Sense-and-respond, a key organizational trait in today’s dynamic marketplace. To be an agile enterprise, it is imperative to install sensors to monitor the macro- and micro-pulses; macro being the industry and micro, the competitors.
With business activities migrating online, it is now possible for executives to feel the industry pulse and keep tab of their competitors’ activities using various freely available web applications. It is becoming easier for companies to compile market intelligence data and conduct competitive analysis. Rather than the conventional episodic capture of competitive information via market research, it is now possible for companies to build a steady flow information stream.
Forewarned is Forearmed. With better and up-to-date information, businesses can strategically position themselves in the marketplace, and continuously adjusting their business theories to sync with prevalent market realities. The followings are some of the free and highly useful sensing tools for executives to stay ahead of the competition (Note: Your competitors may already use these tools to monitor your company!).
- Summize and Twitscoop are two search engine for Twitter messages (or tweets). Use these tools to follow what Twitter users are saying about your competitors (and your company).
- Twitter, a microblogging site with over 2 million users (with 200,000 of them a week), composing over 3 million tweets a day! (TechCrunch, April 29 2008). It is a fantastic tool to boost your company customer-interactivity quotient.
- Major corporations like SAP, Yahoo!, Disney, Mozilla, and Microsoft are using Twitter to interact with their customers. For more on Twitter-enabled customer service, read How to Get Customer Service via Twitter (ReadWriteWeb, Apr 10 2008).
- An example case of Twittter’s usage: I wrote a post describing how the authors of Groundswell interact with me on Twitter, upon discovering my tweets related to their book (read the post here).
Monitoring Website Traffic Flow with…
- Google Trends, Quantcast, Compete, and Alexa provide website traffic monitoring services. These sites enable you to see the traffic patterns / volumes of your competitors’ websites. You can do a comparative analysis between yours and your competitors’ website traffic.
- Of course, results differ among the providers, as each has its own measurement methodology. Nevertheless, these web traffic measurement tools can give you useful indications of your website, relative to your competitors.
Monitoring the Popularity of Feed Subscription with…
- FeedCompare is useful to compare feed subscribers base of different websites. Its Statistic Chart displays the total subscribers and its patterns over a time period; you can define a time period view – 1-month, 3-months, 6-months, 12-months and 24-months.
- This tool is particularly useful for content-oriented website, where the number of subscribers (readers) correspond to the value of the website (in terms of advertisement revenue).
Monitoring Blogs and Social Contents with…
- Technorati Watchlist monitors over 112 million blogs and over 250 million tag social media. You can request Technorati to monitor your competitors by creating a watchlist of your keywords or URLs (eg. your competitors’ company names and brands). Technorati compiles blog postings that carry the defined keywords or URLs.
- Bloglines Saved Searches also enable you request to automatically search and deliver future articles that carries your desired keywords.
Monitoring Google Results with…
- Google Alerts send you an email alert, when there are new Google results of your choice of search query terms or topics.
- It is an excellent complement to Technorati Watchlist and it mainly monitor your defined search terms in Google’s properties (web, news, videos, groups, blogs)
Extending your customer service with…
- GetSatisfaction offers a ‘context’ for consumers to air their comments / complaints and for companies to respond to them.
- Anyone can submit queries, comments, complaints about any company and product. Other users can email the submitted entry and also send it directly to Twitter and Facebook. Anyone can also follow a particular entry, which is useful if one is interested to know the outcome of a particular issue.
- Here, you can do a search and find out what your competitors’ customers are complaining about them.
This list is just a sample of online applications, which businesses can exploit to sense-and-respond to the marketplace dynamics. No doubt, there will be even more powerful online applications in near future that enable us to cost-effectively collect competitive information and make more informed decisions.
If you know of any tools which are useful for competitive analysis, appreciate if you can comment this post and add your suggestion.