10 Competitive Analysis Tools for Direct Marketers

As long-time direct marketers, both my co-author, Perry Alexander, and I have found that to maintain effectiveness and relevancy as consultants, and as a creative team for direct marketers, we must continually reinvent ourselves.

As we have evolved and reinvented our traditional direct marketing skills over the years, the editors of Target Marketing have invited us to evolve from our online video marketing blog to broader topics. Today we introduce Reinventing Direct. An early phase of reinventing direct marketing competencies began just over a decade ago when we moved beyond direct mail to create basic websites, apply search engine optimization, implement email marketing and pay-per-click campaigns.

Today’s phase of reinventing direct marketing core competencies requires a mastery of even more tools. For example, video marketing campaigns forced us to become better versed in social media creative and measurement. Site and search retargeting present another opportunity for direct marketers.

Customer relationship management systems promise to take direct marketing measurement to a higher level. And what direct marketer can overlook mobile marketing? Bottom line, there is much to cover in this blog and we look forward to sharing what we’re learning in practical, easy-to-understand recommendations, all geared toward direct marketers, so you can reinvent yourself, and become a catalyst for change in your organization.

We’ve chosen online competitive analysis as our first blog topic. Why? Because every thoughtful new business plan and marketing plan includes an analysis of the competition.

In addition, at least once every year you should investigate what your competitors are doing online. It will make you sharper, and more competitive. So today you’ll learn about ten tools you can use to compare how you stack up compared to your competitors. Some of these online sources are free up to a point, but if you want more robust analysis, there is often a cost for the upgrades.

Another thing: numbers between analysis services that offer similar analytics are often somewhat different. You’ll need to keep in mind that the numbers are usually estimated, but they do give you some indication of a competitor’s performance.

Before you begin to conduct your research, I recommend that you create a matrix with columns naming your competitors in the top row across a spreadsheet. In the column down the left side, list key data points. That way you can see how your site performs on a side-by-side comparison with your competition, and you can sort the findings to rank various attributes.

The ten tools we share in today’s video will give you data points on several areas of online marketing including:

  • Where to get a grade for your website’s overall effectiveness
  • Where you stand with SEO
  • Inbound link comparisons (with domain authority)
  • How your website performs on mobile devices
  • Traffic to your website compared to competitors
  • Engagement and reputation metrics
  • Demographic data comparisons of the age, presence of children, income, education and ethnicity of those going to your site versus your competitors
  • Social media comparisons
  • How your site ranks for keywords compared to competitors
  • Competitor’s daily pay-per-click budgets, average paid position, and the estimated value of daily organic traffic
  • How to know when your competitor has new information posted on the web
  • The source where you can go back in time to check what was on a competitor’s website in the past

There are many online analysis tools available and we encourage you to search for them and check them out. We also invite you to share your recommendations of other services that you have successfully used. Please post your recommendations in the comments section below.

Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.