Seven Ways to Track your Competition's Marketing

Posted by Madison Sullivan

Tracking your competitors' marketing activity is a terrific way to stay one step ahead. And it's easier than you think. Here are seven tips that can help you monitor pricing trends, assess competitive product or service enhancements, and alert you to changes in their marketing strategy and tactics.

1. Determine who your competition actually is

This may seem obvious, but before you can track competitive marketing, it’s wise to do some research to define which companies truly belong on your list. You may be surprised.

  • Ask your customers
  • Attend conferences and events in your industry
  • Check out online lists or directories in which your company appears
  • Google your own company using keywords your customers use and see which other firms come up

And don't forget substitute products. For example, if you work for a firm selling heating oil, you may want to consider monitoring marketing practices of natural gas and propane distributors.

2. Use a keyword tracking tool to sleuth competitive use of PPC and SEO                       

The Internet spies on itself. You might as well take advantage of the espionage! It is remarkably easy to determine which firms outrank your company for critical targeted keywords in your industry. The marketplace has numerous tools that are really helpful for monitoring your search rank. Researching the keywords your competitors are paying for can help you outsmart them with your own PPC and SEO targeting. Check the following tools and impress your boss with new ideas:

  • Ispionage
  • SEOprofiler
  • RankWatch
  • Wincher
3. Subscribe to competitor blogs and newsletters

This is a great idea because you can learn by seeing what works and doesn’t work from them. Track how frequently they post, the type of content they are posting and which tactics generated the most likes or shares. Looking at their content can also spark a new idea that would work great for your company.

4. Set up a Google Alert to notify you when your competitors are mentioned online

This takes less than a minute to do and yields a lot of information about your competition.

  • It will send reports right to your email inbox
  • You can customize how in-depth you want your monitoring to be
  • This is great way to keep an even closer eye on your competitors and their PR wins (or losses!).
  • The best part: It’s totally free!

Bonus tip: iSet up alerts for industry buzz words that could affect your business

5. Mystery shop your competition

Mystery shopping is a powerful tool to uncover your competitors' strengths and vulnerabilities. So don your trench coat and fake mustache and get out there (and have your friends and colleagues help).

  • If it’s a physical store then you or someone they won’t recognize can go in, take a look at their inventory and design.
  • Check out their websites. See how easy it is to navigate it and get to the check out. Keep an eye out for the photo quality, types of CTA’s, and how well their sites are mobilized for cell phones.
  • See if they use any techniques that your company isn’t.
  • See how long it takes them to respond to an email or phone call.
  • List their strengths and weaknesses and see how your company compares.

Also, you can always purchase their product. It is important to see how long their shipping takes, the package it comes in and how it compares to your product.

6. Follow them on social media Follow your competitors' social media outlets and see how well they control their chatter.

  • You can learn about any new products they are launching and see areas of focus.
  • Review what the comments are saying and assess their level of engagement.
  • Use a tool to help aggregate activity. Hootsuite may be known for easy management of social media marketing, but it also has excellent monitoring capabilities. Buzzsumo lets you analyze the content that performs best for any topic--including your competition!

It is important to take note of what social media outlets they are using and which are the most successful. And be sure to check for gaps. Maybe your category has a void on Pinterest or another site that you can exploit!

7. Check customer reviews

Customer reviews (yours and your competitors) reveal the benefits the customer truly cares about. By reading them you can see where your competitor is lacking the most and can target these weaknesses to try to gain new clients by showing you won’t make these same mistakes. It is also important to see if your competitor responds to reviews and how they handle situations.

For a quick take away, download this infographic to help you get started with your competitive analysis and tracking.

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