While you may dream of having your market all to yourself, the reality is that regardless of how niche or unique your product is, you'll always have competitors. In order to grow your business and ensure customers stay loyal to your brand, you need to have an edge over the competition.
This is why competitor research is so vital - you need to understand your rivals fully in order to outdo them. In this guide we'll explore the tools and techniques to use for effective competitor research; first and foremost, the B2B platform.
Having other businesses to compete with is undoubtedly a challenge, but ultimately it can also provide distinct advantages that will help to fuel your business growth. These include:
Doing the same thing as everyone else isn't going to make your company stand out from all of the others, which is why innovation is so important. This is especially crucial when you take into consideration the fact that studies have found that 70% of small businesses fail before their 10th year.
Having a healthy amount of competition encourages you to be more creative and come up with new ideas and ways of doing things that you otherwise wouldn't have thought of.
It can be hard to be objective when it comes to determining what your company's strength and weaknesses are. By looking at your competitors, you can see the areas where they're flourishing in comparison to you, and where you're outdoing them. This will make it much easier to identify what you and your team need to work on, and help make goals for the future.
Providing excellent customer service is essential, now more than ever. If you fail to do so you'll not only risk losing customers to your competitors but also face a bad review being seen by thousands of other potential customers on social media.
You should always aim to outdo your competitors with your level of customer service, and as a result, you'll develop a better reputation and also see more customer loyalty.
Having competitors means you can see which tools, techniques and approaches work well for your market, without having to test the waters yourself. You can look at their marketing campaigns, or the technologies that they're using, for example, and then see how those factors have affected their engagement and sales figures recently.
This gives you an idea of what works and what doesn't for your customers, without having to waste time and money on trial and error yourself.
Having rivals to beat also means that you have to develop a more in-depth understanding of your target market. Whether it's a specific location or a type of person or company, you need to know more about them than your rivals do.
This, in turn, means that you're providing a better, more tailored service and sales journey for your prospects, as well as marketing content that is more likely to engage them. Given that a shocking 42% of marketers do not send targeted email messages, you also have a chance to get way ahead of the curve.
Keeping a watchful eye over your business rivals is always a good idea. As well as being able to identify your biggest threats, it can help your business in a number of different ways, including:
No big shocks - Learn in advance if the company is planning to launch a product that will be in direct competition with yours, for example, and then react accordingly.
Predict their next move - By keeping tabs on your rivals you can predict the strategies they're likely to use in the near future. This will allow you to plan your own sales and marketing strategies taking into account who they're targeting, the techniques they'll be using, or the partners they'll be working with.
Learn from their mistakes/successes - Did their latest product launch fail? Has their latest marketing campaign gone viral? You can use their mistakes or successes to inform your own business decisions.
Exploit their weaknesses - When you know where your competitors are falling behind, you can use this to your advantage. For example, if you find a lot of reviews stating that their product is low quality, you can emphasise the superior quality of your own product.
Spot gaps in the market - Competitor monitoring also allows you to stay up to date of your rivals' product portfolios, and also their target audiences. This means you can identify potentially lucrative opportunities where the needs of their customers aren't currently being met. You can then use this information to sell to a previously untapped market.
Identify new threats - Whether it's a rival merging with another company to increase their market share, or a rapidly growing start-up, you can spot potential threats and come up with a plan to outshine them.
In order to perform a thorough competitive analysis, you need to have access to accurate and in-depth data on your business rivals. One of the most valuable tools for this purpose is a B2B data provider. These platforms offer a wide range of business insights, collected from numerous sources and presented in one place.
Global Database is a good example of a reputable B2B platform, and even offers open data; you can access company information for thousands of organisations based in the UK and Singapore completely free of charge.
Using a B2B platform to research your competitors is a great value option for a number of reasons...
Firstly, the data is collected from a wide range of sources; Global Database uses government agencies, in-house employees, web crawling technology to find publicly-available and partnerships with data providers. Having such a wide array of resources means that the data is in-depth and as complete as possible.
Another big advantage of using a B2B platform to find your competitors' information is the accuracy of the data. Providers such as Global Database obviously have a vested interest in making sure their data is as fresh and error-free as possible, so run consistent checks and updates as a result.
Sourcing all of the data yourself would be very time consuming, and use up a lot of your precious resources. This is an important issue given that research has found that sales reps spend around 20% of their time on admin tasks.
Therefore, by using a B2B provider you're able to save time and money and your team can focus on more pressing matters like closing sales.
Global Database's B2B platform is simple to use and contains a lot of very valuable company information. To find your competitors, you can simply search for a company by a name/keyword.
