We have all had the daydream that we are the business equivalent of James Bond, Super Spy Extraordinaire with all kinds of cool gadgets and knowledge of the enemy - skills that would be particularly useful when attempting to measure your organisation against its competitors and ultimately one upping them.
Well, we are here to tell you that it is possible. It’s more than possible - it’s doable, and to be extra helpful we have decided to compile a list of our favourite tools to help you be the James Bond of your office.
1. Sign up
Firstly, sign up to email newsletters, updates and invite lists of your competitors. Take note of how they talk about themselves and the content they include in their publications.
Any news from competitors will give you a good insight into their angle and unique selling proposition, therefore giving insight into how they convince customers they are the better choice. Seeing the quality of content and channels competitors use will also allow you to see how invested they are in speaking to their customers. For example, if they are sending a plain text email as a newsletter, they're investing only time, but if it's a designed newsletter they may be investing time money and possible outside expertise.
2. Social Media
Follow your direct and indirect competitors on social media, take note of tone and how much engagement your competitors garner from followers. If they aren’t on certain social networks - consider why that might be. What kind of brand are they communicating on social networks? Do employees get involved? What kind of persona have they created through their communications and does it work?
Doing some low-level cyber stalking ensures you know what your competitors are doing and where, you'll then be able to steal some tried and tested ideas, seeing opportunities that have been left wide open and allowing you to slide into the prime position.
...And now for the big boys of competitor analysis:
SEMRush is the kind of tool marketers and online publications dream of. It's simple, effective and gives you a thorough overview of not just your competitors but your website as well - allowing you to make improvements to get ahead!
Enter the domain you want details on and SEMRush will tell you which keywords that website is ranking for, if they do paid search, keywords associated and the cost of that traffic. Not only do you get an idea of the kinds of things customers are looking for when they come to your site, but you’ll be able to see the difference between yourself and your competitors, including a very rough estimate of the kind of marketing budget they have available.
Having this kind of knowledge allows you to have the opportunity to challenge competitors for traffic using the same or similar keywords.
SEMRush also has the ability to help with SEO - you can run reports that will tell you if you have issues so you can fix them. An example of this is the Site Audit tool which will tell you about errors and issues on your website - issues can range from not having ALT tags on images to reporting the number of broken links, things that are easily fixed and can vastly improve your SEO.
4. Perch - Local Business Reconnaissance
Perch is an app for bricks and mortar businesses to keep an eye on what is happening around them - particularly if there are businesses with similar offerings in their area, for example a cafe or restaurant in a busy business strip or shopping centre.
You can search a specific URL or just browse businesses close to you. The app will show you posts on social media, reviews and show photos posted by them and customers. One of the most valuable sources of information is the promotions tab - it will tell you if competitors have promotions running and what they are, giving you the opportunity to create a better offering!
It’s real time, easy to use and incredibly valuable tool for local businesses - and best of all its free!
If you're considering where to invest your ad spend for this year and want to know what your industry or better yet, your competitors are doing? WhatRunsWhere can help you out.
This tool tells you where your competitors are advertising, who they're advertising through, and what is working. You have access to the most up to date data as well as data from the past 5 years, helping you make informed decisions about your own ad spend. Definitely the kind of tool that could come in handy when pitching ad spend to upper levels and also to keep a finger on your industry's pulse.
Do you use other tools to stalk your competition? Let us know about them! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org