Some call it spying. To others, competitive intelligence is synonymous with a strong foundation for strategic business planning. Now, I am not going to take sides, but I will say this:
Unless you collect and review at least some information about your competitors, you will most likely fall their prey eventually.
Let’s face it; unless you are selling a gimmick no one has ever heard before, someone else is going after the same market. This means that even if your product is superior today, a competitor might come along that will do it better and push you to the sidelines.
But that is not going to happen to you. Well, not after you have read this guide because we have picked our research teams' brains and compiled a list of competitive intelligence tools that will help you conduct advanced market research.
In the guide, we cover tools that help with market research in the most crucial aspects of a business, from identifying and analyzing the competitive landscape to understanding specific marketing campaigns that drive your competitors’ growth.
- Competitive Landscape
- Market Trends
- Market and Competitor News
- Competitors’ Digital Marketing Strategies and Tactics
- Customer Journey
- Email Strategies
- Video Marketing
- Website Stack
- Changes to the Website
- Cloud Infrastructure
- App Performance Analysis
- E-Сommerce Pricing and Product Intelligence
Your target market is more than just the people you want to reach. The competitive landscape — key players ( those other established businesses as well as newcomers) — plays a critical role in shaping your success.
As a result, you should not only research the market, its size, or customer segments but also understand every business that wants to beat you to it.
Two tools can help you conduct this research effectively and fast. Let's look at them.
Crunchbase allows you to access information about private and public companies, review market and industry trends, and spot hot newcomers entering your space.
With Crunchbase, you can evaluate the data about competitors you know about, in this case, to learn more about your competitors.
Or you can analyze the complete landscape in your target market using various filters.
With Craft, you can unlock historic insights about companies. From growth over time, social presence, branded trends to market positioning, latest news, and much more, Craft lets you review how a particular competitor of yours has been growing and gaining market share.
What’s more, all data is reported in real-time, giving you an up-to-date snapshot of the company.
In business, timing is everything. Staying on top of market seasonality, new trends, and emerging audience interests is beyond critical to communicating with the market effectively.
You must continuously measure and monitor shifts in audience interests to plan strategies that deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. Luckily, you can spot those by analyzing what other brands publish on topics relevant to what you sell. Many tools exist to help you with that. Our researchers, however, suggested you use three, specifically:
The search engine’s tool allows you to monitor the web for new content on a topic that interests you. This could be anything, of course — entertainment, hobbies or any other topic, at that. However, you can also use the tool to monitor what is being said about your product category, brand, or competitors.
Talkwalker Alerts works similarly to Google’s tool. Its results also include tweets, further expanding the insights you can retract.
Another way to reveal market trends is by analyzing industry traffic dynamics and in-audience interests; this is what the next tool can reveal.
This tool is a brand new part of the SEMrush suite, which only requires a company’s domain to start researching the whole market. Amazingly, one website is enough for the tool to make a list of the corresponding industry players and provide you with more in-depth details on their traffic statistics and audience characteristics.
Market and Competitor News
Every day and every hour, your competitors create new content. While some of it ends up on their blogs, other pieces might appear in top industry publications and other outlets.
No one has to the time to keep visiting multiple company blogs over and over again to analyze what content they publish. The better option is to use a tool to monitor their feeds, as well as other top industry sites, and here is one tool we use for it.
Feedly is incredibly simple to use, and yet it is a versatile news and RSS reader. It allows you to follow blogs and publications and get regular updates of any new content they publish. You can also group by channel, making it easy to track specific competitors.
But there is more.
You can also get keyword alerts for the competitor’s brand, products, industry, or any other topic you care about. Feedly has a robust mobile app too, meaning that you don’t have to be glued to your computer to track the competitor’s content and news.
Competitors’ Digital Marketing Strategies and Tactics
What is the shortest path to understanding your customers, their needs, preferences, or buying behavior? It is simple, look at what your competitors are doing, particularly, which of their strategies generate the most significant results.
By identifying their top traffic channels, traffic levels, engagement, and even the site’s structure, you can spot trends to use in your marketing strategies.
