Long-term competitive monitoring may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about how to strengthen your brand’s position, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important part of a differentiation strategy.
Your brand’s position is far from static. Markets are growing more congested, customers have more choices, and client loyalty is becoming harder to come by.
According to Crayon, more than 90% of firms in 2020 said their industry had become more competitive in the previous three years, and on average, companies report having 29 competitors fighting for their customers’ attention.
When you consider that up to 80% of your clients are exposed to competing offers, it’s easy to see why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s going on in your industry.
Only by keeping a close eye on your competitive environment can you assure you’re not being caught off guard by others.
Keeping up with so many vendors, data sources, and constant streams of fresh information, however, is a challenging undertaking.
We understand the work it takes to keep a watch on all of your existing competitors every day–let alone respond to what’s going on in the market–when we design tracking systems for our clients with our competitive monitoring service.
Fortunately, our experience putting these systems in place has led us to develop simple and actionable best practices for anyone trying to improve their competitive position.
With our expertise and strategies as your mentor, you’ll be able to swiftly and effortlessly enhance your competitive knowledge (and advantage).
First and foremost: What does competitive monitoring include exactly?
Competitive monitoring is the process of keeping a careful eye on your competitors as well as other critical market trends in order to respond quickly to opportunities and threats while preserving your competitive advantage.
A properly set up monitoring system can provide you with real-time updates on new developments in your competitors’:
- Campaigns in branding, digital marketing, and public relations
- Financial Performance and Corporate Strategies
- New Go-to-Market Strategies and Areas of Traction
- Innovation in Product and R&D
The advantages of tracking your competition ahead of time are numerous.
- You’ll be better positioned to make strategic decisions with confidence knowing the competitive environment if you take a proactive approach to understanding your market and competitive context. You can better plan your next market move if you are aware of your competitors’ recent achievements and pursuits.
- Anticipate emerging competition trends and devise your own defensive strategy. If competitors’ executives start talking about a new technology or forming a partnership, it’s possible that they’re getting ready to debut a new product or service. Knowing this could provide you with the time you need to create a reaction strategy.
- Take advantage of rival weaknesses in real-time. If you see customers complaining on social media about competitors, sales can reply directly to them and provide a solution.
- Create content quickly to address the most recent industry trends. You can obtain a first-mover’s edge in gaining clicks, shares, citations, and links by reacting quickly enough to capitalize on the momentum of a new trend in your business.
- Recognize and respond to competitors’ attempts to oust you. You can produce your own responsive content to reclaim control of your brand story if you notice new positioning in competitors’ website text, blogs, press releases, or social media posts that targets you.
- Compare your own performance to that of others. Observing competitors’ market performance might help you figure out where your own company excels and where you should put more effort.
Who can benefit from competitive monitoring?
Competitive brand monitoring is ideal for companies operating in highly saturated or mass-produced markets with limited market advantages and a large number of competitors (think e-commerce, pharma, telco, and manufacturing.)
Regardless of your profession or industry, having a proactive approach to understanding your market and competitive context is beneficial.
Monitoring can provide the insight needed to make better, more educated go-to-market decisions for time-constrained c-suite leaders and business owners.
Monitoring helps marketers, public relations managers, and sales account executives to be the first to report on major events and ensure that their organization is seizing every opportunity and minimizing every risk provided by competitors.
So, I can gain from keeping track of my competition. So, what’s next?
It may surprise you to learn that, despite the power of competitor monitoring for your organization, the procedure of putting up your own tracking can be rather simple.
With three simple steps, you may design your own tracking system.
You’ll be well on your way to proactive competitive insight if you follow these three easy procedures.
Step One: Based on your business priorities, determine your core intelligence subjects.
The first stage in setting up monitoring is deciding which rivals and actions you want to keep an eye on a daily basis. As we’ve previously discussed, the scope of your competition tracking might encompass both direct and indirect competitors battling for your customers’ time and attention.
We propose that you limit your monitoring setup to your top 5-8 competitors in the beginning. You can prioritize competitors based on how well their products or solutions correspond with yours, how frequently you find yourself in a transaction with them, how much attention and interest they have with clients in your business, and how closely your customer bases overlap.
After you’ve determined which competitors you’d like to follow, consider what subjects you’d like to receive updates on. KPIs can be thought of as tracking focuses that help you make better business judgments for your goals.
