Whether you’re selling flags, faucets or full-time help, there are more than likely other companies offering similar products and services, which is why establishing a competitive advantage has been part of your business plan from the beginning. But simply knowing what the competition offers isn’t enough. In order to gain an edge, you have to conduct regular and thorough competitive analyses.

Competitive analysis is essential for discovering not only what your competitors are doing, but also what kind of threat they present to your company and its future. Because the process involves compiling information that’s available in the public domain, competitive research is completely legal. Below is a simple three-step process for completing a detailed competitive analysis that will provide insight into the strategies that are working for others, so you can adopt them, improve them and gain an edge.

Identify the Competition
Although this may seem like a no-brainer, many companies are aware of only their top one or two competitors. If you’re a national brand, there are likely hundreds – maybe thousands – of businesses offering products and services similar to yours. For a comprehensive analysis, begin by identifying your top 5-10 competitors. Google is a great place to start this research. Simply enter the type of product or service you offer and note which companies pop up (yours should be close to the top result). You can also use online tools to see what other companies are ranking for your keyword and how you stack up against them.

Compare Content and Analyze SEO
By analyzing your competitor’s content – blogs, case studies, newsletters, eBooks, videos, etc. – you can glean insight into what works in your industry and how you may be able to gain a competitive advantage by doing what others aren’t. When researching content, look for which topics are covered, the quality of the content and the frequency of updates. For example, if you’re updating a blog on your website every two weeks, and your competitor is updating two or three times a week, blogging more would benefit you because of the increased traffic to your website. That said, don’t create blogs just for the sake of new content; make sure you are providing value to your audience through topics that are important to them.

Once you’ve looked at the type of content your competitors are generating, it’s important to check out how they approach search engine optimization (SEO). In other words, how are they using keywords in places like the page title, URL, tags, content, links and image text. Also note what types of keywords your competitors are utilizing and generate a list of additional words to target.

Social Media
You already know that a company’s presence on social media is becoming increasingly important for interacting with customers and fans. A competitive analysis should include a review of your competitor’s social media presence across all platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Note how they are using social media and integrating it into marketing efforts. Also, how effectively are they using their profiles? For example, are they posting often and gaining followers and fans? If their social media presence is expansive, learn even more so you can generate ideas to help grow your online presence.

After a close examination of your competitors, you’ll be able to easily recognize things that you need to improve. Challenge yourself to think beyond content, SEO and social media and consider how you can combine these tactics to help establish your company’s presence with potential customers.

For more information on how you can gain a competitive advantage, contact Optimum CX today.