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Swift Six: How to keep track of your competitors

By Nick Leech - November 13, 2014

In this video, I’ll be explaining how you can keep an eye on your competitors in order to gather information that you can use to your advantage. It’s not hugely complicated, but it can help you reach customers in new ways. Let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to another 123-reg Swift 6!

This week I’m going to be talking about how to keep track of your competitors and specifically what I mean by that is how to follow what your competitors are up to in terms of their marketing and what changes they’re making to their products and their services.

The first thing and a really obvious one to do is to use Google Alerts. I think many people have probably already heard of this tool but you can sign up at Google.com/alerts and here you can ask Google to monitor the web of any new mentions of any keyword. So put your competitor’s brand name or your competitor’s URL in to your Google Alerts and then once a day or on demand Google will tell you where your competitor has been mentioned. Using this you’ll get to see whenever they put out a press release, whenever they’re spoken about on a forum or whenever anyone leaves a review about them and, of course, whenever they’re getting coverage within the press. So it’s a really easy way to keep a good track of what your competitors are up to.

The second thing is – try signing up to their newsletters. This will give you a really good understanding of how your competitors communicate with their customers: the type of language they use, the content that they’re producing. It’s a good way to learn what your competitors are good at and to be inspired and try new things for your brand. That’s not about copying, that’s about learning and improving what you do.

The third thing that you can do is to read their customer reviews. If they are a good competitor, the chances are that they are going to have chosen some good customer reviews and are publishing them on their site. But that really isn’t going to give you much detail about what your competitors are doing. Be sure to take a look through some semi-independent or independent sources such as Trustpilot or Review Centre. Here you can see not only what the customers who love them are saying but also what those customers are saying who haven’t had such a good experience. Try to understand what your competitors are being criticised for and make sure that your customers can’t have the same criticisms of your business, if it’s all possible.

It’s also interesting to look at how your competitors are responding to those criticisms: Are they taking them on board and improving their service? Are they rejecting the validity of those criticisms? That tells you something about how they’re managing their business and their appetite to grow and improve.

Another good place to look would be their social media and their Facebook comments, and it’s often the most interesting place to get a line or two on some interesting reviews.

Then that takes me nicely on to the fourth point which is about tracking their use of social media. There are lots of great free tools out there that will help you keep track of what your competitors are doing on social media. I use a tool called TweetDeck and with this tool you can set up to search and to monitor mentions of your competitors, mentions by anyone who is following your competitors or what your competitors are in fact communicating back to them. It will give you a good understanding, just like the reviews did, of any problem that your competitor is having, it gives you a good sense of what their community is like and, of course, it’s a good place to keep track of any new marketing initiatives because they’re most likely to communicate them to their followers using their social media channels.

The fifth thing is an interesting one. How about becoming a customer of your rival or your competitor? If you’re a customer you really get under the skin of your competitor, you can really understand how their sales funnel works, what their support is like, what their service is like, how good their products are, how their respond. It’s a great way to learn about how you can do things better in your business.

The very final thing, the sixth thing, is to do some SEO competitor analysis. See how your competitors are performing on search engines, understand what Google thinks about your competitors, whether Google rates them highly, whether they’re strong or whether they’re weak in SEO and what they’re doing about it. SEO analysis is quite a specialist area in itself and we’ve in fact written a great blog post about how you can do that. We’ll link to that blog post in the comments below.

Ok, that was the Swift 6 on how to keep track of your competitors. I’ll see you next time!

Further reading

You can find the article on SEO competitor analysis here.