6 Tools for Tracking Business Competitors

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Why are some local businesses perpetually busy, while others are virtually devoid of customers? Merchants who’ve pondered this question about their competitors are usually left with two unappealing options — they can outright ask for the successful merchant’s “secret sauce” or they can stop by in person and examine the situation up close. Now, merchants who are interested in tracking their competitors can let technology do some of the work.

Competitive analysis tools allow local business owners to understand what neighboring merchants are doing through their digital marketing and on social media to get people through the door. Merchants can then use this information to formulate their own marketing strategies, using a combination of social outreach and targeted promotions.

Here are six examples of platforms that businesses can use.

1. Socialbakers: Discover what nearby businesses are doing right on social media.
With Socialbakers, merchants can discover what their competitors are doing right online, and how much of their success is due to paid vs. organic reach. Merchants set up custom groups to track competitors by industry, location, or business size, and then track how those competitors are promoting their digital content. Businesses that use Socialbakers can also see how frequently their competitors are boosting posts and identify which specific content types they’ve boosted. Pricing for Socialbakers starts at $120 per month for a basic account.

2. Perch: Discreetly track the reviews being posted about nearby businesses.
Designed for local businesses, Perch gives merchants access to the reviews, social posts, and promotions their competitors are posting. Merchants can create “watchlists” of nearby businesses they’d like to track, and then find out whenever those businesses have posted new coupons, specials, or received positive reviews online. Perch consolidates postings from Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google+, Instagram, Foursquare, Groupon, and Living Social into a centralized platform. Merchants can download Perch’s mobile app for free.

3. SocialRank: Poach customers from a competitor’s Twitter account.
Influential Twitter followers are an important marketing tool for businesses, but collecting massive numbers of followers on social media can be challenging for local merchants. SocialRank’s Market Intelligence tool, introduced this summer, lets merchants see their competitors’ followers, filtered by location, interests, engagement, and influence. Merchants can then reach out to those followers with special offers or promotions. SocialRank offers a free plan.

4. Womply: See when other businesses update their pricing or specials.
Is the long line at a Main Street business due to a daily special, discounted prices, or expanded hours? With Womply, merchants can monitor other businesses and see when those competitors make changes to their marketing, hours, specials, or pricing. Merchants can also compare their performance to similar businesses nearby and keep tabs on overall market growth. Merchants who use Womply are able to monitor multiple review sites from a single dashboard, and they receive email alerts automatically based on the triggers they’ve set up. Womply’s insights are available to “qualified merchants” for $99.99 per month.

5. Tracx: Mine social media conversations for competitive analysis.
A next-generation enterprise social platform, Tracx offers tools that larger businesses and brands can use to monitor what their competition is doing online. Businesses are able to gain a competitive advantage when they monitor the “evolution of social conversations,” including interaction rates and demographics of other business’ followers. Tracx shows businesses which social channels are performing the best and how their own accounts stack up in comparison. Businesses can contact Tracx for specific pricing information.

6. Swipely: Optimize digital marketing spend.
Although Swipely is known primarily as a provider of analytics and credit card processing, the platform also provides businesses with tools for comparing their reputations to nearby establishments. Through the reputation management module, restaurants in particular are able to track mentions on Yelp, Google, and OpenTable, and compare their own reviews to those being posted for businesses in the same neighborhood or town. Swipely also gives businesses a way to view online rating trends in the context of offline sales. Swipely offers variable pricing. For more on Swipely, read Street Fight’s interview with CEO Angus Davis.

Know of other tools that businesses can use to track what their competitors are doing online? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.