Competitive analysis is an important part of evaluating your site’s performance, marketing strategy, and even business strategy. It highlights opportunities for improvement based on peer performance and an understanding of the overall market segment share in your industry.
This analysis offers valuable insights into refining your marketing plan and business plan on a regular basis.
In other words, competitor analysis answers two questions:
“How am I doing compared to . . . ?”
“Is my perception of good, good enough?”
In this article, we’ll review a competitive analysis example that will give you a head start on your own analysis and can be used as a competitive analysis template for the future.
In this example, we’ll compare project management software sites like Basecamp, Asana, and Wrike.
Project Management Sites: A Competitive Analysis Example
There are countless browser-based project management solutions that exist today. You’ve probably tried several of them yourself. And, if you haven’t, you may have come across some of them on Google and other search engines.
But which ones are leading the pack?
And what strategies are behind those companies’ success?
This competitive analysis example will give you a peek into just that.
There are three major categories that you should include in your competitive analysis report. Each gives you a different lens through which to view your performance, relative to your competition:
Benchmarking Website Performance
Benchmarking your website performance against competitors’ websites helps you understand how good is good enough. Because success varies depending on the industry, type of site, or campaign, a clear understanding of industry norms ensures that your perception of success is realistic. Benchmarking can help you refine your content marketing, SEO, social media, email marketing, and online advertising tactics by understanding how people are finding and engaging with your website.
In addition, putting your performance into context is key to identifying opportunities for growth or investment.
We’ll start our competitive analysis example with Alexa Rank, a snapshot of a site’s popularity next to competitors. This is a good indicator of site performance relative to others in the world. Alexa Rank is based on a combined measure of visitors and page views, resulting in a single indicator of popularity in their competitive landscape.
Using Alexa’s Site Comparison tool, you can see that Asana leads the group with a Global Rank of 1,147. Basecamp and Wrike, meanwhile, come in at second and third with Global Ranks of 3,043 and 4,116, respectively.
If you stopped there, you might conclude that Asana is hands down the leading project management software solution. However, this assumes they’re connecting and acting as an influencer within their target market segment, which is full of highly qualified prospects and paying customers.
The moral of the story? Don’t stop your competitive analysis there.
Say Asana’s goal is to target U.S. clients. If that’s the case, then U.S. Rank in Country would be important. In the image above, we can see that Asana ranks higher than the competition in the United States. That means they appear to be reaching their target customers better than their competition in the United States.
But which project management site has the most engaged audience?
Bounce rate is a measure of quality and engagement on your website. It represents the percentage of users who view only one page upon entering your site.
If your site’s bounce rate is high, this could indicate a lack of relevant content for the customer base you’re trying to attract. Or it might mean you are not attracting the right target audience. So they land on your page, realize your site isn’t for them, and bounce.
Bounce rate averages vary depending on the industry, so it’s important to know what’s normal and what’s not.
Neil Patel has a great infographic that includes bounce rate averages by industry:
Source: Neil Patel
Checking Alexa’s engagement metrics, Mavenlink has the highest bounce rate, at 34.80%, while Teamwork has the lowest bounce rate, at 20.40%.
Mavenlink’s high bounce rate in relation to its competitors might be attributed to a multitude of reasons. Bounce rate is especially important to monitor in dynamic industries such as project management software, where industry trends, such as pricing strategy for licensing, need to be reevaluated each year.
Major Traffic Changes
Finally, it’s important to investigate any major changes in traffic to your competitors’ sites.
If all sites see an increase in traffic at the same time, you’ve likely identified an overarching industry trend that caused it.
A competitive analysis helps you identify seasonal patterns or industry trends. It may also clue you in to specific changes in a competitor’s strategy if you see a sudden lift in their traffic pattern. Either way, this awareness allows you to respond proactively.
Comparing Traffic Sources
Knowing how your visitors find you (where they come from) helps you know where to focus your efforts. It also helps you identify successful strategies that are working for your competitors.
You’ll notice that the majority of traffic for our group of project management sites comes in directly. Because project management tools are often bookmarked for everyday use, we can assume that a disproportionate amount of direct traffic is normal.
However, if you’re competing against Basecamp, you might wonder why they have much more traffic from links than the other sites compared in this example.
Additional research reveals the root cause of that referral traffic. Basecamp has over 54,000 unique sites linking in. It appears as though they may have an active backlink strategy, based on their high volume of sites linking in. It could also mean they’re potentially seen as a trusted influencer within the project management industry.
Other project management sites might choose to develop an influencer marketing or link-building campaign to try and gain more traffic from referrals.
We can also see that Basecamp receives the most traffic from search, with 29.09%. Competitors might review their keyword strategy to see if it can gain new traffic from this channel. Marketers at other project management companies might ask, “What keywords is Basecamp getting traffic from?”
Using Alexa’s Keyword Research tool, you can view what keywords are successfully driving traffic to Basecamp.com.
The last category we’ll review in this competitive analysis example is the SEO of your site compared to your competitors.
Site speed has a big impact on user experience and, ultimately, your conversions. If your site is significantly slower or unpleasant to use, users are more likely to abandon it for another that can more quickly deliver the information they seek.
There are a number of factors that can bog down site speed, including 404 errors, uncompressed images, and a high volume of HTTP requests. As always, you should make sure your site follows other SEO best practices to ensure that your site is a pleasant and informative experience for your users.
Alexa’s SEO Site Audit tool can give you additional details into your site speed, like this example for Asana:
To conclude this competitive analysis report, you should take a look at how effective your SEO is compared to your competitors.
One way to do this is to look at each site’s share of voice in search.
Wrike and Asana have the highest organic share of voice.
We could also take a look at how many keywords driving traffic to each site are non-branded keywords. If there are a good number of relevant, non-branded keywords in the top 15 or so, this suggests an effective SEO and keyword strategy that is well targeted at a qualified audience.
Let’s take another look at the keywords driving traffic to Basecamp.com:
As we can see, the majority of their search traffic comes from branded keyword terms. This could mean people are seeking Basecamp out specifically in a Google search or through other search engines.
These are just a couple of ways to gauge SEO effectiveness. Other factors to consider might be the number of sites linking in or the percentage of total traffic from organic sources.
We’ve gone over three main categories that you should include in a competitive analysis. And while we covered a few major elements within each, keep in mind there are many more you might choose to include, based on your business goals and industry.
Get a Free Competitive Analysis Example Template
Now that you’ve seen an example of competitive analysis, it’s time to complete your own.
We’ve created a free template for competitor analysis that you can download right now to get started.
You can also start your free trial of Alexa to get access to all the competitive analysis tools we discussed here. It’s everything you’ll need to stay ahead of the competition and find new potential customers.
This post was originally published in December of 2015, and updated in June of 2020.