Before you get the wrong idea, though, the point of running a competitor analysis is to help you figure out what you can be doing better or different than the rest of the crowd. It’s not so you can replicate their every move, but rather, so you can:
This is why it’s important to spend some time doing research on the competition.
• Find out what’s working for them and do it better;
• Or, find untapped opportunities.
You’ll also want to go deep than scanning your competitor’s social media accounts every now and then.
Research Your Competitors
No business exists in a vacuum, even if you are the only brand on the market in your own very specific niche. You can be guaranteed that sooner or later, you’re going to find yourself with some competition, and they’re going to have their own ideas about the best way to acquire customers.
Unless you happen to have a really good relationship with someone else in your niche and you can find the time to get them on the phone and talk marketing strategy, chances are, you’re going to have to dust off that deerstalker hat and do a little sleuthing.
One way to get a good initial grasp of what marketing channels your competitors are using is to go directly to their customers and find out what they’re saying.
You can easily do that with Mention, a social media monitoring tool that allows you to quickly scan the web and find mentions of your competitors online and on social media. You can analyze online conversations that are happening about your competition and, most importantly, what online communities are forming around them.
Tap into those conversations and see if you can find out what products people are purchasing and how they found out about them, and whether their experiences have been positive or negative. Learn what promotions and deals they’re offering through social media.
Another great tool to use to monitor your competitor’s online marketing strategy would be Moz’s Open Site Explorer.
I like to use Open Site Explorer as a way to check out what my competitors are doing with their SEO. Moz allows you to find out what external links your competitors are getting. This can give you incredibly valuable insight as to what their content strategy is like, or if they even have one in the first place, and potentially where they’re advertising online.
You can find out what their top pages are and what their most popular content is, and use their successes to help find ideas and inspiration for what your link-building strategy might look like. For more on a successful link-building SEO strategy, check out this post.
The final method I’d recommend is to simply sign up to their email list and see what their email strategy is like. Not only will this give you invaluable insight as to what their email marketing efforts look like, but it’ll also give you an up close and personal view of their overall strategy.
For example, you can find out if they’re doing a product launch, and if so, how they go about it. Or if they’re hyping up interest for a similar product to yours. Get into the belly of the beast and find out what’s going on.
Of course, there are also dozens of others tools and methods you can use to do competitor research. But this should give you a good idea of where to start with your own.