While web analytics tools like as Google Analytics can provide intelligence into your own digital marketing and website performance, there is often a need to also understand competitor’s digital marketing presence. Understanding competitor web traffic can give you more ideas for your own digital marketing campaigns, allow you to see where might be a good location to attract new visitors, or even show you what channels you may or may not be using effectively. Even if you’re at the top of your industry, staying there can be a challenge so always keeping a tab on competitive efforts can help you stay ahead of the curve.
There are many tools that help provide insight into competitor’s online marketing, below are just a few free tools that you can immediately begin using.
For those that don’t know, Tag Explorer is a free tool used to see what website marketing tags are running on the current web page you are on. TagInspector is a free tool InfoTrust developed to show what tags are running across an entire website and where. Now you might be wondering how these fit in to competitive intelligence. Understanding what tags and dynamic marketing elements competitor’s have on their websites can give a really in depth insight into their marketing goals and campaign initiatives. For example, if you search your competitor’s site and see that AdWords or Doubleclick tags are firing, this gives you a solid indication they are involved with PPC campaigns, and perhaps display or very sophisticated campaigns (since Doubleclick requires certain level of spend). Or, if you see they have multiple analytics tools running (such as Web Trends, Omniture, and Google Analytics), this could indicate they are really trying to gather the most solid web analytics data as possible and could alter how much you care about your analytics. There are millions of marketing tags that can be used to improve website performance. Soon we will have a list of the top 100 marketing tags used by Fortune 500 companies, so stay tuned.
This tool provides “free direct audience measurement for all website owners including traffic, demographics, business, lifestyle, interests and more.” What I love most about this free tool is the amount of data it shows, in graphical form, without needing to sign up for an account. See the screenshot example below for google.com.
This free tool allows you to not only “grade” your full online marketing funnel, but it also allows you to see competitor’s comparatively. Also, without signing up for an account, it measures:
- Traffic by asking the questions: “Are you doing enough to bring visitors to your website and fill the top of your sales and marketing funnel? How are your content creation, optimization and website promotion skills?”
- Leads by asking: “How do you do when it comes to converting traffic into leads and leads into customers? Do your landing pages, conversion forms, email marketing and social media efforts compare?”
- Analytics by asking “Do you know what marketing activities are working (or aren’t working)? Do you measure your successes and failures?”
What I love about Hubspot’s Marketing Grader is how simple they present the data, along with supplementary educational collateral pieces on how to improve an area you may be struggling in, such as social media with free social media whitepapers available for download.
Though you need a Google account to access this free tool, it can prove to be very useful. What I love about this tool is the “Audience Interest” section. This tool shows what the visitors to the website you submit have as their interests based off where they have been before or how they navigate through that site.
Compete is very similar to Quantcast and Hubspot’s Marketing Grader in the sense it does not need you to sign up for an account to use the free tool. However, it’s free tool only shows basic information compared to it’s very robust paid version, Compete PRO. For anyone serious about competitive intelligence, this investment is definitely worth considering. From their site, “Compete’s data comes from a statistically representative cross-section of 2 million consumers across the United States who have given permission to have their internet clickstream behaviors and opt-in survey responses analyzed anonymously as a new source of marketing research.” Though the data is not 100% accurate, the trends and insights that can be pulled are very valuable.
SimilarWeb is a new player on the market (as far as I know) and is really great in providing competitive insights about website's and overall digital presence of companies, in a beautiful way. Not only does it look great on a desktop with easy navigation, it was wonderful on my iPad! SimilarWeb can:
- Discover the most important traffic activity and ranking insights for any website.
- Find the biggest websites in your industry and region with this Top 100 ranking of websites by category and country.
- Send your users reliable insights to discover, categorize, tag and rank the websites that matter to them through their API.
There is a paid version with more features coming soon as well as a Chrome plugin for quicker insights as your browse around the internet. Definitely worth checking out!
To wrap up this not-so-short post, knowing what type of marketing activities competitors are doing can prove very beneficial as you begin building your marketing campaigns. With the explosion of new online media and tools available for marketers to take advantage of, you definitely do not want to fall behind the curve. For more information or any questions/comments, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Article Written by Amin Shawki