Updated July 2019.
Gathering competitive intelligence on your competition is essential to brand survival. Access to digital data makes this a much easier to accomplish in theory – but with so many new competitors entering the game every day, any intelligence effort can quickly become time consuming.
Fortunately, there are a range of competitor analysis tools to help brands speed this process up! Which tool is best for you? Our newly updated list below shares key intel, but first, we want to offer some competitive analysis best practices to help you derive maximum impact from the process.
HOW TO APPROACH COMPETITOR ANALYSIS FOR MAXIMUM IMPACT
Part 4 of our Social Media Analytics Guide contains all the info you could ever need about why competitor analysis is crucial, and what it entails. But let’s quickly review some basics to keep in mind as you’re looking for the best tools for your goals and budget.
Yes, like all brand endeavors, you need defined goals and a plan before you spring into action. Here’s a reminder of what matters as you assess competitors on social:
Next Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities – Although many tools offer basic AI capabilities, touting either machine learning, deep learning or expert systems, NetBase combines all three, as well as its new, first-to-market automated theme discovery offering: AI Studio. It identifies related conversations automatically, with no need for human intervention.
Deeper metrics – Though comparing likes, mentions and retweets might make you think you’re winning (or losing), you really don’t have all the facts if you stop at superficial metrics. Demographics are your framework, psychographics tell you what consumers are interested in, and sentiment provides context so you know where to focus your energy.
Surprising challengers – You’ll be in trouble quickly if you assume your only – or biggest – competition looks exactly like you. Brands like Stance, Edible Arrangements, Airbnb, and Etsy have given the likes of Nike, FTD, the entire hotel and eCommerce industries, and many major retailers a run for their money. Even if you’re at the top of your category, brands with a better grasp of your audience can bump you out of the limelight. Competitor analysis lets you see the rumblings of disruptors early enough to respond in kind.
Sentiment highs and lows – To make the most of competitive data, apply sentiment analysis to identify the strongest reactions. These extremes point to the best opportunities to borrow great ideas or solve consumer problems in a way competitors aren’t. You need tools that understand sarcasm, netspeak, slang, and emojis so your insights aren’t skewed with false positives or negatives.
Image analytics – You can’t compete effectively if you don’t have the full story. That now includes image data. Because this is a new addition to the social analytics realm, you may have access to competitors they don’t have themselves! Understanding where logos are used – but not mentioned – as well as location, sentiment, and scene data ramps things up several notches.
Content and channels – Where are your competitors? Look beyond the channels your brand is on and see if you should be active elsewhere as well. Be sure to look at the content competitors share – and the corresponding consumer response. Maybe you’re not sharing enough videos. Or maybe you need a different approach to the ones you do share. Pay attention to any trends emerging or being leveraged successfully.
Customer experience analytics – You can’t pick and choose the data you analyze – or, at least, you shouldn’t! Social data is great, but you want to bring in all of the customer experience analytics from surveys, reviews, star ratings, and anywhere else you can find it. That means using tools that integrate with your CRM and other systems, to give you the most comprehensive competitive picture available.
With competitive data in hand you can move your brand forward on a number of fronts: marketing, engagement, customer service, product development, the customer experience, and more.
Which tools should you invest in? That depends on a number of factors only you can define – but, rest assured, there’s a tool for every purpose, and every budget. We have some to consider for your spying efforts, sorted by category, which you can jump to by clicking on each below:
- AI-POWERED SOCIAL MEDIA ANALYTICS
- SOCIAL MEDIA METRIC TRACKERS
- CONTENT DISTRIBUTION
- BUSINESS PRACTICES & CHANGES
- DATA EXTRACTORS
- SEO STALKING
AI-POWERED SOCIAL MEDIA ANALYTICS
When it comes to Next Generation AI-powered analytics, there’s only one contender right now, with its first-to-market Next Generation AI platform and automated theme discovery with AI Studio.
Delivering insight at speeds 5x faster than other solutions, NetBase is optimized to analyze the full corpus of all data sources without sampling, to deliver the industry’s most reliable data with the speed and accuracy to make both strategic and real-time business decisions.
What NetBase does exceedingly well is analyze consumer sentiment across every brand need, incorporating and aggregating structured and unstructured data from social, websites, forums, comment data, blogs, news and review sites, along with any other CRM data brands have on hand.
