Running a business without keeping an eye on competitors is like competing in a race blindfolded. You can run in a straight line and you may be able to find your way around, but you won’t know how you’re doing and what others are doing to succeed faster. Enter competitor tracking.
Competitor tracking can spark new opportunities as well as areas of improvement: You need to be aware of competing services available and how they’re catering to your audience, and it is key to stay up to date with their marketing efforts so you can respond accordingly.
This is even more urgent for SaaS entrepreneurs, as new trends are constantly emerging in the industry, and with an increasing amount of brands jumping onto the metaverse. This leads to, like any good business opportunity, a surge of businesses with striking ingenuity and razor-sharp focus, which means both quantitative opportunity and ultra-fierce competition.
Any company looking for the upper hand will have to invest heavily in more robust advertising and cutting-edge SaaS technologies to understand their business better and, more importantly, their competition.
But how can you set yourself apart from other brands and dissect your competition, without using the standard keyword tracking or competitor analytics tools that we commonly see on the market today?
Where there’s an online will, there’s a way.
“Today’s digital environment demands a more robust approach to understanding competitors than ever before,” says Diego Richards, CCO at Stillio, the company behind an automated screen capturing tool based in the Netherlands.
Stillio was born in 2011 as a simple solution for businesses to preserve their digital footprint since its creators believe what’s happening online is worth preserving. The team has years of experience building web apps and needed a way to track changes and progress, as well as that of their competitors. So as many companies nowadays looking for competitor tracking solutions, they turned to screen capturing technology, creating their own tool to archive websites.
Nowadays, Stillio helps first-level companies across the globe track and record websites, for various purposes including competitor tracking. Richards, its CCO, started out as a solution consultant and is now in charge of the entire commercial team. “We offer a SaaS tool that saves our users time and money to track and store comprehensive data to help them outperform their competition. We gather data in a step-by-step approach to research, then archive and save it all in one place.”
Standard tracking and analytics tools are fine for understanding who your competition is, but it’s a whole different playing field when you want to understand where your competition is headed.
Notwithstanding direct competitors, maybe your business needs to refine its research or stay on top of newsworthy trends constantly so you know exactly what your competitor’s next move will be almost before they do.
“We wanted to provide a SaaS technology that resolves the burden of control by offering a service that captures and archives website screenshots automatically, at any interval,” says Richards. “That way, you know the thoughts and movements of your competition in a matter of seconds.”
Screen capture technology assists users in taking screenshots of web pages at regular intervals, like hourly, daily, weekly or any other frequency. When its interface is efficient and user-friendly, screen capture SaaS proves incredibly valuable to businesses looking to analyze and track changes over time.
In addition, screen capturing can be employed for a wide variety of industries and situations. News agencies capture news homepage updates by the minute and archive findings. In the legal department, businesses use screen capture technology to archive their websites to prove compliance with different regulations at any point in time. Trademark specialists capture product pages, track counterfeit websites, and store proof of trademark use online.
With a completely digitalized society, there is a growing demand for real-time content that can help users navigate the many twists and turns of new software and interfaces as well as generally provide valuable resources to expand their online communities.
Using screen capture technology at the dawn of the digital era means users can create data for live webinars or online events to leverage in building bigger, stronger online communities.
Now how can these use cases be applied to SaaS competitor tracking? We all agree we must be monitoring competitor websites, and we’ve all been that person that sets an alarm once a month to manually go through each competitor’s site and check for updates.
With screen capturing technology, SaaS entrepreneurs can keep screenshots automatically of their competitors’ sites at set intervals to analyze later. Having those captures at hand, you can compare different versions of their websites to look for design changes, like new buttons or a reorganized homepage. This also helps detect pricing and plan updates, as well as new launches.
SaaS providers usually have blogs or news sections that you can monitor, to see what topics they’re identifying themselves with. You may choose to go down the same route or to differentiate your brand completely. Either way, it’s a key aspect to be aware of.
You can keep track of user reviews to detect strengths and weaknesses, and use these as inspiration to enhance your own solution. These could be on the company’s website or on a specialized platform like Capterra, which you can also capture.
Competitor tracking goes beyond just a company’s website, as you compete with other services for a mention on social media, for a top spot in Google’s SERPs, or for a story on a news homepage. All these environments should be taken into account in this analysis, and they can be tracked for future reference using an automated screenshot service.
What to look for in a Screen Capturing Tool
With many screen capturing tools available on the market, it’s easy to think that they all provide the same capabilities in the same method. But the reality is that no two screen capturing tools are identical. So, what are we looking for when we decide to go for one of these tools?
Setting Screenshot Frequency
To benefit from the automation aspect of screen capture technology, the chosen tool must allow to set a capture interval. By setting the desired frequency, like daily, or every few days, the tool will automatically capture the provided URLs and save them for future reference.
There are specific cases in which users may need a shorter time interval for their captures. Businesses that monitor the content that updates constantly, like news agencies that check online newspaper homepages or brands that track social media mentions on a popular topic, should look for a tool that offers high-frequency captures like every 5 minutes.
Multiple URL and Sitemap Captures
When there is a long list of news or competitor sites to capture, setting screenshot variables individually can take a lot of time. In some tools, we can provide the list of URLs and set frequency, location, and size in bulk.
The same goes for capturing an entire website: setting parameters for each section of a site can be hyper time-consuming. A tool that captures the entire sitemap of the provided website is the solution. This comes in handy when archiving your own site for compliance or recordkeeping purposes.
When using capture technology, we don’t just want what the screen shows, but the entire page. There are services that provide full-page captures.
Competitors may not only be in our country but abroad. If this is something relevant to your business, choose a solution that allows you to capture screenshots from other locations in the world.
Other important features to consider are integrations with other tools like Google Drive or Zapier, notifications to know when screenshots are available, and being able to click on certain places to avoid pop-ups or cookie messages.
Going beyond the surface level in understanding competition and advancing research are imperative as the evolution of the SaaS market continues. Knowing how to track your competitor’s next move will far outweigh simply knowing where your competition is at that very moment in time.