We know you’re focused on “running your own race” (keep it up!) but it’s important to check in on what your competitors are doing every now and again.

Here are five free tools and tactics you can use to see what your competitors have been up to lately.

1. Read Their Customer Reviews

Perusing customer ratings and comments on review websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Capterra, and the like can give you insight into competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and illuminate opportunities for your business to stand out.

2. Get Notified When They’re in the News

Want to know when your competitors are getting press coverage? Set up a free Google Alert so you’ll receive an email each time they’re in the news.
P.S. You should do this for your own business and name, too.

3. Mystery-Shop

There are many ways to get invaluable first-hand awareness of your competitors’ goings-on, including:
  • Visit their place of business, or ask someone else to do it for you
  • Fill out a lead form on their website
  • Buy something from them and take note of the end-to-end experience
  • Sign up for their mailing list — with your personal email address, of course :)

4. See How Their Business has Evolved

Use the free Wayback Machine to see how your competitors’ websites have changed over time.
A business’s website often serves as a historical record of their:
  • Product or service offering changes
  • Evolving market position or brand
  • Marketing and pricing experiments
  • Team growth and changes

5. See What They’re Advertising

Are your competitors running visual display ads online? If so, you can get a sneak peek at their creative designs (at no charge) with Moat. You’ll also be able to see when each ad design was used.