Having an e-commerce business is a dream for a lot of people. It allows you to work with the products in what you love. But competition is really high, and you can’t just start without having some things clear. One of the first things that you should do is making competitor analysis and competition mapping. Both entrepreneurs that are starting now, and e-commerce managers and SMEs owners that have been working on it for some years, have to know their own competitive positioning in this competitive market in every stage of business in order to make better strategic decisions.
That’s completely why we have created this article. Online shoppers are not forgiving. They don’t hesitate even one second to choose your competitors if they appear at first on the search engine, if they provide better customer support on social media or if they offer a better deal than you. So, getting to know your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses should be the first amendment of your business which will prepare a good strategy base.
And here, in this article, we aim to create a checklist that makes you be sure to have a detailed competitor analysis covering the crucial aspects of e-commerce. Not only we provide this checklist, we also give competitor intelligence tool recommendations which will help you to have a better competitor monitoring abilities in a market where information is huge.
✅ Start Competitor Analysis By First Defining Them
Without any doubt, the most popular place to promote your e-commerce business is Google. Not only it is just a promotional medium, but also your potential customers are first starting shopping on there. So, it would be a wise start to make competitor analysis and mapping on Google and also understand the online behavior of your customers.
First, make a list of the keywords that are converting well and relevant to your business. Then start searching these keywords in Google and make note of who is ranking on the first page and similar to your business.
After identifying your competitors, start diving in their online store. Take a breath, concentrate and make a list of their weaknesses and strengths.
You can ask the questions at below and note the answers in a competitor analysis spreadsheet. It will be a great reference while defining your competitive positioning;
- What is their unique selling proposition?
- How did they price their products? Are they offering competitive prices, the average of the market or above of the market?
- How frequently are they running promotions?
- How did they manage product contents such images and descriptions?
- What are their shipping and return policies?
- How do they support the customers on site? Live chat, via mail or through the phone?
- How did they design the check out process?
- How did they position call to actions?
- Are they using pop-ups, exit intents to build an email audience?
- Is the website responsive for mobile?
- How they manage social media platforms? How do their social media posts look like? How do they engage with the audience on social media?
- Do they have a blog? How frequently do they post?
So, assuming you have a list of your top competitors, and you have done basic research on how they operate. Now, it’s time to dig deeper. Follow the checklist addressing different categories of competitor analysis and try the recommended tools to gain in-depth competitive intelligence.
✅ Detect and Track Competitor’s Website Traffic
We know who our competitors are and digged their weaknesses and strengths on their online sites. It’s now time to take a look at their traffic. Detecting which sources attract the most traffic to your competitors will help you decide where to focus your marketing efforts.
The metrics that you should keep your eyes on respectively;
- Source of their traffic; Organic, Direct, Referrals,…
- The location of the traffic; Country, Region-based
- The traffic from referral
- Monthly traffic and KPIs; New Visitor, Page/Session,…
Tool for Monitoring Competitor’s Website Traffic:
✅ Monitor the Competitor’s Organic and Paid Keywords
Keywords are the most decisive component of the content marketing performance. As the objective of content is nurturing the audience and associate with your products, reaching the target audience through the organic search with right keywords will create a seamless traffic generator and conversion optimizer machine.
But e-commerce and contents surrounding in online era are not stable. Even you’ve made a great keyword research and built a proper strategy, your competitors are wildly searching for new methods to improve their SERPs. So, the initial strategy may be outcompeted after a certain time.
So, researching the keywords of your competitors and their ranking in the Search Engine Results Page will help you to generate new keyword ideas that are performing well, understand how mature their strategy and analyze your competitive positioning among your competitors. Keyword rankings also give an idea how consumer’s behavior changes in time and help you to react instantly to changing organic search trends.
You can do the same with paid search, researching through Google or competitive intelligence tools which reveals your rival’s monthly budget and alerts you to new ads and new keywords that are being targeted.
Tool for Monitoring Competitor’s Organic and Paid Keywords:
✅ Make a Competitor Analysis of Backlinks
To outcompete your competitors on search engines, you need a strong backlink history. Also a close analysis of your competitors’ “link profiles” provides valuable information on the most related websites of the industry. By generating and building links on those industry-related sites (that already link to your competitors), you will be able to catch their success, become part of the conversation where your competitors show up.
So, monitoring and taking action on competitor’s backlink will let you have a great competitive advantage and make you a real threat for your competitors.
