How to do SaaS Competitive Analysis in B2C [2023 Guide]
The number of SaaS companies is rapidly growing year by year. The numbers are pretty impressive. As of 2021, the number of SaaS companies in the US was around 15.000. Moreover, these 15.000 SaaS companies have about 14 billion users globally.
Pay attention that this is just the case for the US, and there is a vast number of countries that have a fast-developing SaaS industry themselves. Also, consider that as 2022 is going, the number of SaaS companies in the world is increasing.
The importance of competitor analysis based on examples
Obviously, with these vast numbers, every company should find its ways to stand out from the rest and occupy its unique place in the market. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses, analyzing the market, and visualizing its developments are significant for staying up to date with the new challenges. This is the exact time when you should do SaaS competitive analysis.
Why is it important? One may ask. Let me bring an example and show the significance of doing competitive analysis.
Let’s pretend your company is offering a photo editing tool, and you are leading in the market. Unfortunately, you do not know what your competitor is up to, and you miss the point where your competitor exceeds you by creating a more advanced feature of a photo editing tool.
So, what happened?
- Your competitor did its due diligence and is ahead of you at least with one step.
- You have no idea of your other competitors that might beat you in the future.
If you have done competitor analysis for your niche, you would know your competitors and what they are up to. With this knowledge, you could take all the necessary measures not to lose the competition. For example, you would not only know that they are making updates to the photo editing tool, but you would come with your updates and make sure that your product is still on the top.
Let’s put it clearly: every company has competitors, and every company needs to know its competitors.
Your competitors can be direct and indirect. Depending on your product or service, your competitors may be in the same niche as yours or beyond it. Therefore, you will need to identify your competitors, segment the market, and come up with sales strategies. In general, gain as much knowledge about them as possible to ensure that your business activities are based on data, facts, and experience. This is all possible with proper competitive analysis.
What is SaaS competitive analysis in B2C?
Well, if you already have a SaaS company, you most probably know that SaaS stands for software as a service. In other words, SaaS companies are the ones that offer products or services with a subscription shared via the cloud. Anyone subscribing to the service monthly or annually gets to use it, and there could be millions of people using the same service or product simultaneously. Some of the Best-known SaaS companies in the world are Hubspot, Microsoft, Asana, Slack, Canva, and Shopify.
So, when you are about to do SaaS competitive analysis, you are expected to analyze SaaS competitors in your niche. First, you look for all the SaaS companies that sell services online similar to yours and find them. Then, as part of your competitive analysis, you can narrow down your list based on the location of the usage for the services of those SaaS companies. You can also check the SaaS competition with the companies that are not offering the same benefits as yours, but their product competes with yours indirectly.
By the way, if you intend to analyze the SaaS companies which provide services directly to customers, then identify those respectively, and you will have your SaaS competitor analysis in B2C. Afterward, you will have SaaS competitive analysis in B2C done.
5 steps of SaaS competitive analysis
The approaches for doing SaaS competitive analysis may be different. This guide is one of them. It is easy to follow, and you can implement it for analyzing your niche. So, your competitor analysis should include general research and more profound knowledge of SaaS email marketing, social media marketing, SEO and website quality, and ranking.
This guide will make it easier to analyze by just following the five steps. So, to help you with your analysis, you can do the following:
- Initial research
Before moving to automated tools and advanced features of analysis:
- Take some manual steps.
- Remember, you should be advanced in doing things manually to succeed using the automated tools.
- So, do your research about the niche, take your time and write down all the companies you know that might be on the list of your competitors.
- Ask yourself questions, such as why do you think some companies fall into the group of your competitors and why others don’t.
Specify the ways that other SaaS companies might compete with you, recognize whether their competition is direct or indirect.
For example, when it comes to eCommerce, companies can research Amazon competitors, giving them an idea of their brand competitors. The same goes with SaaS companies. Write down your thoughts. Every single idea can be important and later serve for new ideas or prospects.
The initial research will help you understand the market and place yourself and your potential competitors in the market. This research should be your first step in SaaS competitive analysis.
