Did you know that one of your competitors just launched a new product and another changed their pricing? Have you heard how their users are reacting? Of course not, you’re busy launching your own startup business and spending 18 hours a day looking for investors, building your platform and planning your marketing campaigns! When you’re heads-down focused on your own startup’s success, it’s easy to lose sight of the world around you. These 7 simple tips can help you keep tabs on your competitors, partners and potential investors.
I recently found this little gem – it’s a Chrome extension that gives you a quick view of a site’s unique visitor traffic (from Compete.com), Google & Alexa page rank, SEO keywords, inbound links, founding team and funding info from AngelList and similar sites. Once you install the extension, just visit the site you’re interested in analyzing and click the little “H” icon in the top right corner of your browser.
Have Google notify you via email or RSS feed whenever it finds any new mentions of the company you’re tracking. This will include any new media coverage, blog posts and new pages added to the company’s web site. It’s important to note that these alerts will only find NEW links mentioning your search term; they won’t notify you of changes to existing pages.
Track changes to specific pages on your competitor’s website using ChangeDetection.com. Set up alerts to track their pricing page, service offerings, partners, management team – anything you think is important. You’ll get an email whenever the content of those pages change. You can’t always tell exactly what was changed just by reading the email alert, but you’ll at least be prompted to go check their website and find out what they’re up to.
4. Subscribe to the Newsletter
Many organizations send out an email newsletter on some regular frequency. Find out how your competitor is communicating news to their customers or members by signing up for their newsletter. It’s probably best to use one of your personal email accounts …
Keep tabs on the conversations taking place on Twitter, blogs, comments, etc. with SocialMention. Email alerts are temporarily unavailable, but you can set up an RSS feed for any search term. SocialMention claims to include activity from Facebook, but I didn’t find any evidence of that. My search results did include Twitter, StumbleUpon and YouTube, which is still very helpful. More and more, users are turning to social media channels for customer support – see how your competitors’ customers are reacting to their latest product release!
Follow your competitor, their management team, their investors and their partners on Twitter without them knowing. In some cases, you may want them to know you’re listening, but in case you don’t … use private lists in Twitter. You can add any Twitter user to a list, whether you’re following them or not.
And then there’s always the old standby, RSS feeds. If you’re one of the people left out there that still uses an RSS reader, add your competitor’s blog to your feed reader. If the blog is well indexed, you’ll generally get a Google Alert for any new blog posts, but sometimes they don’t show up for a few days or not at all.
If you’re using a social media platform to manage your company’s online presence, many tools also include widgets to allow you to track activity from your competitors. The key is to come up with a lightweight system that works for you. Spend most of your time and energy making your company successful, but make sure you’re alerted when your competitors, partners and potential investors make important announcements.
Add to the list! Share your tips in the comments below.