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Competitive intelligence refers to the monitoring, gathering, and analyzing of information related to your competitors, marketplace, and industry. Data alone is never enough, and such intelligence enables strategic decision-making while taking into account competitors’ activities.
Without timely and adequate insights, you will be losing the competitive advantage of your database. According to the Crayon 2018 State of Market Intelligence Report, 77% of businesses reported that intelligence is crucial to every business function in order to gain a competitive advantage over rivals.
Besides, competitive intelligence significantly relies on the digital footprint of businesses. Ranging from huge multinational corporations to small and medium-sized enterprises, every business in today’s era needs competitive intelligence to analyze the competitive market and identify market gaps.
Competitive intelligence not only helps raise the effectiveness of your marketing strategies but also saves costs as your strategies become more targeted. It is a more in-depth form of competitor analysis, and it enables actionable insights to improve your existing marketing tactics. Needless to say, information is turned into intelligence when information is analyzed to derive insights that help drive decisions and actions.
Moreover, competitive intelligence not only deals with industry factors like — technologies, distributors, customers, and competitors but also macroeconomic factors such as — unemployment, economic growth, and inflation. It involves the following steps: Planning, Collecting, Processing, Analyzing, and Intelligence Sharing. The last bit, ‘intelligence sharing’, means that you need to share whatever inferences you pull from your research with the entirety of your organization for informed and integrated decision-making.
Benefits of Competitive Intelligence
Today’s world is no doubt filled with heaps of data. A systematic competitive intelligence program must be in place to handle this information overload effectively. Let’s take a look into how competitive intelligence helps your organization:
Therefore, competitive intelligence lets you be on top of trends by scrutinizing every competitors’ digital actions and share of voice. It involves extensive and intensive mining of insights from different sources, including websites, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, blogs, forums, reviews, and so on.
Furthermore, competitive intelligence helps us set benchmarks and standards against which we can compare our current marketing strategies. While conventional market research is mostly focused on consumers, competitive intelligence focuses more on industry and competitor actions. This particularly helps because you are not the only one operating in the market. Your competitors have done their share of research, and hence, your next move must take into account your rivals’ moves.
But needless to say, competitive intelligence and competitor benchmarking are not the same as industrial espionage. Rather, it’s an ethical approach to making the most of the data already available to the public. Websites, blog posts, social media channels, and so on are the key sources of digital competitive intelligence.
But you need to know how to use it.
Steps to Competitive Intelligence
Unless you are operating in a cave, you know data is important. Everyone does. But the real question lies in how you can utilize and make the most out of data that is already widely available. Here are a few steps:
While we bet you already know who and how many rivals you have, you need to check regularly. Are there new entrants? Did any already leave? Is there one you missed? Consequently, understand the distinction between direct and indirect competition. Considering you are an online book store, is it alright to consider Amazon your competition? Side by side, some days, you have to consider competition from a different industry just because you are fighting for the same keywords in search engine rankings.
You must establish first hand which channels and performance metrics matter to you first. Keep your list simple, initially. Make it easier to track and monitor. Depending on your industry, establish which channels matter to you most and progress accordingly. Some metrics you may want to look into include:
Categorize all the collected information and organize them in charts, graphs, and figures. You can’t see until you actually see it. Visualization of data will help you pull inferences more easily. Prepare dashboards to aid your decision-making like never before.
All this data wrangling will go in vain if they do not leave your desk. An integrated understanding of rivals will help you benchmark all your business functions against those of competitors. It will aid not only your present plans but also those of past and future. Insights derived from competitive intelligence will help fuel sales pitches, marketing copies, and product development.
Now that the ground is ready, time to take off for real action. Monitor how your derived insights and inferences are incorporated into your marketing strategies. You must understand whether and how your competitive intelligence is affecting your sales performance. Collect feedback and identify solutions to be implemented.
Figure out whether all the efforts actually worked? If not, why not?
Too many steps to follow, right? No real-time update means by the time you reach the end, the market has already evolved 360 degrees. The collection and organization of data, though important, take up a lot of time and effort when done manually. The accuracy of your competitive intelligence is also affected if you are not using the right kind of competitor software tools.