- Online platforms
When you have your mind set up and already know what to look for, you can use several other tools to help you with your research. From simply Googling to using advanced analytical tools, all the means are there for you to do competitor analysis properly. Here is a list of tactics you can use on your way to analyzing your competitors.
Google knows everything :) Insert the queries in the Google search bar and get tons of results. From basic search to advanced, you will find a lot about your niche or the existing SaaS companies. You can search for information on companies in your country or offering services worldwide.
You can ask questions like:
- SaaS companies in [your location]
- Best [your product type] for 2022
- Most used [your product or service type] in 2021
You can change the questions to address the intended search results better. When you get search results, check those, rewrite the questions, go over the “people also ask” section. You will get more insights into your competitors. Remember, your queries on search engines are for general information, which will later help you with the more profound research and analysis.
Identify SaaS review websites
Through Google, you can identify software review websites where you can observe every company profile. For instance, check Crunchbase. In its search bar, Crunchbase has an option to narrow down the search by the type of companies (choose SaaS), the date of foundation, number of employees, and description keywords. This will give another glance at your research and add to your initial analysis of your competitors.
Apart from Crunchbase, you can find many other platforms and continue your research there, such as G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius. These platforms will usually give you a list of the most known or high-ranked companies, and if your SaaS company is on higher ranks, you can identify your competitors easier.
If you are new to the market, try to find newly established companies, to check the competition with the companies of your same level, but do not forget to check wider, as neither the freshly installed, nor the old ones guarantee the level of competition through the years of foundation.
Check official websites
Once you have found your competitors through a simple search, check their websites for available information. At this point, you want to get all the publicly available information. This is important as you will acquire the data accessible to everyone, including the potential customers of your competitors.
For example, if they sell things online, they will most probably have an online shop, and you can learn what marketing strategies they are using for acquiring new customers. This way, you will determine the tactics and different means that your competitors reach out to their customers. The only difference is that you are not a customer but an experienced specialist capable of observing and analyzing texts and visuals, selling tactics, and marketing tools.
From the information placed on their websites, you can learn what the product is about, what features it has, how much it costs, what updates are up to, what customer needs they satisfy, and what promises they make to their customers.
At this stage, it is essential to not only analyze the website's content but also examine its structure, UI/UX design, navigation elements, a chatbot on a website, and other website components that make interaction with the website smoother.
If a reviewed website has some noteworthy features, you can include its website organization in your plan and make it relevant to your product and website.
Do not consider this step of competitor analysis to be unworthy. Instead, create an Excel sheet, fill in the information, and further draw patterns. You will notice their strengths or weaknesses, and you can compare that with your product. As a result, you will improve parts of your product that hold you back.
Check reviews and feedback
Till this point, you know everything what other SaaS companies want you to know. Now, it’s time to see the other side of the coin and understand their customers' opinions about their product or service. You can do this in many ways.
- Check SaaS product review websites
- Look individually at their product feedback on Play Store or App Store
- Do simple Google search “[product name] reviews.”
What will you get from doing this? You will learn what problems the products or services have, what their customers are content with, their complaints, and what suggestions their customers have. The information you can gain from the reviews and customer feedback is valuable. Again, you can use this information to strengthen your service and product and be one step ahead of your competitors.
Check competitors’ social media accounts
It is good to check competitors’ social media to gather more information about them. Social media monitoring is a process to be done once in a while to keep track of all the events or updates in a company.
Businesses usually post about their updates, online podcast links, news, achievements on their social media accounts. You can find a lot about them in the comments section as well. Besides, you can get familiar with their tone of voice and content intentions from their posts or stories, videos, and visuals. Here are sources that you have to keep an eye on:
- Facebook and Instagram
- LinkedIn and Twitter
- Youtube and TikTok
- Medium blogs.
By analyzing their social media platforms, you will figure out the best times to post on Instagram, what hashtags are trending on Twitter, or what content is getting more views on their TikTok accounts.
Getting all these insights is excellent, but do not get stuck on their social media accounts as you might end up wasting your time on that. However, a quick recap of their profiles and a comparison of their tactics from now and then will give you a tremendous amount of knowledge and insights about their existence and activities.
- Use paid tools for deeper research
Apart from manual research and analysis, you can use several paid tools to advance your work. Of course, there are many such tools, but we include the commonly used and tested ones in this article.
