Business Online Journal
How to Stay Ahead of the Game Using Competitive Intelligence
By: Razvan Gavrilas
Published: May 2, 2016, 7:00 pm

It's essential to channel your efforts into gaining market intelligence. That is the amount of contextualized information which is relevant to a company and its markets, gathered for the purpose of identifying opportunities.

A market’s development metrics can ease your way into increasing the market share through market assessment research.

The thorough analysis of the external market environment has a crucial role in moulding the foothold of a company in the market, and being up to date with the online research is part of that challenge.

There are numerous criteria of classifying the online research. For instance, depending on the business status, it can either be market entry or market expansion. However, when it comes to understanding of your competitors’ digital strategy, the types of action are the most relevant criteria to take into consideration, as it follows.

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Create a Consistent Information Database

It’s not enough to carry out research sporadically, as it won’t provide reliable results to be correlated with different strategies of your business and your competitors’ online. The more coherence the researching efforts have, the more sustainable your marketing approach will be.

In order to keep up to date with your competitors’ affairs, create a database with the important data that could shape your marketing decisions on the go. There are tools, some of which free, such as SocialMention and BrandMentions, that offer services in the area of web and social media mentions.

However, most of them either fail to offer a storage possibility for the projects you’re working on, either come as a package advantage of another tool. Competitors Database - Monitoring Web Engagement and Popularity
Keep a clear evolution of your company week by week along with of your competitors online performance. This allows you to understand what kind of content and generic approach make a better mix and under what circumstances.

Monitor Search Queries to Analyze a Topical Trend Interest

Suppose we’re representing the digital marketing team of Reebok and we’re going to be interested in how other companies have been performing in terms of queries interest over time. We will be using Google Trends and also search for brands such as Nike, Adidas, Converse and Puma. 

Sports Shoes (nike, adidas, reebok, converse, puma) - Interest Over Time
Source: Google Trends

After we’ve established who generates more search queries organically, we’re going to investigate the related keywords that appear in connected searches.

Google Trends - Related Searches for each sports shoe brand.
Source: Google Trends

This section of Google Trends is a goldmine, because it gives insight into what people find interesting conducting more specific search queries, some of which long-tail based. Exploiting these keywords can lead us to correctly identifying a set of powerful ideas our audience is interested in.

It especially helps to shape strategies according to the trends as they result from organic engagement that has not been previously altered or shaped in any way by the companies.

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Analyze the Your Competitors’ Profile Engaging Web Content

Without doubt, earned media is one of the most valuable assets when it comes to shareability boosts. And the reason why it’s so prized is that you have to be absolutely remarkable to gain organic interest of new media.

Let’s assume I own a business and a blog on link building strategies. Take the example of Backlinko’s recent article on Google Search Results, who would be my most powerful competitor.

The topic is striking in itself, as it treats something of interest in the industry, in the form of a contextualized, practical analysis. Plus, adding the "we" at the beginning of the title makes the analysis all the more significant, as it uses the credibility they’ve been building for years to backup an internal analysis.

No wonder the article had such a great engagement rate. The association of personal experience with a professional context of high interest makes it difficult to fail.

Find the equivalent of Brian Dean’s brand loyalty among your competitors. Spot the most powerful magnet of constant readers and analyze what they’re doing right. Then scale it to create something substantially better. 

Backlinl results for Brian Dean's Engagement on his Article
Source: Backlinko

After a thorough analysis of what people look for in the micro-niche you’re going to write about, the building of market intelligence should shift the focus over competitive advantages.

Once the topical area of your content is set, you should know what has been written on the topic in order to come with something indisputably better. A high quality blog makes a vigorous statement about your brand, since we generally associate the extent to which content has helped with the overall utility of the product or service it promotes.

The amount of information at our hands is unprecedented. Given this context, it’s almost impossible to influence your audience without adding something bold and outstanding into the mix. Whenever faced with such decisions, it’s crucial to also keep in mind the category of potential buyers, to accurately ascertain the demand and the customer requirements.

Interview Customers of the Competition

Competitors’ mindset provides the most accurate correlation between their brand promise and how customers perceive what they actually delivered. Review the interaction between the following these three factors:

  • Competitor brand promise
  • Customer perceptions
  • Market facts extracted from the information database about online performance

First, your internal research should offer a clear picture of the competitors’ main brand promises: what they intend to offer in terms of competitive advantage.

Then analyze the customers’ generic level of satisfaction in relation with the brand promises of your competition. Then consult brand assessment facts to see where they convert and what makes their customers stick.

See what customers of that generic product type are looking for. This data correlation will help you set the premises to establish a new way to approach your (already existing and potential) audience.

However, your research will need to be accompanied by a comprehensive psychological understanding of explicit and implicit objectives of your competitors in relation to their customers’ needs. Because ultimately, they are the ones you are struggling to attract through competitive intelligence.

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Finally, your results should mix three core components, in order to be most effective in monetizing competitive intelligence:

  • To maintain the essence of what your brand currently offers, in order to keep current customers and loyalize them
  • To identify what of your competitors’ customers were looking for and did not get
  • To identify what your competitors’ current customers find engaging about their brand promise and offer that too, to shift their attention.