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Competitive Research Components

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What are you looking for?

As you conduct your research project, keep these questions in the back of your mind:

  • Who is the audience that this competitor is focused on? For instance, are they talking to moms? Are they beauty bloggers? Sports fans?
  • What is their strategy to reach this audience? Say, for instance, they’re looking to target beauty bloggers; perhaps they’re trying to build trust with this audience by offering helpful content.
  • What tactics are they using? Using the example of beauty bloggers again, you’d note that the competitors are offering makeup tutorials on Instagram and YouTube.
  • How successful are the tactics working to achieve their goals? Are the beauty bloggers actually interacting with this content and sharing it?

Comparing the inputs and outputs

Other important information for you to find out about your competitors is what sort of resources, budgets, and staff they have access to, and what their capabilities are.  This isn’t always easy data to find, as most companies keep it hidden. However, using article search or through YouTube presentations, you can sometimes tease out this very sensitive information.

Content/audience gap analysis

Finally, you should be able to start creating a gap analysis. This isn’t the traditional gap analysis, where you’re comparing your actual performance with your desired performance. Rather, it’s more of an analysis of what your competitors are doing to find out where there are gaps: in content, in audience needs, in niche audiences that you could possibly serve better.


Down the Y-axis, list all the potential tribes that are interested in your product category. You will know this from the audience research that you’ve already done whether through Affinio, Klear, or manually. So, for instance, if you’re selling a new tea brand, you would want to know the tribes that buy tea on a regular basis. They could be fashion enthusiasts, fitness and health enthusiasts, dieters, traditional tea drinkers, foodies, or socially conscious buyers.


On the X-axis, list the content topics and types that competitors use to reach these audiences. Teavana, a popular North American brand, focuses on fashion, and fitness and health enthusiasts, with lots of bright, attractive images across platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter that convey a hip cool image. Fill in the spots along the X-axis on the ‘fashion’ and ‘fitness and health’ enthusiasts for Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Another tea brand is Bewley’s, a popular Irish brand, which focuses on foodies, socially conscious buyers, and traditional tea drinkers. They focus on Facebook and Twitter using more community and consciousness-raising images.

Identifying underserved audiences

After filling in the axis with the various competitors, you will see who are the underserved audiences and platforms that you could focus on if you want a ‘blue ocean strategy.’ And understanding how your competitors speak to their audiences will also help inform your future content strategy.

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Tara Hunt

Tara Hunt is an executive-level digital marketing professional with over 20 years of experience. She is the founder of Truly Inc., the author of one of the first books on how the social web is changing business, and a professional public speaker. Tara has created and executed proven digital and social strategies across multiple industries. She specializes in relationship and inbound marketing, with a passion for data-driven strategy.

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The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

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    Social Research
    Tara Hunt
    Skills Expert

    The Social Research module introduces key social media concepts, including the Digital Marketing Institute’s 3i Principles for successful digital marketing, and the role and responsibilities of the social media marketer. It then dives into the topic of social research and explains its importance to digital marketers. It equips marketers with the research tools and techniques needed to engage in effective audience research, competitive and industry research, and cultural research. It also explains how marketers can gain valuable insights from their research data.