While many brands might wish they could eradicate it, competition is healthy. It keeps you on your toes and means you’re continually looking for ways to improve your offering.
The challenge, however, is effectively monitoring your rivals so you don’t get left behind. What are they doing that you should be doing too? Have they overlooked an opportunity you could seize? Are they losing market share that you could gain?
Competitor tracking enables consumer brands to plan strategically and maximise their chances of success. Thankfully, it’s now easier than ever to do, with an array of online tools that allow you to take a sneak peek at your competitor’s performance across a range of metrics.
Here, we walk you through six of the most useful competitor tracking tools, offering invaluable insights into things like your rival’s web traffic, content virality and consumer brand awareness levels. Keeping tabs on these will help you to both anticipate your rival’s next move and plan your own.
SimilarWeb is a web traffic analytics tool that allows you to enter the URL of any website and instantly see how much traffic it’s receiving. The insight, however, goes much further than this, showing you the source of the traffic i.e. direct, organic/paid search, social, referrals, email or display ads.
You can make discoveries about your competitor’s marketing by looking at which social platforms are delivering them the most traffic, as well as where on the web they’re advertising and which websites are providing referrals.
You’re also able to see the different countries a site’s traffic is coming from and learn about the interests of their customers, including what other websites they visit. SimilarWeb suggests competitors and allows you to set your own so you can benchmark against them.
Meanwhile, a recently introduced feature helps you identify which keywords you should target to get ahead of your competitors. Search any term and see not only the search volume, but which URLs currently have the most traffic share (paid and organic) for that keyword or phrase.
Find out how difficult it would be to obtain traffic from the keyword by understanding who is currently competing for it. You can also locate less popular, long tail terms that your competitors aren’t targeting but still command a significant search volume. Challenger brands can go after these in their SEO strategies and PPC campaigns to get one up on rivals.
BuzzSumo shows you how successful your competitor’s content is by highlighting the pieces most shared on social media. Just enter your rival’s URL to see their top content and the number of shares and engagements achieved across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
This is really useful as it reveals the type of content that is performing the best for them and essentially allows you to replicate it, just with your own unique angle - why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? BuzzSumo can also show you the backlinks for a piece of content i.e. the websites linking to it, enabling you too, to target these sites for backlinks.
You’re also able to view the individuals who shared the content on social media and get insight into their authority. This is an opportunity for your brand to develop relationships with the top influencers in your market.
Another way to use BuzzSumo is by entering a keyword or phrase rather than a competitor URL. It will return a list of the most shared content featuring that keyword thus enabling you to understand what works in your niche.
Other insights you can glean from examining viral content are ideal content length, optimum day/time for publishing and best headline structure. Recently, BuzzSumo published the results of an analysis of 100 million headlines.
It found that, when it came to Facebook engagements, the most powerful three word phrase was “will make you...” i.e. 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. It also shattered the conventional wisdom that short headlines are best, finding the optimal length to be 12-18 words.
BuzzSumo makes it easy to keep track of your competitor’s content with alerts whenever they publish something new, as well as detailed Competitor Content Performance reports. You can also understand how you are doing in comparison with Competitor Comparison Reports, helping you make intelligent decisions about your content marketing.
Measuring your Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a great way to gauge overall customer satisfaction with your brand, but how do you know how you’re doing in comparison to your competitors?
Consumer insights platform Attest lets you easily measure the NPS of both your brand and others. To obtain an NPS you simply ask one question, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company’s product or service to a friend or a colleague?”
Based on their rating, customers are then classified as either brand detractors, passives or promoters. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is determined by subtracting the percentage of customers who are detractors from the percentage who are promoters, and Attest calculates this automatically for you.
With an audience of tens of thousands of consumers, Attest can survey your competitor’s customers to find out how loyal they are and obtain your rival’s NPS. Who has the higher score, you or them? Are there dissatisfied customers you could win over? Perhaps you see a competitor with a lot of passives, who could be persuaded to buy your brand with a special offer or advertising campaign? Measuring NPS gives you a good idea of how much love customers have for your rivals.
