At Follow we make it easy to monitor everything your competitors do online. We focus on providing our customers with all the data that we think they need in order to analyze other websites. However, without knowing how to interpret that data, even Follow is not that helpful. Let’s dive into some more details on how Follow can help you with competitive intelligence analysis.
The content presented below was produced by us for a presentation to a small group of internet and competitive intelligence marketers called Mellow Monkey Media — based in San Francisco, the U.S. — which took place on Aug. 11, 2014. We thought to turn that same presentation into a blog post.
What Is Follow?
Follow is a competitive intelligence browser extension specifically engineered to monitor and track your online competition.
Our Main Goal
Our mission at Follow is to help companies, large or small, to acquire and engage with customers online. We do that through this blog as well, where you’ll find top-notch articles on customer acquisition strategies.
There are several reasons why you should start using Follow as soon as possible. Let’s take a look at some together.
Follow: Your Central Dashboard
We believe that Follow’s biggest benefit is its ability to summarize a lot of the information you would otherwise find spread out through the web. A huge amount of data is summarized in one central location, or dashboard.
We collect data and statistics from different sources, which are our partners:
Thus, by using Follow, you avoid jumping from a website to another one to gather all the information you need. You get a summary of it all in Follow itself. This is one of the many advantages of Follow, and one of our biggest strengths.
Toolbar or Web-Based Platform?
Follow can be used either as a toolbar for your browser — be it Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Firefox — or, alternatively, as a desktop web-based platform, as visible by the two images further down.
Moreover, you can get access to Follow on the web via mobile phones, for the web-based platform is 100 percent responsive, and perfectly works on almost all smartphones.
Follow Works Best on Mozilla Firefox
Follow works well with any browser, but works just great with Firefox. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go. On any other browser, Follow works, and look like a pop up. In Firefox, however, it behaves more like an extension of the browser itself, working in a much more agile fashion.
What Data to Look At
Let’s now take a quick tour of all that Follow can provide you via its toolbar and web-based platform.
What we are going to explore from now on, is data from a paid account, which has access to all the information. A free account would give you less data than what you can see on this column.
Follow allows you to look up the following bulk of data:
- Traffic estimates
- Affiliate network distribution
- SEO and SEM
- Display advertising
- Contextual advertising
- Social media mentions
- Web mentions
- WhoIs information
- Reverse lookup
- Competitors’ website names
From now on, we will be using for the sake of this article the website Equifax.com. Equifax is a consumer credit reporting agency based in the U.S.
Traffic Estimates Data
This report shows you approximately how much traffic a site acquires. Follow shows you data from different partners — Compete, Quantcast, Similarweb, and Alexa. We show statistics from different companies simply because none of these data partners are 100 percent accurate. They all do their best, but none of them are exact.
Providing you with more than one source for the same kind of information gives you the chance to have a general sense of the situation, and allows you to do an average. Compete, Similarweb, and Quantcast tell you the number of monthly visitors on a certain time frame, whereas Alexa tells you that roughly 0.02 percent of the Internet traffic lands on Equifax. Lastly, Similarweb also tells you the traffic sources for Equifax.com.
Thus, how much traffic does Equifax receive? You’d say that the site acquires something between 500,000 and 2 million visitors per month in traffic.
Moreover, something worthwhile mentioning is that Follow works best with sites that have a reasonable amount of traffic, and that advertise online.
Affiliate Network Distribution
This report shows you if Equifax.com runs any affiliate programs. Affiliate programs are ways of compensating other people to send signups to Equifax.com.
For instance, the one reading “(738) – Try Equifax for only $4.95!” has a payout of US$23.25/cpl (cost per lead) — as shown by the image below. The above means that Equifax.com is going to pay US$23.25/cpl to the person that can sign up a customer on that page.
Of course, Follow also shows the signup pages: All is clickable in the above report, so you can find out more about their offers, and perhaps get inspiration.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
The SEO information within Follow is valid for the root domain name — which is Equifax.com — and not for subdomains or pages.