Whether your focus is on social listening to understand your competitor’s audience, social monitoring to know when certain key actions occur, image analytics to understand when brands appear in the background, or customer experience analytics to tie it all together, you’ll know exactly where the love is. You’ll also know what the unmet needs are, and how you can intervene to sway potential consumers to your brand’s side.
The transparent and granular insight available provide openings and adjacencies that reveal new audiences, as well as product and service ideas.
You’ll also know where you stand in relation to others in your category – and most importantly, why.
Also, influencer marketing takes on a whole new meaning with the insight NetBase offers. You’ll find power players spanning every consumer segment, often before they even realize how valuable their online voice has become! And you can find mutually beneficial opportunities to connect with these change agents, while very finely measuring their brand impact.
Price: Contact for quote
SOCIAL MEDIA METRICS TRACKERS
Keyhole offers an easy-to-use search engine that shows you a number of metrics for any brand, hashtag, or keyword. Or you can track multiple keywords, hashtags, and influencers depending on your level of service.
The data is pulled from top posts, hashtags, and keywords found on many top social channels, including Twitter and Facebook.
Its Event Performance monitoring helps brands communicate the impact hosted events offer, contributing significantly to that ROI conversation. There’s also a “Media Wall” option to help attendees connect with each other and share experiences by live-streaming their social media posts during your event via desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile.
Pricing: Starts at $179/month, billed annually
Phlanx is an Instagram influencer auditing tool – and that’s something every brand should want these days, considering how amazing Instagram is for marketing.
It lets you see engagement rates for Instagram accounts – showing you average likes and comments per post. It also shows stats around:
- Follower reach
- Audience type (real people, influencers and non-engaging)
- Engagement rate
- Authentic engagement
- Follower locations
- Likes to comments ratio
- Brand mentions
This is great info for comparing brands in your category to see how much people are interacting with them – and if those interacting are amazingly influential or not.
The downside is you don’t have sentiment data for these interactions. But ability to quickly find influencers with solid engagement rates, and connect to potential brand collaborators is a plus.
Price: Starts at $25/monthly after 30-day free trial.
This is an audience behavior platform that captures 1st party data and runs it through its AI-enabled “Q” system to spot consumer patterns in your category – and beyond. Actually, you specify the audience and category you’re searching for and Q gets to work finding audiences and customers who fit the profile—at massive scale. Q then delivers your message to these custom audiences at the perfect time.
It opens up your brand to a new world of prospects via its Brand, Direct Response and Measurement Capabilities.
Quantcast gives you access to the audiences of other brands and helps you sort out how they might also be yours. As such, retargeting plays a significant role here – as does measuring the impact of these efforts.
Quantcast post-campaign reporting validates that your ads were served to your intended audience, which is included in the service price and apparently is not typically included by its competitors!
Price: Contact for quote
Rival IQ lets you compare your brand to the competition by social channels, audience growth and activity, rankings across social channels – and that’s just for starters.
Free options the solution offers includes a neat “head-to-head” comparison for brands interested in seeing a quick “us vs them” snapshot against a competitor as seen on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook:
It shares key insight that goes well beyond the snapshot above, offering:
- Top performing posts
- Activity metrics
- Engagement metrics
- Audience metrics
Brands can create customized dashboards and alerts, and see top keywords by company, discover hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, along with Twitter mentions, and Twitter sentiment. And can also track the following:
- Boosted post detection of competitors
- Competitive benchmarking, with comprehensive analytics on your competitors’ performance.
Price: Starts at $169/month when billed annually
6. SOCIAL BLADE
Social Blade uses social statistics from YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, Dailymotion, Mixer, and Twitter to rank brands based on engagement. You can view an overarching user summary, where you’ll find subscriber rank, monetization estimations and an overall score that takes views and new subscribers into account.
You can view a snapshot of all platforms, then click to see more detailed results per platform.
There are also top lists sorted by each platform, as well as by category and country. So, if you want to know the top Youtubers in Australia or top Pets & Animals content creators, this is a great place to explore.
If video is a big part of your social game, the mix of channels is informative. But you won’t know why you’re getting – or not getting – views as it doesn’t explore those motivations. It will show you similar channels to yours though, which is useful. And after reaching a certain video engagement level on YouTube, brands can apply for promoted membership through the channel, if that’s of interest.
Buzzsumo is all about content, and they’ve got just about everything you could want covered.
