Top Ten Strategies to Monitor Competitors Online

Contrary to a one-off competitive social listening analysis, establishing benchmarks around competitive performance and tracking them over time is how you monitor competitors online. With today’s social listening tools, there’s no reason for your brand not to have a better grip on competitive movement within your industry.

With each passing day, brands are becoming increasingly savvy with their competitive intelligence. The heat is on to monitor competitors effectively, so you always know what’s going on and where you stand. To that end, we’ll explore the top ten strategies to monitor competitors online.

Specifically, we’ll cover the following:

  1. Setting benchmarks to monitor competitors
  2. Explore and create alerts
  3. Dive below surface insight
  4. Strategize which competitors you monitor
  5. Don’t forget to check in on schedule
  6. Monitor competitors’ voice of the customer
  7. Target innovation conversations
  8. Merger & acquisition intel
  9. Monitor competitors’ campaigns
  10. Track influencer activity

Before we jump into our strategies, here are a few competitive intelligence statistics to keep in mind while forming yours:

  • Only 44% of businesses surveyed in Crayon’s 2020 State of Competitive Intelligence Report said they had concrete KPIs to monitor competitors’ movement.
  • In today’s market, it’s critical to monitor competitors online if you want to stay ahead. 70% of brands say their past campaigns could have been more effective using competitive intelligence.
  • Last year, a survey found that 48% of brands said their industry was much more competitive than usual. 41% said theirs was somewhat more competitive.

And don’t forget – as we monitor competitors, we do not only want to measure their successes, but we’re also aiming to learn and capitalize on their mistakes. Watching for both will help your brand grow share of voice. Social listening will reveal consumer sentiment that alerts us to cultural shifts relevant to our competitors so we can adjust to changing perceptions.

Let’s look at a few best practices!

1. Set Benchmarks to Monitor Competitors

The first thing you want to do as you set out to monitor competitors is to establish a social listening analysis that captures key metrics you’d like to track. You can start simply and add to it later.

That’s because you need to become accustomed to replicating the analysis you build at strategic points throughout the year – and each one needs to be the same. That’s because you don’t want your data captures to vary in any way.

In your first analysis, the metrics you choose will act as benchmarks to measure against in subsequent analyses. Starting simple, you can cover mentions, posts, sentiment, passion, engagements, and impressions. Here’s what that looks like for a cereal brand over one month.

cereal-summary-metrics

Brand metrics for a major cereal brand. 7/18/21 – 8/18/21

This gives you a broad overview of brand activity which is easy to monitor and compare against your brand health. Following this up monthly or quarterly allows you to see movement, so you know where you stand. And don’t worry – you can always add deeper insights to track in the same manner.

2. Explore and Create Alerts

One of the biggest favors you can do yourself as you monitor competitors is enabling alerts around the most critical metrics. For example, let’s say that you are tracking a competitor’s net sentiment. In that case, setting up alerts to let you know when their sentiment skyrockets or dips allows you to get on the ball immediately.

If their sentiment plummets at the onset of a crisis or raises the roof on the heels of a successful campaign, you need to know. After all, competitive monitoring is all about uncovering opportunities to grow share of voice.   

metrics-alerts

3. Dive Below Surface Insights

As you continually uncover new intel on the competition, you’ll be naturally inclined to begin measuring deeper insights. Depending on the power of your competitor monitoring tools, these can be anything – from aspects of a competitor’s customer journey, such as brand loyalty or purchase intent, to demographic data, etc.

Don’t be afraid to set new benchmarks for relevant intel, just as long as they’re replicable over time. These types of insights are beneficial to measure where a brand is having success. If your brand struggles in the same area, monitor competitors’ strong points to help you build strategy.

4. Strategize Which Competitors You Choose to Monitor

Unfortunately, with limited time and budgets, brands can’t afford to monitor everyone. That being the case, choose at least two of your closest competitors that you absolutely must track. Additionally, it’s a great idea to throw in one or two aspirational competitors to give you targets to shoot for.

It’s also good practice to keep a few of the smaller guys on your radar. They may not be significant threats but tracking them can show you where they are siphoning some of your market share. 

5. Don’t Forget to Check in on Schedule

As you monitor competitors, set a manageable schedule, and stick to it. Many brands go with a monthly or quarterly routine. Others may find it more beneficial to conduct their competitive monitoring around major holidays or before, during, and after their busiest seasons.

Whatever route you choose, make sure your measurements are capturing the same amount of time. This protects the accuracy of your data as you monitor competitors over time.

6. Monitor Competitors’ Voice of the Customer

Consumer behavior changes often. Tracking your competitor’s voice of the customer data shows where perceptions, attitudes, and emotions are moving. Understanding your competitor’s audience gives you the competitive intelligence you need to move in where they are dropping the ball.

consumer-behavior-word-cloud

7. Target New Innovation Conversations

Another area you may want to consider tracking is the chatter around competitors’ new products and innovations. Measuring the temperature here will uncover whether their offerings are a hit or whether they’ve just released a dud. These types of discussions can help your research and development team immensely.

8. Capture Merger & Acquisition Conversations

If a competitor is considering a merger or acquisition, you should know about it sooner than later. Creating metrics with alerts around M&A chatter as you monitor competitors is smart. You may go a long time without seeing movement, but when word hits the street, you’ll be among the first to know.

9. Monitor Competitors’ Campaigns

It’s crucial to monitor competitors’ campaigns so you can track how you measure up against them. Following them from beginning to end, year after year, allows you to see and implement strategies that are working well into your campaigns. And that doesn’t mean you are copying their messaging; you can track custom audiences they are targeting, garnering great results. 

10. Track Influencer Activity

There’s no reason you shouldn’t monitor competitors’ influencers to gauge performance. Once you uncover them, you can build metrics around the individual or simply track the top authors within the brand conversation. Measuring influencer performance shows you what’s working for them and what isn’t. Tracking authors in a brand conversation gives you the added bonus of finding major detractors that could be approached to help lure away a bit of precious market share.

Overall, if you want powerful, ongoing insights that give you a leg up in your industry, it’s critical to monitor competitors online. So much intel is freely available for brands willing to implement a competitive monitoring strategy.

Is your brand on the cutting edge or falling further behind? Reach out for a demo, and we’ll show you how world-class social listening tools can put more miles between you and the competition.

importance of competitive intelligence for brand strategy

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