Know your enemy. It’s one of the core tenets of any form of competition or conflict, so why shouldn’t it be applied in business, too? With the digital age, we have the luxury of having more data than we’re able to handle, and a lot of that data can pertain to what, exactly, your competitors are up to. You can use the insights you gain from watching them to learn how to build from their successes, avoid their failures, target niches that they’re missing, and to better position your brand in direct comparison with them.

Here, we’re going to look at five valuable methods of monitoring your competition, why each method is worth implementing, and how to get started.

#1: Keep an eye on their website

A business’s website is (or at least should be) the heart of their online marketing strategy. It’s going to tell you everything you need to know about their brand style, their mission statement, what information they want their customers to focus on, and more. All of this can help you find a niche that your competitors don’t fill or to position yourself in a way that challenges them, while highlighting the advantages of your own brand.

It also pays to look at how their website is designed, what kind of functionalities it offers, and any shifts in the products or services that they have available on the platform. This can help you identify both marketing techniques that you could be missing, as well as shifts in the market that could be worth looking further into.

#2: Follow their social media accounts

Active social listening is one of the most important parts of a good business social media strategy. For one, it pays to learn how to spot relevant posts and discussions that aren’t targeted directly at your account. Following the right keywords and brand names can highlight issues or opportunities with your own brand that you could act on.

However, it’s also where you’re most able to see your competitors actively engaging with their market, attempting to gain followers, convert them, and to build their brand’s platform. You should monitor their feed, as well as reading into any content that they’re sharing through it. First of all, by watching how well the audience engages with their strategy, you can adopt parts of their strategy that work, and leave behind the parts that don’t.

You can also gain an eye on upcoming product upgrades, launches, case studies, and more that can give you a deeper idea of how well your competitors are doing. If they’re using image posts from their office, you can even learn a little more about their company culture, the size of their team, and more.

#3: Read their blogs/newsletters/content

Content marketing plays a huge role in building a customer base organically, these days, but it also gives a lot of insight into what the marketing funnel of a competitor looks like, as well as how they’re aiming to frame their brand. Business owners have to be savvy to the conviction behind the content, to recognise whether a post is trying to sell a product, improve a brand’s integrity, or to gain followers, amongst other things.

Following newsletters and email marketing campaigns from your competition is a great way to ensure you don’t miss any content, even if you’re already following them on social media. To that end, make sure any emails coming from the competition goes directly to specific folders marked for the occasion.

#4: Follow them on Google Alerts

You shouldn’t simply stick to the platforms where your competitor has control of the message, either. There are going to be reports and mentions of them outside of their own blogs, newsletters, and social media. Monitoring these can be just as valuable, giving you an idea of how other voices are reacting to their moves and news across the internet.

You can catch their PR efforts, the kind of accomplishments and updates they’re spreading, as well as both positive and negative reactions to their business practices. This can give you great insight into how the online public would react to similar moves from your business. You can use bad press to your advantage, as well. For instance, if a competitor makes a move that’s widely controversial, then it lets you know that it could be a source of loyalty and positive attention if you actively position your brand as being against that move.

#5: See what their workforce is doing

One social media network that can be particularly useful for monitoring is LinkedIn. As a network primarily built for professionals, you are likely to be able to find many of your competitors’ team members amongst its users. Following them can give you all kinds of insights that you can’t see from branded content and communications.

For instance, you could get more indicators of the size of a business’s workforce and see how it correlates to their relative success. You can get a better idea of company culture by seeing how long those employees tend to spend working for your competitor. If the business’s owner or other high-level employees are on the network, you can learn more about their experience, education, and networking methods.

All of these can help you better craft your own recruitment efforts, and help you see how to better network yourself and your brand to attract and keep the kind of team that your competitor has. Of course, that’s only if your competitor is doing something well that you have missed out on.

Tracking your competition is essential

Once you start monitoring your competition and make use of that new insight to improve your own business strategies, it’s important to keep it up. The market is ever-changing and keeping an eye on others in the industry is the best way to catch wind of those changes earlier. When you have better information and insights on your side, your business can react better to market shifts, allowing it to make it through all kinds of challenges.

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