Spying on the competition is a must for brand survival. Luckily, access to digital data makes this a much easier endeavor – and there’s a wealth of information out there.
In fact, competitive analysis is such a standard practice, there is a range of competitor analysis tools for brands to use. Which tool is best for you? Jump right to our newly updated list below if you like, or read on for some competitive analysis best practices.
How to Approach Competitor Analysis for Maximum Results
Part 4 of our Social Media Analytics Guide contains all the info you could ever need about why competitor analysis is crucial, and what it entails. But let’s quickly review some basics to keep in mind as you’re looking for the best tools for your goals and budget.
Yes, like all brand endeavors, you need defined goals and a plan before you spring into action. Here’s a reminder of what matters as you assess competitors on social:
Deeper metrics – Though comparing likes, mentions and retweets might make you think you’re winning (or losing), you really don’t have all the facts if you stop at superficial metrics. Demographics are your framework, psychographics tell you what consumers are interested in, and sentiment provides context so you know where to focus your energy.
Surprising challengers – You’ll be in trouble quickly if you assume your only – or biggest – competition looks exactly like you. Brands like Stance, Edible Arrangements, and Etsy have given the likes of Nike, FTD, and many major retailers a run for their money. Even if you’re at the top of your category, brands with a better grasp of your audience can bump you out of the limelight. Competitor analysis lets you see the rumblings of disruptors early enough to respond in kind.
Sentiment highs and lows – To make the most of competitive data, apply sentiment analysis to identify the strongest reactions. These extremes point to the best opportunities to borrow great ideas or solve consumer problems in a way competitors aren’t. You need tools that understand sarcasm, netspeak, slang, and emojis so your insights aren’t skewed with false positives or negatives.
Image analytics – You can’t compete effectively if you don’t have the full story. That now includes image data. Because this is a new addition to the social analytics realm, you may have access to competitors they don’t have themselves! Understanding where logos are used – but not mentioned – as well as location, sentiment, and scene data ramps things up several notches.
Content and channels – Where are your competitors? Look beyond the channels your brand is on and see if you should be active elsewhere as well. Be sure to look at the content competitors share – and consumer response. Maybe you’re not sharing enough videos. Or maybe you need a different approach to the ones you do share. Pay attention to any trends emerging or being leveraged successfully.
Customer experience analytics – You can’t pick and choose the data you analyze – or, at least, you shouldn’t! Social data is great, but you want to bring in all Voice of the Consumer (VoC) data from surveys, reviews, star ratings, and anywhere else you can find it. That means using tools that integrate with your CRM and other systems, to give you the most comprehensive competitive picture available.
With competitive data in hand you can move your brand forward on a number of fronts: marketing, engagement, customer service, product development, the customer experience, and more.
Which tools should you invest in? That depends on a number of factors only you can define – but rest assured there’s a tool for every purpose, and every budget. Here are some to consider for your spying efforts:
Ahrefs offers a competitive look at website data like backlinks, referring domains, organic versus paid keywords, and more. It tells you which pages are tops, provides a rank for the page you’re analyzing, and what content is standing out. The only social data provided is popular content for Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. It’s a great tool to integrate with more robust social analytics tools.
Price: Starts at $99/month; try for 7 days for $7
Track and compare performance relative to competitors, identify influencers that link back to competitor sites, and find content opportunities for audiences you’ve yet to reach with Alexa. Compare traffic statistics and spot low competition keywords to improve your own SEO.
Price: Starts at $99/month after a 7-day free trial
Buzzsumo is all about content, and they’ve got just about everything you could want covered. Discover the most shared content for your own brand or competitors from the past 24 hours to the past 5 years, as well as what content is trending now in a number of key categories. Examine backlinks, find influencers, or identify consumer questions from sites like Reddit, Quora and Amazon Q&A. Of course, content is a singular focus, so you’ll need other tools to fill in the gaps, but it’s a great start.
Price: Starts at $79/month after a 7-day free trial
Analyze trends in real-time or over time to see changes made by competitors like design changes, product updates, pricing, content, and optimization changes, and more. View multiple brands at once to spot patterns. Be alerted via daily emails, easily shared across your team.
Price: Request a demo
If crystal balls were real, you’d want one that told you when a prospect stops using a competitor’s solution – so you could swoop in and offer the perfect replacement in your brand. Datanyze alerts you to just such events, in addition to providing a “technographic profile” that tells you if your targets use competitive or complementary tools.
Price: Request a demo
Feedly brings content that matters into one place so you can organize it according to topic. Keep up with industry news and see which content is most popular in any category. This is particularly useful if you publish blogs or other publications and want to measure yourself against the rest of your field. Use your feeds to create boards, then us integrations with apps like Slack, Trello, and IFTTT to share them with various brand teams like Marketing, Sales, and the C-Suite.
Price: Starts at $5.41/month, billed annually
Import.io takes a different approach to many competitive analysis tools, extracting data directly from the website you enter, revealing price and inventory info, MAP compliance, and more. Data from sites like Crunchbase and Yelp bring the consumer side of the equation into the mix. Integrate with Tableau and Google Sheets for easy data application.
