Competitor Benchmarking: What It Is & How It Works

Keeping an eye on your competitors is critical for understanding your place in the market. And it can be very revealing for not only revealing their moves, but also their audience’s perception of the brand. This kind of intel offers strategic opportunities that are otherwise missed – and this post will help you find them!

We are going to detail some of these opportunities, as well as what competitor benchmarking is, how it’s used, as well as some best practices. But first, let’s take a look at these reveling stats:

Now,let’s take a closer look at what competitor benchmarking is, and how it hands off touchdown-worthy intel to your business.

What is Competitor Benchmarking?

If you already use social media analytics for tracking your brand’s success, then you’re off to a great start. But if you’re missing competitive intelligence, then a big piece of the strategic puzzle is missing.

Competitor benchmarking is an expansive, real-time view into your competition. And this helps your brand understand how it is perceived through the lens of both the news and the extensive social web. The competitive benchmarks reveal market trends and other information that you can take advantage of in the competitive arena.

And once you’ve benchmarked against competitors, it becomes easier each time. Your baseline metrics are already there, you’re just comparing them against newer intel to see if you’re comparatively holding steady, growing market share, or if you need a little boost. And it’s easy to add new metrics as needed or remove irrelevant measures as your business profile – or its competitive set – changes.

Let’s explore what competitor benchmarking entails.

Best Practices in Action

Competitive benchmarking is more than identifying your competition and looking at volume of conversation, though this is certainly an important part of it when keeping an eye on the competition. For a complete look though, your competitive analysis needs to not only identify the competition, but provide you with the ability to:

  • Understand category share of voice
  • Identify and track trends over time
  • Uncover consumer sentiments toward brands and their products
  • Analyze relevant media coverage
  • Uncover brand perception of competitors
  • Stay informed of competitive product launches, events, potential partners
  • Identify influencers and Key Opinion Leaders
  • Identify gaps in competitors’ capabilities
  • Benchmark your relative position to eac

Simple metrics offered by smaller tools are fine for quick peeks at how you’re doing, but you need more than likes, shares and comments. You need tools like Rival IQ which dive deep into the competitive waters. You need something with a little heft that can supply you with intel on your competitions’ consumers and associated demographics, psychographics, sentiment, and brand passion. These elements reveal what is powering share of voice and overarching net sentiment.

And all of this can be used to your advantage. There’s a lot of data out there and having a tool which can parse large amounts of it and dissect this into smaller categories for easier consumption and analysis, is critical. It isolates relevant intel from the noise and can guide you toward new and promising innovations and audience segments.

For example, within each brand analysis, there are many conversations happening simultaneously. Take the drink category for instance, there can be large clusters of chatter on expected topic like classic drink flavors, new flavors, and maybe even health conversations but there could also be relevant discussions around sustainability, equality and equity, politics and much, much more. Understanding which are impactful matters a great deal, as it can point to a new avenue to pursue or avoid.

But you’ll need to go a little deeper than usual to pull back the curtain on what all these conversations mean. And that’s when having a step-by-step guide can be beneficial, especially if this is your first go-around.

Competitor Benchmarking Step-by-Step

How do you get started with competitor benchmarking? We’re highlighting a few steps to help get you started.

1) Identify Competitors

You may think you know who your competitors are, but new competitors emerge all the time. Competitor benchmarking requires understanding who consumers are talking about though – and it may not be a well known company. It could be a newer and smaller brand that’s rocking your target consumers’ online world. Or just an older brand regaining popularity

For this reason, it’s always a good idea to explore company datasets to see if there are startups or companies in adjacent categories threatening your space. You can add them to your list of competitors to keep an eye on, or maybe they’re potential partners?

Here, in company datasets, we’ve searched sustainable food and beverages. It’s a hot topic, partly re-birthed by the pandemic. So, what is happening in that sphere? We can see the top categories below and can dig into it using a variety of methods to see specific company names.