For example, knowing which channels drive the most traffic to your competitor’s website will reveal where should you focus your efforts. Understanding which countries their best traffic comes from will help you plan international marketing campaigns. Data gives you direction for marketing campaigns.
We have an amazing tool for that.
Traffic Analytics is a part of the SEMrush platform which allows you to analyze any company’s marketing efforts, find out where they invest the most resources and effort in and use that insight to power your marketing strategy.
All you need to do is enter one to five domains in the tool. You will get reports on the most critical website traffic metrics – number of visitors, audience overlap, traffic sources, top landing pages, geo-distribution, destination sites, and subdomains. This data can help you reveal other companies’ strategies and tactics in detail and also detect their business partners, affiliate programs, backlinks providers, and more.
For more insights on competitors’ marketing campaigns and activities on specific channels, use more tools from the complete SEMrush suite. SEMrush Competitive Research toolkit, in particular, can shed light on other companies’ advertising expenses, SEO and social media performance, and content gaps.
The path to the online purchase may be confusing for customers who often don’t know where to buy from. But it is even more confusing for brands who struggle to understand their true market share. They don’t know which websites or information their customers engage with before they buy and where they enter (or fall out of) the customer buying journey.
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to plan a successful strategy to increase brand visibility and sales without seeing the entire path from search to purchase.
Luckily, there is a product that helps find it all out.
Jumpshot collects and reports on actual shopper actions across websites and devices. The tool provides all the data to track your competition, see where your audience buys, and discover how to reach them.
With Jumpshot, you can also benchmark your sales volume, price, and conversion rate against the entire category or individual competitors.
(Image source – Jumpshot)
Email is a critical channel for customer communication, engagement, and sales. Your competitors might be taking full advantage of it. They can be sending irresistible offers, promotions, announcing new products, and using many other strategies to engage and convert more of their subscribers.
Unfortunately, unless you know what they do, there is little chance that you can match or outdo their efforts.
Owletter is a fantastic tool in the sense that it captures all emails of a specified website, analyzes them, and alerts you of anything that is important to you.
With the tool, you can deep dive into your competitors’ offers, promotions, product announcements, and any other communications with their list. And you can do it at scale, without having to be actively subscribed to their newsletters.
Based on all this data, you can discover what engages the audience – from subject lines that make them open those emails to the content that entices them to act – and use this insight to drive better results yourself.
This goes without saying; if done right, video can boost engagement, brand recognition, conversions and generate revenue, but that is provided that you do it right. The problem for most people is determining whether or not their video marketing strategies are working well enough. One way is to benchmark your performance against the competition.
Tubular Intelligence, a part of the Tubular platform. It delivers the data you need to understand your video performance in the context of the competition and helps identify new ways to grow your audience.
Tubular analyzes continuously 14 million video publishers across a whole range of industries. When using the platform, you get access to all those insights and unravel your audience’s content preferences based on top-performing videos. Demographics data lets you learn about your audience and even show your potential audience overlap with other publishers.
(Image source – Tubular)
Technology can give a business a serious competitive advantage. The right content management system, for example, can help deliver content to users faster. With better analytics tools, a company can gain more in-depth insights into their users’ behavior, and laser focus marketing initiatives and more.
Some of the web technologies are easy to spot, of course (particularly if you use a similar stack already). Others require expert knowledge to identify on a website.
Overall, it is always a good idea to understand what technologies your competitors use on their website. And here is one amazing tool that allows you to do it in a jiffy.
Wappalyzer is a simple browser extension that analyzes and reports on what technologies are used on a site. The tool can detect the content management system or an e-commerce platform used, web frameworks, server software, analytics tools, advertising networks, cache tools, CRMs, dev tools, CDNs, and a ton more. The full list of supported technologies is as impressive as it can be.
With Wappalyzer, you will never wonder how your competitors make their website what it is, and how they gain insights about users to improve it even further.
