Competitive Monitoring: 10 Keys to Success
Kimberly Surico |
 05/26/21 |
9 min read

With today’s social listening capabilities and data analytics tools, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be using them to keep tabs on the competition. Any form of competitive intelligence that you can act on to improve your brand’s position is a win. However, competitive monitoring ensures that you’re consistently getting those nuggets of intel, so you’re constantly improving your brand awareness concerning the competition.

Here, we’ll break down competitive monitoring into 10 keys to success, including:

  • Competitive monitoring demystified
  • 10 keys to competitive monitoring success

Before we get rolling, here are a few figures we uncovered to underline the importance of an excellent competitive monitoring strategy:

  • Brands that adopt a competitive monitoring strategy don’t regret doing so. As a matter of fact, 70% of major brands say their past campaigns would have been more successful if they’d been using competitive intelligence to inform those efforts.
  • A 2020 survey found that 41% of brands said their industry is somewhat more competitive, while 48% said theirs was much more competitive.
  • According to Crayon’s 2020 State of Competitive Intelligence Report, only 44% of companies surveyed had defined KPIs for measuring competitive movement.

Keeping track of the competition is more accessible than ever before though, which is good. But many brands, for whatever reason, are still not leveraging competitive monitoring to its full potential. So, if competitive monitoring remains a mystery to your brand, this post will help give some structure to your work in that area. Let’s take a look!

Competitive Monitoring Demystified

Many brands are needlessly intimidated by competitive monitoring, and that doesn’t have to be the case. Before we go any further, let’s clarify competitive monitoring and competitive intelligence.

They both use social media listening and data analytics tools to capture insight about the competition. However, competitive intelligence can be gained from running one analysis. In contrast, competitive monitoring establishes benchmarks that you can measure over time with a series of similar examinations. It’s a repeatable, powerful process.

Today’s data analytics tools allow users to sift through their data for precise insights. Perhaps the sheer number of directions one can go with this data leads to analysis paralysis with many brands.

If you’re just starting out, it’s acceptable to choose a few broad metrics to begin with. For instance, you can choose to measure your competitor’s net sentiment quarterly so you can track movement throughout the year and compare it to your own. From there, you can add key metrics, or benchmarks, about your competitor’s social media performance and consumer opinions to help your brand make better market decisions.

You can run a social media audit, more specifically a brand health diagnostic on your main competitors at key intervals throughout the year. Afterward, compare them against your own brand health metrics to yield a panoramic view of movement throughout your category.

As time progresses, new niches and consumer targets will come into view that you’d like to add to your competitive monitoring program. The sky’s the limit.

For instance, if female pet owners in London generate lots of competitor mentions at 4 p.m. – you can track that. Monitor how your competitors perform there regarding sentiment, mentions, impressions, etc., and use that intel to inform your messaging.

As you strategize into this specific audience, you can retake those social readings whenever you want and compare them against the same metrics for your brand. That way, you know if you’re gaining ground or losing steam.

Both you and your competition have brand stories that are playing out in the market. Competitive monitoring puts real numbers to the metrics you want to watch, so you know where you stand at all times.

Now that we’ve explored the what and why – let’s jump into some specifics!

1. Search Beyond Surface Insights

Once you’re comfortable with competitive monitoring using broad brand metrics, you’ll soon find you want to dig in deeper. And you should!

There’s a world of insight that can be extracted and tracked for the ultimate in holistic competitive intelligence. For example, you can set benchmarks for authors, channels, times, demographics, domains, net sentiment, sentiment drivers and many more.

Find and set applicable themes to crosscut your social media analyses to keep tabs on the metrics that matter. That’s what we did here as an example with two popular footwear brands. We’ve measured net sentiment using themes that segment social media posts for female/male users, quality, value, love and purchase intent.


If you are one of these brands and these are the metrics you’re concerned with, it’s immediately apparent where you want to center your messaging. This is competitive intelligence. Revisiting these metrics next quarter is competitive monitoring.

And you can set these to be measured in mentions, posts, potential impressions, engagements, shares, etc. You can go crazy here if you want. The world is your oyster.

2. Create Realistic & Aspirational Competitor Comparisons

You definitely want your competitive monitoring to center on the closest competitors in your category. But you also want to keep tabs on smaller brands that may threaten a part of your consumer base.

Conversely, don’t be afraid to set your sights on a brand or two that are higher up the food chain. Competitive monitoring will show you some areas where you have them beat. And you can use that intel to make sure you hold onto that lead.

You’ll also notice some areas where they simply outclass you by a good bit. That’s ok. Set small, manageable goals and commit to growing those areas. And when their numbers retract, dig into the data and find out where they dropped the ball. Capitalizing on their missteps will help you gain ground and draw off new converts to your brand.

 3. Benchmarks Keep Brands Honest

As more brands lean into data analytics for their competitive intelligence, those that don’t or are slow to adopt are at risk of losing their market position. Establishing benchmark positions across key metrics eliminates guesswork and risk and is essential to competitive monitoring.

Benchmarks measured over time illuminate performance. They tell you the cold, hard facts. And that’s what you need as markets get increasingly competitive.

You don’t want to be the brand operating on hunches as we put the pandemic behind us. Make sure your brand is putting solid numbers behind the competition in your industry. Leverage where you maintain leads and get focused on strategy and messaging where you lag behind. Benchmarks ensure you know where you stand.

4. Explore & Set Alerts

If you haven’t set up alerts for your brand health metrics to safeguard your brand from a crisis, you should probably go and do that now. While you’re at it, why not set some up on your competitors too?

