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How to use personas for competitor analysis

persona for competitor analysis

When you look at your competitors, there might be a lot of questions lingering in your mind.

  • How did they use LinkedIn to build a formidable brand name?
  • What are they doing to get more than a 100+ leads a day?
  • How were they able to be in business for more than 4 years despite being self-funded, especially in an industry that has a lot of overheads?
  • How are they able to create pieces of content that are worth emulating on a daily basis?

The answers to such questions lie in just one thing- competitor analysis. By doing competitor analysis, you will be able to find where your company stands in the market with respect to competitors and identify opportunities to piggyback on strategies that have worked for your competitors.

One of the most effective ways to represent competitor research data gained through analyzing competition is to use competitor personas. It helps bring better clarity about who the competitor’s users are, how they are acquired and how they use competing products, all in one abstraction.

In this article, we summarize key benefits of competitor analysis and how to conduct competitive analysis (with useful data sources/tools) to build competitor personas.

What is competitor analysis?

Competitor analysis is the study of competitors by researching their products, sales and marketing strategies, operational tactics, etc. It will help a business create strategies that will help them be one up against everyone else. If you want to do a proper competitor analysis, then you need to choose the closest competitors, find out which are the areas that you’d like to know more about, and use the right tools to measure them.

A competitor analysis will include some of the following in its study- product features, pricing, technology used, funding, company overview, history, revenue, customers, social media strategy, sales strategy, marketing plans, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

Benefits of competitor analysis:

benefits of competitor analysis by Delve AI

Competitive analysis isn’t a one-time thing, but should be a regular process that will help you understand their strengths and weaknesses. Businesses don’t realize that they will have a significant advantage when they know the moves that their competitor are pulling. The way you gather information about your competitors is also important. Further, if you are a business that is planning to enter into a newer market or are in the plans of launching a new product, there couldn’t be a better time to perform competitor analysis.

Here are some of the potential benefits of competitor analysis.

Discover trends:

By knowing how the competitors have fared in the past using different strategies, you would be in a better position to identify trends and make decisions based on that. It will help you understand the market and you will be able to get an idea of the kind of strategies that you can do to keep your brand thriving.

Leverage intelligence:

When you study your competitors deeply, you would be able to understand their marketing and operational strategies deeply. Using this, you will be able to come up with unique business ideas that will help the brand. Understanding why they are working on a particular channel or using a certain strategy will give you a perspective and should help in your business. With information about their strategies in hand, you can even come up with a better strategy that will leave your competitors stranded. Sometimes, you need to have a counter strategy which will always keep you ahead of them.

Learn from past mistakes:

Your competitors who were there in the market much before you would have committed Himalayan blunders that cost them in millions, including loss of reputation. Avoid all of these by studying the mistakes that they did over the course of their journey. Learn every bit about their customer service strategy, marketing strategy, sales techniques used, social media strategy, etc. Poring through everything in detail will leave you with a clearer understanding of what to avoid and what is a must-have.

Market gaps:

When you do competitor analysis, it helps you spot gaps in the market. You would be able to understand if there are products or services that can be sold here. If your competitor is already offering it at X price, you will understand with your research that customers will be ready to pay a premium if you offered Y along with it. With such deep analysis, you can ward off any new competitors that are planning to set foot or at least never go out of the favor of your customers.

Better content marketing:

If you have no idea about the kind of content that will work in your niche, looking at the blogs that your competitors have published is more than enough. You will understand the kind of blogs that work well and the ones that are shared a lot. Learn what kind of frequency works well for your audience. Piggybacking on your competitor’s strategy is the easiest thing to do in terms of understanding your client’s content strategy.

Refine your ideal customer profile:

With primary data and competitor data, you will be able to refine your ideal customer profile. Remember that your ideal customer profile isn’t a constant. You would be able to stay relevant by performing competitor analysis on a regular basis.

Conduct a competitor analysis:

how to conduct competitor analysis by Delve AI

Establishing an edge over your competitors is a part of the daily rigmarole of businesses. Simply knowing who they are and what they offer isn’t enough to get that ‘edge.’ You need to know everything about them, including strategies, short-term and long-term plans that only their management would know. That should be the level of research that you do. Thanks to new software, technology and a myriad of tools, businesses can know more about their competition than ever before. With the right kind of research, you can always stay several steps ahead of your competitors.

#1 Create a list of competitors:

The first step is to find relevant competitors as you don’t want ideas from a logistics company if you are into apparels. Spyfu, Similar Web, BuzzSumo, Search Metrics, Advanced Web Rankings, etc, are some of the tools that you can use to find out who your closest competitors are. A close competitor is someone who sells the same products as you do to the same market or in a slightly different market. Have at least 10 relevant competitors who will be the ones from whom you want information so that you can build a better business.

#2 List the things you want to know about your competitors:

Once you know the competitors that you want to learn more about, the next step is to list down everything that you want to know about them. Below are some of the things that you might want to know more of:

  • Social media strategy including channels used, engagement, responses to customers, etc.
  • Marketing strategies including type of promotions employed, discounts offered, etc.
  • Content Marketing tactics including blog topics used, type of content written for each phase of the customer journey.
  • Customer servicing strategy. Understand how they respond to customers, the different channels that are on offer for customers to get in touch with them, refund policy, etc.
  • Information about the website has been organized.
  • Short-term and long-term plans of the company.
  • Their story, how they evolved as a business, did they make any business pivots, etc.

