If your small business wants to stay one step ahead of the competition, you have to know what your competitors are up to. Doing so will allow you to take advantage of any opportunities your competitors are missing and ensure you’re not missing any opportunities yourself. That’s why it’s so important to keep tabs on your competitors; however, many small businesses are reluctant to spy on their competitors, fearing it’s immoral or potentially illegal. We’re not talking about corporate espionage here, but not knowing what your competitors are doing is a disservice to your own business (trust me: Your best competitors know what you’re up to). Keep it legal and ethical with the following five ways to spy on your competitors.
1. Keyword monitoring
Want to know what your competitors are trying to rank for? That information can prove invaluable in terms of how they’re promoting their products and services, what their biggest sellers are, and how they generate customer traffic to their website. Services such as iSpionage and SpyFu make keyword monitoring easy.
2. Be a subscriber and buyer
Subscribe to your competitors’ print newsletters, email lists, and social media profiles so you can keep tabs on how they’re presenting themselves to your target customer base as well as what products and services they’re promoting and how they’re doing it. If you want to know how your competitors are generating repeat business, become a customer yourself and monitor their customer relationship process.
3. Ad monitoring
Check industry and consumer publications for competitor ads and monitor their advertising activity online with services such as Moat and MixRank. Not only can you glean insight into competitor activities, you can also find new opportunities for your own ad placement.
4. Be social
As stated, you should subscribe to your competitors’ social media feeds and monitor them, but you should also engage with their other followers and fans. Those people are likely to be customers, and by building relationships with them you’ll be able to learn about what your competitors are doing right, what they’re doing wrong, and what would motivate their customers to make a switch – to you, of course.
5. Google them
Google your competitors regularly to see if anything new pops up, especially in the news section. If your competitors are launching a new product or service, their press release might turn up on Google News. If they’re making headlines in other ways, good or bad, you can be one of the first to know. Now, all you need to know is how to take advantage of this data.
What other ways can you spy on your competitors?