Discover the most shared content for your own brand or competitors from the past 24 hours to the past 5 years, as well as what content is trending now in a number of key categories.
There are filters around country and language to further refine results. And then searching for, or excluding specific domains from results is an option, as is searching for/excluding various content types. Maybe you’re only interested in finding infographics on a certain topic, published in Europe? Find that here.
And speaking of publishers, if you’re only interested in content from large, well-known publishers you can designate that too. Conversely, smaller publishers offering content that might not be mainstream are on offer as well, as are both in-depth and lighter word count pieces.
Examine backlinks, find influencers, or identify consumer questions from sites like Reddit, Quora and Amazon Q&A.
Of course, content is a singular focus, so you’ll need other tools to fill in the gaps, but it’s a great start.
Price: Starts at $79/month after a 7-day free trial
Feedly is the place where you can keep track of all the content that matters to you. It’s “where readers become leaders,” assuming you have time to read!
Feedly brings every bit of content you’re interested in into one place so you can organize it according to topic. And you create the topics you’re interested in. Once you subscribe to the feeds you’re interested in and assign each to its requisite topic, Feedly will push updates there for you to explore at your leisure.
Keep up with industry news and see which content is most popular in any category. This is particularly useful if you publish blogs or other publications and want to measure yourself against the rest of your field.
Use your feeds to create boards, then us integrations with apps like Slack, Trello, and IFTTT to share them with various brand teams like Marketing, Sales, and the C-Suite. Or to save as later article topics for you to write yourself!
Price: Free for up to 100 sources and three feeds. After that, starts at $5.41/month, billed annually
This solution offers everything ‘email.’ By “saving you the trouble to secretly subscribing to competitors’ mailings,” MailCharts tracks and reports on the email habits of competitors, including their design and layout selections.
Email is still an important part of the customer experience, so seeing how other brands do it – and knowing which tactics to try, and which to avoid is amazing intel to have.
Beyond the sending and design habits of competitors, you can create a content analysis of mailings, and an email score so you know where competitors are not measuring up. And where you can jump in and do a better job. You can also:
- Plan for holidays
- Build a list of favorite emails for later exploration
- Create triggered emails
- Make an email calendar your competitors will envy
- Rapidly create reports to share successes and challenges
- Monitor efforts as they’re in motion
- Compare broadcast and targeted messages to see which works best for certain segments
- A/B test and uncover competitor A/B test tactics too
And you can also follow user journeys to see what drives someone to be a “browse abandoner,” “cart abandoner,” and more.
Price: Free plan is really only good to poke around. Basic plan starts at $99/month
Take competitor email capture to a whole new level with Owletter. With it, you can analyze competitor email strategies in ways that are actually useful.
Today, most marketers find themselves subscribing to competitor newsletters using a different email and occasionally glimpsing at them, capturing an (at best) fragmented picture of those competitors’ current efforts.
With this solution, brands can understand when competitors send email promotions, how things change seasonally, whether they have a reputation for SPAM, and so much more. And once you start storing emails, they’re saved forever – so the longer you’re on Owletter, the more robust your competitive data.
Use it to spot trend information (both competitors’ and your own) and to schedule your own differentiated mailings to shared segments. They’ll be left wondering why you’re so obsessed with them and how you keep creating such seemingly mindreading and distinctive offers. . . unless they’re using Owletter too, that is!
Price: Starts at $5/month to custom quote
BUSINESS PRACTICES & CHANGES
Want to monitor, track and analyze your competitors’ marketing efforts in real-time and really freak them out? CompeteShark does this well.
Whereas the old way consisted of visiting sites and taking screenshots to compare against, and filling out/updating spreadsheets to track important competitive data, today we see this solution automating all of those actions for you.
It visits your competitors’ websites and reports changes so you can see exactly what they are doing, monitoring important changes like content and layout experiments and new promotions.
Brands can analyze trends in real-time or over time to see changes made by competitors like design changes, product updates, pricing, content, and optimization – and can view before and after captures as well, to help illustrate the points.
And you can view multiple brands at once to see patterns and see who is outperforming others in your category and how you can capture that top spot for yourself.
And the alerts come your way via daily emails and accessible via mobile. It’s all easily shared across your team.
Price: Request a demo
Datanyze is the leader in “technographics,” which is analyzing data that provides a competitive advantage for your company around what to sell to whom – and when. This data includes analytics, email marketing, advertising, hosting and eCommerce capabilities.
