Competitive intelligence? To achieve success in our business today, it is essential to know both our weaknesses and strengths and the most outstanding characteristics and strategies of the companies that compete to attract our target audience .
Therefore, knowing how to carry out a basic online competition analysis could make the difference between achieving that success we are talking about or considerably increasing the chances of failing with our own business strategies.
In other words, evaluating and trying to understand what our online competitors do , but taking into account how they do it and why they do it, is the key when making better strategic and / or business decisions.
But is it ethical to analyze the online strategies of the competition?
Not only is it ethical, but it is also necessary … In an environment as fast and competitive as the Internet is today, not having information about our sector (and what the main companies that compose it do) would leave us in a clear disadvantage.
Why should you spy on your competition’s strategies and how could you do it? ⇔ “Competitive intelligence”
Have you ever secretly flipped through the brochure of a competing company at a trade fair? Or maybe you have looked at their website, consulted their advertising or Google searched for their brand?
And you are not the only one.
90% of Fortune 500 companies collect information on the competition. And almost 70% of American companies have planned to increase their budget in studies on online competition.
But if you feel bad spying on the competition’s marketing strategies, stop doing it… Although I will show you what you will be missing by not doing it at all times.
In its 2004 report, Global Intelligence already stated that “a successful business strategy requires knowing the external environment of the company, including its customers, its competition, the structure of the sector, competitive forces, etc.”
Today, knowing is power. Your business is based on what you know. But what you don’t know can also have the opposite effect: damaging your sales and marketing strategies.
And this is where competitive intelligence comes into play.
What Is Competitive Intelligence?
The easiest way to define competitive intelligence is by saying what it is not:
⇒ It is not spying.
Although it may seem the opposite, competitive intelligence is an ethical practice of gathering information about your competitors and the market in general.
⇒ It’s not just about finding out about the competition’s marketing strategies.
Competitive intelligence is not just about monitoring how your business is running the competition, it allows you to find out their strategies but also to identify potential threats and new opportunities.
⇒ It is not something that only big companies are interested in.
It doesn’t matter if you are the head of a multinational corporation or a small company, you will always have competition . And you can learn a lot about their strategies and actions.
In business, mistakes can end up being expensive. Knowing what works best for the competition can help you make more informed decisions about your company’s future movements.
Your research, for example, can confirm whether your own actions position you as a competitive resource. Or if, on the contrary, your strategies are hindering the full growth potential of your company.
Main Advantages of Competitive Intelligence
1. It helps you identify new opportunities
From new keywords to poorly explored markets, researching competitor strategies helps you identify new opportunities to promote your business.
2. It allows you to predict the movements of the competition
Competitive intelligence allows you to discover what your competition might be doing next: from information about products they may be planning to launch to the market, to updates to their service or a new market they may be planning to enter, you will be able to predict and prepare your business for the future actions of your competitors.
A recent hiring could suggest that a new area of business is being planned. A new supplier could indicate a new product line. Keywords or new landing pages could give you clues about new markets they might be planning to break into, etc.
3. Helps you identify gaps in your marketing strategies
Competitive intelligence can also help you identify gaps in your competition’s marketing strategies.
Perhaps they have neglected specific trade channels such as social networks, the newsletters via email , advertising on Adwords, etc. And these gaps could end up being great opportunities to take advantage of to gain a greater competitive advantage.
4. It helps you discover what is your best competitive advantage
By analyzing your competitor’s products and strategies, you can also assess your own strengths.
For example, it could be that they had a large budget in PPC and that they used it as their main growth engine. There would be no point in trying to match their actions with an insufficient budget. But they may not be using other channels …
5. It also helps you identify new markets
Competitive intelligence can also help you identify poorly explored markets or suggest new markets based on current competitor actions.
Such information could contribute to the growth of your business by entering markets in which your competition is not present or in which it is not focused at all.
Similarly, your actions can unveil new and emerging markets that you could penetrate.
What Information Can You Look For Online In A Competition Analysis?
