B2B competition research is a necessary step in identifying and evaluating a competitor’s strategies, strengths and weaknesses. Through business-to-business (B2B) competition research, you become aware of what moves your competitors are making, allowing your marketing and sales teams to make more precise, informed marketing decisions.
Competitve market research is a strategy many businesses employ to stay up to date with the latest market trends. Studying your competitors allows you to see where you are in relation to them, as well as considering their previous campaigns and gleaning what information you can from your competitor’s success or failure.
An effective competitor research strategy will pinpoint your competitor’s defining characteristics, such as:
- Price. How well do their prices compare to yours?
- Product description and images. How do they describe their products? Do they use relevant, captivating photos and images on their website to enhance their descriptions?
- Email subscription form. Are they actively reaching out to potential customers through email? What does their subscription form look like and what questions do they ask?
- Mobile optimization. Is their website accessible via smartphones and tablets? Are they marketing to mobile customers in addition to traditional ones?
- Social media presence. Do they make it easy to like their page on social media platforms? On which platforms are they maintaining a profile? Become a follower and track what they send, the frequency and the subject matter.
- How they interact with customers. Are there any forms for feedback? How often do they communicate with their customers? What is their tone when they speak to customers? Do they interact through email, chatting or phone?
- Value proposition. How do they emphasize their value proposition? Is their emphasis obvious enough to stand out?
- Calls to Action. Is there a noticeable, strong call-to-action on each page of their website? Is it compelling and urgent enough to drive the customer to act?
How to Conduct B2B Online Competition Research
Competitive research in online marketing requires more than just entering a competitor’s name into a search engine. Competitive intelligence research requires the gathering of insightful and actionable information. Here are nine ways to conduct effective competition research online:
- Use other tools besides the generic Google search. A simple Google search is a nice start to any search engine optimization (SEO) competitive analysis, but it isn’t the only weapon in your arsenal. Google’s AdWords can help deepen and refine your research of the keywords your competitor is targeting. Google Trends and Google Alerts allow you to track them across the headlines. SpyFu is a non-Google tool that can also provide useful insights into your competitor’s online campaigns.
- Get the latest through social networks. One particularly popular aspect of any online competitive landscape is social media. Monitoring social media accounts can reveal a lot about your competition. Make note of which social media accounts they’re using and how many followers they have. Track how often your competition posts to these accounts and what they post about.
- Gather reports. Industry analyst firms produce reports, like a competitive marketing analysis, providing statistics pertinent to your particular industry. Such organizations tend to also research and evaluate those companies that are your competitors. Studying a competitive analysis can key you in on specific marketing activities that need more attention as well as those that have received too much attention.
- Talk to your clients. Getting to know your clients by asking them who they used prior to coming to you is a great researching method. No B2B competitive analysis is complete without talking to disgruntled clients. You can usually learn why your clients were dissatisfied with their previous supplier and what they are looking for now that they have turned to your services.
- Attend a conference. Industry trade shows and conferences showcase what your competitors offer and who is visiting their booths. A trade show booth or conference panel may not exactly fit the qualifications of an online competition analysis, but you can still learn how they advertise and attract possible clients to their website.
- Hire your competition. Hiring sales people from competing firms is another way to gather B2B competitive intelligence. They can often give you the inside scoop on how your competitors operate and what their visions and goals are for the future. What markets are they targeting? What level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction did their clients express?
- Study the jobs your competition is trying to fill. By analyzing the positions your competitor wants to fill, you can decipher how they want to expand. This form of competitive marketing analysis can reveal whether they want to pursue particular specialties and projects, depending on the skill level of required in the positions they’re offering.
- Send out a survey. Want to get an idea of what every competitor in your industry is up to? Conduct even further marketing competitive analysis by sending out a survey. Directly ask each of your competitors about their pricing, response times, handling of sales requests, etc. Doing so will give you a big picture of how they execute their strategies. Then you can build your own marketing strategy to be both different from your competitor and more effective.
- Call your competition and ask them questions. If you don’t want to spend time writing a survey and sending it through email to your competitors, simply call them and ask them the questions you would like to have answered. This strategy is bold and direct, but it can provide you with a wealth of information that you otherwise might not have attained. Part of competitive intelligence is being willing to go outside of your comfort zone and take risks to retrieve the data you need.
Online Competitive Intelligence Research Tools
When it comes to conducting internet marketing competitive research, you need tools and resources you may not currently have on hand. Although there are competitive research tools you have to pay for, there are also free ones designed to deliver accurate, helpful results. Here are some examples of research tools that will aid you in your competitive analysis research:
- Alexa shows you the trends in traffic for competing websites.
- Quantcast shows demographic trends and details and site traffic.
- Google Trends for Websites is a free tool from Google that shows traffic estimates, top 10 related websites, visitor country location and top 10 related keywords.
- NetPeak Checker is desktop software that gathers SEO competition research data from a variety of third-party sources.
- SimilarWeb is an online competitive analysis tool that provides upstream and downstream traffic data for companies that have websites with data on many international markets.
- Archive.org allows you to see what a website looked like in the past and how old it is.
- Domain Tools lets the viewer see how many times a domain has changed hands.
Analyzing and Evaluating the Research Competition
Once you’ve found the right research tools to use for your project and you’ve conducted a significant amount of B2B competitive research, it’s necessary to analyze the data you’ve found. Competitive analysis in marketing requires you to take a step back and look at the big picture. It’s what you do with the data that will make the difference in your efforts to surpass the competition. In order to make the most of competition analysis, follow these five steps designed to enhance your marketing strategy:
1. Write down your competitors’ advantages and strengths. Focus on what they do really well and how they do it. In what ways do they have advantages over you?
2. Write down your advantages and strengths. Now take the time to list what your company’s marketing strengths are. What are you really good at? What kinds of advantages do your strengths place over your competitors?
3. Compare the differences and similarities. What strategies do they have that you don’t? What strengths do you have that they don’t? By answering these questions, you’ll have a better idea of where you stand, compared to your competition. You’ll also identify where you have an advantage and where your strategies need improvements.
4. Create a marketing plan focused on the improvements you need to make. With all this information you’ve gathered and analyzed, it’s now time to put it to good use. Draft a new marketing plan that includes suggestions on how to turn your weaknesses into strengths and your strengths into masterpieces. In the areas where you fell short, look at your competitors and evaluate how they handled similar challenges situations.
5. Execute that plan when it has been fine-tuned. Once you’ve created a solid marketing plan, review it with your supervisors and managers so they can make suggestions. Tweak it, enhance it and make it as flawless as possible. When it’s ready, execute it according to plan. Make sure that once your plan has been implemented, you continue to revisit it and make adjustments according to what’s working and what’s not.
Get Your Own Free Leads Analysis to See How Sprint Marketing Can Improve Your Online Competition Research
Sprint Marketing offers B2B competition research as part of our marketing intelligence solution. We know how intricate and complicated online industry research can be, which is why we specialize in B2B lead research and online market research. Contact a Sprint Marketing expert today about how we can strengthen your competition research strategies with a free lead analysis.