Way before people entered the cut-throat world of business; they were spying on their competition. At the time, it was all about “checking” your neighbor’s backyard and doing something better in your own. When the internet exploded, things changed. Hundreds of “spying” tools emerged; some of them help us monitor web performance; others help us gather data. Here’s a detailed list with 20 of the sneakiest tools every business should use when marketing their business in the online environment.
- Google Alerts
Monitor brand mentions with Google Alerts. The tool is free, very easy to use, and it has the simplest interface. Reports will be sent to your inbox, and it can be used whenever someone mentions your brand in the online environment. Keywords can also be monitored with Google Alerts, but that’s up to you what you want to track.
SocialMention is a very cool tool that companies should integrate into their online marketing process. After you’ve accessed the tool, enter a term you want to search; the name of a company you want to spy on or a keyword. Then let the tool do its magic.
Topsy is monitoring tool targeted at brands with active Twitter accounts. You can use it to track competitor tweets, assessing the number of tweets your competition has; get a tweet list, and even see which had the most influence. Whatever information you need, use Topsy to filter the data.
- Marketing Grader
Use Marketing Grader to track mentions of your brand; but also mention of your competitors. Based on your social media activity, lead generation, SEO and blogging success, this tool is fun and precise. Check fluctuations and learn to be one step of the competition.
Track everything that’s trendy on social media with InfinitiGraph. Choose your industry, and then use the influence of your audience to check the content type that’s the most trending. The whole idea of the tool is to perform a competitive analysis on your brand’s main competitors.
- Google Keyword Planner
Formerly known as Traffic Estimator and Google Keyword Tool, this sneaky tool has all you need to spy on your competition. It doesn’t focus on analyzing the competition, but it does gather competitor data to help you craft a better online marketing strategy for your brand and business.
Save web pages that drew your attention with Instapaper. Read them later on your mobile device, computer, or Kindle. After signing up, use it to add bookmarklets to keep things organized. You can also use it to spy on others and also use content that you might find useful for your own business.
- Monitor Backlinks
Use Monitor Backlinks to follow your competitors’ backlinks; with this tool, you can send those backlinks to your inbox, including a description of the most authoritative domains. You can also check dofollow and nofollow links. The dashboard is very easy to use and explore; compare results and see exactly which links are earned by your competitors.
An all time favorite, SEMRush is a favorite keyword monitoring tool that specializes on monitoring competitor data. Type the name of your competitor and get vital info on their rank, traffic, and organic keywords.
SimilarWeb is great at revealing traffic insights on your main competitor websites. With this tool, you can analyze county rank, global rank, and category rank of any site; the graph shows weekly visitor number over the past 6 months.
- Simply Measured
With Simply Measured you can do a little bit of everything. The advanced tool helps businesses get info on conversion rates, trends, social media, traffic, analysis, and more. Over 35 different reports can be accessed with the tool.
- Majestic SEO
With Majestic SEO you can download any competitor’s website link profile; and check all the links by slicing them down and analyzing them to be one step ahead of your key competitors. Know what they’ve been up to lately, and use the data to revamp and perfect your own online marketing strategy.
With SpyFlu you can find out the secret recipe of your main competitors in the online environment. Use it to check what keywords they use, and keep an eye on their next move. Review what keywords they use and track analysis back 6 years.
WooRank is one of today’s most powerful and efficient SEO and website review tools. It’s very easy to use, and it packs a simple, streamlined platform. All you have to do is type your main competitor’s URL and downloads a report; use the report to improve your own website by analysing SEO.
- Open Site Explorer
Perform a complete link research on your own website with Open Site Explorer; you can also use it to spy on your competition, exploring backlinks, anchor texts, and more. Some of the key features of the tool include authority information, reviews of inbound links, top website pages, and more.
- The Search Monitor
The Search Monitor is extremely efficient at assessing competitor data. It allows you to track trademarks and affiliates from main search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo), and from competitor websites, forums, news, and blogs.
With iSpionage you can monitor keywords, and check which ones perform the best on your competitors’ websites. Track PPC, and analyze the amount of time other spend on both paid and organic search. Also, assess ad copies that perform the best on other people’s websites.
Ontolo is better known as a backlinking tool. Targeted at content marketers, it can be used to prioritize content and learn which topics perform the best. Use it to identify websites that link to your website’s content, and assess link building opportunities.
- Link Prospector
A tool targeted at link building, Link Prospector is excellent at providing reports on link pages, guest posting, giveaways, content promotions, reviews, and more. Based on what you’re searching for, the tool issues reports that you can use to assess your own website’s potential.
