Ep. 399: How to Be Privy to Your Competitors’ Marketing Secrets

Competitive Marketing Intelligence

What It Is and How to Get It

Key idea: Competitive intelligence, and its subdivision, competitive marketing intelligence, isn’t reserved for companies with deep pockets. Small businesses can use the methods described in this podcast episode to gain valuable insight into what their competitors are doing to attract prospects and then do it better.

According to HubSpot:

“Competitive intelligence is the practice of monitoring, gathering, and analyzing data – through legal and ethical means – on your competitors and industry to make better business decisions. It can help brands identify gaps in their strategies and discover growth opportunities.”

In a lot of ways, up-to-date competitive intelligence can help your business to not get sucker punched by unforeseen developments or miss opportunities that were just beyond your view of the horizon.

Competitive marketing intelligence is a subdivision of competitive intelligence. As the term implies, it applies intelligence gathering to the marketing strategies and tactics used by competing businesses. Intricately, a company that assists cloud revenue teams identify high-potential prospects, describes it this way:

“[C]ompetitive marketing intelligence uses more in-depth insights to drill down into the specifics that drive marketing interactions and sales conversations, including:

  • How customers use your competitors’ offering.
  • What is most important to your audience and current customers.
  • Adapting messaging to how customers use your product.
  • Identifying pain points and interests that you can speak to better than anyone else.”

In this week’s Silver Dollar episode of Stay Paid, we describe six ways that a small business can spy on their competitors and develop these insights.

6 ways small businesses can spy on their competitors

Gathering competitive intelligence on the internet is a bit like selecting a meal from the 12-page menu at an all-you-can-eat Italian restaurant: the variety of items is overwhelming to the point where you can’t decide what you want, but when you do, the portions are so big it’s impossible to digest it all (at least not without help from Uncle Sal).

All this is to say that there is a lot of information out there for the person who wants to find it. But competitive business intelligence gathering, and analysis of that intelligence, are two different things.

Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed.

Start with one of the methods we discuss during the episode to get a feel for how a specific tool can be used. Pull some data and then consider how to organize what you find in a way that is useful. Then determine what the data mean to both your competitor and you.

Below is a list of six ways a small business can gather competitive marketing intelligence. We discuss each in more detail, including how to use them:

1. Use the Meta Ad Library


You can use the Meta Ad Library to see the Facebook ads of any business.

You can use this free resource, formerly known as the Facebook Ad Library, to find mounds of helpful data that describes the Facebook ads run by your competitors. A key tip is to look for how long an ad has been running. Ads that have been active for a long period are typically the more successful ones, since no one is going to continue to pay to run an ad that doesn’t return the desired results.

2. Consult Similarweb.com


SimilarWeb will reveal a wide range of information about your competitors’ web traffic.

Use the free version to discover key performance indicators, global ranking, audience demographics and interests, top keywords, the means by which visitors are finding your competitors’ websites, and so much more.

3. Examine YouTube ads


Listen to the episode for instructions about how to save any YouTube ad for analysis.

You may not know this, but you can find and save any YouTube video. It only takes a few steps and is quite easy to do. Similar to Facebook Ads, you can see how long an ad is running on YouTube to get a good sense of how effective it is. Study these ads and compare them to others from the same competitor, other competitors, and your own ads. During the episode, we also tell you about a browser extension you can download and use to give your YouTube posts a big SEO boost.

4. Set yourself up to be retargeted


Visit your competitors’ social media pages and select to follow them. They’ll soon be targeting you with their marketing.

What better way to gather information about a competitor’s marketing than to have them send it to you? Visit your competitors’ websites. Download any lead magnet they may be offering. Follow them on Facebook or other social media platform. Watch their videos. Trust us: it won’t take long before they start to market to you. (You may want to set up a separate email account to use for this purpose.)

5. Check ahrefs.com for backlinks


Ahrefs will give you valuable insight about your competitors’ backlinks and keyword strategy.

You can use the Site Explorer tool at ahrefs.com to discover the keywords your competitors are ranking for, which pages bring the most search engine traffic, which websites link to their sites and assess the quality of their backlink profiles, and which of your competitors are running paid search advertising and where they funnel their paid traffic.

6. Grassroots efforts


Sign up to receive text messages from your competitors and see their marketing strategy as a prospect would.

Each of the following activities will provide more information that you can use to determine what your competitors are doing, how well what they’re doing is working, and whether you can beat them at their own game:

  • Sign up to receive their newsletters and SMS (text message) campaigns.
  • See if you can secretly shop them (you’ll hear their pitch).
  • Conduct a search for their site or relevant topics to see where their content ranks.
  • If you’re in real estate, search the MLS for top agents in your area and see what they’re doing to target potential buyers/sellers.

Please enjoy this episode, and we’d appreciate it if you took a moment to leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts.

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