzing the collected data part.
What if all of that was automated instead?
The alternative to manually researching your competition is media monitoring – a way of discovering relevant mentions in real-time, as soon as they are published online.
In what ways can this be beneficial to competitor analysis?
Identifying the competition
It was already mentioned that the starting point in a competitor analysis is identifying the competition. However, aside from using search engines, social networks or customers to identify competitors – you can also use media monitoring tools. It is as simple as tracking keywords and phrases related to your business and products. This way you can figure out who your target audience fixates on, who the media is talking about, who’s creating content (blogs, videos…) on the topic you’re tracking, etc. All these can help guide you in finding the closest competitors.
Here’s how we do it at Mediatoolkit. Let’s take the sports brands, for instance. You can already name a few off the top of your head, the most prominent nowadays Nike and Adidas. However, to get a better idea about possible competitors, you can track keywords such as “sneakers”, “sneaker brands”, “sneaker shoes”, “sneaker news”. Or, you can be more specific and track, for example, “basketball shoes” to see what brands come up.
A couple of mentions that come up when tracking the keyword “sneakers” in Mediatoolkit
All (top) competitors in one place
Once you’ve identified the competitors, you have to choose those competitors you consider most relevant. Then you can start tracking them using a media monitoring tool. Media monitoring tools are great in the way they make it possible for you to keep all the competitors and the collected data in one place, and yet distinctly separated. You can be just a click away from shuffling from one competitor to another.
Immediately knowing when they are published online
When you track your competitors via a media monitoring tool, you don’t have to actively seek mentions of them in the media. Rather, the mentions come to you. The second a media outlet or a social media profile mentions the competitors you are tracking, that mention will appear in your feed. You can even set up alerts that notify you about new mentions, usually through email, but you can also integrate media monitoring tools with Slack or Trello (depending on the media monitoring tool).
Daily overview of mentions via email
Knowing the latest news
This continues well on the previous point. It pertains to what the competition itself publishes. This includes new product announcements, updates on product upgrades, marketing campaigns, new content, open positions, pricing, etc.
You can even track exclusively their website or social media profiles and directly be informed on any new happenings in their business. Again, you can set up alerts to be notified in real-time, or digests you can receive daily or weekly for a mention overview.
Tracking a specific website and social media profiles (e.g. Twitter)
Results you can expect from that kind of tracking (Nike website)
What can you do with data collected that way? For instance, if the competition changes their pricing (i.e. lowers their price), you can adjust accordingly. You do it by emphasizing what you consider your competitive advantage to be – be it your product quality, design or yes, lower prices than those of your competitors’.
One of the biggest advantages of using media monitoring for competitor analysis is the availability of reports. After all, what use is the collected data if we don’t properly analyze it?
With the help of media monitoring tools, you can benchmark your online reputation with your competitors. A couple of the more interesting metrics you can use for this purpose are the share of voice and sentiment analysis.
Share of voice as a measure of reach is a great way to find out how you stack up against the competition. How is your brand visibility when put up against your biggest competitors?
Share of voice: Nike, Adidas, Converse in the period from May 14th to June 14th
In the example above, we can see that Nike (43.1%) and Adidas (38.2%) are taking the lead and are not that much apart. Adidas stacks up quite nicely next to Nike, but Nike is still in the lead. By analyzing Nike’s online strategy, Adidas can work on figuring out how to try and surpass Nike.
Additionally, by analyzing sentiment, you can see what the prevailing emotion is among the target audience when it comes to your competitors. Does it lean more towards the positive or negative sentiment? What caused one or the other? How does it compare to your own sentiment analysis?
Number of mentions per sentiment: a comparison (Nike, Adidas, Converse)
Those are only two of the many other metrics you can pull from media monitoring tools (others may include the share of impressions, total mentions per query or channel, top influencers…).
Identifying areas for improvement
Once you perform the competitor analysis, you can have a better understanding and a deeper insight into your competition. Not only your competition but your own business, too. You may find areas that are lacking and require improvement when compared to your competitors’ strategy – be it in content, social media performance, SEO or other areas.
In other words, you’ll be able to identify possible opportunities for improvement or minimize possible threats. As is the aim of conducting a competitor analysis.
Competitor analysis is something that every business ought to do. Be it the “old-fashioned way” or with the help of the newest tools and technologies – it needs to be done. To keep ahead of, or at the very least, be in step with your biggest competitors.
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