Save millions of dollars in market testing in just one afternoon.
“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”
– Jack Welsh, CEO GE
Several years back, I worked for an organization called the Indiana Venture Center (2004-2009). Our mission was to help high growth companies get off the ground. We would put together top digital marketing strategies, financial projections, investor pitches, competitive intelligence reports and business plans for these promising companies. When they were ready, we would also introduce them to angel investors.
One of the key pieces of my job was to put together teams (mainly students) to help our clients find their “Blue Ocean.” Meaning – we would help startup companies develop marketing strategies that would effectively and efficiently take their products/service to the market. The goal – beat out their competitors.
An important piece to the overall strategy was competitive intelligence – CI. The purpose of CI was to provide companies with intelligence to differentiate, adapt, develop innovative processes, and potentially change if needed.
In order to “data mine”, we would call the administrative staff of competitors (because they knew the ins-and-outs of the organization.) We would ask some specific questions (like a potential client or job seeker) to get some insights. We would uncover some interesting nuggets from these calls for sure. We would also use expensive databases to seek out information from journals, abstracts, published industry specific research, or other resources.
Bottomline, we wanted to find actionable information regarding competitive dynamics that could be used to enhance the speed and quality of decision making and overall marketing strategy.
These were our “spying” techniques.
Things have changed a bit!
Today, it’s a lot easier to gain actionable and quantifiable data that can be used to help you go directly to highly targeted, quality leads interested in your products and services.
You can gather “instant” information on what your competitors are doing. You can see communication messages, dialogue with customers, and overall communication strategies.
And most importantly, you can get insights to how to beat competitors – in real time.
How can you do this?
Well, below I’m sharing my secrets. I’m sharing with you the toys and tools I use to find that actionable data that brings quality and targeted leads for our clients.
I use these tools in a sense to spy on our clients competitors. I want to understand what’s working and not working as it relates to their marketing efforts. I can gather insights to any company’s marketing strategies – target markets, customer engagement, demographics, conversations, promotions, display advertising, organic and paid search, link building and more.
I love to see the specific content driving traffic to their site, what products/services they are promoting, and what the highest ROI keywords are on their site.
Now, you can too.
We don’t use only one tool. We use several so we can fill in all the gaps and get all the pieces to a company’s online marketing strategy. Check out these 9 competitive intelligence tools that this data geek loves.
Start gathering data that will instantly assist you in beating your competitors online and off.
My Favorite Competitive Intelligence Tools
Check out these 9 tools that will put you ahead of your competitors on and off the web:
SimilarWeb – Insights to Any Competitor’s Website
I love this tool. (I’m a data junky). You can see your competitor’s actual traffic stats. Right from your fingertips you can see competitor info – their traffic and engagement metrics, SEO/PPC keywords, traffic sources (how people are finding them), popular pages on their site, what their audience likes, and more.
SEMrush is great for keyword research and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) monitoring. You will be able to see a competitor’s’ high impact keywords, discover new organic competitors, observe position changes of their domains on Google, and see their online ads in just minutes. You can try this tool for free.
Alexa – Web Analytics of Other Companies
Alexa is a great tool to dig deep into the analytics of other companies. You can often times see exact traffic sources. You will see how well your competitor sites are doing relative to others. You can learn how your site can perform better. You also get specific data on how to narrow down potential customers on the web.
The great thing about Alexa is that they are owned by Amazon. And we know that Amazon has a lot of data on consumer behaviors.
SpyFu – Data on the Most Profitable Keywords
I’m always looking for a secret formula. On this tool, you can see pretty quickly the secret search marketing formula of a company in just minutes. You can search for any domain and see – the keywords showing up on Google; every keyword they’ve bought on Adwords, every ad variation in the last 9 years, and the exact landing pages your competitors are using.
This is crazy good info for a data addict like myself. This tool not only shares with you US data, SpyFu gathers data from UK as well.
Moz – Search Marketing Insights
We use Moz for a variety purposes. But from a competitive intelligence perspective,we use Moz to understand and monitor how your competitors are ranking on Google. If you are into search marketing, you can see look for opportunities to beat them. We compare their authority to yours (a factor on how a site is ranked on Google.) We see “links” or shares their content.
Follow – High Level View of Data
If you want a quick look from several data points, check out Follow. This tool pulls data from many of their partners (Compete, Spyfu, etc) to bring you the widest & most comprehensive, high-level overview of any company’s website marketing data.
iSpionage – Uncover the Perfect PPC Strategy
If you use this tool along with “Follow”, you will uncover your competitors Pay Per Click (PPC) online advertising strategy. By combining data, we can see our clients competitors entire conversion funnel. Meaning, we can see their keyword strategy, gather ad copy intelligence, and monitor their landing pages (to see how they are doing.)
So how can you use this data. You can differentiate your ads and offers from your competitors. You can save time by simply using what works for your competitors. You can find new, profitable keywords by getting your hands on your competitors complete keyword lists.
Quantcast – Gather Demographics of Competitors Audience
You can use Quantcast to really to understand your audience or your competitors audience. With just a few clicks, you can see age, income, interests, online social habits, etc. It’s a great tool to help you segment your target market.
Offervault – Endless List of Company “Special” Offers
If you use “offers” to promote your product or service, you should check out this tool. You can simply add your competitor’s name in the search bar to see their offers. If you are an affiliate marketer, this tool should be at the top of your list.