Then, where is the magic wand? How can you spend more time analyzing data while ensuring that the data sources and data themselves are relevant, accurate, and up to date?
There are widely available SaaS competitor benchmarking tools available online. That makes not only competitive intelligence accessible but also affordable. Some of them are as follow:
Similar Web is a great tool for website analysis and data mining. It enables you with a very detailed and comprehensive overview of any website, including those of your competitors. It provides data on a website’s:
All you have to do is install its Chrome Extension and click on it every time you visit a website. However, its free version provides very limited data, meaning you only get five results for each website metric that you’re analyzing. Subsequently, its premium plan’s pricing is modular and will vary widely according to your unique needs and usages.
This tool helps you identify your competitors’ most profitable keywords. Plus, it provides you with both the paid and organic search keywords competitors are targeting. Handily, it is a great tool to identify keywords you might have previously missed out on.
Point: SpyFu offers a free version of its service, which you can check out if you’re dipping your toes initially. Moreover, the Basic plan charges $39/month while the Professional plan costs $78 /month. Consequently, the Agency plan costs $299/month.
It enables you to discover the top-performing and trending contents relevant to your brand and industry. It helps you identify potentially hot and trending topics on the web and social media to explore yourself.
If you are looking for your competitors’ most popular content, Buzzsumo provides you with exactly that. Its paid packages may widely vary in prices ranging from $99/month to $499+/month.
MailCharts gathers emails from competing campaigns enabling you with subject lines, timing, frequency, length, and so on of your competitors to fine-tune yours. Additionally, it helps you draw inspiration pulling from some of the biggest campaigns out there. It educates you on how top-performing emails look like.
MailCharts has a free version to search for content by keyword or entering a competitor’s URL. It entails more data and tools with its paid version at $99+/month.
Sprout Social’s social media competitor analysis tool gathers competitors’ data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Besides, it allows you to compare key performance metrics and discover which kind of content trends and converts most.📷
Moreover, this tool offers competitor reports that list fundamental metrics like audience growth, engagement, and post volume for each social medium. It enables real-time and multi-channel tracking of engagement, influencer, and post schedules.
The good news is it has a 14-day free trial version, and its pricing ranges widely from $99/month to $249/month across various packages.
All the above tools are good ways to unravel your competitors’ moves. They have amazing features each to tackle a specific category of your competitors’ activities.
But what’s great?
A tool that encompasses all the features within one software — in other words, Competitors App.
Competitors App is an extraordinary competitor benchmarking tool that gathers competitive intelligence from multiple sources under one station. It helps you analyze the website, SEO, online ads, social media, emails, and newsletters of competitors under one package. Over the past 3 years, Competitors App has monitored around 13497 competitors for its clients worldwide. There are two plans that you can choose from:📷
Great news: A 15-day free trial option is also available for the ease of users!
You can always schedule a demo in case you want to get first-hand training on how to optimize your use of the tool. After you are signed up and enrolled, the first step is to add competitors you want to learn more about. But beware of choosing competitors that you are ready to take a hit on. This provides you with a very user-friendly interface.
Firstly, the timeline panel allows you to get a snapshot of your competitors’ most critical promotional items. Your timeline lets you have some final insights on the rivals’ actions on different channels based on your needs. Its advanced filter and checklist mechanism helps you select your competitors, data type, and time.
Plus, you can mark the most important items received on your timeline. You’ll be saving the items as more accessible by pressing star. If you want to see specific data gathered or saved during a certain period, then you can use the calendar for this.
Secondly, the dashboard panel enables you with a well-curated board consisting of self-explanatory, real-time graphs and charts. These charts will reflect social activity posts, social activity engagement, most popular posts, and Google rankings summary, follower count, and follower growth of your competitors.
The visualizations are updated in real-time and prepared automatically. All these mean now you have only one task left- analysis! The app is like a virtual assistant that automatically prepares competitor reports, which you can also export as PDF anytime you want.
Finally, the keywords panel will help you to track and monitor the keyword performance of your rivals. Comprehensive analysis of keywords means you are in a better position for SEO.
The app’s monitoring tool gets you notified each time when a competitor makes a move in your preferred Slack channel. All you have to do is enable Slack notifications — you can then access updates easier and faster.
