If you have a business website with Google Analytics enabled, it can be fascinating to see how your customers and potential customers interact with you online. But that’s just a drop in the ocean in terms of competitive intelligence analysis. It can be a complex and expensive endeavour, but if you’re running a start-up and need comprehensive but free tools, here are a few that can provide excellent analytics if you’re willing to put in the time to learn how to use them.
Do your ‘due diligence’
You don’t have to pay to view Companies House accounts if you can download them already for free online. In terms of company financials, Duedil (short for due diligence) is an excellent tool that provides free business intelligence such as insight into competitors, suppliers, investors, even clients – but you can also benchmark a business’s performance and growth over time, build sales leads and integrate social networks such as LinkedIn.
Avoid sample bias
Google Analytics, Google Trends for Websites and Google Insights for Search are all good sources to use because they’re integrated with the most popular search engine in the world. But it’s a good idea to go beyond Google and mine your data to get deep insight into your website’s analytics. Comparing data sets can help you avoid sample biases that come about from opt-in panels or toolbars so that you can get a more accurate picture of how your audience is behaving in response to your marketing efforts. For example, have a look at free SEOmoz tools at SEOBook.
Don't forget Facebook
Every day search engines are learning more and more about how people categorise and search for information, it’s an ongoing process. A big part of it in recent years is social media, whose busy signals 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! Have a look at FeedCompare, HootSuite, SocialMention and Google Alerts to analyse how your social media are faring.
Competitive intelligence doesn’t need to be expensive and complicated, and if 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.
Helen Major has been writing finance-related blogs and newspaper articles since graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 2007. She is currently writing on behalf of Duedil.