#1 Monitor Newsletters
Newsletters act as the startup's direct source of contact with its customers. Consistent and valuable newsletter campaigns can allow startups to grow a committed group of subscribers that they can use to promote new products, share offers, and gauge interest in future developments. Subscribing to your competitor's newsletter is a great way to get an idea of their offerings and even future plans. Reading their content can also provide valuable insight into their messaging and help draw a picture of their target audience.
Evaluating a startup's employees can give you major insights into their trajectory. When teams are small and the budget is limited - hiring becomes an even more strategic process. Going on professional platforms such as LinkedIn to look through the company’s connected employees is a good start. Evaluating details like their career path, degree, and current projects can help paint a picture of what they're bringing to the startup and how that can aid in their growth.
#3 New Jobs
Similar to tracking employees, looking at your competitor's hiring timelines can allow you to see which areas of the team they are expanding. For startups, new jobs can be posted in a few places. To start the company’s career page on its website and LinkedIn page are two places to start. In addition to those, you can also take a look at popular job boards for startups and search for your competitor's name. Posting new roles indicates the company's need and shifting focus which can be a good sign of what they might be doing next.
Customer feedback on your competitors shows you where they have gaps in their product or service which in turn can give you an advantage. First, find marketplaces or review sites that make sense for your industry. For example, software marketplaces like G2 and Trust Pilot have reviews under each page you can read through. Second, see what customers are happy with when using your competitor's product or service and what they are critiquing. You can keep this information in mind when trying to differentiate yourself from competitors and deciding on additional features and developments.
If your competitor offers a trial of their product or service it might be a good idea to give it a go. Putting yourself in the customer's shoes can give you a different outlook on your competitors. How have they built the registration process? What was unclear as a user and what was easy? Once you answer these questions you can compare it to your own process and see where you might be falling short or excelling.
Monitoring your competitor's pricing strategy is crucial in assessing your own pricing model. It allows you to determine whether you are catering to a luxury clientele or a more budget-conscious audience. This insight can help you gauge your market position accurately. The simplest way to do this is by tracking your competitor's pricing page to always know when they make any adjustments to their plans.
#7 Social Media
Social media monitoring can take a bit more time depending on the number of accounts your competitor is active on. Similar to newsletters, social media gives you a good look into who your competitors are targeting and the brand and messaging they are trying to build. Looking at organic content and engagement such as comments should be the focus here. Just like reviews, comments can provide insight into the customer experience and their opinions regarding the product or service being offered.
#8 Blog Content
If your competitor is creating any long-form original content or offering free products - you should check them out. Read through the resources they are offering to get an idea of who their ideal customer is and what problem they’re trying to solve. Content can be on the competitor's blog or repurposed on socials. They may also be collaborating on content or including other thought leaders and influencers. The people they choose to work with can point toward who they are trying to get access to and if you’re both targeting the same groups.
As a startup funding is top of mind and the investors backing your competitors - if there are any - say a lot about their plans. Some startups will announce publicly who they are backed by either through a press release or on their social media. In that case, it’s quite simple to look into the fund and individual investors to get an idea of their portfolio and how they support their founders. If the information isn’t clear, using a funding platform such as Crunchbase or Pitchbook is another option. At times funding details will be private but it’s always a good idea to look into the information in case.
If you want to get started, check out this Notion Competitor Monitoring template. It’s free to download and offers 100 resources, guided questions, and competitor templates.