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How to set (& meet) smart competitive intelligence goals for the new year
Scrambling to set your goals for the new year? Find out how leading businesses set and the actions they take to meet CI goals. 10-min read
Let competitive intelligence inform all 2020 goals
For anyone in marketing and sales, the end of the year is a busy time. People feel pressure to meet any goals for year they haven’t yet achieved, and often scramble to do so with a limited budget left to work with. And of course, all of that has to be balanced with the looming family obligations that come with the holiday season.
But no matter how overwhelmed you are, an important part of the end-of-the-year process for every business is revisiting your goals from the past year, and setting new ones for the coming one. In order to set goals that are realistic, well informed, and likely to lead to improved results in 2020, using competitive intelligence is an important part of the process.
Let competitive intelligence inform all 2020 goals
Competitive intelligence (CI) is relevant to every aspect of your sales and marketing strategy.
Think about how your target audience approaches deciding to buy your products or services. In most cases, they don’t start out focused on you directly. They go looking to see what all their options are. You’re not being considered in isolation—you’re being evaluated based on how you compare to their other choices.
Their perception of each piece of marketing they encounter of yours and every decision they make on the path to choosing (or not choosing) your product is influenced by the messaging they’re seeing from other brands alongside yours. Knowing where your competitors are relates to how successful you’ll be in all the other metrics you track and try to meet.
When setting your 2020 goals, in addition to reviewing all of the analytics you tracked internally to measure your 2019 success, do a competitive intelligence analysis.
If increasing traffic to your website is a top goal for the year, identify how often you show up for target keywords in the search engines for both paid and organic results in comparison to your competitors. Determining the best strategy to increase traffic will directly relate to figuring out how to claim more of the search engine results page (SERP) real estate.
If you’re hoping to gain more traction in social media, then understanding how your follower count and engagement levels relate to those of your competitors provides valuable information on what’s possible. You can identify how much room there is to grow and set realistic goals based on the actual size of your audience and their level of interest in interacting with accounts in your industry.
And if increasing purchases is a goal (which of course it is), then knowing how your positioning and pricing models compare to other brands in your space is an important piece of understanding the big picture. If a competitor has recently updated their pricing to undercut yours, that’s a crucial bit of knowledge that should influence the goals you set.
Set your competitive intelligence goals for 2020
A competitive analysis is valuable for all the sales and marketing goals you define for 2020, but it’s also valuable to set goals specifically around your competitive intelligence strategy for the year. If your business is fairly new to competitive intelligence, this can start with action-oriented goals, such as:
- Performing a thorough CI analysis of your competitors’ marketing tactics
- Creating competitor battle cards that equip sales with useful knowledge
- Creating a clear plan for continually measuring progress and updating your competitive intelligence strategy
With your initial action goals met and a clear plan in place, you can add in results-based CI goals such as:
- Increasing your organic rankings to claim traffic currently going to your competitors
- Creating ads that outperform those of your competitors
- Increasing your social engagement so that it meets or exceeds competitors’ performance on each platform
Measuring your own results against competitors isn’t necessarily about beating them in all possible metrics—ultimately winning more social engagement might not matter if the engagement they’re getting isn’t from people in your target audience, for instance. But knowing where your competitors stand can work as a benchmark for understanding what results are reasonable within your industry, so you know what to aim for.
Decide what competitive intelligence metrics to track
Having goals is the first step in any successful strategy, but goals are sometimes abstract. To make sure you stick with them and know how to gauge progress as you go, you need measurement. In addition to the key performance indicators you track for your general sales and marketing goals, determine which competitive intelligence metrics to add into your ongoing analysis.
Some CI metrics to consider include:
- Search engine rankings – track how your rankings change for specific keywords, and in particular which terms you overtake top competitors for.
- Paid marketing Ad Score – See how your ad performance measures up against similar ads from competitors based on factors like how often an ad displays and how it performs in A/B tests.
- Social engagement rates – engagement rates for your competitor’s social activity will help you track who’s performing the best and how their social strategy compares to yours, so you can analyze how to strengthen your tactics.
- Content engagement rates – track how well your competitor’s blog posts perform and how engagement on different posts compares, to gain insights into what content performs best with your audience.
- Social impact rate – engagement rates tell you how your competitors’ social presence is working overall, impact rate alerts you to the specific social posts that are outperforming the average. Seeing which posts garner the most interest and engagement shows you what your audience cares most about.
These CI metrics will help you stay on top of how your brand fits into the larger marketplace, and provide you with insights you can use to strengthen your overall marketing and sales strategies throughout the year.
Meeting competitive intelligence goals in ongoing
While it’s a good practice to take a step back and revisit your goals and progress at the end of each year, it’s just as important to be thinking about CI and reviewing your analytics as a regular exercise throughout the year.
It’s easy to stay on top of meaningful CI metrics with the right tool. A strong competitive intelligence product can provide real-time notifications when there’s a meaningful change in your CI metrics, and package the information in away that makes identifying insights easier. Making CI a key part of your strategy will help you see the bigger picture behind all your other metrics, helping you more successfully meet all your sales and marketing goals in the process.
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Product Marketing Director