Six Free Tools To Strengthen Competitive Advantage

A brand’s competitive landscape is constantly in motion, changing and evolving. It’s critical to stay on top of what the competition is doing and, as we start a new year, this is the perfect time for an assessment.

While a company may hesitate to conduct a deep-dive analysis due to financial constraints or limited access to resources, there are number of free and low-cost options available that provide a wealth of valuable market data. Evaluating current information about competitors will help to refine your positioning, understand how current trends impact your business and identify “white-space” market opportunities. 

The first step is to understand who are your key competitors, those that operate in the same and in similar markets. Remember it is important to look beyond your direct competitors to stay ahead of the curve.  

For example, when you think of Nike, your first instinct may be sneakers. However, Nike has evolved into a global lifestyle brand and technology innovator. Athletic clothing and footwear are just a few of its offerings. Many customers use Nike+, a popular running mobile application. A forward-thinking brand like Nike looks beyond its obvious competitors (i.e. Reebok, Adidas), and may analyze others in overlapping segments (outside the traditional space) such as Under Armour, Lululemon, Fitbit and Apple.



After compiling a list of prospective competitors, refer to the list of free and paid online market analytic tools that can be used to deepen your market knowledge.

  1. Google Trends provides a wealth of information about keyword searches at no charge. By evaluating your competition in Google Trends, you can determine where searches originate by country, which identifies the global audience for your brand’s competitors.  Google Trends also illustrates the “search surges,” which suggests that the competition is offering a promotion or has launched a specific marketing initiative, which should be watched and analyzed.
  2. SimilarWeb is a freemium tool that provides website data about one’s competitors. This market analysis tool allows you to access website traffic, traffic sources, paid vs. organic traffic, and basic audience interest at no charge so you can compare it to your own. For a nominal monthly fee, the tool allows you to benchmark your brand against the competition, and also provides keyword research, as well as other insights about key rivals.
  3. Follow is an aggregator of multiple online web-assessment tools that can lead to valuable competitive insights. These insights can help companies make more informed decisions for their own business. For a nominal monthly fee, provides a wealth of information about the competition’s website traffic, referral sources, top referral domains and keywords, SEM and display ads, and basic demographic data about who visits the site. When used wisely, the insights gleaned from can have a significant impact on your marketing plan.
  4. Moat is a free tool that shows you current and past digital ads from a variety of brands. It also uses analytics to find where and when the ad was last posted, allowing you to see how and on which platforms the competition is promoting itself. For an additional cost, the tool provides historical data, filtering abilities and web traffic information.
  5. Coloribus is a domestic and international advertising archive of TV, print, online, direct mail and viral ads. This freemium tool provides a certain number of advertisements at no charge; for $39 a month you can gain access to the full service.
  6. SEMrush provides competitive information about organic, paid and display advertising. However, one of the best attributes of this tool is the ability to access other brands’ backlinks. Backlinks are hyperlinks that direct to a website from other websites. Backlinks can be very revealing, meaning they can inform PR initiatives, news articles, content marketing and database listings that competitors are on. 

Are there other free marketing tools that you have found to be valuable for analyzing an industry sector?


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