15 tools to beat the competition: competitor intelligence solutions

In order for brands to understand competitor strategies, approaches, and the factors that lead to their success, they must use competitor intelligence solutions. This approach ‘reverse engineers the competition’ to use their own tactics against them. This article will aim to teach brands what competitor solutions are, and the best practice methods for collecting it. You will also uncover how you can use competitor intelligence tools to beat out competition, alongside covering the stages in designing a competitive analysis.

Without a firm grasp on competitor intelligence solutions, brands cannot make confident and insight driven decisions. By the end of this blog, brands will know what to analyse when looking at competitors, alongside the best tools for the job.

What are competitor intelligence solutions?

Competitor intelligence is the outcome of a company’s efforts to collect and investigate data about its competitors. Competitive intelligence solutions are the methodologies and tech solutions that deliver the data and enable the analysis to happen. The competitor analysis may include:

The main purpose of competitive intelligence solutions is to help the brand identify their competitive strengths and the weaknesses of their competitors in order to develop highly competitive marketing strategies. Sales processes should always incorporate primary research to gather information, but in order to understand your competitors fully, you need to gain strategic intelligence. Sometimes standard competitive intelligence methods are not enough.

Crayon’s ‘State of Market Intelligence‘ reports that “77% of businesses claim that competitor intelligence around their competitor’s products, marketing and customers is critical to winning market share.” Simply, competitor intelligence solutions are helpful for brands who want to speed up their revenue. 

Medium showed exactly how brands can do competitive intelligence solutions
Source: Medium Knowledgebase

Gathering competitive intelligence is a crucial part of any business operation because:

  1. It helps to improve awareness of market dynamics. It also helps brands to know if they are getting ahead or being outperformed by their competition. 
  2. Competitor intelligence helps brands to gather knowledge about the external business environment. This can aid in creating marketing strategies which can help the brand achieve its long-term growth objectives. 
  3. Through competitor intelligence, brands can assess risks by understanding what is happening in the market. 
  4. Opportunity analysis is the art of identifying viable marketing tactics ignored by the competition in order to promote the brand. 

How can you collect competitor intelligence? 

Gathering data for competitor intelligence requires brands to invest time and effort. Competitive intelligence methods vary hugely and cover anything from observing a rival retail store to monitoring the competitor’s advertising efforts falls into the area of competitive intelligence. 

This image shows how competitive analysis solution platforms and strategies can benefit businesses

Plan metrics and goals

The first step in any competitor intelligence solution is to set out the goals and metrics. Brands should consider:

Who are the competitors?

Brands should do their best to know how many competitors they have – and who they are. Consider putting together a list of competitors through regular research. In any industry, you can expect competing brands to come and go regularly, so it’s easy to miss a new entrant.

Consider the industry 

Another competitive intelligence method we recommend is understanding the industry that the brand belongs to. For example, if the competitors are being discussed online, consider the use of social media monitoring. 

While there may be similar approaches, a local café will have different priorities than a global clothing brand. Understanding the industry helps brands know what “success” really is.

Consider the metrics

Perhaps one of the most effective competitive intelligence methods is understanding metrics. Data will also differ from business to business. Brands that are analysing the competition with competitor intelligence solutions can use their own performance KPIs as a benchmark to compare their performance to that of their competitors. This Competitive intelligence solution can really help if a brand is looking at traffic flow to the website as a KPI. It’s worth analysing the competitor’s site to establish the origins of their traffic in order to identify overlooked opportunities that the competitor is using to drive their website traffic.

How can you beat the competition with competitor intelligence tools?

To maintain an advantage in our fast-moving digital world, brands should use the right tools to develop competitive intelligence. There is a broad range of tools available that allow businesses to gather information on their competitors – these are often referred to as ‘competitor intelligence tools’. By using these tools, businesses can gain insights into their competitor’s strategies, strengths and weaknesses, and how they operate overall. This intelligence can then inform strategic decision-making and give businesses a competitive edge. Here is a run-down of tools that you can use to develop competitor intelligence: 

Open SEO Stats 

What makes Open SEO Stats stand out against other competitor intelligence tools is its ability to help brands grab data from a competitor’s domain. Through this tool, brands can review the brand’s search rankings. The tool also summarises the competitor’s backlink profile and the number of pages that they have on their entire website. SEO competitive intelligence is vital if you want to see how a competitor’s website stacks up against theirs on both content and search optimisation. 

BuzzSumo

Brands can take advantage of BuzzSumo’s free services to discover the best performing content relating to their topic. BuzzSumo also has paid tools which can collect competitor intelligence. Brands can now find out which content is giving the competitors their highest engagement rates. For content marketing, BuzzSumo is the best choice. Monthly prices range from $99 to $699.

Kompyte

One of the most indispensable competitor intelligence tools is Kompyte. This tool allows the comparison of referral traffic, visitor behaviour, search rankings, social shares and paid ads. Kompyte also allows tracking based on performing keywords. Kompyte starts at a monthly rate of $95. 

SimilarWeb

One competitive analytics solution that is best for gaining analytics for competitor’s websites is SimilarWeb! This tool allows brands to see referral sources, track traffic numbers and origins, view engagement metrics and more. SimilarWeb allows brands to get to know the competitor’s audience. It also gives information on relevant content ideas and partnership opportunities. 

