3 Tips for an Ecommerce Marketing SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — can help a ecommerce business improve its marketing, find new methods to promote its brand, and avoid competitive threats.

Listing a business’s marketing strengths and weaknesses, however, might not be adequate to provide actionable insights or help the company’s marketing staff make decisions.

There are a number of things you can do to make your SWOT analysis more helpful, including selecting your competitive set with care, identifying patterns in how those companies market, and learning how a strength or a weakness overlaps with opportunities or threats.

Listing a business’s marketing strengths and weaknesses, however, may not be enough…

Tip 1: Carefully Select Competitors

An ecommerce firm’s marketing strengths and weaknesses should be considered relative to its rivals. You cannot say your organization is outstanding at email marketing in case you don’t understand how your opponents use it.

But which competitors should you consider? If your organization sells workout clothing for expecting mothers, for instance, should you consider Amazon or Gymshark or both as competitors? Both sell workout clothing. But do they affect your niche?

At the time of writing, Gymshark did not have a maternity line. However, the company does an wonderful job of marketing its workout clothes. So while you might not want to consider Gymshark as a competitor when you’re listing your business’s relative strengths, you might consider it when you look for marketing opportunities.

Should you promote maternity workout clothes, Gymshark may not be a direct competitor, but you can draw insights from how it markets a similar product to similar customers.

You probably wouldn’t include Amazon among your competitors. It is as much a marketplace for a retailer, and it carries lots of other products. Thus it would be difficult to analyze its own marketing.

On the flip side, you should likely consider Blanqi, which sells maternity workout gear specifically, for all four areas of your advertising SWOT analysis.

A company selling a similar product in a similar price range is just the kind you want to analyze. Knowing how your marketing tactics and performance compare to that competitor will help yours enhance.

So do two things when you pick the competitors to take into account for your SWOT analysis.

  • Make sure they are a close fit to your niche. If you sell high-end maternity workout equipment, compare your business to similar retailers.
  • Not every competitor fits all facets of a SWOT analysis. Gymshark might help you identify marketing opportunities but might not be the standard for identifying strengths or weaknesses.

Tip 2: Identify Marketing Patterns

Aimlessly perusing a competitor’s site or casually reading the business’s Facebook posts probably will not provide the advice you need for a SWOT analysis.

Instead, look for patterns a competitor’s marketing or that appear across all competitors.

For example, an electric bicycle brand noted that competitors with even one physical location tended to promote test rides and low-cost bike rentals in their email messages, while ecommerce-only manufacturers tended to promote their client service and relatively better warranties. This insight generated ideas for new marketing opportunities.

Fuell sells its electric bikes online and provides around-the-clock support.

Similarly, using the competitive research tools in SEMrush, this same electric bicycle company noticed that one of its opponents had different patterns for its mobile pay-per-click advertising versus desktop. With a little more research, the brand was able to recognize a few strengths relative to this particular competitor.

In accordance with SEMrush data, this competition had more traffic from desktop PPC advertisements in the summer. In the fall, the majority of the PPC traffic came from mobile.

Tip 3: Don’t Stop with a SWOT Grid

Often a SWOT analysis will create a simple two-by-two grid. Each quadrant may offer insights, but it might not be clear how strengths socialize with threats or how flaws impact opportunities.

STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES
We have 1.25 million email readers, which gives us a powerful tool to reach customers.

We have over 11,000 positive customer testimonials on our website. These reviews show up on Google.

We rely very heavily on magazines and print ads to drive earnings.

We aren’t getting many new email subscribers, with subscription rates dropping 25% in the last year.

OPPORTUNITIES THREATS
Expand our social media marketing.

Add new product lines for postpartum moms and women whose children are older.

Major workout-wear brands are entering the maternity market.

Magazine readership is down considerably, so it is become more challenging to get new customers.

To get more insight, try what some company managers call”threats, opportunities, weaknesses, and strengths” analysis (TOWS). Note the smart reversing of word order.

A TOWS analysis organizes strengths and weaknesses based on how those traits interact with a provider’s opportunities and threats. As with a SWOT review, list all your company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Next, divide your strengths into two categories.

  • Strengths that create opportunities.
  • Strengths that stave off threats.

Split your list of flaws into two classes, too.

  • Weaknesses that hinder opportunities.
  • Weaknesses that amplify threats.

When you plot your strengths and weaknesses on the grid, they will overlap with opportunities and threats.

OPPORTUNITIES THREATS
STRENGTHS We have 1.25 million email readers, which gives us a powerful tool to reach customers. Thus, we may have the ability to expand into new markets, like promoting postpartum workout equipment to new mothers. The aim is to encourage women to trust our brand throughout life’s various cycles. Our 11,000 positive customer testimonials is a highly effective hedge against other brands entering the maternity workout wear market. We know from customer research that touting these positive reviews frequently helps win a sale.
WEAKNESSES We aren’t getting many new email readers, with subscription prices falling 25% in the past year. Given the value of our email marketing list for new product launches, we need to make sure that we have a steady stream of potential customers subscribing. We rely on magazines and print ads to drive short term sales. As magazine advertising shrinks, we will need to find new advertising mediums.

The resulting quadrants have different priorities and should indicate unique actions.

  • The top-left quadrant, where strengths intersect with chances, should represent marketing benefits. Capitalize on these.
  • In the top-right quadrant, you are playing defense. These strengths are defending your position in the market. Watch these carefully, but do not change anything at present.
  • The lower-left quadrant indicates concerns. If you do not correct, you may not have the ability to take advantage of the opportunities in the square over it.
  • The lower-right quadrant indicates significant problems. Correct those.

A regular SWOT (or TOWS) analysis can help your marketing staff make improvements with your communications, advertisements, or any other promotional aspect.

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