The Internet is a wonderful tool for researching your competitors.  In this post we will review several free resources that can be used to gather information to support the development and evolution of your competitive analysis.  It includes sources for baic company info, investors, revenues for private companies, web statistics like visit history, keyword trends, use of marketing automation technology, user reviews, reverse engineering competitor org charts, etc.

Basic Background Information

Basic information about the size, structure, and background of your competitors can be gleaned from a number of sites.

Owler.com.  Owler has over 5 million profiles of private and public companies. Owler provides information about company leadership, headcount, estimated/actual revenues, competitors and competitor headcount/revenue, recent news, and snapshots of websites.  Here is a sample overview of FieldEdge.com – A SaaS provider of field service management solutions.  Owler is one of the few places on the web that provide company revenue estimates for free.

Crunchbase.com.  Crunchbase aggregates a ton of information about public and private companies, especially venture backed firms.  While they offer premium subscriptions, the basic free subscription provides information about headquarters, founders, social media feeds, acquisitions, Funding Rounds, Investors, Mobile App Metrics by Apptopia, Company Tech Stack by Siftery, Website Tech Stack by BuiltWith, Web Traffic by SimilarWeb, Employee Interest Signals by Bombora, Competitors & Revenue by Owler.com, and recent press, twitter feeds, etc.  Here is a Crunchbase profile for FieldAware , one of FieldEdge’s competitors FieldAware.

Web Presence and Sophistication

SimilarWeb.com.  SimilarWeb provides a wealth of stats about your competitor’s web presence.  It typically includes traffic statistics like monthly visits, visitor geography, traffic sources, referring sites, search, organic keywords, paid keywords, social traffic.  Here is the SimilarWeb profile for Fieldedge.  They also offer a free Firefox Add on that summarizes much of the same information.

Firefox Lightbeam Add on.  Lightbeam is an add-on for Firefox that displays third party tracking cookies placed on the user’s computer while visiting various websites. It displays a graph of the interactions and connections of sites visited and the tracking sites to which they provide information.  You can use this information to discover what marketing technologies your competitors are using like SalesForce, HubSpot, SalesLoft, etc.  It gives you an idea of how sophisticated or unsophisticated their web based demand generation programs are.

Google Keyword planner.  Google offers free tools to research keywords and the cost-per-click those keywords are commanding.  You can enter a URL, like your competitors home page and see what keywords Google generates and the costs for those keywords.

User Reviews

User generated content is critical in today’s marketplace.  There are three major sources that provide user reviews and assessments.  Capterra is one of the oldest sites available.  Software Advice is another.  G2 Crowd is the newest site.  They recently raised an additional $55M in VC funding pushing them to over $100M raised and a $300M valuation.  Negative reviews on these sites can serve as convenient hand grenades your sales force can use to cast some doubts on your competition.

Organization Information

LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is an old standby.  With a little effort on your part you can reverse engineer a competitor’s entire org chart to discover how many and where their sales development reps and account execs are located.  By examining job descriptions you can get a very good idea of what the technology stack is that underlies their product.  As a bonus, by checking out a few specific profiles, like sales profiles,  you can create what we like to call ‘disproportionate impact’ – they will wonder why someone from your company is poking around their organization.  Do you know something they don’t?

D&B Hoovers.com.  Provides basic information about private companies.  Here is the profile for FieldEdge.

SEC.gov.   For public companies, this is the source of public quarterly and annual filings.  I have written an entire post.  I have written a detailed post Why Product Managers Need to be Able to Read 10-K (Annual Report) Filings.  Public companies have to disclose a ton of information.  In addition to Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow Statements you can learn about what their fiscal year is, customers, competitors, sales strategy, market dynamics, revenue seasonality, risks, properties, accounts receivable and doubtful accounts, debt, headcount, international operations, mergers, acquisitions, executives, and executive compensation.

Analyst Reports.  Analyst reports like Gartner Magic Quadrants are usually only available to subscribers.  Companies do pay Gartner for permission to reprint reports.  Simply Google “Gartner Magic Quadrant Market Name” and you will be surprised what you find.  For example, when you Google Gartner Magic Quadrant Field Service Management you will find at least ten vendors that will provide you a reprint in exchange for an email address.

In a follow on post I will provide a sample of an entire open source intelligence based competitive profile can look like.