Know Your Competition With Digital Intelligence Strategies

06/11/2015 04:00 pm ET | Updated Jun 10, 2016

When it comes to gaining an edge over the competition, businesses today need to leverage every advantage possible. Whether you want to admit it or not, regardless of the industry in which you are involved, your competitors are out there. Furthermore, they are actively searching for your customers. While you certainly have a lot of other responsibilities to handle in running your business, it is also important to devote some time to keeping tabs on your competition. Leveraging digital intelligence strategies can help you to do just that.

By monitoring your competition on a continual basis, you will be able to become familiar with their behavior and develop an understanding of what you can anticipate next from your competitors. With that understanding, you can then begin developing your own strategies so that you are able to retain your customers rather than losing them to the competition. You might even be able to gain new customers while growing your business.

The good news is that there is an incredible amount of information available online regarding your competition that you can leverage for the benefit of your business. While a Google search is a good place to get started, do not stop there. Take the time to go beyond a simple online search or even visiting the competition's website. A variety of tools are also available that can provide you with excellent insight into what your competition is doing.

Using Google to Spy on Your Competition

Among those tools is SpyFu, an excellent resource that allows you to research your competitor's top keywords and ads, giving you the ability to see exactly how your competition is showing up on Google and other search engines. Along with finding the most profitable keywords, this tool also helps you to eliminate bad keywords so that you can outrank your competitors and reach a top position.

Google itself also provides a number of excellent tools that can be used for researching the competition. One of those tools is Google Trends, which can be beneficial for helping you to stay abreast of the latest news in your industry and even comparing your business to your competitors. Google Alerts can also be a great tool for finding out what your competition is up to by simply setting up an alert. You can also use Google Alerts to know when others are talking about your business by setting up an alert for your business, as well.

Taking Advantage of Digital Intelligence Available on Social Media

Although these tools are an excellent place to start, it is important to dig a little deeper and conduct some research of your own by leveraging social media. Given the way in which businesses are now increasingly making use of such networks as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, these outlets could provide you with the ability to glean some interesting information about your competition. By simply monitoring Facebook posts, blogs, tweets, and other mentions of your competition on social media, you can easily stay in tune with what your competition is doing and even how the public feels about it. An added benefit of this strategy is that while it can take a little time to set up, it is extremely cost-effective and a great benefit for startups.

If you find it difficult to monitor your competitors' social media activity on your own, consider using tools such as the Facebook Graph Search analyze what is working for your competitors on Facebook. For instance, with this tool, you can conduct a search for the interests of consumers who like a particular company's page. By gathering this type of information, you can identify the type of content that is more likely to resonate with your target consumer base. This tool also gives you the ability to search for and identify Facebook groups joined by individuals who like a particular page.

Another excellent tool that can help you to leverage the vast amount of data available on Facebook is Fanpage Karma. You can opt to use the paid or free version of this Facebook monitoring tool. Even with the free version, you can input the name of a particular Facebook page and then click the Free Insights button to receive a variety of metrics, including that particular page's posting pattern and engagement levels. This tool will even allow you to view the ad budgets for industry-related brands.

Of course, Facebook is not the only social media network and you will want to keep an eye on other platforms, as well. For researching your competitors' activity on Twitter, consider using Twitonomy to determine what is working for other brands by tracking their followers' interests.

Do not just limit your research to social media, however. Make sure you are taking full advantage of review sites, such as Yelp. This can be a great way to gain insight into what your competition is doing right and wrong as well as gaining insight into public sentiment regarding your competition. Once you know what your customer base likes and dislikes about your competition, you will then be in a position to tweak your own service and product offerings.

Given the massive amount of information available online today, taking advantage of digital intelligence strategies can be an excellent way to find out what your competition is doing and then using that information to give your own brand a boost.