Product Competitive Analysis - A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you wondering how to conduct a product competitive analysis?

In this guide, I am going to give you a competitor analysis framework you can use at any time.

And let me be clear about something:

This is NOT another generic product competitive analysis guide.

I am going to give you examples and templates you can use right away.

So if you are interested in competitive analysis for your product, stick with me.

Let’s dive right in.

Contents

Chapter 1: Competitor Analysis Framework

Chapter 2: How to Do a Competitive Analysis

Chapter 3: Competitor Analysis Example

Chapter 4: Competitive Analysis Template

Chapter 5: Competitor Analysis Tools

Chapter 6: Final Thoughts

Chapter 1: Competitor Analysis Framework

In this chapter, I am going to give you a framework for competitor analysis.

Competitor analysis is a concept that is popular in areas like product and marketing.

In fact, there are many marketing competitor analysis frameworks.

Here, I will try to explain the competitive analysis framework on a product level.  

However, before I delve any further, I want to get one thing out of the way:

Don’t be overly obsessed with competitors; this won’t help you. Try to focus on how to make your product GREAT; this will help you move forward.

As David Cancel, the Co-Founder and CEO at Drift put it:

David Cancel Twitter
Image Source: David Cancel on Twitter

Having said that let’s move on to the competitor analysis framework that I promised you.

Let’s try to answer one fundamental question:

Why should you conduct a product competitive analysis-

Competitor analysis is a great way to identify opportunities to improve your:

  • Product marketing
  • Product messaging
  • Existing product features
  • Come up with new features
  • Position related to your competitors

You won’t conduct a product competitive analysis to create something that doesn’t exist.

You will do it to improve what’s already there.

The framework of competitor analysis that we (GrowthSandwich) are using involves the following four steps:

Competitive Analysis Framework

This is a competitive landscape analysis framework that allows us to understand our current status.

Even though all four steps are essential, in this guide, I am going to cover the third one, which involves the collection of product information.

I want to make one thing clear: there isn’t one competitor analysis model that is correct.

It all boils down to the industry and vertical you’ve chosen.

This means that a SaaS competitive analysis will be different from a competitive analysis for an agency.

In the following chapters, I am going to give you both a competitor analysis framework example and a competitor analysis framework template you can use for your business.

For now, let me tell you how to do a competitive analysis.

Chapter 2: How to Do a Competitive Analysis

In the previous chapter, I gave you a high-level idea of the framework we are using when conducting a product competitive analysis.

Of course, as I already explained, even though the framework involves four steps, I am going to cover only the third one.  

Let’s get a bit more practical here, and let me tell you how to analyze your competitors.

How do you analyze competitors?

To analyze your competitors, you have to do several actions:

  • Use all their product features,
  • Visit their other properties they may have,
  • Visit their websites and other properties they have,
  • Read their customer reviews and talk to paying customers,
  • Report an issue or ask a question to see how their customer support works.

Keep in mind that the more in-depth your research, the better the outcome of your analysis.

Also, as I hope it is evident, to conduct a product competitive analysis, you have to go on and use all of your competitors’ products.

Does that include your indirect competitors as well?

That depends on things like:

What competitors to include in your competitor research-

Once again, there is no right or wrong here.

You have to go as deep as you can (and want).

Let’s move on.

What should be included in a competitor analysis?

This is a fundamental question.

You should look for information like:

  • What are their product features
  • What are their best features
  • What are their weakest features
  • What is their pricing structure
  • If they offer a free trial
  • What are their customer reviews (i.e., G2, Capterra, TrustRadius)
  • How well they craft their product messaging
  • What they do in terms of product marketing (i.e., webinars, educational material, actionable guides)
  • How is their product team structured (how many seniors, how many mid-level, how many seniors)
  • How often they release new features
  • Where do they promote their product launches (i.e., Product Hunt, Facebook Groups, Email, in their UI)
  • How fast their customer support responds to product-related issues
  • Do they have a closed community of users and how do they support that community
  • How many new users they have per week or month (approximately)
  • What are industry experts say about their product
  • How is the onboarding process (i.e., what tools they use, what formats, what onboarding paths)
  • What are the friction points in their UX
  • What are the best elements of their UX

As you can see, all of these questions are strictly related to the product.

You can add or remove as many as you want, as long as they fit your needs.

I know they might seem many columns to fill, but it gets easier once you follow a certain process.

And, I guess this answers your question:

How to perform a competitive analysis?

It is evident that performing a competitor analysis is tough.

However, it can be eye-opening, especially if you haven’t found a product-market fit yet.

In the next chapter, I am going to put all these into a template, and share a link with you so that you can use it for your own competitive analysis.

Chapter 3: Competitive Analysis Template

As you might have guessed, in this chapter, I am going to give you a competitive analysis template.

The template I am going to share with you exists in Google Sheets format.

But first, let me tell you how to write a practical competitor analysis.

How do you write an effective competitor analysis?

If you are wondering how to write a competitive analysis, you have to ask yourself:

How do you write an effective competitor analysis-

It is in fact that the way you are going to present your data has to be easy to understand by anyone within seconds.

Anyone could get a high-level idea of:

  • The main differentiation points,
  • The opportunities that arise,
  • The actions that you need to take.

Thus, my advice here is this: keep it short and straightforward.