Gathering competitor information must happen from different sources, and tools can often do the hard work for you.

#3 Collect quantitative and qualitative data:

Competitor persona can be understood by using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. Qualitative data is not measurable and can only be gained by asking open-ended questions. It is a terrific way to gain insights into the minds of your audience. Some of the qualitative data collection techniques include questionnaires, interviews, focus group discussions, case studies, observation etc.

Quantitative intelligence is all about collecting data to draw observations about the market. Examples of quantitative intelligence are analyzing market trends, sales trends, market shares, pricing impact, positioning, product optimization, etc. Using tools like Ahrefs, SimilarWeb, SEMrush, Moz, etc, will give you quantitative data. In this type, the results are measurable.

To get the best results, it is advised to gather quantitative and qualitative data.

#4 Analyze their marketing strategies:

The simplest act that you can do to find the marketing strategies of your competitors is to subscribe to their newsletters. Find out how their signup process works, how do they onboard customers and what is the type of content that they offer once you go deeper into the marketing funnel.

Use a tool like BuiltWith to find out the technology that competitors use. It will help you understand what they are trying to accomplish. Use Mention, a tool that does a good job of following brand mentions on blog posts. You can use tools like WhatRunsWhere and Adbeat to see the display ads that your competitors run. Check out where they spend the most money for their ads. Using Spyfu, you will be able to track the SEO performance of the competitors.

#5 Review social media performance:

With social media holding a vicious grip on the psyche of customers around the world, brands are wary of the impact too. Decide on the most relevant social media platforms for your business. Not every platform is relevant for you and there is no need to be active on each of these platforms. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are some of the most popular brands that are used extensively by businesses.

If your competitor’s customers engage with the posts often, then it means that there is a huge market for similar products. If there is hardly any interaction in the social media posts of all the brands, then it is a clear sign that the market is dull. Monitoring their social media will also help you understand what customers feel about certain brands, how brands are leveraging social media and the different strategies that they employ.

#6 Identify gaps with marketing strategies:

Sit down with your marketing team and find out the areas where your competitors are doing better than you. Not only should you compare your marketing strategies with your immediate competitor, but you also need to analyze the strategies used by the other competitors and compare each of them. If a particular strategy worked for competitor A, ask why didn’t competitor B taste the same success. You’ll be able to figure out the missing ingredient and can apply the same principles for your company.

This exercise should not only be with regards to analyzing your marketing strategies, but also in various other aspects of your business, starting from content, SEO, social media, etc.

#7 Hear from customers:

While it is impossible to measure the market share for each of your competitors, you can easily measure the amount of shout outs they get. You can use tools like Brandmentions, Brand24, Socialbakers, Mention.com, and more. To measure share of voice, use any of these tools and create an alert for each competitor’s brand. Once there is ample data collected, you can use it to compare each of the competitors.

You should be able to track the mentions, what the customers are saying about your competitors, including your brand and also how the Share of Voice changes over time.

One more thing that you can measure from your customer’s competitors- sentiment. A customer’s sentiment towards a brand changes over time based on how they fare in the public eye. If a high-ranking member from their team is caught for bribery, then the customers will obviously have negative sentiment towards it. Since an emotion like sentiment can be finicky as it is based on external factors, monitoring it will help you understand what customers love and hate about brands.

#7 Bonus:

#1 If you want to know how the company is faring, then you can go to their ‘Careers’ page to see if they are hiring. Observe the kind of roles that they are hiring for and you will be able to get a sense of where they are heading. It will even give you a sneak peek of the company culture.

#2 Set up Google alerts for your competitors. Also, set up alerts for industry terms.

#3 To know more about their investment portfolio and more, you can use Crunchbase.

#4 Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out the most popular content on a particular topic or on a competitor’s website. It will also help you find out the influencers on a certain topic.

#5 Use tools like Adapt.io, Zoominfo.com, to find out company and contact data. By having this data, not only would it help with outreach, but you can also get information about the company that you can use to be one-up against your competitor.

Conclusion

Performing regular competitor analysis is all about seeing where your company stands, where it could be and to see if there are specific actions that can be taken to achieve the same by piggybacking on the strategies of competitors. By doing competitor analysis, you will be able to find opportunities that might have been completely ignored otherwise. It will make you a company that is worth emulating when you take the best of all your competitors and ignore the ones that don’t make sense to you. In short, competitor analysis is not about being better than everyone else, it is about being a brand that serves the interests of its customers in the finest way possible.

If you are not investing in competitor intelligence, please be mindful that your competitors are doing it and you will be at a huge disadvantage if you don’t do it. 91% businesses say they have seen quantitative results and 95% say they’ve seen qualitative results, thanks to competitor analysis.

If you are looking for help with competitor analysis, Competitor Persona by Delve AI automatically creates personas for any given competitor website domain (or mobile application ID) and hence can help you navigate the vagaries of understanding competitors, especially from a sales and marketing perspective. It significantly simplifies the process of researching and abstracting learnings from competitive intelligence, on an on-going basis.

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