Going through your competitors’ reviews can give a full-fledged awareness of competitors’ online reputation and brand image and consumer perception in the market.
The app offers full white-label features available only for Agency Plan, with a custom domain and client login. Meaning? You can now access your clients to see their own dashboards and reports on your very own custom domain with reports personalized according to your brand.
The app keeps you informed based on the set alert frequency. It thus helps you with the following updates on your competitors.
While account emails involve engagement with direct users through alerts on accounts and account-related activities, newsletters help you engage with prospects through information on companies’ news, deals, and special offers. You can send emails to retarget inactive users, celebrate user achievements, provide personalized recommendations, and so on.
The best part of the app is that it lets you be the first to know about your competitor’s new actions, bonuses, and updates — even before their own subscribers and customers. Consequently, it helps you analyze the arrival time and frequency, email subject line, email body, promotional material design, and Call To Actions (CTAs) of your rivals through the app.
You can also identify key customer triggers and touchpoints. Add to that — analyzing your competition newsletters will give you insights into their creative style, tone, so you’ll know better what your gaps are and what you could improve on. The app will also enable you to see things from the perspective of a customer within your industry.
The app also helps you analyze the most popular social media channels, posting frequency, and engagement rate of your rivals can be a useful tool to discover uncharted and unprecedented opportunities.
Subsequently, your competitors’ online mentions, backlinks, and content marketing strategies can be wonderful factors to analyze while identifying your rival brands’ personalities. Throughout competitor benchmarking, some things to keep in mind are:
Picking the right keywords is vital to any great search marketing campaign. Start with following the leading websites in your field or industry. Analyze the keywords bids, the average paid traffic, and historical performance to spot opportunities and market gaps. You can take a better look at competitor advertisements to capture all the pay-per-click campaigns, main keywords used, and their rankings for each ad.
Unravel fast and monitor all of your competitors’ PPC campaigns to hoard all the insights you need to create better Google Ad campaigns. Any new keyword to look into? Any old one to drop? Look no further than your own market competitors. Keeping tabs on competitors’ keyword activities will help you to focus your SEO and backlink building efforts where you need them the most.
New website pages, page content changes, new product arrivals, seasonal influences, revamps in pricing strategies, fresh keywords, tweaks in value propositions, a brand refresh, and boilerplate updates- you name it, we show it! Analyzing your competitors’ website traffic, site structure updates, and pricing strategy can help you track and evaluate the extent and effectiveness of their web presence.
You can also receive data insights for your location-specific campaigns through Competitors App. Furthermore, UI/UX or online ad design changes due to a brand refresh can help you get insights into the direction of competitors’ plans. Whether they are dedicated features pages or FAQ- you can be the first to know everything!
Besides, studying the SEO ranking, organic search visibility, best-selling keywords, and page traffic might help you tweak and master the SEO strategies of your valued business. Whenever your competitors make SEO changes such as changing a blog post title and focusing on another keyword — Competitors App will be the first to notify you.
With time, the competitive landscape is evolving to be more dynamic. Companies must capture real-time data and derive fast and accurate insights. Ultimately, competitive intelligence provides your business with useful insights on current and emerging competitors plus their activities, target customer profiles, pricing strategies, and so on. Such knowledge advantage can hence be leveraged to ensure competitor benchmarking and derive the highest sales and profitability.
A deeper dive into your rivals’ moves will require more exhaustive data mining and analysis efforts.
Deal-breaker: Data collection crowding too many resources from data analysis. This hints at the increasing need for efficient competitive intelligence solutions so that your competitor benchmarking efforts run fast and smooth!
Delivering actionable intelligence is necessary when analyzing data becomes the only task left- once you have an efficient tool like Competitors App on board. This helps you to ensure the applicability and validity of collected data due to its extraordinary Ai mechanisms.
Clearly, you must be able to understand the distinction between consistent patterns and outliers. Narrowed down data into valuable insights is intelligence. Make sure your findings uncover competitor strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies while identifying overall industry opportunities and threats.
Remember: Long are gone the days of guessing and “gut feeling” assumptions. Usually, markets become echo chambers for commonly misinterpreted information. Insightful data on your competitors’ digital moves may enable you with tested solutions that have simple implementations.
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