The global pandemic challenged many companies and brought digitization to a brand new level. And while most offline industries have seen catastrophic decline, online was all about growth.

US (and global) search traffic to top websites is growing. So if you do not grow in the digital space – especially today when most of the indicators are active – you will lose market share and with it customers.

This article explains how you can use the power of competitive insights to identify new growth points for your business.

Understand the business value of competitive analysis

In a growth-oriented environment, competitive analysis can be a goldmine for uncovering new powerful ideas that you can translate into your marketing and even your business / product strategy. Instead of costly guesswork and risky experiments, you can rely on …

  • Understand and consider potential market and competitive threats
  • Find gaps in similar product offerings
  • Show the audience’s real wants and needs (after all, you are fighting to win over the same audience).
  • Recognize seasonal trends and shifts in demand and adjust your product / marketing / business strategy accordingly
  • Explore marketing channels to use and ignore those that don’t work for your competitors

All you need to get this insight is a proven framework and reliable tools.

Using competitive analysis to discover new growth points

Using Semrush’s competitive intelligence, we’ll show you how to easily deploy a three-tier framework that can spark an influx of ideas for business growth.

1. Identify the general market dynamics and your market share

Before you begin your exploration, you need to understand your own market position and the trends specific to your industry.

We’ll take Walmart as an example to see what opportunities the US e-tailer may be missing out on.

By simply visiting the Walmart website in Market Explorer, we can get an instant view of the US e-tail market landscape:

In January 2021, Walmart received a whopping 10% of the U.S. online retail market. However, that number alone doesn’t show much without examining general market patterns for previous periods.

So let’s compare Walmart’s growth / decline dynamics based on the general market trend:

Walmart's recent market traffic versus overall market trends

Now we can see that the ups and downs of the big box retailer are almost identical to that of the overall market. This implies that the brand’s market share has remained fairly stable over the past year (with a slight decrease in July 2020).

That is good news. However, stability can also mean stagnation as Walmart’s traffic surge is in line with overall market growth. To stay ahead of the trend, Walmart may want to take a look at its key competitors to discover new growth opportunities.

2. Show the most important traffic recording channels of the competitors for smarter budget decisions

First, let’s take a look at the top 5 market players that Walmart competes against:

Top 5 online retail markets

The traditional big box retailers like Target and Costco are well behind Walmart. And as Walmart has grown into a huge e-commerce destination, and not just an e-tailer, Walmart is now competing against companies like Amazon and eBay.

Market Explorer’s Benchmarking Report gives us a complete view of the traffic generation strategy in our market and with certain competitors:

Traffic generation and social media distribution strategy for top 5 online retail markets

Given the dominance of direct traffic (over 55%), it’s pretty clear that having strong brand awareness is key to acquiring audiences in this niche.

Walmart’s main competitors, Amazon and eBay, have a higher percentage of direct visits and a much lower percentage of paid visits. This means that Walmart should consider investing more in organic growth strategies rather than relying on paid channels. Oddly enough, Costco, the fifth most popular e-tailer, appears to have made the organic game without investing in paid search.

If we look at the social media breakdown, it becomes clear that Walmart relies overly on Facebook and the rest of the competition has an evenly distributed strategy for social media, with an emphasis on YouTube and some level of penetration from Reddit (not present in Walmart’s case).

Only from this brief overview can we already gain some ideas for future adjustments to Walmart’s marketing strategy: shifting the advertising budget to organic growth strategies and diversifying the social media strategy.

3. Get insights into the top products or marketing campaigns of the competitors

Now that we know how Walmart can improve its entire marketing game, we should get a better understanding of what it should be promoting.

When it comes to products, Walmart is still competing harder with other big box retailers. So we’re using the Traffic Analytics tool to explore Target as the main competitor here and uncover its top offers.

Reveal a rival’s top products

With a look at the most visited pages of Target, we can draw conclusions about the most popular products:

Target's best online products

Sony PlayStation 5 absolutely dominates the breakdown of the top sites – from the console itself to the most wanted PS5 video games.

Sony PlayStation 5 input sources for Walmart

Walmart also advertises the video console, but if we compare the traffic breakdown of both brands, it becomes clear that Walmart should get a lot more traffic from Search (it only gets 2% compared to Target’s 17%).

Even if Walmart targets similar products to the top offering, it could learn a thing or two from its competitors about how best to advertise them.

Note the trend marketing campaigns

You need to carefully search your competitors’ top pages as they not only showcase the most popular products, but they may also link to campaigns that will be hugely popular with viewers.

Top sites for target.com

In the overview of Target’s top pages, we spotted a marketing campaign that is attracting around 2% of the site’s total visitor base. It’s a separate page that lists all of the weekly specials at each destination location: you can just browse the deals and easily see all the deals in a given store.

Walmart could certainly take note of this approach: keeping an eye on its competitor’s promotions first, and also launching a similar campaign to attract Target audiences and increase the loyalty of its existing customers.

Triggering Your Business Growth

While Walmart has the resources to keep large teams focused on this type of market and market research, they are missing out on some growth opportunities of their own.

However, sometimes you don’t need a large team to uncover marketing opportunities and ensure business growth. All you need is the right framework and a tool like Traffic Analytics to deliver market and competitive intelligence that instantly reveals the key gaps between your marketing strategy and those of your competitors.