A few weeks ago we discussed the major issues that lead to ineffective comparative research. We talked about the importance of informative competitor market research in formulating a product development strategy and reducing product rollout time to market.
Then we noted these errors that can easily derail your research and permeate through the whole product development process and ultimately put extensive pressure into your analysts and designers teams.
This time we will be talking about a few important steps to take to ensure that your competitor market research will have the desired outcome. Specifically we will provide you with the 5 necessary components for an insightful competitive research. These are:
- finding who your competitors are
- fully exploring yours and your competitors digital offerings
- factoring in customer feedback
- managing your data
- discovering competitor technology.
Know your direct and indirect competitors
The first step into any comparative analysis should be discovering who your competitors are and positioning them in the market you share. Choosing the right competitors to analyze is paramount otherwise you will spend much time researching to little insight. A common mistake here is that many banks consider competition only the banks that are in close proximity to them geographically. They fail to consider the competitors digital offerings and target customers. According to Myk Pono’s thorough competitor analysis guide, there are three important areas to take into account when deciding which competitors to analyze:
- your target audience
- your digital banking offerings catering to specific customer needs
- how you offer your digital banking offerings.
Using these three factors into your research it will immensely help you understand your immediate competitors, those that cater the exact same audience, with similar offerings and user journeys. You will also be able to pinpoint your indirect competition, which might have the same target audience but catering to different pain points or with different solutions. These might potentially move into your market in the future. In addition it enables you to always be on the know about future competitors as the competitive landscape changes according to what you are currently developing. When you are trying to incorporate investment features, your competition includes banks that offer these as well. This way you can immediately new competitors as well. Therefore, the focus of your analysis will be your direct competitors while examining potential threats.
Know your competitors offerings
After researching direct and indirect digital banking competitors, it’s time to discover their offerings and fully analyze your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We are essentially talking about a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.
Through a digital banking SWOT analysis you will be able to list all the features your competitors offer and understand:
- your digital banking competitors core features
- the features that are unique to you or your competitors
- how your digital offerings and user journeys compare to the same by your competitors?
- if your competitors support multiple channels (e.g., web, iOS, Android, Apple Watch).
With a SWOT analysis you will have a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your digital banking offerings. You will know where you excel and what needs to be improved in your digital portfolio. At the same time you will be able to explore gaps in the market that you can take advantage of and cater needs that have not been covered. Lastly, you will be in full overview of the market and quickly examine the level of threat some of your competitors pose to your market share. There are many tools that can be useful in researching competitors' offerings such as FinTech Insights, which has analyzed banks and fintech worldwide while evaluating the UX.
Know the customer’s voice
Even though customer feedback is more ample than has ever been due the amplification of customer voice through social media and review options, this aspect is still disregarded during competitor analysis. After completing the analysis of all competitors digital banking offering you should take a close look at what customers feel about them specifically and the competitor bank overall. At this step you should measure 5 aspects of the customer’s voice according to Buffer: Share of voice, Sentiment, Geography, Key topics, Social Media.
Share of voice helps you discover the volume of mentions your bank and competitors receive and can help you get an insight on overall market share. This could be smartly done by setting alerts for each of your competitors to track, evaluate and examine the volume.
Measuring the sentiment works both ways. Firstly, you will be able to address and understand the feeling around your digital offerings and where improvements are necessary. Secondly, you will have a deep look on what customers love and dislike about your competitors digital features.
Tracking key topics is a fail safe way for your analysts team to quickly mark and examine customers' biggest pain points. You can identify the biggest issues or successes of your competitor’s offerings and plan to cater needs unmet or under-catered.
Geography tracking of your competitors customers will let you know where their target audience focus is. Social Media tracking in a very similar way will provide you with pristine insights on the major customer needs and pains of your digital banking features. This ways you can discover friction points that you can tackle and solve in your future development strategy.
These five aspects represent an informative source from which valuable insight can be extracted both for yours and your competitors offerings. Then use your competition as a point of reference to improve your user experiences rather than blindly try to replicate their work.
Know your data management
A common issue for most banks is that despite the ample data available, they have difficulty distilling these into customer insights. That is heightened by the tendency to collect more and more data that they become unmanageable. In most banks and credit unions these data are housed in silos, which are difficult to integrate and consequently to draw insight from. For both large and small financial institutions extracting insight from data platforms represent a prime obstacle for better data management. It is vital that your competitor analysis is accentuated by proper data management, meaning investing to develop technology that will allow you to do that.
A well-designed customer data platform (CDP) brings together multiple disparate data points and creates a unified and holistic approach to internal business cases and external customer interactions.
Jim Marous, The Financial Brand
Thus, your comparative analysis will be based on actionable insights that will propel forward both your product planning, design and delivery.
Know the technology
Lastly, a vital step towards insightful competitor analysis results is understanding your competitor bank’s technology and utilizing tools to boost yours. The first one pertains to knowing what technology they are using to build and offer their digital banking offerings and conduct their research, which can easily be discovered through . You will get valuable information on the technology your competitors use that might give an edge to their product design, data or customer management. It can be extremely useful in discovering technology that reduces friction in your digital banking product development.
Secondly, it is important to utilize these tools that enhance your competitor digital offerings research. Comparative research usually suffers from lack of 'alive' tools that help you have continuously updated data on other bank’s digital offerings. Reports are often rigid, too expensive and narrowed down to a portion of the market. What your competitor research would immensely benefit from would be an alive tool, such as . This digital banking research platform explores the offerings of banks and fintechs worldwide and their UX. It can be tailored to your needs and market and provides you with actionable data on all your competitors digital offerings as well as how they offer them through helpful walkthrough videos. You will be able to:
- experience your competitors as if you were their customer
- extract information on all of their offerings
- definitively know where you excel and what you need to improve
- discover opportunities for growth.
Conducting your market research analysis around your competitors technology and using intuitive tools to help you analyze can skyrocket your results.
Taking into consideration the 5 steps listed above can make all the difference between an ineffective and comprehensive comparative research. With the extremely crowded digital banking field today, conducting successful competitor research becomes imperative. Stumbling blindly in such a competitive industry due to inconclusive results can be a recipe for your bank soon becoming obsolete.