Sometimes the window of opportunity opens for the briefest of moments in the business world. The quicker you know about them, the better – and competitive monitoring gives you that edge.

Once you know the benchmarks you want to watch with your competition, setting alerts is a great way to ensure your team is informed quickly when metrics rise above, or fall below your desired thresholds.

So, if your competitor is running a campaign that threatens yours, set alerts so if/when their positive mentions start to take off, you can jump into action with Plan B.


5. Set Real-Time Check-Ins

When you’re setting up your competitive monitoring strategy, it’s critical to set them up for targeted times throughout the year. This will vary according to your category. If you sell backpacks, you’ll want to highlight peak travel season and the start of the school year. Candy manufacturers might want to set them around major holidays such as Halloween and Easter.

These will be your main check-ins aimed at your peaks wherever they fall in the year. Doing these at the same time every year will show you category development over time and offer super valuable competitive monitoring intel.

However, you should consider setting real-time check-ins for quarterly movements and even monthly if possible regardless. And if that’s stretching your time too thin, these can always be scaled-down versions that target just the most critical metrics for the competitors that matter most.

Just keep in mind that there’s no such thing as too much data. Perhaps it’s one of the few cases in life where more is more.

 6. Capture Competitors’ Consumer Insight

Many brands struggle with accuracy when it comes to deciphering the voice of the customer (VoC). That being the case, with a bit of determination and consistency, it’s plausible that you can do a better job of it than they do – and your competitive monitoring will bear this out.

Once you’ve dialed into where your competitor’s consumers are talking, there’s a wealth of insight to be had. That’s where you break the conversations down for keywords, sentiment drivers, top authors, demographics, and even psychographic data such as interests.

After all, it’s not always immediately apparent what fans of your competitors like. Take this Vodka brand, for example – their consumers’ interests are all over the map.


Now you can monitor movement in the areas of interest for your brand to strategize and grow share of voice in specific spaces.

 7. Merger & Acquisition Chatter

As the world’s supply chains groan moving out of the pandemic, mergers and acquisitions will be on the radar for many brands. Keeping tabs on critical metrics here will help you to spot growing interest with one of your competitors.

Of course, M&A rumors always abound, and some are just passing fads. But even if your competitors aren’t generating M&A chatter right now, you can set metrics around keywords, so you’ll see when there’s movement on that front.

And if they are actively discussing M&A, competitive monitoring will tell you what they are working on and who they’re teaming up with. This intel is crucial to have so you can adjust accordingly.

8. New Product Innovation

We’ve already discussed knowing who your competitors’ consumers are and where they’re talking online. Tracking movements in these areas will show you how the conversation is shifting over time.

You can then see which conversations have diminished and which are growing. These types of conversations are a good indicator as to whether your competition is listening to their consumer’s wants and needs. In other words, it’ll help show whether the competitor is innovating towards their customer’s pain points.

And keeping a tight rein on these conversations’ nature will help you spot areas you can jump in and save the day. If they aren’t doing a satisfactory job meeting consumer needs, you know to innovate in that direction.

Suppose you’re anywhere near the fitness industry, for example. In that case, many of your competitors’ consumers will be hashing out their problems on Reddit. Find those conversations using competitive monitoring, break them down, and you’ll know precisely where it’s in your best interest to move.

So, if this is your competitor’s audience discussing fitness on Reddit, a look into the top keywords will show you right off the top that it’s only 41% positive. There’s also an apparent nutrition aspect and regimen questions as significant themes. And, of course, the advice and problem columns are always great places to start when looking for innovation inspiration.


9. Killer Campaign Ideas

Here’s an area where it’s safe to go far outside your category with competitive monitoring. Creative marketing and campaigns draw upon emerging trends to get relatable with customers. And you shouldn’t limit yourself to your category when it comes to inspiration.

Tracking brands hitting the high notes with their campaigns will allow you to dig into the data, so you have the recipe for the secret sauce. Then you can use that intel in tandem with competitive monitoring within your category to level up when your competitors hit the snooze button.

Monitoring trends across platforms will tell you how to adjust your content for the perfect fit for everything from TikTok to your Instagram Stories.

 10. Connect with Influencers & Win Over Detractors

You should consider extending your competitive monitoring to include your competitors’ influencers. Doing so allows you to track their successes and failures in much the same way you’d track your own.

If you are only tracking your influencers, you are hoping for your numbers to go up and expand your ROI. Using competitive monitoring to track your competitor’s influencers lets you know if your goals need to be higher.

In other words, you might think you’re doing fine on your own. Still, suppose your competitor is growing by more percentage points every few months. In that case, you know you need to rethink your influencer marketing strategy.

Additionally, using competitive monitoring on your competitor’s detractors could be an opportunity for paydirt – especially if their voice is impactful in your category. Tracking them allows you to leverage them onto your side of the fence when the opportunities present themselves.

As we mentioned initially, your competitive monitoring doesn’t have to conquer the world out of the gate. Identify your most pressing metrics that would help your brand know more about the competition and start there. Then start with the steps listed here that resonate with you the most.

As you build your competitive monitoring framework and become accustomed to consistent competitive feedback, you’ll be inclined to add to it intuitively. The ultimate goal is to create a replicable series of analyses that target your specific metrics. No more, no less.

Are you ready to be the most informed brand in your category? Reach out for a demo, and we’ll show you how top-tier data analytics tools can help you pull away from the pack.

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