Make a list of the following factors to include in your competitive monitoring emphasis areas:
- The most formidable direct and indirect competitors vying for the attention of your clients.
- The most significant areas of market risk that may affect your sector or business (COVID-19 precautions, government regulations, new technology advancements, new entrants, etc.)
- Major company strategy you’re considering using in the near future (new product launch, acquisition, etc.)
- Any other important “players” (partners, clients) who may have an impact on your company’s performance.
- You can move on to the following stage of competitive monitoring setup: keyword input, once you’ve decided what you want to track.
Step two: Use Google Alerts to monitor market talk about competitors.
You’ve completed the most difficult element of your competitive monitoring setup by reaching the second phase.
You may start inserting your topics into free tools that will track them for you now that you’ve decided what you want to track.
To get real-time updates on your competitors’ movements, use Google Alerts to set up alerts based on specific search phrases and preferences. You can use alerts to track mentions of a competitor’s company name for basic reporting. You can get more specific about what’s reported and how you obtain updates by:
- Including Keywords for individual products/services and types of upgrades.
When tracking competitors with large portfolios, use quote marks around your alert keywords to guarantee you’re getting relevant updates.
This principle can also be applied to the types of updates you’re looking for. Perhaps you don’t care if a competitor is constructing a new headquarters, but you do want to know when they release a new product. Keywords like “product update” or “announcement” can be used to create an alert for this.
- Filter your updates based on the sort of content they contain.
Choose where your alerts will come from, whether it’s news sources, blogs, or video forums.
This is handy if you want to concentrate on customer reviews of competitive products or services (which are frequently featured on blogs or videos, for example), or if you’re just interested in important announcements from your competitors (found on official websites).
- Decide on the frequency you want to use.
You can set up daily or weekly alert digests in Google Alerts, or you can select to receive alerts as soon as something happens. If you’re following a lot of competitors, a weekly summary digest might help keep your inbox from overflowing.
- For archival research, use Google News.
While Google Alerts is an excellent forward-looking tracking tool, you can also use Google News to look back at key competing developments.
Using the keyword strategies discussed above in conjunction with the Google News search box, you may get a sense of recent major developments that have gained digital attention.
Step three: Track the strategic actions of your opponents over time.
While Google Alerts is useful for monitoring what others are saying about your competitors’ businesses, you should also keep an eye on what your competitors are saying about themselves.
This will enable you to track changes in their product/service positioning, go-to-market objectives, pricing models, and communications strategies over time.
If you add the following tools to your competition monitoring toolkit, you’ll be able to spot major shifts in how they market themselves:
Vaizle allows you to analyze Competitor performances on social media from a variety of perspectives and data sources.
With comprehensive data points, you can track across Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram, Vaizle’s range of competitive reports can help you review and optimize your social strategy with actionable insights.
Whether you want to see what your competitors are posting or compare your progress to the average of the profiles being compared, it’s all only a click away, without the time-consuming manual research and cluttered spreadsheets.
VisualPing allows you to track competitors’ websites and receive email notifications when they make changes to their appearance or content. This is a useful tool for keeping tabs on how competitors are carrying out their content plans, arranging new events, and launching new pricing models, to name a few examples.
Feedly, a content aggregator that archives and organizes competitive marketing and PR content as it’s produced, is one of our favorites. Feedly will share newly-released content from those sources in a customized newsfeed if you subscribe to rivals’ press releases and blog sites. You can also bookmark articles for later use. For anyone trying to keep organized and proactive in their competitive tracking, Feedly is a must-have.
Owletter is an excellent tool for marketers because it collects and organizes competition emails into a simple dashboard for you to evaluate. Custom alarms for important emails are also available.
These apps can either supplement your Google Alerts emails with their own alerts and dashboards, or you can have them as an occasional guidepost on competitors, touching base every few weeks for important occurrences.
You’ve successfully built your own competitive monitoring function from the ground up.
Although it is just three steps, the setup of this system will be revolutionary in informing you of crucial competition developments in real-time.
With the number of competitors and activities you’d like to follow, you’re not alone if you found any of these procedures intimidating.
We recognize that monitoring can quickly become complicated, even if the fundamentals are simple. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions; we’ll be pleased to assist you.