If crystal balls were real, you’d want one that told you when a prospect stops using a competitor’s solution – so you could swoop in and offer the perfect replacement in your brand.
Datanyze alerts you to just such events, in addition to providing a “technographic profile” that tells you if your targets use competitive or complementary tools.
More precisely, unlike other solutions that rely on typical firm and demographic data (company size, work titles, social handles) to identify sales targets, Datanyze uses technographic data to sort out what keeps prospects awake at night. Its customer profiling captures buying signals that others miss. They may be using magic.
Price: Request a demo
Competitor analysis should cover as much ground as possible – so tools that go outside the realm of social insights are also useful.
Wappalyzer is one that ferrets out “1,238 technologies in 65 categories” that competitors are using, so you can see what is powering their exceptional results and try some of those tools out on your own too! This offers specifics around software like content management systems, ecommerce platforms, web frameworks, server software, analytics tools, etc.
Want to know how other brands are managing their data streams or just anything in general? No need to ask or search far for the info – this is the tool that will tell you.
Price: Free (open source)
Offering both managed data and developer service, this solution takes a company’s specific requirements and builds tools to capture precisely the data that’s needed. Some tasks it can accomplish include:
- Track and automate competitive price monitoring
- Perform competitive research
- Capture images and descriptions
- Track market opportunities across channels
And lots besides, depending on vertical, including fraud detection and other risk management concerns.
Overall, it takes a different approach to many competitive analysis tools, extracting data directly from the website you enter, revealing price and inventory info, MAP compliance, and more.
Data from sites like Crunchbase and Yelp bring the consumer side of the equation into the mix. Integrate with Tableau and Google Sheets for easy data application.
Price: Free version and schedule a call for paid options.
Owler offers Real-time alerts on 15 trigger events:
- Funding event
- Joint venture announced
- Leadership team change
- Product launch
- New partnership
- New office
- Earnings announced
- Record profits
- Record sales
It offers concise company profiles that eliminate the need for manual account research, while helping you keep tabs on key accounts. Best of all, it auto syncs with your CRM leads so you’re not duplicating efforts.
It also offers a macro view of brands, comparing them to competitors on a number of fronts. See overarching information like number of employees and revenue, as well as a CEO score, social followers, website history, videos, and more.
Owler offers a host of internal and external company information by tracking news and media content in addition to all of the above, bringing all data together to form a competitive graph that shows how everything is connected, as it can be hard to keep track of so many moving parts:
Price: Free for 14 days; $38.99 per month after that for alerts – book a meeting for enterprise solutions.
Ahrefs is a search engine optimization (SEO) tool that offers a competitive look at all kinds of competitor and website data like referring domains, organic versus paid keywords, and more.
More specifically, it takes you deep into your competitor’s online business with:
- Competitive Analysis is an organic search visualizer that tells you the exact keywords your competitors are using and ranking in. You can see where they get their traffic from and which keywords they’re ranking in that you’re not (so you can work on doing a better job at targeting those precise keywords). It’s a pretty nifty bit of business to have on hand.
- Keyword Research helps you sort out which keywords in general to target. Pulling from a database of more than 3 billion options and mounds of data around search volume trends, you’ll find a list that’s specific to what you want to target – beyond the traffic you intend to steal from competitors.
- Backlink Research lists all of the backlinks on a given page for further exploration. This helps ensure you’re linking to relevant sources that help, rather than hurt, your SERP results.
- Content Research helps you explore how your content is doing buzz-wise. Are other sites sharing it? Linking to it? Find out which content is resonating and which sites to reach out to for potential cross-posting opportunities.
- Rank Tracking shares how your specific pages and campaigns are performing via desktop and laptop. And you can set up reports to be emailed to you as well, so you never miss an update.
- Web Monitoring is a super handy option for being prepared to act fast. Any time a competitor wins or loses a backlink, you’ll receive an alert and can jump in the conversation to capture an opportunity for yourself. When partnered with social analytics insight, this can be a powerful option.
Overall, it’s an incredible tool to tell you which pages are tops for your purposes. It provides a rank for the page you’re analyzing, and highlights what content is standing out.
The only social data provided is popular content for Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. It’s a great tool to integrate with more robust social analytics tools.
