Why Competitive Research Is Important for Your Brand

If images of espionage, James Bond moves, and spy gadgets were the first things you thought of when you read competitive research, then youCompetitive research is all about learning and understanding what the competition is doing. might be doing something wrong. Competitive research is all about collecting information. You don’t have to go “behind enemy lines” to do this type of research in today’s digital landscape. In fact, a few Google searches a couple of times a month will give you insight into a lot of what you need to know about your competition and what they’re doing.

Defining Competitive Research

Before we dig into the types of research you need to be doing, it’s important to really understand what competitive research is about. Competitive research is focused on understanding your competitors and knowing what they are doing in terms of marketing. If you don’t know your competition or their messages or how they are targeting your audience, then how are you ever going to actually be competitive? It isn’t just about staying ahead of your competition or getting a one up on them. It’s about exploring new tactics and learning from the competition to better what you already know and do. If you look at a competitor and simply mimic what they do, you’ll be left behind. You need to take what they do successfully and turn it into something better.

Competitive Research in the Digital Age

At one point, competitive research might have meant going to your competition’s physical locations. It might have meant pouring over financial reports. It might have meant keeping a camera nearby so you could snap a photo of their marketing “in the wild. “ Today, though, you can do most, if not all of, your competitive research online.

Check out their website to learn how they communicate with your common audience.

If you’ve identified a business as competition, then there’s a good chance you share a common audience. You’re probably marketing to and talking to the same types of people. Checking out the competition’s website is a great way to learn how they communicate with that audience. You don’t want to mimic the exact way they communicate because you need to stay true to your brand, but you can read their tone, understand their messaging, and decide if it’s working or not.

Review Google ads to better understand how your competition is using paid advertising.

Use to, you could watch TV or pick up a magazine and learn about your competition’s paid advertising. Now, you simply need to search Google. If you search a keyword you’re trying to rank for or a keyword your audience might search, you’ll probably end up getting at least three different Google ads. Study these ads. Read over them. What’s the CTA? Do they provide contact information? What’s the tone? How are the limited characters used?

Learn how the competition is using SEO to increase their search traffic.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a two-man operation working out of a garage or a multi-national operation with over 500 employees, SEO matters. There are great tools out there that let you see the keywords a page is ranking for. You can also use these tools to see what a page’s meta description is, what H tags it has, and other important SEO factors. Using these tools on your competitor’s site will help you understand what keywords they rank for and give you insight in the keywords you need to be ranking for.

Social media is another great tool for you to discover what’s working and not working for your competition.

First thing first: if you aren’t on social media you need to be. Your audience, whether you believe it or not, is using social media. Now, back to competitive research. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flickr, whatever social media channel that is relevant to your business. Check out your competition’s pages. What are they posting about? Do they have a lot of likes? Do you see a lot of comments? What do the comments say? You might have limited insight into the analytics, but you can see what the engagement looks like. If it’s something your audience is into, then you need to be doing it.

Competitive research should be part of your ongoing marketing strategy. Without this research, it’ll be difficult to understand what’s working and not working when trying to reach your target audience. Just because a tactic appears to be working doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to actually do things. Looking at your competition’s marketing isn’t cheating. It’s just good marketing.

Are you ready to start building a marketing strategy that meets your target audience where they are? Ready to craft a strategy based on best practices and key industry insights? The digital marketing team at Iconic Digital is ready to help. We’re a bunch of design geeks, word nerds, and analytic freaks who love helping brands create powerful strategies and implement the tactics.

What are you waiting for? Contact Iconic Digital today.

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Scott Blanton

Content Writer at Iconic Digital Marketing
As Iconic Digital's content writer, Scott works with clients to develop brand stories and key messaging. When he isn't typing away at his computer, you'll find him exploring new coffee shops, spending time with this family, or working on a new home improvement project.