Companies stand to gain important competitive insights simply by taking the time to explore the full panoply of tools available online. The best part? Most of these tools are free and easy to use.
Let’s say you make unique women’s tennis apparel (because I see this as a real need) and you want to improve sales.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to stay a cut above the competition:
Track website traffic
First and foremost, websites should be equipped with Google Analytics to track traffic. Websites like Compete or Alexa also offer insights into the traffic of other websites, providing a basis for comparison to competitors. Look a little deeper to see which pages are getting the most traffic or time on your site as well as your competitors’.
Check social media
While many sophisticated social media audit tools are available, you can access critical topline information – for free – just by looking. Nearly every social media channel (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) illustrates how many followers a given page or user has. Most will also offer some sort of engagement data such as likes or re-tweets.
Compare content, creative and messaging
Explore competitor messaging and brand positioning by simply visiting their websites directly. For a broader reach, dig into Ad Forum or Moat, both of which curate considerable amounts of advertising and creative work. How can your message or visuals distinguish you from the herd?
Look through an SEO lens
Conduct regular Google searches on industry keywords, to gauge which competitors are coming up on the first page. What key words, page headers and tags are they using? How are you stacking up? A plethora of SEO analysis tools exist –many of which are free for the basic, first-level review.
The internet has given us a window–if not full transparency–into our competitors. Be sure to leverage this to serve up an ace every time.