5 Minute Read

This is a guest blog from Natalya Zhukova at SEMRush.

The perfect scenario for any business is to have a growing market share within an expanding market. Yet in the real world, that’s rarely the case.

In the constant search for growth opportunities, you can consider product line extension or expansion into new markets, where growth essentially implies going out of the current market. Both strategies, although efficient, are often costly and have a high-risk potential. So, what can businesses do to ensure growth yet stay within their product and market boundaries?

Even when operating in a mature market, where volume demand reached its saturation, there is one tried and tested growth strategy to consider and act on - taking away market share from the competition. Looking to the competitive landscape in supporting growth is the most risk-averse and sustainable source of growth in today’s uncertain economy, where you can barely predict the success of market expansion or a new product line. 

This article will guide you through the key steps for rediscovering growth opportunities within your current market by focusing on applying these steps into a success-prone marketing strategy with competitive intelligence data.

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Why Choose Growth Through Market Share Gains?

To understand which growth strategy to focus on, let’s consider various approaches to business growth:

  • Increasing market size

There are some external factors that can trigger this process like industry or consumer trends (e.g. economy growth that impacts the number of disposable income), or Government initiatives (e.g. subsidies for new EV vehicle purchases). The key growth drivers, though, come from product line extension or market expansion. The product innovation unlocks new audience categories you might not have had the chance to appeal to before, while entry to new markets can naturally expand your existing product reach.

This approach requires large investments and high business acumen, with a pinch of luck, something most businesses cannot afford to rely on.

  • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)

While M&As are a popular growth booster for large brands helping them to expand to new audiences and regions, they are hardly a tactic of choice for around 90% of businesses out there. Unless you are Facebook or Walmart, you can hardly take this path towards ensuring business growth.

  • Market share gain

From pricing and product innovation to marketing, winning a larger market share from the competition is a matter of an in-depth market and competitor analysis.

This approach will suit businesses of all sizes and industries, regardless of their marketing budgets. Moreover, a solid market share gain strategy will ensure that:

  • You are in-line with your particular market trends;
  • You can pinpoint new growth opportunities; and
  • You can mitigate threats early on by spotting upcoming market shifts.

With a focus on marketing, we will reveal how SEMrush’s powerful competitive intelligence suite can help you find new growth opportunities by analyzing traffic trends and the audience of your market.

5 Steps to Winning a Larger Market Share

Of course, every business tends to run its own race. Yet when you choose to focus on winning market share from competitors, you have to keep an eye on their marketing strategies without directly copying them. 

The following five-step framework, powered by data from SEMrush’s CI add-on, will help you to run market analysis that reveals just enough insights to make sure you can explore your competitors’ digital footprint without getting into the nitty-gritty of their marketing tactics. 


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Step #1. Identify key market players & their market share 

Any competitive landscape analysis starts with identifying who it is you are competing against. When running market analysis and analyzing which competitors to include in the competitors’ shortlist, you have to take into account such factors as geography, audience match, product category, and more. 

SEMrush’s Market Explorer automatically collects your niche’s key market players and features Growth Quadrant, a widget that reflects your competitive landscape split by the amount of traffic your rivals are getting. 

Step #2. Pinpoint your competitors’ key traffic acquisition channels 

The next logical step when seeking growth opportunities for your own business is to see which channels bring the most traffic to your competitors. 

The Market Explorer’s Benchmarking report is designed to reveal which traffic channels - direct, referral, search, social, or paid - bring the highest number of site visits. 

The tool allows you to select up to 5 competitors at a time and benchmark their traffic acquisition strategies to spot common industry patterns, as well as see a more detailed breakdown of key social platforms that bring the most value for your rivals in regard to traffic.

 

Unwrapping which channels drive the largest audiences to your rivals’ sites allows you to redefine your own marketing strategies and re-allocate budgets and marketing activities into the channels with the highest traffic generation potential.


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Step #3. Uncover audience gaps to chase your competitors’ audiences

Before jumping into rearranging your marketing game and optimizing your traffic acquisition strategy, though, select a few of your closest competitors to estimate the size of the audience you are missing. This is what marketers refer to as ‘audience gap analysis’.

Another SEMrush tool, Traffic Analytics, can do the job for you once you select which competitors you want to benchmark yourself against.

 

 

The tool shows how much your audience overlaps with that of your competitors, reflecting how much unique audience you can count on capturing if you start competing with that particular rival. 

The Audience insights overview report provides insights into the user behavior of your audience, revealing which particular sites that unique audience is visiting. This will help you to choose relevant platforms for ad placements and marketing partnerships. 

By choosing precise site categories (in the case of Asos willing to gain a share of Macy’s’ audience, we can pick the “Shopping -> Apparel” category sites only), you can narrow down these platforms to only focus on sites that fit your brand positioning and product category the most:

 

Step #4. Maximize your own audience reach

Once you manage to reach your competitors’ audiences, you have to make sure that you are leveraging audience growth opportunities to the highest extent. 

One touchpoint with a user is barely enough to seal the deal. With so much effort put into chasing your rivals’ visitors, you want to ensure that they keep seeing your brand name by launching highly targeted campaigns that ensure you capture this audience at the right spots.

Run your competitors’ websites through Traffic Analytics to reveal which sites their audience visits before and after landing on their site. The Traffic Journey report can come in handy when you are considering platforms for smarter marketing partnerships and online advertising campaigns. 

Step #5. Gather insights on competitors’ marketing campaigns 

While traffic and audience behavior trends uncover growth opportunities for a more consistent and long-term marketing strategy building, you also have to keep an eye on seasonal or situational marketing campaigns of your competitors. Because while you are busy redefining your traffic acquisition strategy, your rivals may be launching marketing activities that can cost you your market share within a given product category.

The Top pages report within the Traffic Analytics tool can provide insights into your competitors’ marketing campaigns: from product pages that gain the most traction amongst their audience within a given timeframe (implying high user demand or a successful marketing campaign) to channels they use to acquire traffic to these campaigns. 

For instance, in the Asos example, the brand, running its key competitor, Macy’s, through the Top pages report, can see that Macy’s gets more visitors for its women’s clothing products, yet has recently launched a paid campaign for men’s clothing, jewelry watches, and women’s lingerie. 

 

Thus, if Asos is planning to compete with Macy’s for the women’s lingerie market, it could consider launching a counter-campaign not to lose its lingerie market share.

Final Touches

With many things to factor in when running market analysis, you have to keep in mind that your focus is on boosting growth and not simply following up on competitors’ strategies. With growth in mind and this five-step framework at hand, you should be able to identify growth opportunities and fine-tune your long-term and situational marketing strategies accordingly.

Now, to make sure that you maintain this growth mindset, try to:

  • Commit to run a market analysis on a regular basis to keep your market edge;
  • Adopt a systematic approach to your market analysis to timely spot any market shifts, changes in audience behavior, and turns in competitors' digital strategies;
  • Revisit the list of key market players to keep your market analysis relevant and identify game-changers early on; 
  • Prioritize which insights to act on by having an executive summary of all the information within the SWOT analysis framework

Centralizing Competitive Intelligence

Make sure the valuable competitive data you need from all the tools and sources you manage (like the information from SEMRush above) is always at your fingertips.

K360_Dashboard_w_SEMrush_Data-2X(click to enlarge)

Make sure you have a CI platform to organize and manage everything you need to track, allows you to create custom dashboards, Google Alerts, Twitter feeds and Breaking News allows you to monitor and share the most relevant insights with your teams.

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