Changes to a Website
The critical role a website plays in conversions and business growth is irrefutable. With it, you attract the target audience and convey your message to them. It is where you present your offers and convince them to convert, be it purchase directly or with an inquiry.
This also means that, most likely, you (and competitors) will test and try new ways to improve the website to reach your conversion goals. Naturally, monitoring a competitor’s website manually would be too time-consuming. Luckily, there are tools that can do it for you. Our researchers have suggested three.
Visualping is a simple tool that lets you select an area on a webpage, and get notified when that section changes. You can also select at what frequency you want to receive updates – from every 5 minutes to once a week. Visualping will check that area at that predefined interval and email you if it detects changes to the selected area.
Deep Dive Duck is a more complex tool, designed specifically to monitor overall changes on competitor websites. It tracks up to 10 competitor websites at once and tracks 100 pages on each competitor's website. The tool will report on a whole range of changes, including new staff members added location changes, pricing changes, new product ranges, and a lot more.
The tool will then send you a weekly email highlighting any changes detected, giving you an overview of what has been happening on your competitors’ websites.
(Image source – Deep Dive Duck)
Competeshark differs from the two tools above by allowing you to monitor changes to a competitor’s website in real-time. The tool will visit your designated competitors’ websites and notify you of changes like content updates, layout changes, or new promotions.
The truly amazing feature is the ability to see the before and after of each change. Using a visual slider, you can preview the new version and the one before it to evaluate the depth of the change in detail.
(Image source – Competeshark)
Knowing how much money your competitors invest in cloud infrastructure and digital products can shed light on their strategies. For example, knowing what email platform your competitors use and the specific price plan they are on can suggest the extent of their email strategy. A company using a basic email platform on the free plan will use the channel differently than the one with a comprehensive platform; this information can help give you a competitive edge.
Intricately is unique in that it analyzes cloud infrastructure and reports on metrics like the products used, spend intelligence, renewals, and usage details.
Furthermore, Intricately can also analyze the competitor’s product usage and notify you where they gain market share and growth globally.
(Image source – Intricately)
App Performance Analysis
If you offer a mobile app, then gaining mobile market intelligence is beyond critical. You must know which markets generate the most downloads and app revenue, and which of your competitors gain market share and experience growth of downloads, revenue, usage, and engagement.
You also need to keep track of any newcomers that could threaten your app’s position on the market. Here are two apps that allow you to do it all effortlessly.
AppAnnie delivers mobile market data you can use to drive more downloads, revenue, and gain a competitive edge in the industry. It includes several products with Intelligence delivering the market data to uncover growth opportunities from competitive insights.
(Image source – AppAnnie)
Datamagic is another mobile market intelligence tool. It allows you to compare the performance of apps and publishers to identify the trends and patterns to drive your growth strategies.
With Datamagic, you can investigate your competitor's revenue, downloads, and other metrics, correlate the data and analytics to find ideas and opportunities for future development.
(Image source – Datamagic)
E-Сommerce Pricing and Product Intelligence
E-сommerce has become a crowded market. Unfortunately, with so many online stores selling the same products, you face harsh price competition. As a result, you have to change fees frequently to always offer the most compelling prices in the market.
The problem is that monitoring all your competitors' prices daily is an impossible task. How can you do it and keep track of thousands of products across so many stores? Well, there are tools for that too.
Prisync is a pricing software for e-commerce stores. It monitors how much your competitors sell the same products as you for, as well as their stock availability, reports on that through a beautiful dashboard, and provides you with email alerts.
With Prisync, you can track prices across all your competitors and for every product you sell, and act immediately on any promotions or price changes they make.
BlueBoard not only offers price tracking for e-commerce but expands those insights with additional data – assortment tracking.
With BlueBoard, an e-commerce store can monitor their competitors’ prices, track competing products as well as their own to understand how the competition structures their product range and identify new distribution opportunities based on the competitors’ strategies.
Any tools we have left out?
Are there other competitive intelligence tools you recommend for market research? We would love to know which tools you use and how they contribute to your brand’s success.
Let us know in the comments!