What is it and how is it done

Competitive analysis is often the first place new businesses turn to for market and keyword research.

However, many new businesses struggle to get much value from competitive analysis because they often don’t track the right variables or understand how to interpret their data.

Fortunately, visualizing competitor analysis results in readable charts, graphs, and maps gives marketers an easy way to learn more about their competitors and their business.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the basic steps of creating a competitive map and give you my favorite tricks to help you learn more along the way.

What is competitor mapping?

Competitor mapping is a competitive market analysis process used to visualize the relationship between two or more variables to help companies uncover a competitive advantage.

For example, when introducing a new product or service, competitor mapping can be used to determine the relationship between the price of the product and its perceived value.

Competitor cards can take various forms, such as:

  • scatterplots.
  • comparison tables.
  • bar charts.
  • line charts.
  • Gant charts.
  • pie charts.

Now that you have a general understanding of competitor mapping, let’s discuss the benefits of this strategy and how you can use it to our advantage.

The benefits of competitor mapping

Competitor mapping can help you:

  • Identify areas in your business that need improvement.
  • Visualize data in a medium that is easier to share and digest.
  • Discover areas where you can capitalize on competitor weaknesses.
  • Validate your unique selling proposition (USP).
  • Identify benchmarks for future growth and development.
  • Analyze the relationship between multiple variables to create the best balance for a new product launch (e.g. value for money).
  • Identify unexpected barriers to go-to-market.
  • Learn more about the relationship between your customers, competitors and products.
  • Identify areas not served by competitors (e.g. market or location maps).
  • Implement strategies for market growth.

How to create a competition map

1. Identify your competitors

The first step in conducting a competitive analysis and creating a competitive map is to identify your competitors.

Ideally, I’d like to keep the number of competitors I track on a map between 4 and 10 companies to keep my data less random.

If you don’t know your online competitors, do a Google search for a primary keyword and see which companies are showing up in the promotional and organic sections. A “near me” search for local businesses in your niche will also work.

Download keywords shared with your competitors using SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Sistrix, SE Ranking or others.

organic competitors SE rankingScreenshot of SE ranking, November 2022

Once you have a list of competitors, do a thorough analysis of their products, prices, online reviews, or any other variable you think is relevant.

2. Decide which areas of your business need further analysis

Ask yourself: What areas of my business do I want to track? Do I want to launch a new product? Then I need a price-benefit analysis.

Do I want to move to a new location? Then I need a location map tracking market share.

One way to uncover different variables for analysis is to conduct a SWOT analysis.

occasions threats
Strengthen How can I maximize my company’s strengths for additional market share? What is a strength that competitors are using to capitalize on market share?
weaknesses What is a vulnerability my organization can exploit? What is a pain point that could cost my company market share?

From there you can discover different variables like location, price or reputation that can be graphed.

Again, separate variables between what you can control and what you can’t before subjecting yourself to a more rigorous competitive analysis.

3. Choose your variables to track

The variables you track depend on the business area you want to learn more about.

To make your analysis easier, I’ve listed a number of variables based on specific areas of your business that you could analyze.

  • Start of the new service: price/benefit, signups/engagement.
  • New menu item: Calories/Flavour.
  • market share: brand perception/quality, brand perception/price.
  • marketing campaign: Traffic/keyword share.
  • new place: Location/Selection.

There are almost infinite variables to choose from and compare.

It is important to understand the value between these variables.

For example, a tech startup may conduct a price-benefit analysis to determine how much value people believe they get from your products at a current price.

On the other hand, a luxury brand may benefit more from conducting a value for money comparison to determine how much the price of their products affects their brand perception.

You’ll find that variables like price have different implications that need to be balanced with your audience.

So in some cases a price increase could make your brand appear more premium, while in other cases it can make your products feel a little less valuable given the high price customers are paying.

Because of this, I recommend doing a few different forms of competitive analysis based on different variables.

4. Visualize your data

Next you need to learn how to visualize your data. There are a few tools that I will show below, ranging from simple design tools to advanced data visualization tools.

Create a scatter plot in Excel

The easiest way to get started is to create a simple scatter plot tracking two variables using Google Sheets.

For example, in Google Sheets, label column A with your X variable or control variable, in Google Sheets and column B with your Y variable or dependent variable.

In this example, I’ve shown the relationship between the price of a one-time service and the company’s rating on Google.

Highlight your data range and click the Explore button at the bottom right. Google gives you several chart options, including a simple scatter chart.

Create competitor map in excelScreenshot from Excel, November 2022

Once all your values ​​are entered, Google will automatically create a chart for you to share or download.

Excel chart of competitor rating versus competitor priceScreenshot from Excel, November 2022

In this example, I saw that every time my competitors increased their price by $100, they got a 0.862 improvement in their ratings, showing me that higher prices can affect brand perception or correlate with product quality.

Of course, as you add more variables to your sheet, you also have more options for bar charts, pie charts, and more.

Create a simple comparison table with Canva

For something more presentable, Canva offers great free templates and Pro accounts to create easy comparison charts with its visual editor.

For example, the free version of Canva comes with dozens of charts that let you edit your chart’s aesthetic and internal values.

Canva competitor mapping Screenshot by Canva, November 2022

After customizing the template, the end result came out like this:

Final results of the competitor mapping template using CanvaScreenshot by Canva, November 2022

Visualize your competitors with a bubble map in Vizzlo

Data visualization tools like Vizzlo offer sophisticated ways to brand and customize your competitor map to your liking.

data visualizationScreenshot by Vizzo, November 2022

I highly recommend adding your own custom values ​​and entering them into your bubbles for an accurate representation.

You can also click anywhere on the chart to create a bubble based on where your custom value reaches its equilibrium point on the chart.

Overall, working with a design tool, Excel spreadsheet, or data visualization is incredibly easy and offers opportunities to brand, customize, and stylize your research.

Create an automated chart using Python

Google Data Studio is an excellent tool for visualizing data, but entering data manually or sharing data from spreadsheets can be tedious.

However, this guide provides a handy way to integrate results from a Python script directly into Data Studio.

In short, the script is designed to analyze the number of keywords your competitor’s top page ranks for in a single URL.

By integrating CSV data from Python into a custom Data Studio template, the author was able to discover the top-ranking pages for multiple keywords and analyze trends he followed to achieve those rankings.

Alternatively, if you use enterprise SEO tools, they already have built-in competitive mapping charts and you don’t need to create them manually.

5. Highlight areas for improvement

Finally, the final step in competitor mapping is to identify your areas of improvement.

In each chart, you should be able to uncover a relationship between the data that will help you identify strategies to create a differentiator or to exploit a competitor’s weakness.

Consider performing multiple forms of competitive analysis to gain a better understanding of your data and identify trends and relationships.

Overall, competitor mapping is a relatively simple process and numerous tools allow you to easily create or automate your competitor map.

More resources:

Featured Image: /Shutterstock

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