Sales and marketing teams are feeling the pressure to grow like a seventh-grader over summer. The only difference is they have to do it year after year (there’s also way less acne involved). Sales and marketing leaders must fortify their strategies with competitive intelligence to stay in the game.
As the digital marketing sphere continues to change at the speed of search, companies are getting savvier in their ability to capture market share.
How can you rise above the competition?
Competitive intelligence tools allow you to peer into the wires of your competition’s content marketing strategy, technology stack, SEO, social media and advertising with the goal of understanding their market moves.
Competitive intelligence tools are particularly valuable to sales and marketing leaders, as we are in an era when customers know more about brands than brands know about them. While the customer seems to have all the power, competitive intelligence tools can help you regain some of that power.
Whether you’re an ambitious start-up ready to blow past your competition or an enterprise with your eye on that IPO, as a sales and marketing leader, you can use these competitive intelligence tools to skyrocket your company’s growth in 2019 and beyond.
Main Perk: SEO and PPC keyword competitiveness
Best For: Small to midsize businesses
SpyFu is known for its SEO tracking, research and monitoring capabilities. SpyFu offers an SEO and PPC research tool called Kombat, which shows you how your top keywords compare to your competitor’s top keywords and whether there is any overlap.
SpyFu also has a handy dashboard called the “keyword universe” that displays all the essential metrics, like monthly clicks, click-through rates and cost-per-click.
Main Perk: Understanding competitors’ content strategies
Best For: Midsize businesses
Before you jump into a content strategy session, you want to be armed with knowledge of trending topics and what your competitors are focusing on. BuzzSumo helps you better understand your competitors’ content strategies and how they’re planning to reach their audience. The platform supplies intelligence pertaining to competitor content that is receiving traction, how your content compares to competitors, and content curation and planning. BuzzSumo allows you to conduct in-depth analysis and filter your research by topic and timeliness.
BuzzSumo also features social media monitoring and even influencer outreach. It enables you to create alerts so you know when competitors have published new content. However, the BuzzSumo free version only allows a limited number of searches per day, which won’t work for large enterprises conducting extensive research.
Main Perk: Deep insights
Best For: Sales and marketing teams
With SimilarWeb, you’ll have an easier time researching your competition’s referrals and other sources of traffic. SimilarWeb does a good job of letting you really see how you stack up against your competitors in terms of bounce rate, page visits, page views and time on site. SimilarWeb’s dashboard is most commonly compared to Google Analytics, but for your competitor’s domains.
SimilarWeb also provides competitor mobile app data, where you can view one month of mobile data and three months of web traffic data for free. SimilarWeb also offers SEO and PPC research, including keywords, traffic sources and visitor engagement.
Main Perk: CDN, security, cloud hosting, and other cloud products
Best For: Marketing and sales teams
We couldn’t write about competitive intelligence tools without talking about ourselves…
Intricately goes beyond traditional technographic data to show you how your competitors are spending and using video, CDN and security technology and more across the cloud.
Intricately also has a stellar alerts and query builder (if we do say so ourselves), which allows you to customize queries with data points like IT spend and traffic. You can add key accounts to your personal Watch List and be notified when they add new technology to their site or even renew a contract with a competitor.
You can chat with us to learn more.
Main Perk: Backlink data
Best For: Large businesses
Come at your competition from unique angles through backlinks. Ahrefs is known for its backlink data capabilities, but it also has a noteworthy keyword research feature as well as a content explorer, which allows you to identify top-rated content and trending topics. Ahrefs is decent for sales and marketing teams doing a significant amount of keyword research, as the search limit is pretty reasonable.
Main Perk: Basic web analytics
Best For: Beginner web analytics
Quantcast is a great basic web analytics tool that can help your marketing team create informed content and targeted SEO strategies. The analytics dashboard shows the geographic distribution of traffic, the volume of traffic and general demographics.
Quantcast’s free tool offers this high-level view of competitor traffic. Their premium products are powered by their proprietary Quantcast Intelligence Cloud that helps you identify and target new customers.
Main Perk: Viewing competitors’ digital creative history
Best For: Mid-size businesses to enterprises
Data intelligence isn’t the only thing that will help you beat out your competition. Digital creative, including advertisements and your competitor's creative history, can be a huge asset as you work with your creative teams on advertising campaigns. Moat allows you to review competitors’ ad campaigns up to three years in the past.
Moat Pro allows you to see audience engagement with digital creative, which gives your Creative Strategy and Design teams a leg up when making creative decisions. Review heat maps to see how much time the audience spent looking at individual ads and identify wins and losses based on engagement. Whether you want to take a look at one ad or look for patterns in content strategy over the course of a year, Moat can help you see your competitor’s vision.
Moat also has some cool automated monitoring features that you can set to alert you when competitors post a new ad. This feature will also allow you to experience your competitor's strategic roll-out for the ads in a campaign.
Main Perk: Monitoring competitors’ email marketing
Best For: Agencies and retailers
Owletter is an email analytics intelligence tool that’s great for studying how your competitors are using their email marketing. Learn how often they send out emails, on what days and whether their email schedule changes seasonally.
Owletter also helps you spot trends over time and jump on opportunities where your competitors may be lacking. This tool also has a handy feature that stores all your emails so the whole team can access them for review during strategy sessions.
Owletter also keeps marketers in mind with their tagging and alerting features. As a marketer, you can save tags based on trends you want to follow and receive notifications when those tags pop up.
For creative agencies, Owletter takes it a step further and allows you to use tags to track prospective clients or current clients’ competitors.
Main Perk: Performing more efficient research
Best For: Everyone
Google Alerts is one of a trillion nifty free tools by Google that allows you to set up notifications when certain topics, keywords, names or websites start buzzing around the web.
Google Alerts helps you research competitors and their strategies more efficiently. You can track your company’s brand, important names and influencers and competitors. Google Alerts also helps you build links by finding opportunities for backlinks more efficiently.
Main Perk: High-quality, in-depth insights and advisory
Best For: Enterprises
Gartner is one of the world’s leading business intelligence companies, providing key tools sales leaders can use to increase their growth. The breadth and depth of their information is vast, but nearly all qualitative.
Sales and marketing leaders can use their insights and tools to fortify their strategies and grow with consumer insights based on qualitative research. However, these types of competitive intelligence tools shouldn’t be leaned on exclusively as they often rely on self-reported data.
Main Perk: Deep market insights and analytics tools
Best For: Enterprises
Forrester is one of the world’s most well-known business intelligence companies. Their analytics tools include Feedback Now, Customer Experience Index, Consumer Technographics, Forecast View and Business Technographics, all of which allow you to spot trends and make informed decisions about your sales and marketing strategies.
The Customer Experience Index allows you to track and compare KPIs of competitors and study customers’ feelings and perceptions of a brand. This Index also allows your competitors to see how you compare to them. One unique feature is revenue modeling, where you can predict ROI based on specific changes you make to your strategy. Again, Forrester also relies mostly on qualitative reporting, so the information is subject to self-reporting inaccuracies.
Find the best competitive intelligence tools for you
Every company and their competitors are different. This means you need to take the time to explore the best competitive intelligence tools to gain the insights you need to make bold moves with confidence.
The competitive intelligence industry is moving more from qualitative to quantitative, so be sure you understand the incredible amount of tools and their unique value when building out your competitive intelligence.