Keeping competitors in your periphery is an effective way to benchmark performance and ensure you’re doing everything possible to maintain market share. But tracking competitors is no easy undertaking, with a broad and ever-changing variety of metrics to consider.
Businesses have long used competitor benchmarking to measure performance and spot potential gaps in their offering. And with a huge range of modern analytics and data-mining tools at your disposal, it’s never been easier to track competitors and gain granular insights into their activity, performance, and key areas of focus.
If you’re new to competitor research or are looking for new ways to monitor rivals in your market, this guide is for you. Here, we’ll show you how to track and monitor your competitors, and offer tips on the types of metrics to focus on in order to improve your own performance and strategy.
Use the links below to navigate or read on for the full guide.
- The Advantages of Competitor Benchmarking: Why Track Your Rivals?
- How to Choose the Metrics to Compare Against Your Competitors
- How to Track Your Competitors: Where to Start
Aside from the obvious advantage of knowing what your rivals are up to, competitor benchmarking can bring a wealth of benefits to your operations.
For starters, it provides the ideal means of self-assessment. Granting a broad view of the key players in your marketplace, you can easily compare your own offering, progress, and performance against rivals, seeing how your business is performing in key operational areas and levels.
Elsewhere, it can aid decision-making and prompt real-time improvements of your ongoing strategy. For example, if a competitor makes moves into another area or expands its product range, you’ll be well-positioned to counter with your own improvements or initiatives.
Of course, the same principle works in reverse. If you see a competitor struggling, for example, you can use analysis to your advantage, filling the gaps and coming up with a new approach to win their customers and market share.
One of the greatest advantages of competitor analysis is that it drives your business forward, forcing you to do better and put your best foot forward. Competition is one of the key drivers of innovation, progress, and growth, so keeping an eye on what your rivals are doing can be a hugely effective way of building your business and ensuring it’s always moving forward.
With so much potential data at your fingertips, it can be all too easy to become muddled when seeking to gain insights into your competition. That’s why it’s important to approach competitor analysis with clear intent and focus, utilising your goals and KPIs to extract the most valuable insights from rivals within your market.
Ideally, you need to be tracking the metrics that will lead to actionable improvements to your own operations and strategy. For example, if a competitor has overtaken your position in Google search results for key terms relevant to your industry, you need to explore why this is the case and make changes to your SEO and marketing activity to combat this.
This is just one example of the types of analysis you can perform to learn about your competitors and maintain your edge within the market. The metrics you track will hinge on your intent and objectives, so ask yourself why you want to benchmark your business against competitors and what the desired outcome will be.
Much like tracking your own performance and utilising historic data can aid decision-making and forecasting; competitor analysis is essential for giving you a complete picture of your business and market position. So, focus on areas that you want to improve within your operations, tracking competitor metrics that will ultimately help you to enhance your long-term strategy.
In order to steer your competitor analysis, it’s worth performing a SWOT analysis for each of your closest rivals in the market. Identifying their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can reveal much about their strategy and success, and provide a benchmark against which you can compare your operations.
There are a range of channels through which you can gather intel on your competitors to aid your SWOT analysis. Whether it’s insights from past employees who now work for you, hearsay from current staff or third parties, or basic information like company size, turnover, and number of employees, which you can access on platforms such as Zoominfo and Demandbase; utilise all means at your disposal to learn as much as you can about others in your market.
On a final note, it’s important to include different areas of the business in your competitor tracking strategy. Different departments will have unique requirements and priorities, so including team leads in your research will ensure that the data you extract is of value to the entire company.
Tracking competitors at a granular level can seem like an intimidating proposition from the outset. After all, even if you’re clear about your goals, objectives and intent, there’s still the logistical issue of getting hold of competitor information in the first place.
To help, here are a few jumping-off points that can kick-start your competitor research. Utilising public data, these strategies can bring plenty of actionable insights that you can use to adjust your strategy and improve decision-making.
SEO and Social Media Analysis
One of the simplest competitor metrics to track is SEO performance. All the data you need to track how well competitors are doing in organic search is available in the public domain – provided you have the right tools in place to access it, e.g., SEMRush, MOZ.
Accessing SEO data offers more than just insights into how well competitors are performing in search engines. It can also provide inspiration on how to convert more of your own prospects into customers, while ensuring that you’re doing the right things to retain your competitiveness in the long term.
Alongside SEO, it’s also well worth tracking your competitors’ social media activity. This can provide plenty of inspiration on how to improve your own audience engagement, while ensuring that you stay abreast of all the latest news and updates that they’re putting out.
Tracking competitor social channels is relatively straightforward, particularly if you use a tool like TweetDeck, which enables you to monitor one or more accounts as well as individual hashtags and keywords.
News and Media Mentions
While it can be difficult to access non-public information about competitor businesses, keeping an eye on the media is a good way to stay in touch with their activity and positioning. Much can be ascertained about a business through media articles – including recent sales and acquisitions, press release announcements about new products and services, and new staff and board appointments to the business, which could affect their performance.
Tracking news and media sites for mentions of your competitors is the easiest way to stay on top of important updates. From setting up email alerts with Google’s aptly-named ‘Alerts’ tool to setting up RSS feeds in your communication apps; monitoring news sites for mentions of your market rivals is an easy way to stay on top of what’s happening in your industry.
Conduct Research Surveys – Or Have Someone Do It For You
Competitor research surveys can be an invaluable way to gain a deeper understanding of your rivals and how your audience perceives them. From the data you collate through targeted surveys, you can implement improvements and develop a strategy that leads to better outcomes for your business.
Benchmarking surveys are a great way to learn how people perceive different businesses in your market. For example, you might pose questions such as “which of the following companies would you say is the most trustworthy?” to which respondents must choose from a list of your closest competitors.
By asking questions that align with your goals and intent, you can gain actionable insights and narrow the focus on your competitor analysis. For example, in relation to the question above, you could use the results of the survey to explore why a certain business was deemed most trustworthy, and thus adjust your own strategy to bring your own brand in line.
If this type of benchmarking sounds a little too complicated or taxing, there’s always the option of having specialists undertake research on your behalf. Companies like Nielson, for example, can bring you actionable intelligence based on predefined metrics.
As touched on earlier, one of the most powerful ways of gathering intel on competitors is through word of mouth and hearsay. Whether it’s a new merger, a significant order, or the imminent launch of a major advertising campaign; utilise your contact list and keep your ear to the ground for potential moves from your nearest rivals.
Information about your competitors can come from a range of sources, whether it’s suppliers, sales teams, or even customers. Make sure you have a process in place that makes it easy for your staff to relay this type of information to the right people as and when it comes in.
With a range of business management tools to suit your business, Intact is the perfect partner for brands who want to leverage intelligence tools alongside their day-to-day operations. To learn more about our products and services, visit the homepage or contact our team today.