Competitive intelligence (CI) is the result of a business’s endeavours to collect and analyze information about its external environment, such as its industry, competitors and competitive products and services.
CI practices consist of research – in-depth excavations of competitors’ business plans, such as monitoring a company’s Instagram posts for indications of when they will launch their new product.
CI is important. It’s kind of like peering over at your neighbour’s front yard so you can spy on the way they tend to it and then make yours better (there’s no shame). You note the way they’ve trimmed the hedges and power washed their driveway, and then care for your yard in a way that, well, makes it look relatively better.
Information about your business’s environment is vital in crafting informed and tactical decisions in devising your business plans. It’s impossible to differentiate your company from your competitors without insight into their online activities. Much like the hole in the fence, CI data helps your company identify opportunities and points of differentiation, ripening your competitive advantage.
That’s when competitive intelligence tools come in to play.
The digital age is upon us. The internet has become a tool millions of businesses, across the world, take advantage of and depend on.
Without the use of competitive intelligence tools, it’s become nearly impossible to conduct information-gathering processes for the myriad of valuable, publicly available data online.
Competitors’ online presences change at ever-increasing rates: websites update with new prices, product offers and banner advertisements. Many brands post valuable data on social media every day, where you can also uncover insights in media mentions, press releases and customer feedback.
The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) routinely revises the ranking of rivalling pages, such as new products and services that are similar to yours that indicate the inevitable emergence of new competition.
Long story short, without competitive intelligence tools, manually gathering data for a holistic view of the competitor landscape – and then using these insights to craft a strategy that accentuates your company’s differentiators – has become nearly impossible.
As the saying goes, standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world.
That’s why you should take advantage of the proliferation of automation tools like Visualping.io.
The world’s top website monitoring tool, about 8% of Visualping’s group users (those with more than 3 individual accounts) leverage the change detection service for competitive monitoring.
Visualping users track competitors online by automating the process of monitoring web pages for changes, so you don’t have to. You can track changes to competitor websites, for example, which can uncover insightful data regarding their pricing, product offers, blog posts, team and career pages.
Visualping makes it much quicker and easier to keep tabs on your competitors than, say, manually looking up their websites and activities on Google. Not to mention the time and energy it would take to manually record your data in an organized location where you can view your research holistically to craft a sweeping picture of the competitive landscape.
Nobody has time for that.
When changes occur, Visualping sends users an email alert that displays an easy-to-read screenshot of all the page’s changes. Changes that were added to the page are highlighted in green. Changes that were removed are highlighted in red.
As well as monitoring competitor websites, users can also track competitors’ new banner advertisements through monitoring results in Moat, a search engine of your competitors’ paid advertisements across the web. Users can also track changes in competitors’ website traffic through monitoring results in SimilarWeb, one of the top analytics tools for comparing competitors’ traffic data.
Visualping can be used to track updates to competitors’ social media activity, as well as media mentions in news sites and research reports.
In fact, 76.5% of product marketers get their CI insights from reading press releases and media mentions, and 98% of businesses say monitoring competitor websites is their top source of CI data – two sources of competitor data you can easily monitor with Visualping, without the hassle of manually checking the pages yourself.
Visualping records the page changes from all your monitors in one location – your user dashboard. This way, the data is automatically collected and organized for you, and you can conveniently view the page changes all in one location.
How it works: once you set up a monitor with Visualping (which takes less than a minute, and I explain the step-by-step process below), our system takes an initial screenshot of the page and then, at the frequency you specify, takes subsequent screenshots at regular intervals. Visualping compares the screenshots to the previous to detect page changes.
Users can set up alerts to be highly targeted, such as monitoring changes to dynamic content on competitors’ websites, like news and promotions, or more subtle changes, like a newly added page in the navigation menu, to capture changes to messaging features.
For competitive monitoring, we recommend you use the Visual-compare feature. Visual-compare allows our system to monitor web page pixels, which allows the email alerts to display a screenshot of the highlighted page changes. Whichever monitoring method suits your needs, setting up with Visualping is easy.
Step 1: To begin monitoring a competitor web page, copy and paste the URL you wish to track into the search field on Visualping’s homepage. You don’t need to first sign up. Click Go.
Step 2: Once the page appears in the viewport, specify the exact area you want to monitor for changes.
Step 3: Identify the frequency you wish Visualping to check the page – every 5 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly or daily, for example.
Step 4: Enter the email address you wish the change alerts to be sent to.
Step 5: In the Advanced section, choose which monitoring feature you would like to use (Visual-, Text- or Element-compare).
Step 6: If the page is password-protected, as will be the case when monitoring social media pages, then you will need to use the Perform actions feature to instruct the crawlers to login to the social media page, before taking the screenshot. You can see an easy step-by-step explanation of this trick here.
Step 7: Sit back and let Visualping monitor your competitors for you.
Upon receiving an email alert, the Access Site link at the bottom takes you straight to the page, where you can view the updates in real-time. The View Changes link takes you to your user dashboard, where you can view all your monitors. From your dashboard, you can even view the highlighted changes within the context of the actual webpage.
Considering the frequency in which changes occur to your competitors’ online presence, it’s become impossible to keep up with this data manually. Use Visualping to easily monitor shifting competitor data, and have it automatically recorded in one location for your convenience.