Why analyze the competition?
Whether you’re planning your first website or a redesign of an existing site, it is important to first take a step back from the web development process. Before you start designing the structure or compiling content, analyze your competition to get a clear understanding of how your website compares to others in the marketplace.
This analysis will help you create a website that is purposeful and effective. It can provide insights into where your competitors are succeeding and falling short. It can also give you a more objective view of your own business and audience.
According to a 2021 survey by GE Capital Retail Bank, 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying. This means that most consumers start their journey online. If your website doesn’t measure up to your competitors’, you are already at a disadvantage.
How to analyze the competition
Our goal here is to look at the competition objectively to understand their:
- target market
- products and services
- weaknesses and strengths
Identify the competition
Begin analyzing the competition by identifying three to five businesses that offer services similar to your own. If you’re in a highly competitive industry, then your list of competing businesses should be even longer.
Create company overviews
Now build out a profile for each identified business, including your own. What products do they carry and what services do they offer. Do they use social media well and often? What advertising do they do? Is their location in a high traffic area or off the beaten path? Read Google reviews. Make notes of anything that you find important, interesting or relevant. Then compare each company overview to your own. What are their competitive strengths and weaknesses?
Evaluate the website
Once you have a good understanding of each business, review each website. Is the design strong and intuitive? Is is easy to get around? What products and services are highlighted? What contact options are offered? Is the About Us page thorough? What questions are addressed on the FAQs page? The more thorough your evaluation, the more information you will have going into your own website design.
Play the role of a potential customer
For this step in analyzing the competition, put yourself into the marketing funnel. Sign up for mailing lists, follow on social media, watch for any advertising. How does each company position itself? Does it lean on longevity, experience, speed, price or something else?
Determine the target market
By reading competitors’ websites and other marketing materials, you should be able to determine who they are targeting. What age group, gender, location and industry are they looking to reach? By understanding who your competition is aiming to serve, you may be able to find an untapped niche in the market.
Determine where your competitors and your business overlap
What products and services do you both offer? How do your prices compare? Do they offer discounts or special offers? How does your on-boarding contrast with theirs? What target audiences do you have in common? You are not looking to copy what your competitors are doing. Instead you are gathering information to be a more knowledgeable business owner. By analyzing your competition in this way, you may find opportunities to fill a hole in the market, improving your business at the same time.
Why you should analyze your competition
A business’ success or failure is strongly influenced by its ability to respond to changing conditions. When you understand your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, you can improve your own competitive edge.
If you don’t know how you rank against your competitors, you may miss valuable opportunities. Also, by understanding what products and services are already being provided, you can focus your efforts on products and services that are in greater need. Know where you stand and don’t risk falling behind.