- What Runs Where
A lot of people ignore paid search when doing SEO. You shouldn’t ignore it, and What Runs Where can help. The tool is excellent at extracting the right data about the paid ad campaigns of your competitors. Use it to gather pertinent info on their marketing strategies, and check their keywords. Also, assess the budget they usually spend on their campaigns; just to have a bigger picture of what you should do too. 40+ ad networks can be monitored with the tool, so that you can have a detailed, comprehensive overview about your competitors’ most successful/unsuccessful ad campaigns.
Spying on your competitors in the online environment is something all businesses should do. You’re not stealing their data; you’re checking up on what they’re been doing, and how they’ve been doing it. This will help you assess your strategy, tackle pain points, and work your way to improving it. Use the tool that best matches with the demands of your online business; some of the best available are free of charge, so it doesn’t really cost you anything to rethink your marketing strategy and take your business to new heights.
By Maxwell Donovan and Bestonlinereviews.com
Russians Need to Strategise Trade with Africa
Russian business lobbying groups, together with about 40 business and industry heads, have shown interest in exporting their products to markets in Africa but found it difficult to access facilitation procedures in some of the countries.
To understand some of the processes and procedures, Nonna Kagramanya, the Vice President of Delovaya Rossia (Business Russia), moderated a special seminar to constructively discuss emerging issues and possible solutions on various foreign economic tracks. Representatives of governments, development institutions, private businesses as well as Southern and Eastern African diplomats attended the event.
She said despite the relatively small trade turnover with African countries, Russian companies were very interested in establishing stable long-term contacts with African partners.
As a first step, Ms. Kagramanya proposed the creation of a permanent discussion-line for all interested participants of the seminar to discuss a set of priority problems and barriers when working with Africa.
Polina Slyusarchuk, Head of Intexpertise (St. Petersburg-based African focused Consultancy Group), questioned whether Russia has a broader Africa policy or long-term strategy in there.
“Today, Russia wants to deepen its understanding of the business climate and explore trade and partnership opportunities in Africa,” she underscored.
While meetings organised between Russia and Africa have to be used to discuss thoroughly how to trade, efforts should be made to remove or lessen some of the barriers for mutual benefits. Now Russia’s main goal is to decide what it can offer that foreign players haven’t yet been made available in the African market.
Contributing to the discussion, the General Director of Intelnexus, Anatoly Yakimenko, introduced the participants to the opportunities for the development of Russian-African business cooperation, noting the favourable and hindering factors in the African market.
He stressed the need for potential exporters of Russia to adopt high-tech production and solutions to expand initiatives for more effective positioning of high-tech companies in Africa.
The Deputy Director of the Department of Asia, Africa and Latin America of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Alexander Dianov, spoke about the non-financial support measures for Russian companies operating within the department.
“Currently, there are 10 intergovernmental commissions between the Russian Federation and African countries,” he said.
At the same time, he said: “There are trade missions only in four African countries, and if you take sub-Saharan African countries, the trade mission operates effectively only in South Africa. It is obvious that there is something to work on in terms of developing the infrastructure to support Russian businesses. If there is a serious request from the business community, we are ready to expand the geography of our presence.”
A representative of the Russian Export Centre (REC) in Africa, Dmitry Suchkov, drew the attention of companies to the need for in-depth analysis of national programmes of economic and investment development of African countries.
He spoke about the initiatives of the Coordinating Committee for Economic Cooperation with Sub-Saharan Africa.
Natalia Zaiser, the Chairperson of the Board of the African Business Initiative, pointed to the problems of ensuring security and stable “rules of the game,” as well as the need to identify five priority areas of business cooperation on the medium and long term perspectives for individual countries.
Representatives of the embassies of Rwanda, Tanzania and South Africa spoke about the integration processes on the African Continent, the potential of regional markets and national development initiatives.
Members of diplomatic missions also noted the greatly unrealised potential of cooperation between Russia and African countries, and interest in attracting investments in infrastructure, education and many other sectors.
They called for a wider interaction between African business circles and Russian businesses.
During the discussion, the participants mentioned high import duties, complicated certification procedure, high cost of products, expensive logistics, security and guarantee issues, and information vacuum as some of the barriers to Russian-African trade and economic cooperation. However, the participants agreed on the need to develop a comprehensive strategy for Russia to work with Africa.
Curating a Vision with Young African Entrepreneurs
How can young people be involved in creating a future of work that is decent, equitable and bright? This November I was fortunate enough to take part in an event with this mandate at its heart.
