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Competitive Audits – Keeping An Eye on the Competition!

Written by:   |  Strategy  |  January 11, 2016  |  0 comments

Competitive Audit = Competitive Advantage

In speaking with clients, I’m often surprised to find out how little they know about their competition and how they stack up in comparison.  Most just don’t realize what’s possible!  In the digital world where everything can be tracked, you can learn a surprising amount about what your competitors are doing.  A competitive audit is the key to an elevated understanding.

Competitive Audits

Why should you care about what your competitors are doing?  Essentially, the goal of a competitive audit is to discover what’s working for your competitors so you can either make those same strategies work for you  or take measures to mitigate against them.  In short, a good competitive audit will help you gain a competitive advantage.

What’s Involved?

Here are just a few examples of things which can be investigated in a competitive audit and monitored over time:
  1. Creative –  Monitoring what creative your competitors are running will allow you to uncover their unique selling proposition and how they’re communicating it to their customers.  You can also identify special offers they’re running and when the offers and messaging have been changed.
  2. Marketing Channels – Looking at the channels your competitors are running, such as which networks (search, display, social, etc.) they are on, can help you to identify effective channels that you’re not currently leveraging.  In addition, you can often identify the types of ads being run on those networks, allowing you to identify new ad opportunities which you may not be fully taking advantage of.
  3. Technologies – Are there any technologies which are giving your competitors an edge?  Perhaps they’re using a certain bidding platform, analytics solution, or website optimization tool?  Ensure that you’re not missing out on a technological advantage.
  4. Keywords – In search marketing, the amount of information you can uncover is very granular, right down to which keywords your competitors are targeting.  This will help ensure that you’re not missing out on high performing keywords and can also inform you as to your competitor’s strategy (e.g. if they’re targeting certain aspects or uses of their products).
  5. Website(s) – What is your competitor’s website strategy?  Understanding if they have one site or many sites and how are the sites are organized can give you insight into how they’re segmenting the market.  While understanding the sales process (i.e. does their site facilitate online sales or just generate leads, and what happens with those leads) can also give you insight into their sales strategy.
  6. Search Engine Optimization – Understanding what your competitors are doing well and what are they’re doing poorly can help your SEO efforts immensely. This will help you to identify what tactics are driving results (e.g. key link opportunities and page optimization strategies) so that you can incorporate them into your strategy as well.
  7. Budgets – There are a number of tools which do a reasonably good job of estimating the budgets being spent on paid ads (both search and display), allowing you to keep an eye on how aggressive your competitors are and benchmark your efforts against your top competitors.

By looking at these items, not only will you develop a stronger understanding of what your competitors are doing and what opportunities you’ve been missing out on, but you’ll also get a stronger sense of the market overall.  By monitoring your competitors over time, you can also get a good sense of where the industry is headed.

Industry Trends

Here are some industry trends which can be uncovered through ongoing monitoring of your competitors:

  • Who are your strongest competitors and what are their strengths and weaknesses?  Are they likely to improve quickly?
  • Are there any up and coming competitors or indirect competitors who could easily move into your market?
  • Do you need to adjust your unique selling proposition in order to position yourself apart from the pack?
  • Are there market gaps which aren’t being serviced?  If there are, make note for future product development.
So, why wouldn’t you go for every advantage that you can?  Start with a competitive audit of your main competitors, then look at indirect competitors or competitors in different markets and I can guarantee you’ll uncover at least a few things you didn’t already know, which will help your business immensely.  Even better, continue to monitor your competitors over time to see how they’re adapting and you’ll have a good understanding of the competitive landscape in your industry.

If you need help performing a competitive audit, let us know.  We’re happy to help!

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