What Is Competitive Intelligence & How Is Your Competition Using It?

2023.Q4 - Blog Banners - Legacy Blogs (8)

Leading companies cover their bases by staying on top of news about their competitors and the market. This tactical intelligence informs strategic decision-making and helps brands rise like cream to the top. And you can too!

Competitive intel is not just “nice to have”—it is essential. Innovative brands utilize competitive intelligence software to monitor and benchmark themselves against rivals and uncover which ones are emerging or gaining ground in a particular market. Here, we’ll discover what your rivals could already be aware of—and what you and your marketing team have been missing!

What Is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the act of gathering, analyzing, and utilizing data collected on competitors, consumers, and other market components to inform business strategy.

Currently, competitors are using traffic analytics to capture your site traffic and keywords, site changes, and traffic sources. They are identifying or dominating white space opportunities and doing this unchallenged. And as every company is global, it’s important to understand global happenings, as each can affect your competitor profile.

For example, a global food industry brand would need to understand worldwide purchase trends, including:

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Brands in the know on these and other issues have access to a crystal ball called data intelligence, and it’s yours for the taking. You should be moving first on trends you’re allowing to slip through your fingers. And it’s time to change that.

You need powerful competitor auditing capabilities, and top-notch market intelligence when identifying these new opportunities. And this is where competitive intelligence tools come in. So say hello to your new best friend. Our competitive intelligence best practices guide covers The Importance of Competitive Intelligence beyond what you’ll find shared here. So be sure to check it out!

Competitive Intelligence is Essential – Here’s Why

Competitive intelligence provides tactical advice by helping you understand your audience and their needs. It lets you stay up-to-date with your competitors and the larger competitive environment and ultimately informs your strategic business decisions. Actively and effectively keeping tabs on your competitors gives you a leg up in your industry, always keeping you one step ahead. When you have a strategy in place for using competitive market intelligence tools like Quid, you’re setting yourself up to be successful:

Drive new business pitches

  • Measure brand perception and market presence
  • Map customer reviews
  • Conduct competitive analysis
  • Discover cultural patterns
  • Gather creative inspiration

So, where do you start? Keep reading as we will delve into where to gather your sources, how to conduct a competitor comparison, and what to look for in a competitive intelligence tool.

Gathering Competitive Sources

Of course, you need to know where to gather your competition intelligence. And almost everything is online, almost. To get you started, here are a few ideas of where to look:

  • The social web includes social channels, websites, and apps that can reveal current conversations and shifts in sentiment.
  • News media can provide strategic intelligence, informing you of tactical moves, strengths, and threats conveniently detailed in articles. Also, earnings calls and other analyses offer great supplementary intel.
  • Product analysis can be very revealing, and it’s available by simply uploading reviews and forum intel for analysis.
  • Customer surveys and comment data.
  • Industry events, conferences, and trade shows with potential market prospects.

Ideally, a brand should be able to upload this data seamlessly and automatically into a single business intelligence tool for analysis.

How Competitive Intelligence is Used

Competitive intel facilitates a better understanding of the market landscape, and the advantages and disadvantages of your brand compared to your rivals. With stronger business intelligence and an understanding of the competition, you're empowered to develop a future-focused strategy that solidifies your position in the market and puts you ahead. Once you’ve gathered sources and started your analysis, you will be able to identify your competition and understand your market landscape. In most cases, your most threatening rivals will be those with similar market share, voice, and audiences. For example, they may offer a similar product or service, or they may attract your target audiences and use similar tactics to bring in new business. So, you’ll want to play spy and dissect their movements to make sure you come out on top..

Let’s explore more specifically how you can use competitive intelligence, and powerful competitor monitoring tools, to assist your brand.

Locate preferred platforms

Perhaps they’re winning on Instagram, and this is a platform that you’ve never considered. Do they know something you don’t about the audience there? Are they using better social media strategies? Below, Quid Compete illustrates what this competitor comparison could look like when comparing two brands on Instagram:

comparing-brands-in-rival-iq

Track Market Campaigns

Tracking their platform play and getting deeper competitive insight into their online strategies will help you keep an eye on their relevant campaigns to see which resonates with consumers. Are their paid, organic, or earned efforts paying off? Knowing this allows you to fine-tune your campaign strategies.

Analyze Competitor Hashtags and Keywords

Hashtags are a powerful way to reach consumers, assuming you know which ones are trending. Locating these items helps you monitor meaningful category conversations and can inspire ideas for your own branded campaigns.