One of the widely used tools is SEMrush. It is an all-in-one platform, enabling businesses to apply numerous capabilities for social media marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, and competitor research.
SEMrush is a great helper in organizing marketing strategies, setting realistic goals, and managing traffic. With this platform, you can identify your competitors’ traffic sources, be it organic or paid, learn about their advertising tactics, and check their social media marketing strategies.
SEMrush gives you a tremendous amount of data about your competitors. You can have inside information about your competitors, such as keywords that help them rank high on Google, the number of customers they receive from paid channels, and so on. All you need to do is export the data and review it in minute detail. Then, analyze the given information and drag out the parts that you can use to improve your products’ marketing performance.
SEMrush can help analyze the websites and traffic sources, but you can do more. Your competitor analysis can be vital when you examine different aspects. Owletter is here to help. It is a tool that enables you to analyze your competitors’ email marketing strategies. This will give you an advantage of knowing how many emails your competitors are sending per year, what are the days they sent emails, and even learn the hours the emails were sent. You can also know the spam rate of their email marketing campaigns.
By gaining this information, you can analyze email marketing strategies and see what works for them and what would most probably work for you as well. Learning the details about the email marketing strategies of your competitors will help you with better email marketing performance and high email deliverability. Moreover, you can store the screenshotted emails and look at them later whenever you need to double-check or drag out statistics and data.
Like SEMrush, Ahrefs is also a platform that helps companies analyze websites and their traffic. With Ahrefs, you can not only understand your website’s metrics but also dig deeper into the statistics of your competitors. For example, you can see the domain rating for your competitors’ websites.
Even if you analyze your website and performance, it will give you a list of competitors at the end of the page.
Ahrefs has tools to analyze your competitors, the content they are ranked high for, the keywords, and the traffic sources. Moreover, it also helps you do research not only for Google but also for Amazon. This gives you a vast opportunity to analyze data from different sources, depending on the preferences and characteristics of your company.
Another paid tool you can use for your research and analysis is Similarweb. It is a platform that enables users to easily get all the information available online. It has tools that analyze digital data traffic and gives you insights on what to do to win over your competitors.
For example, you can get information about your competitors’ marketing strategies, what SEO strategies they follow, and what type of content makes them win in a single click.
You can learn about the referral strategies where their traffic is coming from. Moreover, Similarweb allows you to understand the paid advertisements of your competitors. It is also impressive that you can learn about the best placements for your competitors. Gaining this information allows you to understand the arrangements for your ad copies better and get better results for the same ads.
So far, all the listed paid tools mainly serve to analyze SEO, content, or email marketing needs. However, Wappalyzer is a tool that takes your competitor's research one step forward. It allows you to reveal the technology stack of the websites.
How can this be useful in analyzing your competitors? Well, you can supervise how your competitors are dealing with the challenges of website building. Moreover, you can use a tech stack checker to identify the tech stacks of any website.
With Wappalyzer, you can learn how your competitors’ websites are built and what technologies are used. You can even get notified when they change their website architecture, such as pivoting to another platform.
You can use this information to analyze competitors’ technical improvements. Further, you can take these steps into account when preparing the plan for your own company. Then, learn what best works for your rivals to apply relevant changes for your own company and products.
- Create a document with all the information
Once you have gathered all the information about your competitors, create a file for this data. This will become a valuable document to check whenever you need to refresh your memories.
Make sure you monitor your competitors from time to time and update the information on your document. Depending on your niche, you may need to perform research once in two months or twice a year. You will understand the need when you get experienced in your field.
Remember that the competitor analysis you do for your SaaS company is a continuous process, and day by day, new SaaS companies are emerging on the horizon. In contrast, the existing companies may become your competitors quite quickly.
- Come up with your action plan (taking into account the document)
The key outcome of your competitor analysis is to ensure your company actions are data-driven and based on experience. You should avoid making the same mistakes as your competitors did. You will guess the potential customer reactions towards your actions if they are satisfied or not, and your planning will only benefit from the wise use of information about your rivals.