Follow gives you the top organically ranked keywords that are driving the most traffic to Equifax.com from our partners, iSpionage and KeywordSpy. If you see a keyword appearing on both reports, you can say with a certain degree of accuracy that the keyword is a good one.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
Here you may answer the following questions:
- What does Equifax.com do in terms of campaigns run via Google AdWords?
- How is the company purchasing clicks (PPC campaigns)?
- How is the company buying traffic to Equifax.com when someone searches on Google?
As you can see from the below image, Follow shows you:
- How much the company approximately spends
- How many clicks the company receives from the money spent
- The average position
- The number of keywords that Equifax.com is purchasing on the three main search engines.
The above is certainly important, but what we are going to see next is definitely more significant. On Follow, we show the longest running PPC (pay per click) text ads Equifax.com has been using.
The significant element here is the fact that a longer an ad has been running — and you can measure that from the column labelled Days Seen — the more profitable the ad most likely is.
Knowing if an advertisement is an effective one or not is a great insight for you. You should look at the ad, get inspiration on the CTAs (Call To Actions), study the wording Equifax.com uses, etc.
Display advertising shows you what the company is doing with banner ads across the Internet.
Here, once more, we work with a few data partners: SEMrush, AdBeat, MixRank, WhatRunsWhere, and AdClarity. While this section of Follow is filled with great statistics like the name of the publishers they use, the networks they exploit, etc., the two things that you will find most interesting are:
- Top Image/Flash Ads: The longest running image and flash ads the company has been using, including the size of them, and Days Seen. You can see if a display ad has been running for long — like in the example below (nearly one year) — and guess why the ad has been so successful so far.
- Top Landing Pages (LPs): The report shows the top LPs that Equifax is sending visitors to, after they click on a display ad. This is basically the top URLs that the visitors arrive to, after clicking on a banner.
In the Display Advertising section, Follow shows way more than what presented above, but that should give you an example of what the competitive intelligence tool can do for you.
This shows you how many targets (publishers or placements) and creatives (banners) Equifax.com is using on its campaigns.
This report shows the demographics of a certain site’s audience. A website, however, needs to implement the Quantcast tag for the demographics to show.
Equifax.com has not implemented the tag so far. Nevertheless, for the sake of this article we included below a screenshot of Goodreads.com (books related website).
Understanding the demographics is a great strategy to see what customers your competitors attract, so you can then target the same kind of population with your advertising.
The report allows you to see all the people that are tweeting about a brand or company, in this case Equifax.com.
It’s worth mentioning that these are not Retweets, which happen within the Twitter ecosystem. These are actually Tweets — a sign that shows, in our opinion, a higher level of engagement. These are people who tweeted from Equifax’s website. Thus, these may be people that you want to try to reach out to. Perhaps they may like your brand, as well.
Very similar to the Twitter Mentions report, Web Mentions allows you to see which other websites on the Web are mentioning the site you are analyzing.
This is another great tool that allows you to see who talks about whom: Once you find these entities you can try to reach out and build relationships, which may turn eventually into business opportunities.
However, keep in mind that Follow allows you to see Web Mentions only when you follow a particular site.
On this report you’ll find Equifax.com’s top competitors on the paid Google Ad Results. The report helps you gather information on websites that have the most overlapping keywords they are both competing on against Equifax.com.
As visible by the image, the information is sorted by their estimated monthly budget and then the names of the largest competitors.
In this other screenshot below, you can see that Follow also shows the SEO value of Equifax.com’s competitors.
Overview Vs. NewsFeed
What we have seen so far is part of the Overview section withing Follow. However, we provide you with something else, which is called News Feed.
News Feed gives you a ton of web mentions, including Twitter of course. In News Feed you can see who talks about the brand or website you are analyzing and studying. Try to reach out, and see if they are interested in your brand, too. It’s better trying to connect to people that are already interested in a brand similar to yours than contacting people and entities that don’t care at all in what you do.
News Feed is not limited in the number of mentions it provides, as it happens instead in the Overview. As you scroll down, you’ll find older and older mentions.