Source: SimilarWeb

Pi Datametrics

This tool allows a brand to measure the impact of its marketing campaigns compared to the competition. Brands can identify the “when” and “what” by gaining useful information on audience intent and emerging trends. It can also inform the launch timings and key messages of campaigns.

SEMRush

SEMRush gives brands information on which keywords and site links are performing for a competitor’s website. This tool is amazing for brands who want to improve their pay-per-click strategies since it provides estimates for keyword rankings. It is a free tool, but brands can get more features if they opt for the paid monthly services, which range from $99 to $399. 

Whatrunswhere

This tool helps brands to see where their competitors are to advertise – how ads look and how effective their campaigns are. It also allows access to marketing campaign data from over 150,000 top-performing publishers. Whatrunswhere monthly rates start from $299.

Whatrunswhere shows brands ads that they are competing with.

Alexa 

Alexa is the go-to tool for domain rankings. It provides other data which can help in better understanding competitors. The Audience Overlap Tool helps brands to discover upcoming competitors who may not yet be on the brand’s radar. It also helps to identify guest blogging opportunities, develop partnerships and select websites for media buys. Alexa is a great bargain for small to medium businesses offering monthly prices that range from $9.99 to $149. 

iSpionage

This tool helps brands by revealing their competitor’s search marketing tactics by identifying the keywords that the site is successfully ranking for. iSpionage features a Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) which identifies which keywords a brand should work on. This tool can analyse competitor ads, showing which ones are performing best. Data from this tool allows brands to copy the tactics that are working for a competitor. iSpionage has a free version, but brands may find more features if they use the monthly paid version, which ranges from $29 to $299.

TrackMaven 

TrackMaven provides personalised competitor data based on the metrics that matter to your brand. Brands can set up a competitor’s activities, such as the publication of new content. This tool also allows brands to track performance on different channels for easy comparison. It also allows brands to test various messaging tactics to see which message performs better. 

Trackmaven allows competitive intelligence solutions by providing personalised competitor data

Brandwatch Audiences

Brands can learn a lot just by looking at the audiences that follow a competitor’s social media account. This tool analyses the follower’s behaviour and demographics. It is also possible to see who the brand’s influencers are and the type of content that they share. 

Searchmetrics

Searchmetrics is a powerful competitive analytics solution which helps in the SERP ranking of a brand. This tool has several paid options available. It can help in providing information on SEO visibility. SEO competitive intelligence can also help you understand how a website is ranking on search engines. Brands can add their competitors into the mix to see how well their website is performing in comparison. 

Feedly

Feedly is the best choice if brands want to monitor the latest news within their industry. This tool allows users to segment the sites that they are following according to industry trends, competitors and clients. For $5.41 per month, users can get a Pro account that will help monitor the latest content. 

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is an amazing tool for SEO and keyword research. Brands can use it to see the ranking of competitor sites. You can find information on how much organic traffic the site gets and the content that is performing well will also be available through Ahrefs. Other features include allowing brands to see any content gaps, tracking of specific keyword performance and keyword information on sites like Amazon, Baidu and YouTube. This tool aligns with SEO competitive intelligence, as it helps to determine which keywords your competitors use which you are not, with the goal of finding ones you could rank for relative ease.

Source: Ahrefs

What are the stages in designing your competitor analysis?

Identify your competitors

Brands should ideally have a list of all their competitors. Start with the top five direct competing brands. It is also good to note indirect competitors and upcoming brands. While unlikely to compete for customers, indirect competitors are important players within the brand’s industry. This type of competition can provide inspirational marketing strategies that can be used in the brand’s tactics. 

Know the areas of interest to track a competitor’s digital movement

Once competitors are identified, analysis should come next. Brands should ideally choose specific areas to focus on since there will be so much data available online. If brands narrow down the information that they have to what is useful for their strategy, the data will then most likely align with current tactics. 

Gather data

Gathering data is the most exhaustive part of any competitive intelligence development programme. Take the time to review the competition’s online presence, its products, teams, social media, website, content and everything in between. 

Prepare a competitive analysis

Breaking down the information is the initial step in data analysis. Here, brands will pull out important trends and essential pieces of information to help organise their findings. These findings should ideally be communicated throughout the organisation. Competitor analysis can be done in different ways:

  1. Benchmark or baseline analysis–This allows brands to compile data and create a competitor profile. These profiles are useful in revealing findings on each competitor which are kept within a centralised document. 
  2. Analyse competitive intelligence actively–Brands can track competitors continuously by setting up alerts on everything the competitor does. This way, the brand can stay ahead of the competition. 

Communicate results 

Once data is gathered and analysed, the results can be communicated to key stakeholders within the organisation. 

Prepare actionable goals

Once data is prepared and communicated, it is important to make the information actionable – and to use the findings to benefit the entire marketing strategy.

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About James

James is an award winning digital strategist with over 20 years experience helping challenger brands and market leaders (Unilever, Diageo, MasterCard, HSBC) launch and scale their data-driven sales and marketing. Connect on Linkedin

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