WHAT TO EXPECTAn in-depth investigation and analysis of your competition is one of the most important components of a comprehensive market analysis. A competitive analysis allows you to assess your competitor's strengths and weaknesses in your marketplace and implement effective strategies to improve your competitive advantage. This Business Builder will take you through a step-by-step process of competitive analysis, helping you to identify your competition, determine and weigh their attributes, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and uncover their objectives and strategies in your market segment. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GETTING STARTED [top] What Types of Organizations Should I Consider as Competitors? Any business marketing a product similar to, or as a substitute for, your own product in the same geographic area is a direct competitor. Firms offering dissimilar or substitute products in relation to your product or service are considered indirect competitors. Indirect competition would exist between the manufacturer of butter and a manufacturer of margarine selling to the same customers. Another example is the manufacturer of eyeglasses who competes indirectly with contact lens manufacturers. Stated in other terms, indirect competition will satisfy the customer's need with a particular product or service, although the product or service used may be different from yours. If a firm has similar products and distribution channels, but has chosen to operate in different market segments, they are not at this time your direct competitor. However, it's important to monitor the marketing activities of such firms because they may decide to move into your market segment, just as you may decide to move into theirs. Take a moment and identify your direct and indirect competitors: Why is a Comprehensive Competitive Analysis an Important Part of a Marketing Plan? To achieve and maintain a competitive advantage in reaching and selling to your target market, you must possess a thorough knowledge of your competition. An in-depth competitive analysis will provide you with the following:
This checklist is broken out into sections that reflect key elements from our Balanced Digital Scorecard. As previously mentioned, this checklist is to help you identify opportunities (and possibly areas not worth your time and budget). But this competitive analysis is not prescriptive in and of itself. It should be used as its name suggests: to analyze what your competition’s “edge” is.
If you're struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, go to Google.com and take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google's results, you'll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.
Estimated Costs: Creating content to adequately target specific keywords will require varying amounts of time, money, and effort. In some situations, you might find that targeting a certain keyword also allows you to SEO your landing page at the same time. So be on the lookout for shortcuts that might make ranking for a keyword more cost-efficient than it would otherwise be. That’s how you can find real money-makers!
Future Competition. In your competitive analysis, you need to make a few predictions about what the competition is going to look like in the future. Competitors are constantly coming and going in the marketplace. Ask yourself: Who are my competitors likely to be? If you are introducing a new widget, how long before the competition catches on? Forecasting future competition will give your potential investors the confidence in the long term viability of your business.Barriers to Entry. Companies whose competitive edge depends on new technology, new manufacturing techniques or access to new markets need to be aware of the common barriers new competition faces when trying to gain entry into the marketplace. They include:
Trade AssociationsMost professional trade associations compile and publish industry statistics and report on industry news and leaders through trade association magazines and newsletters. Most trade associations also sponsor trade shows and other professional meetings. This is an opportunity to see first-hand what your competition is producing. It also provides the opportunity to discover new players who may soon become your competition.  
Remember that martech landscape map with over 5,000 companies? Almost every product category is made up of over a dozen different players. You can’t reasonably expect to analyze all of them. You don’t need to either. An ideal competitor analysis includes three to five companies that represent the biggest threat to your business. (Go with five if you’re operating in a crowded market.)
If you have a poor billing system or are constantly losing invoices and important documents, soon your clients will move on to greener pastures (and more organised businesses). If you implement a strategy to become more organised, you will find your customer service improving. This will lead not only to return clients but to new business, as word-of-mouth travels about your professionalism and efficiency.
As you consider new ideas for your next project or business, give extra credence to the things you believe to be true that others doubt. The most exciting products are created by people with tons of conviction for something that strikes most others as odd. I’ve heard from Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, that when he and his co-founder Brian Chesky pitched the idea of having strangers sleeping in your home when you weren’t there, many investors shifted uncomfortably in their seats.
If you are a UX designer, then you might be aware of the service design cycle. This cycle contains four stages: discover, explore, test and listen. Each one of these stages has multiple research methods, and competitive analysis is part of the exploration. Susan Farrell has very helpfully distinguished different UX research methods and activities that can be performed for your project. (You can check this detailed segregation in her “UX Research Cheat Sheet”.)
How do current customers rate the following features of your business compared to your competition.Rate the following as: fair, good or excellent. Our Company / Competition ___________ /__________ Price ___________ /__________ Quality ___________ /__________ Durability ___________ /__________ Image/style ___________ /__________ Value ___________ /__________ Name Recognition ___________ /__________ Customer Service ___________ /__________ Customer Relations ___________ /__________ Location ___________ /__________ Convenience ___________ /__________ Other
Ad text plays an important role in the success of your ads. It is the form of marketing communication that advertisers can use to promote their product or service on search platforms. An effective ad text consists at least one of your core keyword, attractive discounts and promotion and a call to action. The quality score of your ad depends on multiple factors and your ad text is one of them. Your ad text should be unique and appealing. Include discount amount in your ad copy and also add a strong call to action that can compel searchers to click on your ads. Use action words like buy now, order now, resister today or sign up here. Include one of your keyword in your ad text and match your ad to your landing page.
Why make the same mistakes your competitors have made when you can learn from them? As its name implies, SpyFu is a great way to spy on the competition so you can learn from their failures and more importantly, their successes. When you type in a competitor's URL, you'll be able to see how many keywords they are ranking for organically and even the ad value of those keywords. It also offers good analytics on backlinks driving the most traffic to your competitors' sites so you can see where you might want to  publish guest blogs or be listed. If they are running any paid advertising campaigns, you can even see what campaigns they're running and how much they're spending.  
Examples like the above support metrics that find geotargeting doubles the performance of all kinds of marketing methods, from email campaigns to paid search. Per data from the Local Search Association’s LSA Insights database, it also doesn’t matter what vertical your business is in.  The click-through rate for geotargeted mobile display ads was higher than the industry benchmark for all verticals.
This emphasis on competition is related to the advent of game theory in the mid 20th century around the same time. The problem is that game theory is one mental model of many to help make decisions, not the only one (Ben Thompson from Stratechery has a good post on the Prisoner’s Dilemma that is a fundamental one). Even researchers are starting to point to the fact that there are no perfect solutions (such as a Nash equilibrium) to most situations.
Do they have separate marketing messages for different segments? Sometimes, you might see a stark difference between how your competitor markets their business for one type of customer versus how they present themselves to another type of customer. For example, if you're trying to sell services as a math tutor to high school students who are struggling to pass their math subjects, you'll be making a completely different pitch than you would to those students who need additional help with their SAT math so that they could get into prestigious universities. Your message to the struggling students might be closer to "I'll help you finally pass your math tests!" While your message to the other market will be similar to "I'll help you get into the school of your dreams!" Also, be sure to note if your competitor does something similar with their own customer segments. 

