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5 Benefits of Competitive Intelligence: How to Maximize Your Results
Want more from competitive intelligence? First, make sure you're getting all the potential benefits. Then maximize your program for even better results!
No matter your role—sales, marketing, product, or even the C-suite—there’s one essential business truth you’ll inevitably have to grapple with: the competitive landscape is a complicated place.
Every day, professionals like you are building and executing a strategy, only to pivot at the last hour due to an unexpected competitor move.
So how can you keep up?
With competitive intelligence.
Competitive intelligence provides data-driven insights—along with the context to understand them and make them actionable.
With it, you can respond proactively to shifts in your market, increase your competitive advantage, and beat your goals more soundly than ever.
Yes, the potential benefits of competitive intelligence are vast. Below, we’ll explore what it entails, along with practical tips and advice to help you make the most of it.
What Is Competitive Intelligence, and Who Benefits From It?
Competitive intelligence is the process of gathering and analyzing data about other companies’ activities and strategies with the goal of better understanding your competitive landscape.
It’s similar to market intelligence, which focuses primarily on understanding your target customers’ preferences and behavior. As such, the two often go hand-in-hand.
While it’s often associated with sales, competitive intelligence actually provides key information for almost every department in your organization. It can influence company decision-making, and help you stay ahead of the competition.
We’ll explore more about how specific teams can use competitive intelligence later in the article.
What Are The Benefits of Competitive Intelligence?
Depending on your role, the way you use competitive intelligence may vary. But whatever your role, if you want to achieve (or even surpass) your business goals, you’re going to need solid competitive intelligence.
Competitive intelligence can help you:
- Find and capitalize on market trends
- Future-proof your strategy
- Benchmark more accurately
- Identify emerging threats
- Seize new opportunities for growth
We’ll explore each of these in more detail below.
#1 Find and Capitalize on Market Trends
Competitive intelligence can help you spot and respond to shifting trends in your niche, based on the activities of your competition.
Here’s how it works.
Imagine you’re running a SaaS startup in a very competitive space. While you’ve been growing your footprint over time, you have several strong competitors to contend with. So, to compete more effectively, you regularly do competitive research and analyze the data.
Because you’re keeping up with your competitors, you’re able to spot a critical trend: their prices are all going up—and you’re now selling one of the most cost-effective products in your space.
Now, you can do two things:
- Re-evaluate your own pricing, to make sure you’re at the best price point to win customers while still driving revenue
- Rework your sales and marketing messaging to emphasize the value of your product compared to the much more expensive competition
Because you’ve been gathering competitor data over time, you can spot key trends in your space and take advantage of them, setting yourself apart from your biggest rivals.
#2 Future-Proof Your Strategy
Competitive intelligence can also help you learn from the past, both to position yourself for growth and prepare for future challenges.
How? By collecting and analyzing competitive data consistently over time.
This enables you to:
- Identify patterns in competitor strategy—for example, seasonality
- Forecast more accurately
- Proactively create strategies to anticipate upcoming challenges
The types of challenges you might anticipate are as diverse as your competitors. For example one rival adjusts their prices on a seasonal basis, while another always announces new products or services with a big promotion at the end of the year.
The more regularly you track competitive insights and record your findings, the better you’ll be able to anticipate their next move and plan accordingly.
#3 Benchmark Your Progress vs. The Competition
The best competitive intelligence is targeted to support your goals. And that means more than collecting a high volume of data. It also means collecting the right data, which aligns directly with your most important KPIs.
Simple—because this enables you to benchmark your performance against competitors, in a way that supports your business goals.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you have a long-term business goal of improving your conversion rate by attracting more qualified leads. As part of this goal, one of your KPIs is to improve your average customer rating to 4.5 stars out of five.
If you achieve this KPI, will it actually improve your standing versus your competitors?
Well, that depends. To know for sure, you’d want to compare your achievement to your top competitors. You could compare related KPIs such as:
- Number of reviews on each review platform
- Average rating on each platform
- Quantity of ratings at each level
- Number of reviews or ratings earned per month
This information gives you more context with which to understand your success relative to your market. For example, if your competitors all have an average 4.5 star rating, but twice the volume of reviews, you probably still have some work to do to see a big result.
With the right competitive insights, you can set more competitive goals, and understand the real impact of your progress more thoroughly.
#4 Use Competitive Intelligence Research to Identify Emerging Threats
You’re probably already researching the competitors you know about—but what about the ones you don’t? A thorough competitive intelligence strategy accounts for both—making you aware not just of your stiffest competition, but also emerging threats in your space.
