7 Ways To Do Competitive B2B Research

7 Ways To Do Competitive B2B Research

As a product manager you need to make sure that you are always on top of what is happening in your industry. There is a ton of  information available online. Sometimes it can become overwhelming!!

Our first instinct when we need information is to google it! But how do you make head or tail of everything that you find online? Is there a method to the madness - An easy way to synthesis all the information online. How often should we do competitive market research? How much time should a product manager devote to this activity among all the other things that they need to do?

A product manager should spend at least two hours each week doing market research.

Some tips before starting your research:

1.Block time on your calendar for the research to account for it in your weekly tasks.
2.Before you start researching it is important to come up with a goal or potential outcome you desire. This makes the exercise productive with measurable outcomes. Examples of goals could be:
1.I want a better understanding of “X” competitor’s product
2.I want to learn what customers are saying about “Y” competitor
3.I want to understand how a particular  industry will evolve in the next five years
4.I want to learn about the pain points of a particular user persona
3.You should publish your research each week and make it accessible to everyone in the company. This will make the research more collaborative. Others might start contributing useful information to strengthen the findings.

Annual/Quarterly Reports

Public companies conduct online sessions once every few months to update investors. You can find the recordings of these sessions in the “investor relations” section of their sites. Copies of previous presentations are also available for download. These presentations contain information on:

1.The market outlook
2.Highlights of the company’s performance in the past
3.Where they want to focus in the future.

It ends with a Q&A session with the CEO or CFO of the company.  They provide valuable insights into the strategic thinking of the organisation.

Product Review Sites

Many sites like Capterra and G2 Crowd host reviews of products posted by verified users. Reading these reviews helps you understand:

1.How users perceive a competitor products?
2.What do they like about it?
3.What are the areas for improvement?

Companies engage with reviewers in these forums. They offer insights and workarounds that can solve reviewers problems. Product managers can also find key problems that reviewers face with different products. They provide:

1.Quick comparison of different products that you might be evaluating
2.Provide alternatives that you might sometimes not be aware of

Industry Reports

Gartner and Forrester publish reports on software products at regular intervals. Gartner magic quadrant lists out the existing leaders in the industry as well as up and coming challengers. Forrestor wave report looks at the current position and the strategy of the software vendors and places them in different positions. Both companies have an exhaustive evaluation process to create these reports

Tip: Oftentimes these reports are expensive. You can get parts of the report from the website of a software provider that is featured in these reports. These reports help drive traffic and generate lead for their sales team. So everybody wins!

Release Notes

Release notes offer insight into improvements that competitors make in their products. It also offers insight into how often they ship products.

Product Demo

These are available on competitor websites or their youtube channels. When you are starting a new product management role it is a good idea to go through these demos. They help you understand:

1.The functional capabilities of competitor offering
2.The flow of their user experience
3.Value proposition and messaging strategy

Competitor Traffic Analysis

This often falls in the realm of digital marketing. But it is a great way for any product manager to gauge the interest across different parts of a competitor website. To analyse the competitor traffic do the following:

1.Head over to Ubersuggest, Moz, Ahref or Semrush
2.Signup for a free account
3.Put in a competitor domain to look at all their organic traffic.
4.Look at the different pages that bring in the most traffic.

This will tell you what type of content is drawing users to competitor website.

Inspect Element

Doesn’t work all the time but worth a shot! It can help surface third party applications that competitors are using. You can add these to the list of vendors to partner with.

To inspect a page do the following:

1.Right click on the webpage you want to inspect
2.Click on “inspect”
3.A panel opens up on the right side.
4.You can the scroll and go through the html to find third party applications used in the page