Annual ReportsIf your competitor is a publicly-held company, many of its reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are available on the SEC-Edgar Web site. Annual reports provide financial information, including sales volume, revenue increases, and their total market share. 10-K reports provide still more detail, and are supplemented by the quarterly 10-Qs. 8-Ks show significant events such as acquisitions and board membership changes when they occur between 10-K and 10-Q filings. Annual reports from privately-held corporations are sometimes available through friends, relatives, and business acquaintances who own stock in a competitor's company.  
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You can search for these types of competitors online (by doing a simple web search), or you can directly ask your current and potential customers what they are using already. You can also look for your direct and indirect competitors on websites such as Crunchbase and Product Hunt, and you can search for them in the Google Play and the iOS App Store.
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What is the main messaging of their marketing materials? What common customer problems or goals do they often refer to? Let’s say you’re a pet sitter going through a rival business’ brochure. There is a huge difference between a brochure emphasizing frequent real-time online updates, and another brochure emphasizing pet pampering and grooming. The group of clients who are attracted by frequent real-time online updates are often focused on the safety and welfare of their pets, while those looking for more pampering and grooming services are focused on comfort and appearance.
Beyond the city level, your geotargeting on Facebook can further narrow your targeted customers to within miles. For example, a fairly standard radius is 10 miles and closer when you’re targeting a specific product or service in a particular vicinity. If you’re in a more rural setting, you can expand that radius to 20 or 25 miles. Urban areas like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are targeted within one mile.
A quality ad account in 2018, according to Google, is an “autopiloted” account; the more options that are delegated to Google Ads, the better. However, even if Google is now able to decide on its own which banner size will fit best on a particular website, it is still your responsibility to provide catchy text, relevant images, and the right keywords.
Google Ads operates on a pay-per-click model, in which users bid on keywords and pay for each click on their advertisements. Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of Ads advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the valuable ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids.
The unique advantage of PPC marketing is that Google (and other ad networks) don’t just reward the highest bidders for that ad space, they reward the highest-quality ads (meaning the ads that are most popular with users). Essentially, Google rewards good performance. The better your ads, the greater your click-through rates and the lower your costs.
We must clearly identify our objectives for the campaign and tie the campaign objectives to business objectives. Your objectives could include raising awareness, increasing engagement, generating conversions, and customer retention. Your objectives will need to be tailored to your specific business and you will want to map your objectives to a typical marketing funnel. This chapter highlights how to identify your objectives to measure success.

