Every business has competitors and monitoring what they are up to is critical and doesn’t need to be costly or time-consuming.

The post below shows the 5 steps to set up a robust competitive intelligence monitoring in less than 5 minutes.

One of the biggest threats to any business is competition within the industry. From new entrants to already established players, your competition can be the one thing preventing your business from taking the next big step or simply declining to oblivion (Yahoo!, MySpace, thinking about you!).

Business managers are always thinking about competition and are naturally irritated when a competitor announces a new release, a promotion, or when they hire a stellar manager you had an eye into.

As such, it is essential to establish a thorough competitive intelligence strategy but this in general tedious, expensive, and time-consuming. But it doesn’t need to be this way if you use clever automation.

Who should be using Competitive Intelligence tools?

Everyone should be doing competitive intelligence!

When we think of competition analysis, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the great opponents. Such as the legendary rivalry between Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi or Apple vs. Samsung. These companies are regularly innovating and releasing new marketing materials to gain market share against each other. And this would not be possible without large competitive analysis teams.

However, no matter what size company you are, having some sort of competitive intelligence process is key. The good news is that nowadays you can automate competitive intelligence without much effort and investment. You can now monitor your competitors’ prices, new product releases, hired staff and promotions, changes in web traffic, social media accounts, and anything you want to watch closely.

We have compiled below 5 steps you can follow to leverage easy to use online tools for competitive intelligence automation in less than 15 min. All the tools are free (with a premium subscription) and most do not need you to create an account to experiment with.

# 1. Use Visualping to monitor your competitors’ websites

is an online service to monitor changes in any website and you will receive an email alert with a screenshot of the page you are tracking with a highlight of the change.

According to their website, it is used by more than 1.5 million users and 250,000 companies including 83% of Fortune 500 for a variety of uses, including competitive monitoring.

All you need to do is insert the URL of the page you want to track, select the area of the page you are interested in, and let the system know which email address you want to be notified to. The system will check the target pages at the frequency of your choice: every five minutes (when time is critically important), hourly, daily, or weekly.

With Visualping, you will be on top of your competitors’ changes. Important pages that we suggest monitoring are the home page where key features are normally posted, the pricing page, the product(s) page(s), and the team page. You can also monitor YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook pages with Visualping as well as changes in the other tools outlined below.

The example below shows the DropBox monitoring Box’s pricing page. You only need to input the URL of the page you want to monitor and the email you want to send the change notifications to.

Time to set up: 10s.  Cost: Free.

# 2. Use SimilarWeb to monitor changes in your competitor’s traffic

allows you to analyze your site’s traffic and compare it with your competitors’.

This tool provides a wide variety of information ranging from different traffic sources and emerging competitors to location and engagement metrics.

The service has a really nice feature which allows you to select two websites to compare to each other directly and compare your traffic against your competitors and how it evolves over time. If your competitor has a spike in traffic, you might want to look where that traffic is coming from and whether it is coming at your expense. A typical traffic spike can come from a better rank in Google (usually at your expense if you drop in ranking on some critical keywords), a, or a marketing campaign.

SimilarWeb is updated during the first week of every month so you might want to use Visualping to automate the checking whether new traffic data about your competitor has been published.

Below is an example of DropBox vs Box traffic changes as well as total visits per month, average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate. As with the previous tool, you only need the website URL you want to track.

Time to set up: 5s. Need to create an account: No. Cost: Free.

# 3. Use Ahrefs to detect changes in your competitor’s domain authority

Depending on your business, most of your traffic will come from Google, and search rank will depend on a key metric called. The higher your Domain Authority score, the better chance your website has to rank higher in search results. If you rank at the bottom of a search or appear on the second page, chances are that you’ll see a drop in traffic.

All companies try tobut, since Google ranks your site vs your competitors, you need to monitor your competitors’ domain authority too to be alerted for any changes relative to yours which makes Domain Authority another key variable to track.

In order to use this tool, start by entering the website URL you want to track and press check to see the Domain Authority Score. This approach can be useful when planning your content strategy to ensure you are pursuing content that will yield positive results.

Below is an example of DropBox vs Box domain authority and the number of domains and backlinks to each site which is the main criteria to calculate domain authority. As with the previous tool, you only need the website URL you want to check.

Time to set up: 10s. Need to create an account: No. Cost: Free.

# 4. Use Moat to monitor your competitor’s banner ads

is a digital marketing analytics tool that allows you to search for any company’s banner ads, placement, dates of display, etc. This tool is extremely useful as it will enable you to keep tabs on what types of messaging and creatives your competition is releasing.

Moat is fantastic to get inspiration from your competitors about what creative direction would work for your brand and what would not and adjust your strategy accordingly. The library of banner ads is continually updated, so when your competitors release new ads, it will be available on Moat immediately.

Below is an example of DropBox ads. As with the previous tool, you only need the name of your competitor you want to check.

Time to set up: 5s. Need to create an account: No. Cost: Free.

# 5. Use Mention to track your (and your competitors) media mentions

Staying in touch with your audience is extremely important in building a strong relationship with your current and potential customers. With Mention, you can get notifications when there are new mentions of your brand through social media, blogs, forums, and the news. This allows you to expand your brand awareness and engage with your audience in more meaningful ways.

You can usefor competitive intelligence as well and monitor what is being said about your competition, measure your performance against them, and determine their share of voice. This strategy allows you to effectively discover what your audience likes and dislikes about your competitors and make more informed business decisions.

Time to set up: 10s. Need to create an account: Yes. Cost: Free.

Conclusion

While large
companies may have dedicated teams to perform competitive intelligence tasks, these tools can offer you very valuable information to keep tabs on your competition for free and in less than 15 minutes. All the tools featured have free plans with various additional paid plans to meet your business needs.