Here at WhatRunsWhere, we provide a competitive intelligence platform for users to discover what’s out there in the world of display and mobile advertising. But competitive intelligence is definitely not just limited to advertising. A company can incorporate it into their business plan on many fronts, including R&D, marketing, finances, and much more.
Here, we cover some of the easiest and most cost-efficient ways to collect competitive intelligence from your rivals.
Keep track of your competitor’s product updates by setting up a Google Alert for their name. You’ll receive automatic emails that aggregate the most recent news that highlights that keyword. You can also build a “recipe” on IFTTT – an automation service – to send you an email when a company posts something about a certain topic (like this one).
Other great sources of competitive intelligence for product development are keynote speeches by company leaders or annual reports; these often outline the company’s upcoming plans and goals.
Take a peek at how your competitors have been managing their social media presence. If they have a similar number of followers but are able to engage more users (which can be roughly gauged by the number of likes, shares, comments, etc.), then it’d be valuable to determine which practices are putting them ahead of the curve.
Consider the tone of messages that they use: are they conversational or informational? Funny or serious? Do they ask for user-generated content like photos, testimonials, reviews, etc.?
Follow your competitors on these platforms so you can stay up to date with their latest moves. If you know that they are about to run a promotional campaign like a contest or a giveaway, you can make note of the number of followers that they have before and after the campaign to determine how a similar strategy could work for your company.
You can gather competitive intelligence about email marketing campaigns through services like Return Path, eDataSource, and Emailium. While these platforms all offer something different, you can get reports on the reach of your competitors’ mailing lists and segmentation analysis for their campaigns.
With the various email marketing platforms that exist, manipulating your content and strategy has become incredibly easy. Studying your competitor’s moves here can really pay off because implementation is cheap and simple.
So, what do you do with this information?
Competitive intelligence shouldn’t be used to blindly copy someone else’s business model. In fact, it’ll probably work to your disadvantage because your opponents will likely have already conquered that audience using those exact strategies, and we know that consumers don’t respond well to repetitive or clichéd tactics.
Instead, consider how you compare with your competitor.
If your competitor is faring considerably better than you
Study your competitor’s strategy to determine what’s working for them. To simplify the issue, we’ll talk about marketing specifically from here on in.
Adapt the broader techniques to your own plan – this is rather easily done. For example, if your competitor is sending 4x fewer emails than you and is generating much higher open rates, that’s a simple fix that you can implement immediately.
Additionally, consider why their distinct approaches are working, and develop something that uses the same motivation or basic concept. Say a T-shirt company ran a successful campaign asking users to submit photos of themselves wearing the shirts. Perhaps your apparel company could run a contest for photos featuring your shirts in the most unique places.
If you and your competitor are neck-and-neck
If your goal is to snag away some of your competitor’s clientele, you could adopt a strategy that embraces similar marketing channels; after all, you know that these already resonate with their users. Again, be careful to distinguish yourself, either with a superior product, message, or price point.
Alternatively, you could use drastically different channels to capture a yet untargeted segment of potential customers. Have few of your competitors embraced local deals through Yelp? What about other digital avenues like eBooks, video blogs, or webinars? Each of these strategies appeal to different communities, so think about where your untapped clients might be.