The saying ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ is very pertinent for businesses in the era of digital marketing. There are many benefits to be gained from watching your competitors like a hawk and analysing their social media profiles, email campaigns and advertising.
Before you can monitor competitors though, you need to determine who your major rivals are. This is not always as straightforward as it seems. For instance, two similar retail stores on the same street may appear to be vying for the same customer base, when in fact their main competitors are online retailers. These companies may actually be enhancing business for each other by drawing target shoppers to the area.
Once you’ve established who your rivals are, you’re ready to get serious about monitoring them. This allows you to:
Find marketing ideas. A great deal can be learnt by analysing successful businesses and you can use these ideas to come up with better marketing strategies for your own company. Information gleaned from competitor research can also be utilised in product development and to improve sales and customer service.
Avoid making the same mistakes. Learning from your competitors’ mistakes can save you a lot of time and money. By monitoring your rivals’ marketing campaigns, you will learn what works and what doesn’t. You’re also in an excellent position to capitalise immediately on any errors made by competitors.
Identify opportunities. Many businesses carefully monitor their own customer feedback but forget to look at the comments made about their rivals. Customer feedback is abundant on social media and provides a brilliant opportunity to find out what people think about your competitors’ products and services. You can use this information to identify gaps in the market and offer solutions.
Be aware of promotions. Price is a key factor in purchasing decisions for many people, therefore it’s vital for businesses to know when competitors are running sales and discounts. By closely monitoring your competitors you will have time to develop a plan to counteract their promotions.
Analyse backlinks. By researching the backlinks on your competitors’ websites you can pinpoint the authoritative sources they are using to boost their page ranking and then leverage these links to increase your own online authority.
Tools for Monitoring Competitors
There are many tools available for monitoring rival businesses, ranging from simple to highly sophisticated. Just by typing “related:www.yourcompanyname.com” into Google you can view a list of companies which Google has identified as being related to yours. Google Alerts provide an easy way to monitor mentions of competitors and keywords online. Google Keyword Planner allows you to collate data on competitors.
Other tools such as Brand24 provide instant access to real-time comments about your competitors and allow for searches of social media for keywords and discussions. There are also multiple applications available, such as Monitor Backlinks, for following and analysing competitors’ backlinks.
Knowledge is power for businesses. Watching your competitors like a hawk will give you the leverage needed to succeed.