To keep your brand, product, or website competitive, online competitor research in digital marketing is a tactic you’ll want to add to your repertoire to stay ahead of your competition. A thoroughly-documented process of competitive research will produce a plan of action for your brand after you research and gather information about your competitors.

Of course, just compiling a bunch of information and letting it sit there won’t help you, but rather it’s what you do with the information that will make a key difference. By identifying your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, you can come up with opportunities on how to capitalize them within your brand’s strategy.

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How often should you perform online competitor research in digital marketing? Rather than a specific time frame, you should look at this as an ongoing evolution that you will constantly review and update with new information.

By reviewing your company’s benchmarks, you can learn to spot where you’re performing the best and what you need to work on to stay ahead of your competitors. By monitoring your competitive landscape, you can be aware of the industry’s trends throughout the year with the ebbs and flows of the market.

While being the first to do something can often be a benefit if it’s a new product or service, in the digital marketing realm, sometimes the opposite can be true. Rather than wasting too much of your budget on new marketing channels, sometimes you can wait for your competitors to test them out first and see how customers respond.

Some industries respond and evolve at a different pace, so a monthly competitor analysis might benefit the short term, while quarterly analysis can be used to implement longer term changes with your marketing strategy.

The first step is to keep yourself updated on the digital performance of your competition. This can mean analyzing their website traffic, how it’s fluctuated over recent weeks or months, as well as whether their popularity has increased or decreased over that same period of time.

Next you will want to perform research into your competitor’s search engine optimization (SEO) performance. This allows you to create a visual display of the number of keywords, traffic, pricing, and success of the relevant keywords to influence prospect behavior. If you find a particularly successful keyword set that your competition is utilizing, it might make sense to shift a portion of your SEO spending to match this.

Finally, examine what type of PR and marketing your brand’s competition has been doing. How are they being mentioned? What are prospects saying? Searching Twitter, Instagram, and other popular spots can help you find these online mentions and which ones are the most common.

By checking up on your competitor’s digital marketing performance, you can create changes in your own strategy to help your team stay ahead. Not only will it help you stay ahead of the trends, but it will also help make sure you’re spending your digital marketing dollars in the most effective places as well.