There are many ways to look at your competition. Where should your CLA focus?

We talked in a recent blog post about our Competitive Landscape Analyses, and the clarity they can bring to our web design, branding, and marketing strategies. However, one of the many things we’ve learned from doing these is that there’s more than one way to skin a cat—or in our case, analyze the competition.

Read our post: What Is a Competitive Landscape Analysis?

Just as we take on clients for different services, it’s helpful for us to analyze their websites based on those same services. If we’re not building them a website, they may not want a CLA that focuses on their web design. And if they haven’t hired us for marketing, they don’t need a social media review.

While we can certainly offer CLAs to clients considering these services (they are an ideal way to kick off a project), we also want to keep our research focused on our client’s needs. But if you haven’t had us do a CLA for you before, you may not know what those needs are. So, here’s a quick look at what each type of CLA can offer (and yes, these can definitely be mixed and matched).

Website analysis.

Are we building a new website? It’s easier to incorporate discoveries from our competition early on in the process rather than after the site is launched. A website CLA looks at the following:

  • Design Trends. While we won’t do anything just because it’s trendy, we do want to stay on top of our game. We look for new ideas and inspiration, but we’re also critical of what we find. As always, we want to know what works, not just what’s pretty.
  • Usability. Speaking of what works, usability is our next look out. We know what principles make for a good user experience, but we want to see how well the competition is implementing them. And sometimes we even find a new feature that works well!
  • CTAs. The call-to-action buttons are some of the most important design elements on a website. They show how your competition is trying to direct user flow toward their most valuable and highest-converting pages. Looking at CTAs is a great way to understand how the competition is using their website to build new leads.
  • Custom Functionality. Does your top competitor have a special scheduling tool on their site to help them book more appointments? Do they have a custom quote tool that visitors can use to budget their project? Or do they have an interactive map that allows visitors to see where they’ve had the biggest economic impact? By looking at pieces of custom functionality competitors have on their sites, you can get an idea of what we might include on yours.

Messaging analysis.

Words have impact. And yet, many businesses struggle to land on just the right ones to describe their products and services. When you’re trying to land on just the right value statement, doing an analysis of how your competitors talk about themselves can help you find the right words.

  • Headlines. This should be the boldest, most value-driven statement on the website. If you feel like your own headline feels a bit dull, this can be just the inspiration you need to state something more powerful.
  • Subheads. As an elaboration on the headline, these can offer nuance and depth. We like finding pairs of headlines and subheads that work especially well together.
  • Tag Lines. Not every industry uses them, and many that do, use them poorly. That said, a perfectly-phrased tagline can be a thing of beauty, and on the right site, can be just the messaging you need.
  • Elevator Pitches. Not every business has a prominent elevator pitch on their website, but when they do, it’s usually the most revealing statement about their business. That shouldn’t come as a surprise—that’s what it’s intended to be. But if you want to make sure you’re selling yourself as best you can, you should see how they’re selling themselves.
  • Navigation. This is a subtle but important messaging tool. Navigation menus are like the section headings of a text book. They tell you want is most important about the site—or in this instance, what your competitors think is most important about their site.

Marketing analysis.

Good marketing is always built on a great deal of trial and error. Data only speeds up the process. We like to start our marketing off on the right foot by looking at the following:

  • Blog. Does the competition have a blog? How often do they post? What do they post about? What tags and categories do they use? Honestly, blogs are such a gold mine of data that they could be a CLA on their own.
  • Social Media. Ditto for social media. We can learn a lot just from seeing what channels people are on, but we can also establish a baseline for engagement metrics by seeing how often competitors post and what sort of response they receive.
  • Downloadable Content. Does your competition use it? If so, what kind of content do they offer? A lot of brands still underutilize this resource, but those who use it well are the ones to pay attention to.
  • Personas. Most of our persona research is based on client interviews, but we also try to learn as much as we can about the kind of personas the competition targets with their own marketing. While this isn’t ever explicitly stated, we can usually pick up a lot implicitly from how they word the messaging on their site.

Brand analysis.

Are you ready for a brand overhaul? Then it’s likely your CLA will involve many of the elements listed above, as well as some special ones of its own. Our brand analyses are usually the most comprehensive, but also offer the most payoff.

  • Messaging Trends. Messaging is a huge part of branding. So while we offer a messaging CLA for companies who aren’t yet ready for an entire brand overhaul, we also do them as part of our brand analyses.
  • Logo Style. Does your competition use word block logos, icons, or a combination? What is the general style of their logo? Does it communicate their brand clearly? Is there a common symbol that appears frequently in this industry? Answering these questions can help us create a logo that is communicative without being repetitive.
  • Brand Colors. Color is one of the most basic ways to communicate emotion. It can also be a subtle way to signal solidarity with peers while also differentiating your brand. Take the environmentalist movement: The biggest struggle is to avoid greenwashing while also hitting on colors that instantly signal a connection to nature. Our brand analysis can help find the right balance of primary and secondary colors to set you apart from your peers.

Are you ready for another CLA?

CLAs are a great way to do a needs analysis at the beginning of a project, but they’re also a great way to measure year-over progress. After all, if you’ve just refreshed your website, it’s only a matter of time before your competitors do the same, right? And once they do, you’ll want to see what they did to move ahead.

Read our post: 3 Reasons You Should Conduct an Annual CLA

Whether you’re interested in your first ever CLA or you want to get a new one to measure progress against the benchmark established by your first, we can promise the insights you receive will be both illuminating and empowering. Contact us today if you’d like to get started.

Published 07/12/19 by Laura Lynch