Price: Starts at $99/month; try for 7 days for $7
Alexa offers options to find, reach and convert your audience.
Brands can track and compare performance relative to competitors, identify influencers that link back to competitor sites, and find content opportunities for audiences you’ve yet to reach with Alexa.
Not only can you compare traffic statistics and spot low competition keywords to improve your own SEO, it also offers keyword research, competitive website analyses, target audience analyses and a backlink checker tool.
The audience analysis options are interesting, as they focus on share of voice. It’s really all about where your audience is interacting, and specifically which sites have the highest share of voice for popular topics.
The goal here is improving your SEO, SEM, and content marketing with some very specific intel. Understanding which competitors perform best in search, by performing a competitive website analysis, allows brands to learn from top competitors’ successes and level out the playing field.
Understanding and emulating their strategies works well here.
Once you’ve sorted out what’s working for them, you can research the keywords they use to reach your target audience to find new opportunities for your site.
Price: Starts at $99/month after a 7-day free trial
Want to know how you’re doing with backlinks – and better yet, how competitors are doing? Monitor Backlinks tells you, while also informing on the SEO front. See which keywords are ranking in Google, which links are valuable, and which ones can hurt your brand.
More specifically, Monitor Backlinks will help you:
- Sort out relevant, high-quality sites that you can contact for outreach and link building.
- Develop relationships with high authority sites.
- Keep track of links with you’ve paid for with ads and guest posting.
- Track your keyword ranking on Google and understand how your efforts are helping or hurting search.
- Uncover competitors’ keywords and backlinks strategies.
- Understand how to use a disavow tool to block spammy links.
- And manage all your backlink data in one place
Price: Free trial and then starts at $47.40 per month
MozBar is a free browser plug-in that shows you a number of website metrics for any site your browse. See overall page and domain authority, plus see which links are followed, non-followed, internal, or external.
You can create custom searches by engine, country, region, or city; quickly assess the Page Authority and Domain Authority of any site or page; access and compare link metrics across pages and expose page elements that are important to you. And then you can export all of this data to a CSV file, which isn’t the most analysis friendly option from an end user standpoint, but it’s free!
View page elements to know how design is influencing things, and view page optimization info with an upgrade to Moz Premium.
MozBar Premium features offer keyword difficulty scores, advanced (and instant) page optimization tactics and deeper metric to support SERP data analysis. You’ll have access to root domain and subdomain link data and unlimited reports.
You can try it out free for a month before signing up for Premium. It’s a solid tool to explore.
Pricing for Premium: $99/month after 30-day free trial
Competitor websites contain a slew of data you can apply to your own, and tools like Open Link Profiler help you find it.
View backlinks, anchor text, pages, industries that link to the brands you search, categories of links pointing at competitors, the percentage of websites linking to your competitors by link influence score (LIS), and much more. A link from a website with a high LIS has a higher influence on the rankings of a website than a link from a website with a low LIS. Many sites will have low LIS and this can be a little nerve-wracking to see:
The free portion of the tool offers just enough data to entice any business user. There are stats and insight available around malicious links that will harm search results, by way of a cleverly named “link disinfectant” checker.
You’ll need to start your free trial to see specifics, along with what to do about it though.
Price: Free trial and starts at $69.95/month
With iSpionage, you can steal your competitor’s traffic and uncover their conversation strategy.
iSpionage shows you the top PPC and SEO keyword data for any given brand, aggregated from Google, Bing and Yahoo, identifying your competitors’ most profitable terms with iSpionage’s proprietary keyword effectiveness index:
Additionally, you can see the ads they’re running, and where, as well as related keywords by relevancy score. Take things further with Campaign Watch, which lets you run side-by-side comparisons of landing pages, perform A/B test surveillance, evaluate brand offers and more.
And you can also offer this as a white label service to brands, if you’re an agency.
Price: Starts at $59/month
AN INVESTMENT WORTH MAKING
Whatever your budget, you’ve got to keep an eye on the competition.
The tools above are not all comprehensive, but those that aren’t offer a starting point for smaller brands. More complete solutions may appeal to brands with loftier goals and budgets.
Whichever you choose, be sure you’re doing something to stay on top of who the competition is, what they’re doing, and how consumers relate to them. If you don’t, you won’t be competition for anybody else for very long.
Want to learn more about how our competitor analysis tools work with other data solutions? Get in touch and we’ll walk you through it!