If you're unsure of who your rivals are, you can filter the database based on a range of different factors to find those you're in direct competition with, for example, location, industry, number of employees, years in operation, and turnover.
The Global Database platform allows you to access a wide range of company information, for organisations across 34 industries and 195 countries. Let's look at exactly how you can use this data for your competitor analysis.
One of the first things to look at when conducting a competitive analysis is to see how many companies there currently are in your niche. By filtering the database by the types of businesses you're competing with, you'll be able to see how crowded the market already is. This can be particularly important if you're a local business, so filtering based on a specific location would be essential.
This is another good place to start when getting to know a company. You can view details such as company type, legal status, country of origin, year established, industry classification and registered and trading address.
This information lays the foundation to building an in-depth picture of a company and also helps to determine whether you're currently likely to be in direct competition with them.
Find out what your competitors' current financial state is, with detailed data for turnover, net profit, balance sheets, profits and losses, and cash flow. You can also look at 10 years of financial data, to allow you to see where they've had fluctuations, and then pinpoint the reasons for this, whether it be a new product launched, a failed merger or a viral ad campaign.
Looking at financial data will also help to give you an idea of how well your company is performing in comparison, and also how profitable your niche can be.
Knowing which technologies your competitors currently have in their stack can be very useful. You can see which tools and systems are most popular across the board within your industry, or gain an edge over your biggest rivals by using more efficient technologies.
You can view statistics for your competitors' web traffic and traffic sources, and Alexa ranking to see how well you're website is performing in comparison. You can also view the keywords that people are using to find them, which you can then use in your own content and campaigns.
A company is only as good as the people running the show, so it's good to know who is behind your rival businesses. Global Database gives you information on employees at all levels, including company directors. You can view details such as name, age and employment history, to see how much experience the business has on board. You can also view group structure and shareholders, to see who has a vested interest in the business.
Alongside in-depth competitor research, you can make your B2B platform work even harder to help grow your business by using it for the following:
Global Database provides accurate contact data for employees at all levels, including thousands of direct dial numbers. You can search for potential customers using the filter options provided and then populate your CRM in an instant. Your email or cold calling campaigns will be ready to go, and you'll have a valuable edge over your competitors; particularly given that email marketing remains the most effective online tactic for lead generation, as shown below.
Personalisation is essential to engaging your clients in a truly effective way. With the detailed company information provided by Global Database, you have the means to perfectly target the different segments or even single accounts in any B2B sector.
You can learn about their current challenges and issues without even having to ask, for example a decrease in revenue or faltering web traffic - and then provide a solution.
Having qualified leads is important as it saves you time and money by not targeting the wrong prospects. Global Database allows you to quickly and easily filter your search, so you can qualify businesses in just a few clicks. You can filter based on things like industry, company size and turnover, and weed out any businesses that don't match your buyer profile.
There are often times in business when you need to do a background check on another company, in order to ensure you're not putting yours at risk. Whether you're researching a potential supplier, high-value client or possible merger or acquisition, you can look at detailed financial data and credit scores using Global Database. Doing so will allow you to grow your business securely, and avoid any unwelcome setbacks.
Finally, you can also use a B2B platform like Global Database for HR purposes. You can headhunt staff at all levels and across practically every industry, to find your ideal hire for your business or project, and avoid the potentially large costs involved in hiring the wrong person, as demonstrated below.
Carrying out a thorough competitive analysis can be time-consuming, but thankfully there are now a wide range of tools to help make the process much quicker and efficient.
These tools give you the best of both worlds; you can gain an important edge over your rivals by keeping tabs on them, while you focus your time and attention on more pressing matters, like setting goals and closing sales.
This tool allows you to find out information about a rival's social media presence and strategy. For example, you can learn how often they publish content, and the types of content they're using, without having to stalk their pages all the time. You can also generate a report that will compare your own social media performance to your competitors.
This tool monitors over 85 million sites, and allows you to track mentions across the web for your rivals. You can categorise your search and also add alerts to the social media sites you want to keep track of, so you'll be notified of any trends or news.
You can use this tool to analyse both your own and your competitors' Facebook pages, in order to see how you stack up. You can get a 90-day analysis and weekly reports for free, complete with notifications of your choosing.
This is one of the most popular tools for SEO, and its competitor analysis tool is very useful. You can see what keywords a site is ranking for, which keywords and phrases they're targeting, the backlinks they have, and their paid search activity.
You can use Ahrefs to discover what keywords your competitors are currently ranking for, the amount of organic traffic they're getting, and what their best-performing content is based on backlinks.