Are you wondering how to do a competitor analysis report?

Let me show you how.

Competitor analysis template on Google Docs

This is the template we are using when conducting a competitor analysis for our clients:

Competitive Analysis Template

As you can see, it’s a simple (but powerful) Google Spreadsheet with the following categories:

  • Product Features
  • Product Team
  • Product Marketing
  • Pricing
  • User Experience
  • Community & User Engagement

You can make a copy of our Product Competitive Analysis Template here.

All these categories are related to the product and will help us get an in-depth idea of where our product stand in terms of competition.

Once again: you can add as many checkpoints as you wish or as many categories as you want.

However, your checkpoints and categories have to be related to the product.

Once you have the data in place, you can make a competitive analysis presentation.

The better the data you have, the easier it will be for you to make the presentation.

I believe that the best way to do a competitive analysis is by delegating this task to a junior employee, or someone who will benefit from the research.

Then, you can take the data and translate them into strategies.

Chapter 4: Competitor Analysis Example

In this section, I am going to give you an example of how to use the Product Competitor Analysis Template I shared with you in the previous chapter.

For the sake of example, let’s assume that you have built a new link building tool.

So you are operating within the SEO space; which, as you may know, is very competitive.

Let’s assume that your company is called linkconnectio.io:

linkconnect.io - Imaginary Startup

Some of your main competitors are:

  • Ahrefs
  • Majestic SEO
  • SEMrush
  • MOZ

So you pull up our sleeves and get to work.

Starting with your first competitor—Ahrefs—you start filling in the columns of our Product Competitor Analysis Template one by one:

Competitive Analysis Example

Then you can do the same for a second, third or fourth direct competitor.

When you finish with your direct competitors, you can repeat the process for your indirect ones.

Once again: you can include as many checkpoints as you wish.

Last but not least, this process may take up to 2-3 weeks, so you have to be patient to get the most out of it.

Let’s move on to the last chapter of this guide.

Chapter 5: Competitor Analysis Tools

This chapter is all about tools.

Before I delve any further, I want to be clear about something:

The tools I am going to give you are the ones we (GrowthSandwich) are using.

If you are using better—or cheaper—alternatives, then go for it.

What is essential is to feel comfortable with the tools you are using.

So here are some of the best tools for competitor analysis:

Free online competitor analysis tools

1) Crayon

Crayon is a market intelligence and competitive analysis tool:

Crayon Competitive Analysis Tool
Image Source: Crayon

You can use it to detect any changes to specific product-related pages of your competitors’ websites.

Such pages can be:

  • Pricing page
  • Product features pages
  • Lead generation pages that they are using

2) Twitter Search

Twitter Search is a search engine, but for Twitter:

Twitter Search
Image Source: Twitter Search

You can use it to find your competitors’ best ambassadors and the level of engagement online communities have with your competitors’ products.

3) Seotify

Seotify is a heatmap analysis tool:

SEOtify Heatmap Analysis
Image Source: SEOtify

That you can enter your competitors’ domain name and get a handy heatmap analysis.

Just like that, without installing any sort of code on a website.

Make sure to give it a try.

4) SimilarTech

SimilarTech is a tool that allows you to discover competitors based on the category they fall into:

SimilarTech
Image Source: SimilarTech

It’s a great tool to find indirect competitors and companies you could reach out to for integrations or general partnerships.

5) WhatRuns

WhatRuns is a free tool that shows you the technologies that run on a website:

WhatRuns
Image Source: WhatRuns

Simply put, it is one of the best competitor analysis tools online.

Paid online competitor analysis tools

1) Ahrefs

Ahrefs is by far the BEST competitive analysis tool out there:

Ahrefs 7-day Trial
Image Source: Ahrefs

It can give you deep insights into your competitors’ performance over time.

Make sure to add in your checklist.

2) Crunchbase

Crunchbase is a market research tool for modern companies (like yours):

Crunchbase
Image Source: Crunchbase

You can use it to get additional information on your competitors’ produc team, investors and senior management.

The free version is a bit restricted; this is why I included it in the paid tools instead of the free ones.

Now that you know what some of the top competitor analysis tools are let’s close this guide with a few last thoughts.

Chapter 6: Final Thoughts

So there you have it.

Now, you know how to do a competitive analysis for your product.

Before I leave you, I need you to keep something in mind:

Don’t be overly obsessed with your competitor’s product.

“Yes,” a product competitive analysis is useful.

But, as long as your product is AWESOME, you have nothing to be afraid.

Your product’s quality should be your priority.

If you have a superior product, everything else will follow.

Now I turn it over to you.

Have you ever conducted a product competitive analysis? Yes or no? What were the results?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

  1. 5 Winner Product Marketing Strategies to Replicate
  2. Jobs To Be Done Framework: The Essential Guide
  3. The Only 12 Product Marketing Courses You’ll Ever Need

About the Author: Aggelos M

Aggelos M
I have over 8 years experience in Digital and Growth marketing. Currently, running Growth Sandwich, a London based Product Growth Lab. Before turning in Growth Marketing and Product Growth, I had the chance to pass by head marketing and head digital positions in Athens and London, work with numerous tech startups but also build and run companies. In my spare time, I am consulting ambitious startups about their Growth and Business strategy.