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5 Not-So-Obvious Ways to Keep an Eye on Your Competitors as A Small Business Owner

As a small business owner, keeping tabs on your competitors is crucial if you want to stay ahead of the game. It helps you identify market trends and spot opportunities long before anyone else. Actually, your competitors are probably doing the same thing to you. Research shows that 94% of businesses have allocated resources toward “Competitive Intelligence.”

However, traditional methods of monitoring your competition offer limited insights. To truly gain a competitive edge, you need to explore alternative and not-so-obvious ways of keeping an eye on your rivals.

We’ll look at five creative and unconventional ways to monitor your competitors that you may not have thought of before. These methods will help you uncover valuable insights about your competitive strengths, weaknesses, and strategies to help you gain a unique perspective, ultimately helping you improve your business and beat your competitors.

1. Monitor Their Online Activity

Businesses rely heavily on that online aspect — marketing, selling, interacting with clients, etc. Therefore, monitoring the competition’s online activities makes sense. You can gain valuable insights into their marketing strategies, audience engagement, and industry trends.

One of the most effective ways to monitor your competitors’ online activity is through social media listening tools. These tools allow you to track and analyze their social media activity, including followers, engagement rates, and content performance. You can also monitor their online advertising campaigns using tools like AdSpy or AdBeat, which help you keep tabs on the ads and platforms they use.

Another useful tip is to do a competitive website analysis every now and then. This involves analyzing their website design, user experience, and content to identify areas where you can improve your own site. 

You can use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to thoroughly analyze competition websites and gain insights into their SEO strategies and traffic sources. You can also use tools to monitor changes your competitors make to their websites in real time. 

2. Sign Up for Their Email Newsletters and Follow Their Blogs

Subscribing to competitors’ email newsletters and following their blogs is another effective way to keep an eye on their marketing strategy and product offerings. Doing so gives you a glimpse into their content marketing tactics, product launches, and customer relationship-building tactics. 

When reviewing newsletters and blogs, pay attention to the types of content they’re sharing, the kind of language they use, and the promotions they offer. You can also use tools like SpyFu or iSpionage to monitor their email marketing campaigns and track their open and click-through rates. 

By staying informed about your competitors’ email and blog activity, you can adapt your own marketing strategy to meet audience needs and stay ahead of the competition.

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3. Conduct Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping involves posing as a customer to get an objective view of the experience customers have with competitors. By posing as a customer, you get first-hand experience with the competition, product presentations, pricing strategy, customer conversion tactics, how they handle customer complaints, and so much more. 

To conduct effective mystery shopping, you need to have a clear goal and plan. Start by identifying the specific aspects of your competitors’ customer experience you want to investigate. You can then create a persona or profile for your mystery shopper that fits your target audience and even visit physical locations or online stores.

During mystery shopping, pay close attention to the customer experience, pricing, and product presentation. Take notes on how your competitors handle customer inquiries and complaints, the quality of their products, and how they compare to your own offerings. You can then use the information gained from this exercise to improve your business strategy and even develop a better unique selling point for your products.

4. Research Their Hiring and Employee Activity

Monitoring your competitors’ hiring and employee activity can provide valuable insights into their business strategy and direction. You can gain insights into their expansion plans, product development, and market positioning by keeping tabs on their job postings, employee turnover, and hiring trends.

One effective way to research their hiring activity is by using job listing sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, or Indeed. These sites can provide information about competitors’ job openings, salaries, and employee reviews. You can also use these sites to network with former employees of your competitors, who can provide valuable information about their organizational culture and strategic direction.

By researching your competitors’ hiring and employee activity, you can stay ahead of the competition and make informed decisions about your business strategy. By understanding their organizational culture, strengths, and weaknesses, you can adapt your own strategy to better meet the needs of your target audience.

5. Analyze Their Reviews and Customer Feedback

Analyzing your competitors’ reviews and customer feedback is another effective way to gain insights into their business practices and customer satisfaction levels. By monitoring their reviews and feedback, you can gain insights into their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their customer engagement tactics and product offerings.

One way to monitor competitor reviews and feedback is by using review monitoring tools like Google Alerts, Hootsuite, or Mention. These tools can help you track mentions of your competitors across multiple channels, including social media, review sites, and forums. You can also use these tools to track mentions of your own brand, allowing you to compare your customer satisfaction levels to those of your competitors.

Pay attention to recurring themes, such as common complaints or praise. You can also use sentiment analysis tools to gauge the overall tone of their reviews and feedback, helping you understand how their customers perceive their brand.

By analyzing your competitors’ reviews and feedback, you can gain valuable insights into their business practices and use this information to improve your customer engagement tactics and product offerings. By understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can adapt your own business strategy to better meet the needs of your target audience and stay ahead of the competition.

Wrapping Up

Staying ahead of the competition is critical for the success of any business, especially small businesses operating in a crowded marketplace. While it may seem overwhelming, keeping a watchful eye on your competitors is essential to making strategic business decisions that can lead to growth and success. 

By utilizing the not-so-obvious tactics discussed in this article, you can stay informed about your competitors and make better decisions that will help you stay ahead of the curve. So, if you’re a small business owner looking to gain a competitive edge, we encourage you to try out one or more of the strategies discussed in this article. Use them to gain insights into your competitors, improve your own business practices, and position your business for long-term success.

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