Price: Starts at $299/month
iSpionage shows you the top PPC and SEO competitors for any brand you search. Additionally you can see the ads they’re running, and where, as well as related keywords by relevancy score. Take things further with Campaign Watch, which lets you run side-by-side comparisons of landing pages, perform A/B test surveillance, and more.
Price: Starts at $29/month
Keyhole’s easy-to-use search engine shows you a number of metrics for any brand, hashtag, or keyword – from top posts, hashtags, and keywords to top channels, sentiment, demographics, and more. Track multiple keywords, hashtags, and influencers depending on your level of service.
Pricing: Starts at $179/month, billed annually
Email is still an important part of the customer experience, and Mailcharts lets you see how other brands do it – so you’ll know which tactics to try, and which to avoid. View sending habits, content analysis of mailings, and an email score so you know where competitors are not measuring up. Follow user journeys to see what drives someone to be a “browse abandoner,” “cart abandoner,” and more.
Price: Starts at $99/month
Want to know how you’re doing with backlinks – and better yet, how competitors are doing? Monitor Backlinks tells you, while also informing on the SEO front. See which keywords are ranking in Google, which links are valuable, and which ones can hurt your brand.
Price: Starts at $21/month, paid annually
MozBar is a free browser plug-in that shows you a number of website metrics for any site your browse. See overall page and domain authority, plus see which links are followed, non-followed, internal, or external. View page elements to know how design is influencing things, and view page optimization info with an upgrade to Moz Premium.
Pricing for Premium: $179/month after 30-day free trial
What NetBase does exceedingly well is analyze consumer sentiment across every topic and every method. Whether your focus is on social listening to understand your competitor’s audience, social monitoring to know when certain key actions occur, image analytics to understand when brands appear in the background, or customer experience analytics to tie it all together, you’ll know exactly where the love is, where the hate is, and how you can intervene to sway that affection to your brand’s side. You’ll also know where you stand in relation to others in your category – and most importantly, why.
Price: Contact for quote
Owler offers a macro view of brands, comparing them to competitors on a number of fronts. See overarching information like number of employees and revenue, as well as a CEO score, social followers, website history, videos, and more. Powered by crowd-sourcing plus AI and machine learning, Owler offers a host of internal and external company information by tracking news and media content in addition to all of the above
Price: Contact for custom quote
Analyze competitors’ email strategy with Owletter. Understand when they send email promotions, how things change seasonally, whether they have a reputation for SPAM, etc. Use competitor trend information and more to schedule your own mailings for best results.
Price: Starts at $5/month to custom quote
Competitor websites contain a slew of data you can apply to your own, and tools like Open Link Profiler help you find it. View backlinks, anchor text, pages, industries that link to the brands you search, categories of links pointing at competitors, the percentage of websites linking to your competitors by link influence score (LIS), and much more.
Price: Start at $69.95/month
Phlanx lets you see engagement rates for Instagram accounts – showing you average likes and comments per post. This is great info for comparing brands in your category to see how much people are interacting with them. The downside is you don’t have sentiment data for these interactions. But ability to quickly find influencers and connect to potential brand collaborators is a plus.
Price: Starts at $25/monthly after 30-day free trial.
Spotting consumer patterns in your category – and beyond – opens up your brand to a new world of prospects. That’s how Quantcast works – by giving you access to the audiences of other brands and showing you how they might also be yours. Competitor website traffic is also included.
Price: Contact for quote
Rival IQ lets you compare your brand to the competition by social channels, audience growth and activity, rankings across social channels – and that’s just for starters. Create customized dashboards and alerts, and see top keywords by company, discover hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, along with Twitter mentions, and Twitter sentiment.
Price: Starts at $169/month when billed annually
20. Social Blade
Social Blade uses social statistics from YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, Dailymotion, Mixer, and Twitter to rank brands based on engagement. You can view a snapshot of all platforms, then click to see more detailed results per platform. If video is a big part of your social game, the mix of channels is informative. But you won’t know why you’re getting – or not getting – views. It will show you similar channels to yours though, which is useful.
Competitor analysis should cover as much ground as possible – so tools that go outside the realm of social insights are also useful. Wappalyzer is one that ferrets out “1074 different web technologies.” This includes software like content management systems, ecommerce platforms, web frameworks, server software, analytics tools, etc. Want to know how other brands are managing their data streams? This is a tool that will tell you.
Price: Free (open source)
An Investment Worth Making
Whatever your budget, you’ve got to keep an eye on the competition
The tools above are not all comprehensive, but those that aren’t offer a starting point for smaller brands, while more complete solutions may appeal to brands with loftier goals and budgets.
Whichever you choose, be sure you’re doing something to stay on top of who the competition is, what they’re doing, and how consumers relate to them. If you don’t, you won’t be competition for anybody else for very long.
Want to learn more about how our competitor analysis tools work with other data solutions? Get in touch and we’ll walk you through it!