How to Effectively Monitor Your Competitors in 5 Minutes a Day


The Crock-Pot® episode.

For those who watch NBC’s This Is Us, these three words need no explanation. For the rest, this was the episode that revealed the cause of a house fire that killed a lead character: a faulty Crock-Pot.

The episode prompted myriad news headlines, a brilliant response from Crock-Pot and countless tears from fans. It also serves as a great example of why marketers should establish competitor monitoring programs. For brands like Cuisinart® or Wolf or Instant Pot® that compete in the slow cooker market, a monitoring program would have quickly triggered various alerts about the uptick in online conversations about the iconic competitor brand.

Inboxes dinging with Google Alerts.
Daily media reports filled with news headlines.
Hootsuite revealing that #CrockPotIsInnocent is trending.

All smart intel to help assess the situation and understand what, if any, action is necessary.

Admittedly, this is an extreme example. But it serves as a reminder about why competitor monitoring is invaluable for any brand or organization. Here are just a few reasons:

  • Understand how others tackle similar challenges. Assess others’ wins and fails related to messaging, customer experience and more to inform your approach.
  • Know about new products, services and promotions. Did a competitor unexpectedly beat you to market? Real-time monitoring can help you pivot sooner.
  • Inform your content marketing strategy. What hashtags do your competitors use? What topics do they address on their blogs? Monitor what works and what doesn’t, then apply this to your content marketing efforts.
  • Identify new media contacts. Keeping tabs on your competitors in the media means you may uncover new journalists to add to your media list.

If you’re motivated to jumpstart your monitoring efforts, here are seven tools to try. Many offer a free version, some are paid—and all will give you a leg up on your competition.

Setup real-time alerts. Google Alerts are a no-cost way to receive real-time notifications via email when a competitor is mentioned online—in the news or on a blog or website.

Gather media intel. Media monitoring services like Mention and Meltwater aggregate online, print and broadcast media coverage of competitors and send you a nicely-packaged, daily report. You can customize the analysis to include sentiment, share of voice and more.

Monitor search terms. Google Trends is a free tool that uses Google Search data to show how often a particular term is searched relative to total search volume. You can compare multiple search terms, meaning you can track your brand against competitors. This allows you to see interest over time and what people search in connection with each brand.

Track competitor content. BuzzSumo is an easy-to-use freemium tool that shows top-performing content for a given domain name. Track your competitors’ domains to learn what content is performing well (and not so well), the websites linking to their best performing content and channels that get the most shares.

Follow on social. Don’t forget to follow competitors on social media. Facebook allows business pages to track competitor content using its Pages to Watch feature. And creating a dedicated Twitter list for competitors is an easy way to scan tweets from these brands.

Create dedicated social feeds. If you already subscribe to a social media management platform like Sprout Social, Hootsuite or Buffer, be sure to include competitors in your feed dashboards. This is an efficient way to monitor competitor content alongside your own in real-time. 

Subscribe to blogs and e-newsletters. To avoid inbox overload, consider a subscription tool like Owletter, which captures, analyzes and stores all emails sent by a website to its subscriber list. It then sends you a monthly email report.

Now that you have some tools to explore, the next step is finding the right mix for your brand. Once your monitoring program is in place, get into a rhythm of checking in on a daily basis. You’ll quickly find a five-minute scan once a day is all you need to identify any new or noteworthy competitor activity.

Want to up your competitor monitoring game? Let’s talk. Approach us anytime at

Monica BhandarkarComment