B2B Marketing: Keeping track of your competitors

We all “love” our competition. And that’s why we like to keep track of what they are up to. Now you could visit each competitor’s website on a daily basis, pay a clipping service to research the latest news on your competitors put this all costs money and time. In my experience leveraging the power of Google search catches about 90 percent of the relevant stuff you need to know. And the great thing is: You can automate this by setting up Google Alerts. It’s super easy and takes no more than 15 minutes to set up. So instead of postponing it until tomorrow, read this how to guide (5 min) and then get started (15 min) so you can enjoy the first results in your email inbox tomorrow morning.

Step 1: Generate a list of relevant keywords
If you are reading my blog regularly, you are probably familiar with the keyword concept by now. For the other 99% a quick explanation: Put yourself in the shoes of a potential client: Which search phrases would you enter? It is important that you don’t take the keywords YOU think are relevant but the keywords YOUR CLIENT will use.
There are three types of keywords you should research:
1. Generic informational keywords. For wywy, this would include keywords such as “TV analytics”, “TV attribution” etc. The generic keywords will help you keep tabs on what’s going in the industry and also catch new competitors entering the space.
2. Product names, trademarks. For wywy, this would be “TV Sync”, “LiveSync” etc.
3. Company names. Make sure to also include “similar” spellings of the company name. Example: The Trade Desk, TradeDesk, TheTradeDesk.

Step 2: Set up Google Alerts
The actual process is very straight forward: Just add each keyword and then double check the options. I suggest setting it to “daily” so you receive the alerts first thing in the morning. This way you can quickly browse the results on your way to work or when you check your email. Use the region and language filters to limit your search results to the relevant regions of your business. If you are active in multiple countries, you should have a list with generic, product and company name keywords for every language/country.
Important: Google will send out the alert at the same time you created it. So get to the office early tomorrow morning and set up all alerts so you’ll get them on your way to work the next day.

Pro tip (you need to be logged out of Google for this): Instead of using your own email address set up a group email address which receives the alerts so you can easily add or delete users to the alerts emailing list.

Step 3: Learn how to quickly scan the results
If you make the check part of your daily routine, it probably takes you max. 2 minutes per day. I highly suggest learning the keyboard shortcuts on how to read the next email to make the scanning of the results even faster. In Gmail, you can use the J key to jump to the previous email (and the K key to jump to the newer email): I usually start with the latest Google Alerts email, using the J key to quickly scan the 10 or so emails I get per day, normally taking less than 1 minute in total. If anything catches your attention, you can just click on the headline to read it later or forward this within your company.