Digital competitive analysis: The one tool every business needs


If you’re a seasoned business owner, CEO or other C-suite executive, you may have thought about completing—or even tried to complete—a SWOT analysis of your business. Or perhaps you attempted to study your business through the lens of Michael Porter’s Five Forces framework. In either case, you were trying to analyze the playing field to determine how to best articulate and implement your company’s overall growth strategy.

What many business owners tend to forget is that these methods—while time-tested and very valuable—came out decades before the digital revolution transformed the business world. SWOT originated in the 1960s, and Porter introduced Five Forces in the late ’70s.

Competitive analysis for the digital age

If you want to stay competitive in today’s digital age, you need to expand the way you look at your business to take into account the rapid pace of technological innovation. And no matter what your industry may be, you need to perform a comprehensive digital competitive analysis at least annually, in addition to performing mini analyses once every quarter. If you aren’t doing that, you’re likely to find yourself falling behind competitors who know exactly where they stand in the digital world and are working hard to improve their position.

So how does one perform a digital competitive analysis? Like just about anything, there are many ways to peel that orange; however, any good digital competitive analysis will include a thorough review of key data points related to your business’ digital presence and will help you compare it to that of your competitors.

The devil is in the details

A digital competitive analysis will look at your website’s accessibility, your digital content, your search engine visibility, your social media presence and your company’s online reviews. It will also look at your ability to track and analyze the data that’s out there. And it goes without saying that what doesn’t get measured can’t be incorporated into your strategic thinking.

You’re probably wondering how long this analysis will take. Good question. A thorough digital competitive analysis can take a few weeks if you already have the necessary tools in place to track your business online. It may take a little longer if you need to first install those tools. Small businesses can often derive valuable insight from just a scaled-down version of the process that is more tailored to their needs.

Fortunately, there are many competent digital marketing firms to which you can outsource the job and the output is incredibly valuable. I’ve never done a digital competitive analysis for a client that didn’t result in a punch list of at least three to five high-impact, strategic insights and accompanying action items.

Digital competitive analysis is worth the effort

Used strategically, a digital competitive analysis will help you introduce your business to more of your ideal clients and help you do more business with the customers you already have. But its value doesn’t end there. It can also raise your brand awareness with the talent you want to hire in the future. No matter how much money you spend on placing job postings, it won’t get you very far today if your business is virtually invisible online.

Where to learn more and how to get started

Don’t wait any longer. It’s time to get your digital competitive analysis underway. If you would like to learn more, I’ve created a whole host of digital competitive analysis resources exclusively for Vistage members.

Read more: How to check your digital footprint [webinar on demand]

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