7 Ways Brokers can Spy on Competitors

Bart Burggraaf

As Edward Snowden reminded the world, everything said and done on the internet is recorded. But beyond governments, commerce and the promise of measurable results have made it so that every company with the will and resources can extract useful information from competitors, and stay within the limits of the law. In this article we […]

As Edward Snowden reminded the world, everything said and done on the internet is recorded. But beyond governments, commerce and the promise of measurable results have made it so that every company with the will and resources can extract useful information from competitors, and stay within the limits of the law. In this article we discuss some of the tools and methods for extracting information.

1. Become a customer of your competitor

Sometimes the best way to extract information and to gain useful insight as to the methods of marketing and sales is to become a customer of your competitor. So why not open a small account with your competitors and get access to all company news, promotions and technology?

2. Be the first to get competitor news

Sign up for Google Alerts and set up alerts for every competitor you want to monitor. Whether on a forum, press release or news article, you’ll be the first to know if anything is happening. And while you are at it, set up alerts for your company and your own name too – you never know what you might find.

3. Follow competitor Social Media

You should find and follow all social media channels for your competitors. On Facebook, make sure to select ‘see this first’ or receive notifications so you don’t miss any news. On Twitter, set up email or app alerts when a competitor tweets and on Linkedin you can get notifications by following a company. Of course there are also dedicated applications you can use for this, for example Hootsuite has good listening functionality.

4. Compete in the Organic Search Results (SEO)

When it comes to SEO, almost everything your competitor does is out in the open. Use tools like Majestic to download complete data dumps of all links your competitor has to their website and select those that will be useful for you too. In addition, doing an in depth analysis allows you to see the SEO tactics of those competitors that are getting results. In addition, use a tool like Monitor Backlinks to get an alert every time your competitor gets a good new backlink.

5. Monitor changes in your competitors’ website

You can always be up to date on the latest changes to your competitors’ website and keep tabs on any upcoming promotions, changes in prices or promotion strategy with tools that keep a history of all website changes. There are many such tools, but Versionista is a good one.

6. Get insight into competitor Website Traffic

While no tool can tell you exactly how many visitors a site gets except for their web analytics account (which you don’t have access to!), a few tools like Similarweb, Compete or Alexa have a variety of data on most of the sites on the internet. Use this data with a grain of salt, but directionally they are very useful.

7.  Monitor Display & PPC Advertising

Data on advertising spend and creatives is probably the most useful part of doing competitor analysis. It is also the hardest to get. Visiting the most popular niche and broad financial sites in addition to searching for popular keywords in Google will give you a good idea of the campaigns in-market on a day-to-day basis, but this kind of ad-hoc check is hardly scientific.

Inside Google Adwords you are able to run reports on competitor SOV but again this only tells you some of the puzzle. There are tools like Adgooroo, Moat and SpyFu but data on such a niche industry is always limited. Your best bet for reliable data is to pay or hire someone to do this type of analysis on an ongoing basis.

Do you have any other tips and tricks for spying on the competition? Sharing is caring, so leave a comment below.

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