Suppose your competitors are performing well in email marketing, or their SEO practices are not working so well. In that case, you can use some of their experience and avoid “unsuccessful” tactics when you plan your strategy or make other tactics more advanced, again relying on the existing expertise.
If they are not using the full potential of social media marketing, or SMS marketing, then keep improving and wisely use them. You will not know how effective these strategies can be if you do not test them. You will think twice, consider your competitors’ experience and their situation, and come up with your unique action plan more prone to perfection.
What should competitive analysis include
An ideal competitive analysis should include a direct and indirect list of your competitors. In addition, it should consist of statistics borrowed from open sources, such as search engine results, website analytical tool results, client feedback, reviews or social media posts, and content analysis. Properly organize these sections to be easy to read and understand. You can even use task management software to make the analysis process as easy and smooth as possible. Also, you do not want to miss out on a piece of information you found, so work organization is essential.
The document containing all these sections would also have an analysis that will shed light on what stage your competitors are at, how long it takes to reach that level, and what resources have been used for such results. This type of analysis would allow your company to set up an action plan for better results in a similar scenario.
Competitor analysis can be both thorough and brief. You can initially have a thorough one to have the full image of your competitors and their actions. But, you also can have a brief one, just with the main points to look at whenever you need a glance.
Your competitor analysis should have the following sections։
- Company background
- Company product listing and their description
- Company/ Product/ Service social media accounts’ analysis
- Company/ Product/ Service website analysis
- Customer feedback and reviews [analysis]
- Analytics from paid tools
- General outcomes of the research and analysis
- Key points/amendments to your company action plan
This can serve as a guide to do your competitor analysis. You can include all or some of the sections suggested above, or you can adjust a few sections based on your company specifics and characteristics.
In your thorough analysis, you can include separate lists of your competitors. Write down a SaaS competitor company name and include all the information under the sections stated above. Let’s say, if you have five competitors, put them in an order based on the relevancy level to your company or the level of competitiveness (high to low). Under the name of every company, including the information you got under the sections. You can use this as a template for the information relevant to your competitors, with some changes or adjustments.
In your brief analysis document, you can include the following sections:
- Company name, products, and their descriptions
- Key outcomes from their social media account/ customer feedback/ website analysis
- Improvements on your action plan based on the analysis
Remember, the competitor analysis you spend time on to do is to further help you grow your audience by implementing tested tactics and strategies. Whenever you need to take a quick look at your competitor analysis document, check the brief one and get a general idea of the current situation. If you need to understand more, then go and check the thorough analysis document. It is also important that you name the documents accordingly, including the date, so that you will find the necessary document easily. As doing competitor analysis is a continuous process and you will need to update the information once in a while, it is good to create duplicates of the documents and name them by the date of the analysis done or research completed.
Get your competitor analysis template
As mentioned before, you can have two documents for the competitor analysis, a thorough one including all the details about the competitor company and product, and a brief guide with the vital information. Here, we prepared a template that can serve as a base for your analysis.
You can download the competitor analysis template from here and work on it when you do competitor research and analysis.
This template suggests having the following sections in your competitor analysis:
- Company name
- Company location
- Competition type (direct/indirect)
- Product name
- Product description
- Product strengths
- Product weaknesses
- Analysis of customer reviews and feedback
- Analysis of social media platforms
- Analysis of paid tools metrics
- Key outcomes of the analysis
This is a template created on an Excel sheet for better organization. If you find other programs to match your competitor analysis better, then go for it! As you are the one to use this information, make sure it is easy to follow and navigate around first for yourself.
As the number of SaaS companies is increasing, doing SaaS competitive analysis becomes more and more significant. You can start with a simple preliminary research of your niche and SaaS companies. Check Google and then observe the company websites for more insights and information.
Going over their social media accounts and using paid tools, such as SEMrush, Owletter, Ahrefs, Similarweb, and Wappalyzer will help you advance your competitor analysis.
Then, create a document and organize the data. You can include the company's name, its location, the products, and descriptions, details from the analysis of social media accounts, customer reviews, the website traffic and content tactics, strengths and weaknesses, key outcomes, and points.
Prepare an action plan of your company’s marketing tactics. Continuously conduct competitor analysis to stay up to date with the new trends and prepare for the new challenges.