Buzz sumo enables you to find the best-performing content for your niche, through a simple keyword search. You can also enter your rival's URL to see the content that has been most popular for them. It offers filters for things like date published, type of content and number of social media shares.
You can easily keep up to date with all of your competitors and the types of content they're publishing with this tool. You can also filter and segment them based on whether they're competitors, clients or just general industry updates.
This tool gives you a clearer picture into where your rivals get their website traffic from. You can see which topics people search for before ending up on the site, as well as the other similar websites that they use.
This tool gives you insights into your rivals' email campaigns, including things like subject lines, frequency, and content. It also compares your own emails to ensure you're sending at the right time, or using the right subject line length etc.
Using this tool allows you to gain access to your rivals' email newsletters without having to sign up yourself. They're all displayed on an easy-to-read dashboard, which also shows homepages.
This tool lets you know who your biggest rivals in PPC are, and gives you an idea of their monthly budget as well as their overall strategy for Adwords.
Whatrunswhere enables you to discover where your rivals have ads, and what they look like, as well as how well they're performing.
Having the right tools is one thing, but there are also several other factors to keep in mind in order to get the most out of a competitor analysis. These include:
While it's important to keep an eye on the top companies in your industry, it's pointless to compare your own business with the big hitters if you're working on a much smaller scale. Focus your time and attention on the businesses that are actually similar to you, and that you're in direct competition with.
Instead of focusing your attention on the actual content that your competitors are making, it's a better idea to start with a more data-driven point of view. Look at enough metrics to gain a full overview of your competitor's strategy and performance. This might include things like publish frequency, the keywords their ranking highest for, and number of shares for different types of content.
Another important point is to ensure that the insights you discover lead to some kind of improvement for your own strategy. It's a pretty big waste of time and resources to gather data on your competitors that you then simply ignore.
Use these insights to inform your own sales and marketing decisions, whether it's publishing content more frequently, targeting a new niche, or adapting your plans to compete with a new product launch.
Alongside in-depth competitor analysis, there are a number of other business strategies you can put into practice to get ahead of your rivals. Here are five of the most effective…
Having well-crafted branding gives you an important edge in any marketplace. The importance of branding shouldn’t be overlooked; research has found that 80% of people believe colour increases brand recognition.
Effective branding lets customers know exactly what they can expect from a product or company in an instant, and communicates things like brand values and price point. In order to stand out in a crowded niche, you need to put careful thought into how you want your brand to come across.
Having great customer service is not only important for converting leads into sales, but also for ensuring that your brand reputation remains unscathed. In this age of social media, a bad review can be seen by thousands of people in a matter of minutes, and research has found that while happy customers tell an average of nine people of their experience, unhappy customers tell sixteen.
Providing excellent customer service will also mean that you're more likely to see previous buyers return. Given that it is more expensive to convert new customers than it is old ones, this is a very good tactic for fueling business growth and outdoing your rivals.
Happy employees are productive employees. In fact, a study found that happy employees made 37% more sales, were 31% more productive and had 19% more accuracy in tasks.
In order to reach your sales goals and grow your business you need to ensure they're taken care of. There could be a number of possible ways to do this, whether it be offering rewards or incentives, perks such as flexitime, or simply creating a positive and friendly working atmosphere. You'll soon see a difference in the way your business is running day to day, and will be in a much better place to beat your competition.
A good potential tactic for attracting new customers, as well as ensuring customer loyalty, is to offer discounts or offers. This could be a limited-time deal such as a discount code or coupon, or a freebie for new sign ups or after a certain number of purchases.
Remember though, that competing with your rivals based on price alone isn't a good idea. You want to show that your product or service is of a superior quality to that of your rivals, so offering too many discounts will make your prospects start to think your brand is inferior.
Why not use technology to get a sneaky edge over your business rivals? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Show your ads on their YouTube videos - Put your ads on your competitors' videos and they'll be shown before the video is played. You just need to convince them why your brand or product is better!
Steal their Twitter followers - Companies such as BirdSong allow you to download a list of all of the followers for any Twitter account. You can then use this list to upload to Twitter Ads, and get your adverts in front of those users who have shown interest in your competitor.
Target Facebook users who have an interest in them - You can use the site's interest-based targeting feature to put your own ads in front of users who are interested in your rivals.
Having a detailed understanding of your competitors is incredibly important, and should be a part of any company's sales strategy. Carrying out a competitor analysis can be very time-consuming, and end up costing a lot of money, which is why tools such as B2B platforms are such a valuable asset.
Using a reputable provider such as Global Database, you can access a wide range of company data in an instant, giving you a fantastic edge over your competition. It can also be used for sales and marketing, business development and even HR - making it a very efficient and great value asset.