Hashtag analysis pinpoints which hashtags are doing well for your rivals and what consumers are saying in these conversations specifically. Is it a contest with people sharing product imagery or a way to reimagine your offering?

Sometimes hashtags crop up organically and aren’t created by brands at all but by trends, invested consumers––or even potential influencers!

And tracking keywords also provides fantastic strategic intelligence on what your competitor's’ audiences are speaking about concerning the brand. This data helps you become a part of their conversation, as you can create messaging that speaks to customers’ precise concerns.

It also helps you understand the language they’re using, so your brand can be recognized as a relevant and engaged thought leader in the space.

Consumers are much more likely to purchase from a brand that understands them and connects with them versus one that blindly pushes out products and ignores their needs. And when you monitor the conversations happening around your competitors, that picture is far more complete.

And finally, you’ll need to review the findings with your brand and strategies in mind. How do you measure up? Is your brand being discussed more often than others? Less? And in what context, comparatively?

Also, how does the sentiment story look? Is the conversation positive, negative, or perhaps indifferent? How passionate are consumers when they discuss your offerings? It matters.

net-senitment-and-passion-comparison

And this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding what competitive insight can do for you.

What Your Competitive Intelligence Tool Should Include

Today, there are a plethora of competitive tools to choose from. Some offer just surface-level competitive intelligence, while other tools provide a complete picture of the competition, market, and consumers, and even compile this data into actionable insights to fuel your strategy. No matter what tool you pick, you’ll need to ensure it meets your immediate needs and any future endeavors. Below we’ve provided a list of competitive intelligence platform must-haves.

Your competitive analysis tool should:

  • Locate your closest competition by audience size and market
  • Provide an understanding of who your closest rivals are and how their market position may have changed over time
  • Provide side-by-side comparisons of your closest contenders and their audiences
  • Uncover consumer sentiments about a rival’s brand, product, or service
  • Uncover fresh opportunities for new and innovative products or services
  • Identify emerging trends
  • Surface historical data for comparison
  • Provide hashtag and keyword analysis
  • Locate white space and first-mover opportunities
  • Highlight opportunities for acquisitions and investments
  • Detail demographics of audiences, not just whether they are male or female, but interests, professions, and even brands they love

The Best Competitive Intelligence Tools in 2023

The list above details what complete competitive intelligence solutions should offer you. However, not everyone needs everything (though we think they should have it just in case!) Some will provide a complete view of the market and competitive landscape, while others may offer limited options and are better fit for a quick glance into the competitive market.

Next, we’ll look at five tools that are worth your time and money regarding competitive analysis. Let’s begin…

Frequently Asked Questions About Competitive Intelligence

What is the main function of competitive intelligence?

By gathering competitive intelligence and identifying dangers and opportunities before they are visible, competitive intelligence professionals can improve organizational performance and assist in better-informed decisions.

What is good competitive intelligence?

Good competitive intelligence involves creating a plan of action to follow and integrating solid competitive intelligence research. This way, you’ll better grasp what you need to know and how you should apply that knowledge. In addition, being proactive rather than reactive will help you stay one step ahead of the competition and competitors’ strategies.

What is a competitive intelligence example?

How airlines use competitive intelligence solutions to inform their competitive strategy is an excellent illustration. Every day, they adjust the rates of their tickets in light of the data they collect. For instance, an airline may follow suit to generate substantial revenue if a competitor raises pricing on specific routes. If numerous airlines lower their costs, another one may do the same to remain competitive and desirable.

What are some competitive intelligence best practices?

Here are a few steps to get you pointed in the right direction!

  • Find out who your rivals are—using a competitive analysis tool is the best way to do this. It can uncover competition you may not have known existed, as opposed to only a small portion of known competitors.
  • Determine goals and what you’d like to accomplish. For example, are you looking to introduce a new product? Or are you hoping to make your latest ad stand out? Clear and defined goals will help you stay focused on the task.
  • Determine methods for data collecting—again, use a tool. It is much more time and cost-effective than manual data collection, and a competitive analytics tool is free of human error.
  • Evaluate your data for strategic planning.
  • Share information with key stakeholders.
  • Analyze frequently, as competitive intelligence monitoring is an ongoing process.

Maybe you’re just starting, or you’ve been in the game for a long time. Or you’re using competitive analysis, but it doesn’t have the power you need, and you feel like you’re falling behind in your competitive intelligence strategy. We can help you stay current and maintain a competitive edge in an overcrowded market. Reach out for a demo to get a sense of what a competitive intelligence tool should be. You’ll be glad you did!