Tool for Monitoring Competitor’s Backlinks:
✅ Conduct Competitor Analysis on Social Media
Social media plays an important role for e-commerce companies. As the online shoppers are spending a lot of time on social media platforms, e-commerce companies have a great chance to engage with them, promote their products and every kind of promotions on social media. Not only the objective is just about promoting, e-commerce companies use some tactics to grow their audience by making contests, conversations, customer support, and even e-commerce retailers put “buy button” to encourage online shoppers to make purchases on Facebook or Instagram.
Every industry has specific dynamics. Detecting these dynamics and customer behavior on social media will let you have a great advantage. After understanding these points, establishing a fine-tuned social media strategy will be much more easy and effective.
Gathering competitive intelligence make you understand better the requirements of the industry and future potentials. In the context of social media, there is no a dramatic change—it’s about monitoring the competitors’ social accounts and activity, as well as getting a better understanding of what the social media landscape looks like in your industry.
It’s better to start with asking the questions at below;
- Which social platforms are the competitors using?
- What is the number of their followers? How does it change during the time?
- What is the frequency of social media posts?
- What are their engagement numbers?
- Which type of posts get high engagement?
- What are they doing well on social media? Also look for the weaknesses!
- What your industry is talking about to start the most buzz?
- Which influencers are talking about your brand and competitors?
But be careful! Conducting competitor monitoring does not mean copying from your competitors. It should give you inspirations and potentials.
Tools for Conducting Competitor Analysis on Social Media:
✅ Track Your Competitor Prices
E-Commerce is huge and the competition is really harsh especially in price wars. As online shoppers have an immense variety in the online market and have great ability to find the best deals, they don’t hesitate even a second to prefer one of your competitors. Let’s continue with some striking pricing facts in order to reveal the importance of monitoring competitor prices;
- More than 60% of online shoppers worldwide considers e-commerce pricing as the very first criteria affecting their buying decision.
- The majority of all online shoppers (around 90%) invest their time to hunt the best online deals.
- 54% of online customers will purchase products left in shopping carts if those products are offered at a lower price on a competitor site.
- An average online shopper will visit at least 3 websites before making their purchase.
By tracking your competitor prices, you will know your real competitive positioning in the market. This is important to make your marketing campaigns fit with how the customers perceive your products.
Monitoring the competitor’s prices will let you know when your competitors are changing their prices when they are offering promotions, and also when they are out of stock. This will let you have a seamless competitive pricing intelligence. This effort enables e-commerce retailers to respond every single of pricing move of the competitors.
Also, you’ll have a great knowledge about the market. As you’ll have a data from historical price fluctuations, you can better forecast the market evolution in terms of price. With that data, you can position the business and have a fine-tuned pricing strategy.
Tool for Tracking Your Competitor Prices:
✅ Research Your Competitors Contents and Mentions
Evaluate the performance of your competitors’ contents and check out how many shares or mentions your competitors’ contents have gotten. Starting with a view of your competitors’ most successful content inspires your own content-creation process and gives great insights what kind of topics, keywords catch the attention of your target audience. By digging the competitor’s content, you can figure out the optimal length and format which keep the visitor on the page. After that content analysis, you can tailor your own strategy the right way.
In addition to content research, by setting alerts, you will have an immense control over market for the freshest contents and mentions.
Tool for Research Your Competitors Contents and Mentions:
✅ Monitor the Competitor’s Website and Detect the Changes
Keep one eye continuously on the competitor’s website and try to detect the changes. Try to see instantly who put up a new banner or which parts of the website changed and when. With that effort, you can detect which products are in promotion or understand the seasonal changes made on the website.
Tool for Monitoring Your Competitor’s Website:
✅ Gather the Competitor’s Newsletters
One of the most effective way of marketing in e-commerce; sustaining the relationship with the audience through emails or newsletters.
Majority of e-commerce retailers promote their new products, deals, contents through the regular newsletter delivery. So tracking competitors newsletters will help you to be one step forward from your competitors and let you to find optimal format and frequency.
You may check the following points;
- The frequency of newsletter delivery; Daily, Weekly, Monthly,…
- What kind of information does the newsletter contain? Promotions, product descriptions, articles, image-focused,…
- How is the format? The density of image, the length of texts, the dimensions, CTA placements,…
Tool for Gathering Competitors Newsletters:
We’ve tried to give a complete checklist to let you have a better competitor monitoring and competitor analysis. In addition to every single point, competitor intelligence tools mentioned after every check, give e-commerce retailers a great overview of the landscape and deliver actionable insights to drive business outcomes.