Until now, this strategic information came from databases of market studies or companies that were in charge of carrying out these studies.
Another way to gather information was by approaching a competitor’s booth at a trade fair.
Your company’s commercials also often managed to uncover some information. For example, they learned a lot about the actions of the competition in the course of business calls to current and potential customers.
Competitive study tools like SEMRush or SpyFu can help you obtain information about the trading strategies of all your competitors.
Here is the information you should try to discover in a competition analysis:
1. Optimized organic keywords
There are few things that are as important as keywords in online marketing .
Keywords are those used by customers to search for products or services. They also form the basis for a large amount of online content today.
Most competitive intelligence tools make searching for competitive keywords as easy as possible. Just enter the competitor’s URL into a search box to find out:
- Keywords that use ⇒ Keywords and phrases for which your website is optimized.
- Search volume ⇒ The average number of searches registered by a specific word per month.
- Current positions ⇒ The position of your competitor’s URL for a specific keyword.
- Number of organic results ⇒ The number of URLs that appear for that specific keyword.
- Keyword trend ⇒ What has been the interest for a certain keyword in the last 12 months.
(An example of a SEMrush keyword study report.)
2. PPC Keywords they bid on
For many companies, advertising on Google is their main marketing strategy, and it is not surprising. Adwords ads offer almost instantaneous results and can attract targeted audience traffic. The downside, obviously, is that, unlike organic traffic, PPC traffic costs money.
One way to reduce this cost is to bid on those keywords that are likely to attract the traffic that interests us.
Competitive intelligence could help you determine what those keywords are.
Most competitive intelligence tools allow you to analyze how your campaigns optimize their competition, what words they focus on, how much they bid on them and even what their estimated budget is.
(A PPC advertising report on SEMrush.)
3. What Product Listing Ads (PLA) are you using?
Adwords is not the only way to advertise through Google. If you’re running an online store, you could also use Product Listing Ads (PLA) to promote your products directly to people who search.
The market is increasingly competitive and, therefore, it compensates discovering what strategies other online stores could be using to request or capture more clicks and increase sales.
Here are some of them:
Show Google product ratings
It is well known that product reviews help potential buyers make a purchasing decision.
Please note the following:
90% of customers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews .
And according to this study, online shoppers rely more on customer ratings and reviews than any other source.
Therefore, displaying the star rating in PLA ads is likely to encourage many more customers to click on them.
Include high quality images
Images have a great impact on user behavior. A good quality image draws customers’ attention to an ad, while a poor quality image discourages them from clicking.
Although it is not only the quality of an image, but also what represents what affects conversions.
So it’s worth investigating which images your competition is using in their PLA ads.
Offer better prices
Today, customers pay a lot of attention to price. They look for coupons, promotions and compare prices before buying.
It is obvious that ads that offer lower prices will naturally attract more clicks.
(A SEMrush Product List Ads report allows you to compare competing PLA ads.).
4. Your backlink profile
There is only one way to achieve better organic positions: by improving the online authority of your website.
And the best way to do this is to create very good quality backlinks.
Backlinks are still one of the most important search engine ranking factors . And the more quality backlinks you have, the greater the probability of occupying high positions.
Analyzing the profile of your competitor’s backlinks would allow you to identify:
- Their current backlinks and compare them to your profile.
- Links you could quickly recreate to improve your authority.
- New backlink opportunities.
- Your competitor’s link building strategies.
When analyzing your backlink profile, pay special attention to:
- Source of a link ⇒ The site the backlink is on.
- Type of site ⇒ Is it a blog, a news site, a local directory?
- Link anchor text ⇒ Although anchor text has lost its meaning, many companies continue to optimize it. Analyzing your anchor texts could reveal which keywords the competition is using to try to achieve better positions.
Competitive intelligence is neither new nor unethical. Rather, it is crucial for a business to prosper and develop a competitive advantage.
Regardless of how big or small your company is, you should study or analyze your competition to find out what their future movements will be, find out what your own strengths are and discover new markets to enter.