An emerging threat generally meets one of two criteria. It’s:
- A new or quickly growing competitor in your space
- An existing rival that's launched new products or services that compete with yours in a new way
Here are a few ways to identify them:
- News aggregation: Staying on top of the recent headlines in your space is a good way to spot major developments—like a big competitor expanding into your niche with a new product
- Social listening: Paying close attention to the voices in your niche on social media can help you spot new and rapidly growing players. If your target customers are talking about a new brand, you’re going to want to research them
- Industry and consumer trends: As customer needs change, this often makes space for new competitors to emerge, and for existing rivals to shift their strategies. As your target customers begin to express new needs, or look for different services, take the time to find out who’s offering these services.
- SEO and advertising competition: While it’s not always a one-to-one match, the brands competing for your audience’s attention—for example, in search results or ad space—are likely to be your competition. Make a note whenever new voices start to appear in these spaces.
Want some more tips on identifying these emerging threats? Check out our blog.
Kompyte's "Competitor Detector" tool can surface new companies ranking for and bidding on your keywords.
#5 Seize Untapped Growth Opportunities
Finally, competitive intelligence can help you identify new opportunities, like new customer segments you aren’t targeting, or soon-to-be-in-demand services.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you run a boutique ad agency. As part of your strategy, you regularly do competitive research on all the major and emerging players in your space. Then, you use what you learn to sharpen your pitch and your service offerings.
Because of this research, you know that a few of your rivals have recently launched a popular new service, AI copywriting. And since you’ve seen an uptick in interest for those services, you can’t afford to ignore it.
You have two choices:
- Start offering AI copywriting services to align with the emerging trend
- Keep the same offerings as before, and focus on differentiating yourself from the pack
Without competitive intelligence, you might not have known about this until after most of your competitors had jumped on it. And then you would have lost ground, and found yourself racing to catch up. But since you learned about it early, you can create a proactive strategy.
In the same way—by gathering data about many different competitors—you can use competitive intelligence to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in your market.
Maximize the Benefits of Competitive Research with Functional Reports
Competitive intelligence can undoubtedly deliver enormous benefits. But how do you make sure you realize those benefits? By making these crucial competitive insights accessible to everyone who needs them.
You can do this by creating functional reports—reports that are up-to-date, accessible, and easy to understand.
Here are some basic principles to follow to make sure all your reports are helpful to everyone who reads them:
- Organization: Your data points aren’t random—and they shouldn’t feel that way to a reader. Organize your reports so that each point establishes a foundation for the next takeaway. This will help teams understand the relationships between different pieces of data.
- Relevance: In each report, only include the metrics that are pertinent to that report’s purpose. In other words, which decisions is this report meant to assist with, and which metrics directly relate? We’ll cover this in more detail later.
- Context: In addition to hard data, make sure to provide enough contextual details so that every reader can understand its impact. For example, if your conversion rate skyrockets one month—at the same time as a new promotion launched—this information can help your team recreate that success going forward.
- Standardization: It may seem obvious, but unless you have a good reason to deviate, you should be doing your reports the same way every time. In other words, the same flow and format, the same KPIs, schedule and location. Then, your teams know when to expect them and can dive in without difficulty.
- Accessibility: Everyone who needs each report should be able to find and read it easily. First, store all your reports in a central location everyone can easily access. And second, make sure they can be understood by everyone. For example, include descriptive alt-text for team members using screen readers, and use high contrast palettes for colorblind-friendly reading.
- Skimmable: Some of your reports may be used by your sales team while they are on calls. So make sure the main points are very easy to spot. Battlecard adoption, in particular, can be a challenge, and making your reports easy to use will go a long way in encouraging use.
This doesn’t have to be labor-intensive. Once you know what you want your reports to include, with the right tools, you can automate much of this process.
For example, here’s a Competitor Insights report from Kompyte:
Here, the tool automatically aggregates the latest updates about each competitor, including:
- Their most engaging content on social (social listening)
- Their top headlines (news aggregation)
- New pages published—potentially indicating new products or promotions
Because Kompyte aggregates this information in a standardized, easy-to-digest way, teams can focus less on building and interpreting the report, and more on putting their learnings into action.
Once you know what your reports should look like, you can standardize and automate the process of creating and updating them with your preferred tool. Then, each team can get the information they need more efficiently.
How to Tailor Competitive Intelligence Reports for Each Team
Each team in your organization faces unique challenges in reaching business goals. And when it comes to competitive intelligence, they’re each likely to ask different questions.
That means that, to make the biggest impact with your competitor insights, you’ll need to create tailored reports aligned to each of their needs. See this article for detailed information about the essential reports your teams need (with examples). For an overview, keep reading.
Sales: Overcome Objections with Competitor Research
Competitive research empowers your sales team to close more deals. How? Because it tells them two important things:
- Who else their potential customers are likely considering
- What makes those options appealing
- What customers dislike about your competitors’ offerings
Help them put this knowledge into action by distilling it into competitor-specific Battlecards.
Battlecards equip your sales team with the powerful messaging they need to handle objections, answer detailed questions, and more. With competitive research, you can anticipate customer objections and address them in advance, so nobody gets caught unprepared.
