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Pathmatics Blog

Competitive Research Tools: The Top Five Free Tools

January 26 2016 by Jordan Kramer


Look, we're all guilty of it.  I mean, heck, it's even a primary tool of our business model. That's right, I’m talking about stalking your competitors (in a non-creepy way), and using that data to power your own marketing and advertising campaigns.   Competitive research is a necessary staple of business today, benchmarking your brand, or your client’s brand, against the constantly changing advertising landscape.  Information is the most valued currency for your business.  And, using that information to keep one step ahead of your competition is the key to shaping a successful brand, whether it's recognizing acute missteps, or modifying great ideas to your benefit, the data doesn't lie.  Might as well use their mistakes or successes to your benefit, right?  
Here is a round-up of our favorite competitive research tools out there on the web that can assist you in getting a full picture of your competitor’s advertising and marketing strategy.  If you are unaware of who your top competitors are, Hoovers or Yahoo! Data is a great way to find out.  So, keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

1. Alexa


The godfather of competitive research, Alexa is a service that allows you to see how any website is ranking on the web.  This means page views, total monthly visitors, bounce rate, and more insights that can be very helpful in benchmarking your strategy.  How many inbound links does your competitor have?  Is it more or less than your brand?  If it's more, where is your competitor syndicating content, or what relationships do they have that you don’t?  Deconstructing their strategy is just as helpful as organizing yours.  You can't solve the puzzle with missing pieces!


2. Hubspot Marketing Grader

Building on the insights that Alexa can provide, Hubspot went one step further and integrated these data points with other indicators that illustrate a brand’s marketing strategy.  The marketing software giant offers a free tool that will access any brands blogging, social media, SEO, lead generation capabilities, and mobile responsiveness.  It even looks at frequency between tweets, average time between blog posts, indexed pages, recent links to pages with forms, stylesheets and meta tags.  This information helps you to discover what avenues you may be missing out on.  Is your competitor publishing more posts or tweets than you?  How is that affecting their bottom line?

3. Mention

The name says it all.  The web is a huge place and it should be no surprise that your brand is being mentioned somewhere out there, completely unbeknownst to you...until now.  Mention tracks every tweet, blog post, news article and shout-out in between, and emails you a roll-up of where your brand is popping up around the web. Turning this around on your competitors, this roll-up can be used as a free PR prospecting list.  Where is your competitor appearing that you’re not?  Are there other blogs or editorial sites geared towards your target personas that you are unaware of?  Perhaps a site features your competitor and leaves you out, now is your chance to email the editor and make them aware of your differentiator within the space.  Stalking can be good, sometimes.  Google Alerts is also a similar, and free, service.

4. Pathmatics Brand Report

Let us do the work for you!  Want to know exactly which sites your competitor is advertising on?  Better yet, how about which partner placed that ad on said site?  We recently started offering a free brand report from our ad intelligence platform that allows you to do just that.  While our platform showcases historical data, advertiser comparison tools and top advertisers across all categories, our free report gives a complete snapshot of any advertiser’s digital activity over the last 30 days.  See exactly which sites they targeted, how they purchased impressions or if they're buying direct or programmatically, and which programmatic and ad network partners they're using.  Is there a site your competitor is targeting that wasn’t even on your radar? Capitalize on the audience research your competitor has already done by using their strategy to fuel yours. 

5. SEM Rush

One of my personal favorites is SEMRush, which gives a quick look under the keyword ‘hood’ so to speak.  The world of keywords can be a bit murky, especially when you’re trying to figure out which keywords are actually working.  Take a nod from your competitor’s playbook with a comprehensive overview of which keywords they are ranking for.  Dive into traffic cost, paid vs. organic keywords, keyword volume, paid position distribution, sample ads and more.  What are your competitor’s top paid keywords?  Are you betting on the same ones?  Why or why not?  This peak into their SEO strategy will help you better analyze your own efforts.
What are your favorite tools for competitive research?  Are there any other kpi’s that you find instrumental in gauging your competitor’s strategy?  Let us know in the comments!

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  • Top Creatives
  • Daily Spend & Impression ShareBrand_report_my_competitor_2-1.png
  • Buying Channels & Intermediaries
  • Top Sites
  • Estimated Site Spend & Impression Share

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About Author
Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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