A seasonal competitive analysis is an important part of evaluating your site’s performance. It allows you to view your successes in the context of your unique competitive set. And it highlights opportunities for improvement based on the performance of your peers.
In other words, a competitive analysis answers two questions:
“How am I doing compared to…?”
“Is my perception of good, good enough?”
In this article, we’ll review one competitive analysis example that will give you a head start on your own.
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.
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 3 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 Traffic
Benchmarking your website traffic against others’ 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 your perception of success is realistic.
In addition, putting your performance into context is key to identifying opportunities for growth or investment.
The Alexa Rank
We’ll start our competitive analysis example with the Alexa Rank. This is a good indicator of the performance of a site relative to others in the world. In other words, it’s a quick temperature reading of a site’s popularity.
Using Alexa’s Site Comparison tool, you can see that Asana leads the group with a Global Rank of 645. Basecamp isn’t too far behind with a Global Rank of 948.
If you stopped there, you might conclude that Asana is hands-down the leading project management software solution. And globally, they might be the most popular solution in the group.
However, this assumes that they’re connecting with their target market, which is full of highly qualified prospects and paying customers. In reality, the opposite might actually be true, indicating their marketing strategy could be way off base.
The moral of the story? Don’t stop your competitive analysis there.
Say Asana’s goal is to target U.S. clients. If so, then U.S. Rank in Country would be important. In the above image we can see that Basecamp is actually more popular than Asana with a Rank in Country of 776.
Alexa Ranks are based on a combined measure of unique visitors and pageviews, thus resulting in a single indicator of popularity.
But which project management site is capturing a larger audience?
Monthly Unique Visitors
The next metric we’ll evaluate in our competitive analysis example is monthly unique visitors.
MUV is an excellent tool for market share analysis and benchmarking because it counts the number of unique individuals that visit a site during a given period.
As a result, you get a better idea of a site’s true audience size.
Here we see that Asana leads the pack with 1.26 million unique visitors from the U.S. over the last month.
While Basecamp isn’t too far behind, Wrike and Teamwork are trailing by a wide margin. And Mavenlink is vastly underperforming compared to the group.
Now we know which site has the largest share of voice. But which site’s audience is most engaged?
Bounce rate is a measure of quality and engagement on your website. It represents the percentage of users that only view one page upon entering your site.
If your site’s bounce rate is high, this could indicate a lack of relevant content for the audience you’re trying to attract. Or it might mean you are not attracting the right audience. So they land on your page, realize your site isn’t for them, and they bounce.
Bounce rate averages vary depending on the industry, so it’s important to know what’s normal and what’s not.
Kissmetrics has a great infographic that includes bounce rate averages by industry:
Checking Alexa’s engagement metrics, Basecamp and Asana are on par with bounce rates of approximately 29%.
Yet compared with the rest of the group, the two have the highest bounce rate of them all.
Perhaps that high volume of traffic that Basecamp and Asana are driving isn’t high quality. If the traffic to their site isn’t engaged, then the volume of traffic isn’t as valuable as it seems at face value.
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.
For example, Brad Egeland predicts that in 2016 project management will become more decentralized in many companies. If this holds true, then project management solution sites may all experience an increase in traffic with more team members investigating and using these types of software.
In all, a competitive analysis helps you identify seasonal patterns or industry trends. It may also clue you in to specific changes in your 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 are receiving at least 13% more traffic from links than the other sites compared in this example.
Wrike % from links: 3.42% (13.66% less than Basecamp)
Mavenlink % from links: 2.51% (14.57% less than Basecamp)
Additional research reveals the root cause of that referral traffic. They have over 2,000 unique sites linking in, where Wrike only has 866 and Mavenlink has 279.
Other project management sites might choose to develop an influencer marketing or link-building campaign to also try and gain more traffic from referrals.
On the other hand, we see that Basecamp receives the least amount of traffic from search. Wrike leads the pack with 11%.
Basecamp might review its keyword strategy to see if it can gain new traffic from this channel. Marketers at Basecamp might ask, “What keywords is Wrike getting traffic from?”
Using Alexa’s keyword research tool, you can view what keywords are successfully driving traffic to Wrike.com. Basecamp may uncover keywords they haven’t thought about, and could choose to incorporate them into their own strategy.
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 deliver the information they seek faster.
Knowing that many users expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, Asana should evaluate what is causing its site to load slower than 97% of other sites. In comparison, Basecamp.com loads in 2.129 seconds. This still isn’t ideal, but it’s significantly better than Asana’s 6.5 seconds.
And as always, you should make sure your site follows other SEO best practices to ensure your site is a pleasant and informative experience for your users.
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 volume of traffic from search.
To estimate search volume, take monthly unique visitors and multiply it by the percentage of traffic from search.
Basecamp MUV: 1,204,491
Basecamp % Traffic from Search: 2.28%
1,204,491 x 0.0228 = 27,462
Asana MUV = 1,262,378
Asana % Traffic from Search = 5.85%
1,262,378 x 0.0585 = 73,849
Asana’s search volume is higher than Basecamp’s.
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 to a qualified audience.
Take a look at the keywords driving traffic to Basecamp.com:
They are doing an excellent job driving traffic with several non-branded keyword terms to content that is relevant for their desired audience.
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 3 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 competitive analysis, it’s time to complete your own.
We’ve created a free competitive analysis template 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 need to know where you stand against your competitors and how to grow your business.