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Web Competitor Analysis

Last Update:
October 26, 2020

The goal of this guide is to show a step by step actionable guide on how to execute a Competitor Analysis in 2020 in order to reverse engineer their Marketing Activities.

There are many tools out there that try to give you ranked keywords, inbound links, and display ads strategy. That is not the focus of this guide.

The focus of this guide is to ever engineer the Analytics Plan and the Advertising Technologies used.

Analytics Plan

Each serious company has an adequate Analytics plan. An Analytics Plan is a way a company defines and tracks the performance of its business goals.

Online companies, to execute their Analytics Plan and Marketing/Advertising plan, use external technologies.

This simple guide helps you understand what technologies and how your competitors use them.

Type of Marketing Technologies

When it comes to marketing technologies, we can divide them into mostly two categories:

  • Analytics Technologies: help you understand the customer journey and channels, and performance of the advertising activities
  • Advertising Technologies: help you execute, track and optimise the performance of the different advertising channels you use in your marketing mix

Implementation of the Advertising Technologies

A company can implement Marketing technologies on its website in two ways:

  • Hardcoded: you manually configure, with the help of the development team, the technologies on the website. This is usually an approach done by giant corporations or people that are inexperienced. The reasons are that it is a tedious process, developers hate to do it, and requires a lot of fine-tuning.
  • Google Tag Manager: a tool by Google that allows you to set up multiple Tracking Technologies simultaneously. Has an initial learning curve, but after a couple of months, you can quickly master it, and most importantly, you will need minimal intervention by the development team.

Reverse Engineer you competitor advertising strategy

The focus of this guide is to understand the hardcoded and Google Tag Manager advertising technologies.

It might seem superficial, but it will give you 360° of what your competitors are doing in terms of advertising activities if done correctly and well.

1. Find Hardcoded Marketing technologies

uBlock Origin is the best AdBlock out there, in my personal opinion. For efficiency, but most importantly, because it has a LOT of filters.

With the help of an AdBlock, you can find all the present technologies on the pages that you load.

  1. Install uBlock Origin on Chrome
  2. Go to your competitor website
  3. Click on the uBlock icon
  4. Open the logger
  5. Check all red lines and find out on Google what technologies they are
Hardcoded Marketing Technologies
Hardcoded Marketing Technologies

2. Reverse Engineer Google Tag Manager Tags

  1. Go to gtmspy.com
  2. Input the URL of your competitor and click Lookup Container
  3. Click on Tags on top.
  4. In plain English, the Tags are the technologies used to track or measure the website's conversion. The who.

You'll find standard tags, such as Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Tag
Google Analytics Tag

And Custom HTML tags (the most interesting) that use uncommon networks or techniques.

Custom HTML Tag
Custom HTML Tag

3. Reverse Engineer Google Tag Manager Variables

  1. Go to gtmspy.com
  2. Input the URL of your competitor and click Lookup Container
  3. Click on Tags on Variables
  4. In plain English, the Variables are data used to enrich the Tracking systems, the what.

Some variables are purely technical, such as

Common Google Tag Manager Variables
Common Google Tag Manager Variables

Others are more interesting and allow you to understand how they track conversions or segment their customers

Specific Google Tag Manager Variables
Specific Google Tag Manager Variables

4. Reverse Engineer Google Tag Manager Triggers

  1. Go to gtmspy.com
  2. Input the URL of your competitor and click Lookup Container
  3. Click on Triggers on top
  4. In plain English, the Triggers are when the tracking technologies register a specific event

Here is the tracking of a subscribe button

Google Tag Manager Trigger for a Subscription
Google Tag Manager Trigger for a Subscription

Here is the tracking of when a purchase is made

Google Tag Manager Trigger for a Purchase
Google Tag Manager Trigger for a Purchase

Questions?

Feel free to contact me or tweet me!

Stay safe,
Nicolas :)

Nicolas Nemni
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