Whether you are analyzing all of the data on your website or not, there is a wealth of information that can be gathered online, not only as analytics on your own website or company, but also as competitive intelligence (CI). It may see like you already have too much data to analyze, but using the available web analysis tools as part of your CI process can help to make sure that the get the most actionable data possible. As more businesses are created and compete for your customers, it is more important than ever for you to have a CI process that utilizes the inexpensive web analysis tools below.
Tracking your own analytics on a webpage is great to compare and trend your relative growth over time, but this data isn’t truly valuable until it is compared against your competition. By collecting CI data from your top competitors you are able to generate benchmark numbers that are highly specific to see how you stack up, and how their strategies and growth is affecting your bottom line. Using this data to improve your company’s shortcomings and outpace your competition will produce remarkable results.
There are plenty of different sources of competitive intelligence data that can be gathered and by collecting a number of varied data sets you are protecting your company from the two potential pitfalls of all CI data: the sample biases and its accuracy (need to be corroborated). Making sure you then draw from multiple data sources will help to increase the accuracy and prevent certain biases from heavily influencing your business decisions. While there are a number of very effective sources for your CI data if you have money to spare, most businesses are better served implementing the free web analysis tools as part of their CI process. The most notable of these tools include:
Alexa – owned by amazon, a great first step for general website traffic information, but heavily biased data for windows and internet explorer users
Compete – similar services to Alexa, but slightly more robust, great analytics but hard to pinpoint sources
Google Trends for Websites – similar to compete and alexa, but it offers ability to see what the customers viewed before and after that specific site with the “Also visited” function
Google DoubleClick Ad Planner – similar base data as the other CI sources but adds a whole new layer with the demographic and psychographic visitor data
Google Insights for Search – on a different path you can gain data about the search data and how/where the users are searching. Use the regional searches to pinpoint data that could be useful for location targeted advertising campaigns
Microsoft adCenter Labs – as an extension of the search CI data you can gain the before and after searches around keywords with the “Search Funnels” web analytic tool.
When you are looking to put your competitive intelligence process together and need to keep the budget low, you can use these free web analytic tools to gather plenty of data. It is important that you make sure that you can use this data effectively, and therefore have a purpose for it before you go out and gather all of the CI data that you can get your hands on. CI data is great once you can harness its potential.