Competition exists in every business sector and if you want to beat your competition you need to know what they are doing behind closed doors. This will help you to adapt your actions, come up with creative plans, predict changes, or discover new opportunities.
Studying the behavior of other companies or brands in the same industry is something you have to do even before you start your business.
“We enrich ourselves by learning from those who are most different to us.”― Margo Vader
It is ethical to spy on the competition?
You may think that this practice isn’t very honest. You should know that analyzing the competition is not only an ethical and accepted professional practice, which is done through lawful mechanisms but is also fully necessary to know how we can improve our business on the Internet, as it can help you make better decisions for your business.
In an environment of growing competitiveness and the coexistence of numerous entities with similar aims, you cannot dispense with the data provided by the study of your competitors.
What is an Internet competition study?
Competitive intelligence or an online competition study is the act of collecting and analyzing data about your competitors, their consumers, target audiences, and other external forces that influence their marketing. This can range from searching for keywords they use to position themselves, to checking accounts and profiles on their social networks.
Competitive intelligence tries to get as much data as possible, to know the forces outside your business, which influence both your rival results and yours.
The challenge is to get all that information to help improve your market position.
How does competitive intelligence apply to online marketing?
In online marketing, competitive intelligence lets you focus your campaigns better and make them much more effective. You can use your competitor’s experiences, study how recipients of their latest initiatives have reacted, and compare experiences to create better online print, and video ads.
If you take a step further, you can search for all kinds of information, which will help you know the periodicity of the actions that your competition develops, the authorship of their ads, videos, or infographics, the recipients, the segmentation of the campaigns, the providers they use and the markets they want to open.
“Number one, cash is king; number two, communicate; number three, buy or bury the competition.” — Jack Welch, General Electric
When to use the online competition study?
The answer is clear: you must always use the competition study. Still, it’s especially important before you start any new campaign, unveil new products, or make major changes to your business strategy.
If you want me to give you a very clear example, “using competitive intelligence or not is like going through a tunnel with headlights in your car on or off.” That is, collecting all kinds of data about your environment and knowing how to analyze them, gives you a complete understanding of the context and lets you know what to expect from the market.
Competitive intelligence provides valuable information to be more effective and strategic in your decisions. It allows you to avoid mistakes that your competitors have made, to fine-tune the segmentation of your audience, to determine more clearly the keywords, to know the computing devices on which you need to channel the campaign (computer, mobile, tablet), and to discover the needs of potential and real customers.
This technique often focuses on issues such as SEO and SEM positioning or web design.
Tools for studying the competition
Competitive intelligence tools provide you with a set of clarifying data on your competitors’ digital marketing strategy, including how they run the SEO, social networking strategy, advertising, and content marketing.
They also allow you to identify which of their strategies have worked or are working well, where their current clients come from, and what specific tactics you need to implement to create and gain an advantage over them.
You will wonder how data from other websites or mobile applications can be accessed. Well, there are many ways and tools for that.
I recommend that you try some and stay with the one that best meets your needs or the one that you feel most comfortable with.
SEMrush has a free service and also monthly plans with different prices. But the investment is worth it, because of the number of tools at its disposal.
It gives you estimates of what your competitors pay for certain AdWords and their ratings help you decide which ones can offer the best return on investment (ROI).
Also, you can have a complete list of which websites are your main competitors, depending on the keywords you both have positioned on Google.
Ahrefs it’s a payment tool, but with which you can profit to the last cent. It allows you a free trial period, but you certainly won’t want to leave it when you use it.
It has a high capacity to analyze links and find those that are toxic or invalid in your competition and on your own web.
As for its ability to find broken links, it gives you the 404 URLs, both yours and your competition. So, in the particular case of your own website, you can contact that target website to ask them to fix that URL or, failing that, link to similar content that has no problems with web addressing.
Ahrefs helps you identify a clear set of tasks and objectives that after you implement, improves the authority of your domain, ranking positions, and the quality of your backlinks. This leads to more organic traffic, conversions, and more customers.
It also outlines the type of content that is most suitable for your business niche, with the criterion of greater attraction of traffic and activity generation in social networks.
The bottom line
Knowing your competitors’ activity, knowing how their online marketing campaigns are approaching, what keywords they are investing in, and what technical conditions their web pages are, is an invaluable amount of information and data.
The study of online competition is something you should dedicate a constant effort to making decisions on a sound basis.
The experience of the entities in your environment can do a lot to avoid making their own mistakes or to influence their success and even improve their results.
“Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.” — Nancy Pearcy, author