Here’s an example of one competitor Battlecard from Kompyte:
It clearly outlines the Battlecard owner’s strengths and weaknesses against that competitor, along with recent feedback to support each point.
Curious about Battlecards? Check out our blog to discover the nine essential sales Battlecards every Sales team needs—with examples!
Product Teams: Build A Better Product Roadmap
Your product team has the essential task of creating and maintaining your product roadmap. They identify gaps and leverage weaknesses and trends to help your products stay competitive.
A competitive intelligence report can help them do all of this, as long as it focuses on the most relevant data points.
- Competitor product launches and updates
- User reviews and feedback—your own and those of your competition
- Competitor pricing and promotional offers
- Details about innovation—such as new patent applications or grants awarded
Your product team can then use this data to respond proactively, by planning competitive product updates, adding in-demand features, or adjusting your pricing strategy.
Marketing: Strengthen Your Go-To-Market Strategy and Build More Impactful Campaigns
Your marketing team plays a crucial role in achieving your business goals. Their activities help to maintain your customer funnel, attract leads, and establish your brand messaging. But to do it effectively, they need to understand what other influential voices in your space are saying.
That’s where competitive intelligence comes in. An effective marketing competitive intelligence report paints a detailed picture of each competitor’s marketing strategy.
- Recent updates to competitor websites, such as new landing pages
- Competitor messaging, including blog articles, ads and social content
- Engaging social media content
- Organic search rankings, especially on keywords your team wants to target
- Sales and promotions
- Customer feedback
With these insights, your marketing team can craft more powerful product positioning, create impactful campaigns, and attract more leads for your sales team to convert.
Human Resources: Attract Top Talent with Competitive Insights
While it may not seem obvious, competitive intelligence can produce enormous benefits for your HR team. How so? It gives them key insights into which roles are in demand, and what makes those offers attractive to top talent.
Here are some key data points to include in your HR competitive intelligence report:
- Competitor job postings: If certain roles are in demand in your space, top candidates may get competing offers
- Compensation: Details about salary and benefits help HR teams make more compelling offers to attract and retain top talent
- Employee Reviews: Information about company culture, perks, and overall satisfaction can help HR teams create a more positive environment internally, while also attracting top talent externally
- Workplace Diversity: This data helps HR teams benchmark their efforts to build cohesive, diverse teams. It can also support corporate social responsibility efforts, and signify where more effort is needed to improve.
- Industry Trends and Updates: Info about important shifts in your niche, such as competitor layoffs, can signify recruitment opportunities, or act as a warning sign for obstacles ahead
Executive Teams: Guide Big-Picture Competitive Strategy
Leadership teams define strategic change, assess your brand’s position in the market, anticipate competitor strategy, and guide the organization toward long-term growth.
Competitive intelligence gives executives the context they need to make these crucial decisions with confidence. It keeps them up-to-date on competitor strategies, provides high level insights, and helps them be proactive.
Here are a few key data points for an executive competitive intelligence report.
- Competitor financial health: This could include company growth, funding, mergers and acquisitions, SEC filings, and other financial news
- Competitor market presence and reputation: In addition to metrics like market share, key insights can be found in news headlines and competitor brand mentions in the media
- Brand partnerships: If your rival collaborates with another brand, it could give them a competitive advantage. By staying alerted to these shifts, your executive team can plan a strategic response, or seek out new opportunities.
Learn more about crafting these and other team-specific competitive intelligence reports on our blog.
Do You Need a Competitive Intelligence Analyst?
Incorporating competitive intelligence into your strategy carries many potential benefits. But it also requires consistency, and dedicated resources.
That means you have a few options:
- Outsource your competitive analysis
- Automate competitor intelligence collection and distribution
- Hire a competitive intelligence analyst and do it in-house
- Some combination of the above
So how do you know which is right for you? This is typically a question of scale, goal, and resources.
A specialist in competitive intelligence or data analysis can help, but if you can afford to automate your program, a Product Marketing Manager, data analyst, or someone else can own the maintenance of your program in about an hour a week.
This frees you to spend more time putting your findings into action, and enables your competitive intelligence analyst (if you have one) to go even more in-depth with their research.
Kompyte, for example, can aggregate competitor data, deliver it in easy-to-understand reports, and even alert you automatically in Slack to the latest updates.
With the right tool, you can track dozens of competitors and gain relevant insights in just one hour a week.
Sound too good to be true? See for yourself.
Multiply Your Competitive Intelligence Benefits
Competitive intelligence is a never-ending journey. But one that's a worthy investment of your resources.
It has the potential to enhance efficiency, conserve precious time, and, most importantly, stay anchored to data that drives their objectives and fosters informed decision-making processes.
Get these benefits by staying connected to each team’s needs and insights, and building tailored competitive intelligence reports to help them overcome their unique challenges.
When you fully realize the benefits of competitive intelligence, your business is equipped to anticipate and adeptly navigate any shifts in your competitive landscape.