Another way to track how well your competitors are doing is by monitoring consumers’ purchase intent. To do this, you can send out a survey with questions designed to discover the brands a consumer has, or would, purchase. For example, you might ask:
Which of these paint brands would you be most likely to buy:
- Farrow & Ball
The response to this question will immediately show you how much market dominance competitors have - and allow you to monitor how that changes down the line in relation to your brand’s marketing efforts.
You could also ask respondents to agree or disagree with statements in relation to your competitor brands i.e. “Dulux is the best quality paint on the market”. This helps you understand the reasons consumers are choosing rival brands and shape your messaging accordingly.
Attest can also be utilised to measure unprompted brand recall, which basically involves asking consumers to name brands without influencing them in any direction. For example, you might ask: “What is the first brand that comes to mind when you think of luxury holidays?” or “Which toilet roll brand cares most about the environment?”
How does the percentage of people naming your brand over that of your rivals change over time? Who has the stronger messaging? By not providing a list of brands to select from you can really see how much different brands are in the public consciousness.
Mention provides a web listening service and lets you know what people are saying about your brand or your competitor’s brands. Simply enter the name of the brand you’d like to track and specify the priority pages for monitoring, such as the company’s website and social profiles.
The tool will show you all of the mentions a brand has received, updated in real-time. Filtering allows you to view mentions from different sources, such as mentions on Twitter or on Facebook. Reading real customer feedback will highlight any areas where your competitors are either excelling or failing.
If you notice lots of complaints about slow delivery times or poor customer service, for example, this is an opportunity to push how great your brand is when it comes to these things. You could even reach out directly to unhappy customers and incentivise them to come over (you can respond to people’s comments from within the tool).
Mention also provides reports so you can check your rival’s mentions over a period of time and whether they have gone up or down. You can see the average amount of mentions they receive each day and the percentage of mentions with positive sentiment.
You can even track two or more brands side by side to compare metrics, allowing you to analyse share of voice and sentiment online.
5. Google Trends
Google Trends is one of the lesser known Google tools, but offers a great way to keep track of branded searches - in other words, how many people are searching for you or your competitors.
Enter the name of your competitor and you can see a graph depicting interest in that brand over time. You can tailor the results by looking only at searches made in a certain country or over a certain time frame, such as the past 90 days.
You can then enter your own brand name, or that of another competitor, to see graphs side by side and compare results. You’ll be able to see any times when the interest level of one brand overtook that of another, which might indicate success of a particular marketing initiative.
You can also compare interest by region, seeing where in the world or the country people are most interested in each brand. If you notice your competitor is doing better than you in a particular city, you can take a look at the marketing they’re doing in this region to find out why and then double your own efforts there.6. STAT
STAT lets you take a peek into your competitors' SEO strategies. Tell STAT which competitors you want to watch and it will provide alerts every time they move up or down the SERPs (search engine results pages), so you can monitor exactly what they’re up to.
You can pull full reports on tracked competitor sites, showing their performance. Getting the data out is as simple as right-clicking on any table to export as a CSV spreadsheet. You can also create scheduled reports so that all of your key data is regularly exported to spreadsheets and sent to your email.
Meanwhile, you can also receive weekly reports detailing your brand’s top competitors for every site, tag, and custom keyword segment you set. It shows you who’s competing in your space and prevents competitors who might be under your radar from creeping up on you.
Ignoring what your competitors are up to when planning your sales and marketing strategy is like going into battle without any enemy intelligence. Don’t go in blind; you can use these six tools to easily gather insights, which will prove invaluable when making strategic decisions.
And by understanding how your brand performs in the context of your competition, you can better monitor your own success. Are you on track to become the market leader or in danger of being crowded out? Don’t let any developments take you by surprise; stay on top of your game and show the competition what you’re made of!
To learn more about how Attest can help you beat your competition, call us on 0330 808 4746 or try out The Consumer Insight Platform for free.