From sustainable practices to sustainable packaging, there’s a lot of intel available. And it’s largely dominated by big companies, though there are some smaller companies that may be worth looking into, as well. A micro sampling of companies found can be seen below:


With competitor benchmarking, you should regularly explore the overarching landscape to see which conversations are trending, and the companies that inhabit each. And you can add these names to your list for ongoing monitoring – or remove any that become irrelevant

2) Monitor Conversation Volume

Once you know who you’re racing against, compare consumer conversation of your business against the top three in your category

Below we have a brand comparison. Brand B is leading the pack in mentions and passion intensity. However, the leader in sentiment is Brand A. Though they do not have a lot of conversation surrounding them, whatever they’re doing is working in consumers’ eyes – and you’ll want to dig into the conversations surrounding them to see why that is:


It’s in peeling back the layers behind these sentiments, passions and mentions, that we see why something is or is not working. When you benchmark, you want to take note of how consumers are talking and see if your brand is missing opportunities

When we look closely at Brand A we see that consumers prefer it over some of the larger competitors because their image has stayed consistent throughout the years. It is hitting hard on all of the warm fuzzy nostalgia points. Is this something the other brands are missing out on? Nostalgia pays when it comes to marketing, as it helps build trust when it relates back to new ideas. And it seems Brand A has that in the bag.

Additionally, consumers really love the taste of Brand A’s products, stating that it’s better than Brand B. And they love it as a mixer in a number of different drinks. This “challenger brand” (Brand A) is certainly one to watch. Wonder if the other larger competitors even know it’s coming for them?

So, volume isn’t everything – not even close; or rather – not for long. But without looking under the hood of these metrics, we wouldn’t understand the potential threat Brand A poses. And when you continuously monitor your competition – you’ll often be surprised by your findings – which is another reason to have a social media tools you can trust.

Comparing audiences is the next step.

3) Compare Audiences

No two consumers are alike, and no two brands’ audiences are entirely alike either! This makes it critical to compare the similarities and differences between your consumers and those of other brands. And this is something Rival IQ’s competitive analysis does really well. It dissects and segments intel so you don’t miss a beat.

For example, what are your audiences’ (or your competitions’ audiences) interests – are you missing a niche market? Discovering these nuances can help you target these audiences better in your next marketing campaign. Demographics go beyond just age and ethnicity after all, as they should! Your consumers are made up of interests, professions, and even language and emojis. Finding these interrelations can reveal where you can connect with your competitor’s audiences. And when done well, this one action can help you grow your share of voice.

Rival IQ’s hashtag analysis is one great example of finding commonalities between audiences. It highlights which hashtags are trending. This helps you understand how your audience is communicating, and it gives you an ‘in’ for messaging out in a language they understand.

And this is all well and good, but you need to know where to find these consumers in the first place. Digging in, you can identify where your competitors are connecting with these audiences. Is it on Facebook, TikTok, Twitter or somewhere else entirely? Maybe it’s on a forum such as Reddit or Tumblr?

Competitor benchmarking reveals sources. This is where consumers are flocking to talk about, review and even discover brands. Rival IQs competitive analysis demonstrates where Spindrifts’ audience is found, for example, and it is overwhelmingly Facebook, Instagram and Twitter:


And once we know where consumers are and what they’re saying, we need to consistently monitor these channels and voices.

4) Monitor, Monitor, Monitor!

Brands must continue to monitor all of the above over time. This will help you understand your “normal” and identify abnormal metrics. Once you have all the intel you need, create relevant campaigns and benchmark to see how the conversation metrics are growing. As a basic framework to build upon and add your own specific metrics, you’ll want to track:

  • volume of mentions
  • sentiment of mentions
  • specific terms or hashtags you promote as part of brand awareness campaigns
  • specific audience interests

Monitoring these will capture any spike in mentions, dip in sentiment and so much more. These alerts could be your window to opportunity. If there’s a burst in mentions about your brand or competitors – and this could signal consumer love, or complaints. Knowing which one will be paramount to which steps you take next. Without tracking these, you could be losing a great marketing opportunity, or ignoring a complaint which threatens to go viral.

For example, maybe your competitor made an error in judgement, and as a result their consumers are unhappy. If you’ve been doing your homework, you’ll know how and where to reach them and successfully entice them to switch teams. Consistent monitoring is the only way to keep you abreast of these changes though, and ready to swoop in to win new business – or to potentially save your brand from a faux pas.

And don’t be shy about enlisting support of micro-influencers discovered during your monitoring process. Influencers ride the wave of the present and future. And you don’t need a big celebrity! In fact, consumers trust micro-influencers more than celebrity because they see them as just another person on social media. Additionally, tracking your competitors’ influencers can help you understand what to look for in an influencer of your own.

If you need solid metrics to guide your team as you navigate brand health, marketing, and share   of voice in the competitive realm, reach out for a demo and begin competitor benchmarking with confidence.

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