SWOT Best Practices to Fast-Track Growth in 2021
Research Intelligence

SWOT Best Practices to Fast-Track Growth in 2021

by Molly Winik , Senior Digital Research & eCommerce Specialist 6 Min.
July 22, 2021 | Updated July 20, 2022

It’s easy to get drawn in by day-to-day tasks. One meeting follows another and the regular rhythm of work can make it a challenge to see the big picture. There’s a dependable solution to unlock growth opportunities, sharpen your strategy, and make your daily tasks more efficient at driving growth: running company analysis reveals your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, also known as SWOT analysis. 

But what are the SWOT analysis best practices? And how can you take your SWOT analysis to the next level? That’s what we’ll cover in this post. We’ll also explain how we use data analysis with our SWOT analysis example to map out the process clearly. 

In this blog, we’ll break down:

  • Best practices to get the most out of your SWOT analysis
  • SWOT analysis example
  • SWOT analysis template

Ready to SWOT it up?

Better together: SWOT analysis + competitive analysis  

Competitive analysis and research can help you spot what you’re doing right (your internal strengths), where you’re beating your competitors, and where you’re trailing them (your external opportunities). When you know that,  you can work out how to overtake them. To understand your strengths and weaknesses, you need to understand your competition. That’s where competitive analysis can elevate your standard SWOT analysis. 

Effective competitive analysis has five main steps:

  1. Set clear objectives — Just like in anything else you do in business, you’ll want to understand the key strategic questions that you’re aiming to answer in your competitive analysis. If it’s to support SWOT, it will be to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. You’ll want to narrow this down further.  
  2. Define your strategy — To remain focused, it’s important to line up your resources efficiently before getting started and define key metrics in your industry.
  3. Focus your priorities — Don’t aim your analysis at your entire company at once. Focus on a single element, like market growth, financial performance, or operations.
  4. Build a roadmap — Like any important project, your analysis should start with effective brainstorming, and have a clear timeline and milestones laid out in advance.
  5. Measure your results — You’re not doing this SWOT for fun (although it can be). Remember to track growth and evaluate your results over time, by following up on your competitors’ performance. 

Competitive Analysis in 5 Steps

Integrating digital intelligence is now critical in competitor research. 

Digital intelligence enables you to look at traffic and engagement data, website demographics, conversion stats, and other metrics in near real-time. Company research wasn’t always this effortless. 

Digital teardowns: Moving SWOT online 

Monitoring the digital data of your website and your industry helps you create and update your business strategy as the market shifts. As a result, digital teardowns are an important part of SWOT best practices. 

The benefits are wide-ranging and include:

  1. Grow – Grow your business and increase your digital presence
  2. Analyze – Provide the opportunity to analyze traffic and engagement data to monitor and track changes
  3. Act – Make actionable recommendations for strategic planning based on data and insights
  4. Win – Dominate your market by identifying potential threats and learning from your competitors’ digital strategyThe benefits of competitive analysis in today's digital world

SWOT’s tenets can be divided into two categories: internal and external:

  • Strengths and weaknesses are things a company can control and change.
  • Opportunities and threats are external and relate to the landscape in which the company operates. These are what the company needs to take into consideration to maintain a competitive advantage and not be surprised by competitors. Digital Teardowns-SWOT analysis in the digital world

Critical SWOT questions to consider 

Similarweb gives decision-makers the most reliable data available on the market, providing a 360-degree view of the digital world. Pretty cool, right?

It can help you answer lots of questions, for both internal factors and external factors, including:

  • What is my company’s strongest digital asset?
  • In what areas do I lack expertise?
  • Does my main competitor have new technology
  • Do we have a strong customer base?
  • What do my competitors do better than me?
  • Where should I launch new products or expand my audience reach into new markets?

All these questions must be answered to comply with SWOT analysis best practices. And it’s pretty fun and interesting to look at the data along the way if you ask us. 

A SWOT analysis example 

Now we’ve gone over an effective, SWOT analysis structure, let’s put it into action. We’ve taken digital data from our intelligence tool to get started.

Example: Digital Teardown of CNN and competitive set 2

Using Similarweb data to pit media giant CNN against four competitors (FOX News, The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today) in this SWOT. We’ve outlined our (fictitious) key questions, tasks, and role within the company. 

For CNN’s strength, we looked at market quadrant analysis. This gives us a look at the competitor landscape to understand strengths when compared to competitors. In this case, CNN had the highest number of monthly visits and unique visitors (78.4M and 398.9M, on average, per month).  

CNN SWOT Analysis

This indicates CNN may be a habit for these visitors. 

CNN’s weaknesses are in the keyword gap insight. In this shot, we can see that CNN only received 1.7 million out of 13.6 million impressions from these 10 search terms. The terms are focused on sports and politics, which suggests CNN needs to optimize its content in these fields. 

CNN’s opportunity is in audience demographics. CNN has both the highest overall traffic and the largest share of traffic from millennial audiences which is a critical market trend today for advertisers. With this data, CNN can bring in advertisers and ad networks without having to rely on cookie data, a major benefit moving forward in the cookieless future

CNN Demographics


Lastly, CNN’s threat has to do with traffic and engagement. While CNN’s traffic is high, its YoY growth in both monthly visits and unique visitors is behind the NYT and Washington Post. This is most likely because the competitors have gained ground on super popular topics, like COVID-19, the U.S. presidential elections, and more. 

So let’s sum up the structure of a SWOT analysis. CNN has identified its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats based on digital tools and data-driven intelligence. We’ve also added action items for each category. After all, taking action is a critical step in what makes a good SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis template 

We know starting out on your customer journey and business plan can seem a bit overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve created some killer templates that will help you make a good SWOT analysis and optimize your planning process.

Our SWOT analysis template provides a systematic approach that any small, medium, or enterprise-size business can use as a solid foundation for its growth strategy and decision-making. Map out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats so you can clearly see where you have room for improvement and areas in which you excel.

Plus, with our other do-it-yourself market research templates and planning tools, you can analyze trends, define buyer personas, and track your performance against industry benchmarks. 

Stay ahead with SWOT analysis best practices  

A SWOT is a tried and tested tool in any business setting and strategic management setting. With Similarweb’s digital tools, your team can uncover competencies and internal weaknesses and take your company’s decision-making to an entirely new level. 

Want to learn more about SWOT and what Similarweb can provide you with along the way? Check out our latest expert webinar and this great resource outlining SWOT best practices. Digital-first world, here we come!

For expert commentary on SWOT analysis in 2021, watch the webinar 

Read More: Industry SWOT Analysis: The Right Metrics to Fuel Your Growth

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This blog post was written by Allie Kashkash

This post is subject to Similarweb legal notices and disclaimers.

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