You can use tools like Google Analytics to see how visitors interact with your website. But that’s just a drop in the ocean in terms of competitive analysis.
If you’re running a small or new business, there are some excellent, comprehensive and free competitive analysis tools that can provide valuable data to help you understand your market.
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You’ll need to be willing to put a bit of time in to learn how to get the most from these free competitive analysis tools. But if you do, you’ll be rewarded with information to help your business succeed.
Competitive analysis for due diligence
Short for ‘due diligence’, it’s an excellent tool that provides free business intelligence such as insight into competitors, suppliers, investors and clients.
You can also use it to benchmark a business’s performance and growth over time, build sales leads and integrate social networks such as LinkedIn.
Competitive analysis tools beyond Google
Google Analytics and Google Trends are good free competitive analysis tools because they’re integrated with the most popular search engine in the world. It means you get data ‘right from the horse’s mouth’.
But it’s a good idea to go beyond Google to get deeper insight into your website’s analytics. Comparing data sets can help you avoid sample biases that come about from opt-in panels or toolbars, giving you a more accurate picture of how your audience is behaving in response to your marketing efforts.
For example, have a look at the free competitive analysis tools from SEOmoz.
Using Facebook for competitive analysis
Search engines are constantly learning more about how people categorise and search for information. A big part of the mix in recent years has been social media, which search engines now indirectly recognise and attribute authority to.
In other words, it’s important to use and understand social media to reach your audience, and watch and learn from competitors too.
Competitive analysis doesn’t need to be expensive and complicated. As long as you’re willing to work at it, you can get valuable insight on your partners, suppliers, clients and customers … and get a step ahead in your business.
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Helen Major has a keen interest in finance and has been writing for blogs and newspapers on the subject since she graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2007. She is currently writing on behalf of Duedil, a free Company House and directors’ search database.