No matter the industry you’re in, there will always be a competitor (or competitors). That competition is either trying to get your crown or they are the standard bearer for which you aim to become. Competition is of course good for both you and consumers. Consumers benefit from better pricing and innovation, whereas you are pushed to always improve. Industries need competition – it’s plain and simple. Plus it’s fundamental to capitalism. And with that notion comes spying on the competition.

In this article we’ll look at 6 ways you can spy on your competition, legally of course. It’s always important to know what the competition is doing, right? So let’s explore how you can do just that.

1. Read Their Reviews

It’s not easy to simply ask customers of your competitors to provide you with feedback of their experience directly. Cold calling and surveying are most certainly a thing of the past too. Plus they are a massive drain on both your resources and time.

Instead, read the reviews of your competitors on the Internet. There are plenty of places where people can leave reviews, as well as on social media, LinkedIn and of course on Google Maps.

Now, it’s worth remembering that people are more likely to leave a review only after a negative experience, so looking at reviews (especially on Google Maps) on websites is likely to be far from a true representation of who your competition really is. However, if you see consistent types of complaints or a number of reviews that dwell on the same negative point, then you may have found your competitor’s weakness. So start exploiting that weakness and show why you are better.

2. Subscribe To Their Updates

Most businesses today have some form of communication that they regularly use to communicate with their customers, both past and present. Typically this is done via email. Subscribing to a competitor’s emails is a great way of being alerted to what they are up to.

Any new features, achievements, upcoming promotions and sales or new products will be touted on an email update to clients. Subscribing to their emails is a simple and easy way to see what your competition is doing. You may even compile them over time to see any patterns that emerge in what they do.

3. Monitor Success Of Paid Keywords and SEO

Google Keyword Planner is a wonderful tool any business can use to monitor what words are trending in peoples’ online searches. Knowing what keywords are trending in your industry is a great way to get ahead of your competition.

Furthermore, knowing the keywords you competitors use for their search engine ads is another nifty way of spying on them. When you know the words they use, you can evaluate their success with your own ads and either take their words, or see why their words aren’t working.

Google Keyword Planner and other similar products, as software, cut your time significantly, as opposed to manually searching on Google.

4. Monitor Their Social Media

Social media is free and a intuitive way to broaden your sales and lead opportunities. So if you aren’t using it, that’s your first mistake. Social media accounts make for spying on your competition really easy too.

You competition likely has patterns of when and what they post. Monitor these and try to get ahead of their campaigns. This is a great way of driving more customers to you. If their posts are getting more likes than yours, then you need to compare yours to theirs. Ask your self some heavy questions and take note of what they do better than you.

Assess what your competition uses each social media platform for. Each one has their own unique features and, therefore, benefits. What does your competition do with Facebook as opposed to LinkedIn, for example? They likely don’t have one blanket strategy and you need to learn how they utilize them differently, and take that on board for your business.

5. Set Up Google Alerts

This is a quick and simple step to take that essentially automates your spying efforts. A Google alert will monitor any news, blogs, video, discussion or other text. Just go to the Google Alerts page, fill out a search query and choose the regularity with which you want to receive alerts. Then, let the spy reports flow!

6. Know Their Technology

A quick visit to builtwith.com where you simply type in a competitors URL will reveal the technology they used to create their website. Again, this is an online tool that reveals secrets for you legally, and with minimal effort. If a website is

particularly attractive and you want your own to look like that, now you’ll be able to know what technology achieved that for your competition.

So there you have it, 6 very legal ways you can monitor your competition. It’s always comfortable to just keep doing what has worked in the past. But that’s also how the competition gets ahead. Industry leaders constantly evolve, have an eye on innovation and will themselves to succeed. One of the primary methods of doing this is to know what competitors are doing. And finally remember to not feel guilty about spying, it’s almost guaranteed you’re being spied on by your competition too!