So, fellow marketers, the secret is out—now you know that the key to really driving your conversion rate isn’t in minor copy or bidding adjustments. The true PPC CRO best practices require you to use negative keywords and to target keywords that your bottom-of-the-funnel prospects are searching for—including those that are pricing and service-oriented. You want to use high-converting ad formats, such as Google Shopping Campaigns and video ads, to capture the attention of your audience and engage them. Your landing pages should be designed well, easily browsable, and have fast loading times. It’s also important to personalize your ads so that your potential customers feel like you’re speaking directly to them, which also helps humanize your brand. Finally, use retargeting to remarket your products and services to previously interested visitors to your website, enticing them back and convert. 
"Modern SEO focuses on using the variations of the word or phrase that work naturally within the content because users will have a better experience, and search engines are capable of rewarding rankings to sites regardless of the variation of that keyword used. In other words, when a shopper searches for 'books,' the pages that best serve that user’s search query will, in theory, be ranked highest regardless of whether the content reflects the word 'book' or 'books.'"

I include specific, real world examples of every type of content in the wild as well as showing you how I design keyword architecture on my sites. I even provide a general model and walk you through exactly how to make decisions on what levels of architecture should get a dedicated URL versus what content should live on parent pages or use JSON/AJAX to not generate new URL's but still provide an ideal user experience.


No matter how marketing-savvy your company may be, you can always learn more about your customers, especially when it comes to personalizing your advertising. That’s where geotargeting can again be beneficial. The information received from geolocation can help a brand determine where a consumer is looking so it can better tailor events, products, and services to those consumer interests in the near future.

How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, SEMrush allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the types of terms your competitors are ranking for.
The first case is quite simple yet happens often. So for example, you have not sold tandem bikes for years (and had the word “tandem” in a negative list), then you started to sell them again. But your PPC specialist forgot to remove the word from negatives, and now you are left wondering why you are not getting any traffic for this keyword. To avoid this situation, check your negative keyword lists regularly and bring the relevant keywords back to life.
This data gives us a starting point to build out complex keyword mapping strategy documents that set the tone for our client campaigns. Rather than just starting keyword research by guessing what we think is relevant, we have hundreds of keywords to start with that we know are relevant to the industry. Our keyword research process then aims to dive deeper into these topics to determine the type of content needed to rank well.
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