The Youth Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment Forum (YES Forum) in Dakar, Senegal was co-organised by the ILO and our partners in the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth. It was a collaborative effort supporting young entrepreneurs in the region, and it was a joy to see this vision becoming real during the two-day event – with young entrepreneurs shining at different stages of the YES Forum.
More than 30 young entrepreneurs took on active speaking roles across the discussion sessions, a “Dragon’s Den” style pitching competition, and the Marketplace. This Marketplace offered participants the opportunity to float in between booths and to have one-on-one interactions with the presenting entrepreneurs and organisations.
The vibrant tone was set at the very start, with all participants given hand-made, customised notebooks, the product of an all-female team led by entrepreneur Ndey Fatou Njie for her business TIGA Gambia. TIGA Gambia is now an all-around fashion and accessories retailer, but originally zoomed in on providing locally-inspired swimwear – a large market gap that Ndey spotted and filled!
Not only were the TIGA Gambia notebooks a showstopper, they were also a colourful and popular extension of the empowering message of the YES Forum.
The innovative and vibrant spirit of entrepreneurs in their element was palpable all through the Forum, but shone particularly during the networking lunch and the Marketplace. It was difficult to lure the participants back into the plenary after these events, because they were so busy talking, forging synergies and building contacts.
While the young entrepreneurs embraced their speaking opportunities to the fullest, they also created a wonderfully inclusive setting that allowed everyone’s successes to be seen and recognised. I was particularly touched when the pitching competition winner, Malick Diouf, CEO of LAfricaMobile, immediately called his three competitors onto the stage to congratulate them on their incredible work.
Malick was humble about his win but his company deserves a special shout-out. LAfricaMobile serves as a digital bridge between African media publishers and organizations wanting to disseminate their content to the African diaspora. As a comms aficionado I was particularly impressed by how effortless their SMS service is in helping the African diaspora connect to what is going on in their home countries.
All in all, the YES Forum left a lasting impression on me for two reasons: Firstly because of the level of mutual support and cooperation that the young entrepreneurs showed, and secondly because the Forum truly catered for these young entrepreneurs and allowed them to share their stories and to explore collaboration. I believe it will leave a lasting result – of stronger alliances and greater empowerment.
Mariama Johm, founder of Afri Taste, a Banjul health joint that combats fruit and vegetable waste, summed up the atmosphere in her remarks during the Young Global Entrepreneurs panel: “I am glad we have the youth actually speaking here. We, young entrepreneurs, want to speak and let policymakers hear from us – not only here, but we want to make governments take into consideration what we are saying and that they should not make decisions on our behalf.”
Easing US-China trade tensions could save millions of jobs
Millions of jobs in the Asia and Pacific region have been put at risk by conflicts over trade, despite a recent agreement not to escalate tit-for-tat tariffs by the United States and China, according to a new regional UN report.
The 2018 Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report, issued by the UN’s development arm in the region, ESCAP, suggests that an escalating “tariff war” and resulting drop in confidence next year, could cut nearly $400 billion from the global gross domestic product, drive regional GDP down by $117 billion.
“As production shifts take place and resources are reallocated across sectors and borders due to the trade conflicts, tens of millions of workers may see their jobs displaced and be forced to seek new employment,” said Mia Mikic, the head of Trade, Investment and Innovation Division at ESCAP.
That said, the report also noted trade tensions have already had had a major impact, resulting in disruptions to existing supply chains and dampening investment. Trade growth slowed after the first half of 2018, and foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the region are also expected to continue on a downward trend next year, following a 4 per cent drop overall this year.
In such a scenario, regional investment will be key to creating new economic opportunities, says Ms. Mikic, adding that “complementary policies” such as labour, education and retraining, and social protection measures must be placed high on the policymaking agenda.
This is also critical for ensuring progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she said.
ESCAP has also called on countries to take full advantage of all existing initiatives to strengthen regional cooperation, including a new UN treaty on digitalizing trade procedures and enabling cross-border paperless trade in the zone.
‘Trade war’ has no winners
The report has also underscored that neither China nor the US can win a “trade war”, explaining that “both will see significant economic losses from continuing conflict.”
It also finds that implementation of mega-regional trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, among the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its six partners – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea – could offset much of the economic losses from trade tensions.
The 2018 report estimates that implementation of such agreements could boost exports by 1.3 to 2.9 per cent and add 3.5 to 12.5 million jobs in the Asia-Pacific.
ESCAP, or the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific is largest among UN regional commissions. Its 53 member States and 9 associate members span a geographic area from the Pacific island of Tuvalu in the east to Turkey in the west, and Russia in the north to New Zealand in the south. The region is home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s population.
In addition to countries in the Asia-Pacific region, ESCAP’s membership also includes France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the US.
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