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Competitive Intelligence Applications for Marketers, Product Managers, & More

Posted by Ronit Gupta on Thu Jun 21, 2018 08:00 AM

When it comes to competitive intelligence, collecting data is a critical, or more importantly, collecting valuable data. There is a mass of constantly changing and increasing data on the internet about movements in every industry, on company websites, social sites, job boards, review sites, and many more. But how do you organize and sort through the data to make it relevant to different teams across an organization? How do you make sure data about website updates goes to digital marketers, competitor blog posts go to content marketers, and roadmap updates are shown to product managers? Each organization needs efficient ways to filter through CI data to spend less time sorting and more time sharing, analyzing, and acting on valuable insights. Here are a few ways to sort the incoming data into sharable and organizable pieces.

Three Key Ways to Filter Data

1. Types of CI Data

Filtering competitive and market intelligence insights by type source helps to ensure that the right people across the business are getting the most relevant information. Different teams in a company benefit more from certain types of data and sorting your competitive intelligence data into categories that reflect these teams can make the CI function much more effective. For instance, if your content team notices that the blog posting frequencies of Companies B and C have doubled in the past month, you could allocate more resources to try to match them. Or, you could focus your content efforts in a different medium to stand out, like ebooks or videos. The purpose of this process is to keep the relevance of the CI data high; not everyone cares about the same things, and often, people spend too much time looking at all the data available. Filtering by category leads to more targeted and specific information provided to each person. Due to this, less time will be spent reading irrelevant information and more time is free to analyze and act on the most relevant intel.

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2. Company

Another way to sort market intelligence data is by company, whether they are competitors, customers, or partners. Taking a look at each company’s individual big-picture strategies can help discern where the major players in the market are moving at all times. Filtering by company can help connect key changes in competitor strategy across multiple mediums. For example, if your Product Management team sees that Company A has rewritten their website messaging to include “artificial intelligence” on a few pages and has added “experience with machine learning algorithms” as a prerequisite for their engineering roles, they can put the pieces together to deduce the competitor’s product strategy. They can then use your own company as a benchmark to compare and modify the product roadmap; where is your company moving and is it worth exploring a similar direction as the competition?

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3. Keyword  

Keywords are a way to track and organize data when doing analysis of noteworthy market trends. Keywords in many places, including blog posts, news mentions, and social media, can be useful indicators of where the market is moving and can provide inspiration for where you should be investing to keep up. For example, if prominent thought leaders in your industry begin to write about the advent of robotics and two of your aspirational competitors are speaking at an event regarding the future of robotics as it relates to your industry, you’ll know to lean in and try to move ahead. You can do this by attending future events, editing your product roadmap, or creating content relating to the keyword.

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Combining Categories to Find Relevant Insights for Each Team

Now that we’ve discussed ways of sorting the market data, how do you combine these filters to most effectively present relevant intelligence to individual teams within an organization? Here are a few “recipes” for combining intel categories to support different job roles:

Product Marketing

Messaging and Positioning Changes + Product Updates + Marketing Campaigns 

A key area of intelligence for Product Marketers is messaging and positioning. Knowing how competitors are changing the messaging on their website can help advise Product Marketers’ decisions about their own positioning and go-to-market strategy. Other areas of importance include product updates, news and PR mentions, and campaigns, like A/B testing and Google AdWords. Further filter down product marketing intelligence by competitor tiers or competitor segments to better align the data with product marketers’ interests.

Content/Digital Marketing

Content + Messaging and Positioning Changes + Social Media 

Content and Digital Marketers need a complete view of content (blog posts, ebooks, videos, etc.) and messaging updates, both on and off your competitors’ websites, to build a complete picture of the activity across the market. Adding relevant keywords to further filter the data and tracking their usage over time can help marketers identify future topics for content creation. News mentions and social media posts/engagement can also be good sources of intel for marketers to inform decisions relating to the company’s online presence.

Product Management

Feature Additions/Removals + Customer Reviews + News & PR

Product Managers are primarily interested in product updates, release notes, and product briefs, among other product-related intelligence on their competitors. Product intel is most valuable as soon as it is collected, so focusing on the most recent data can help you find the most up-to-date intelligence to drive strategic actions or roadmap updates. Another important source of intel comes from competitor product reviews on sites like G2Crowd and Capterra. Using this information, Product Managers can learn from their competitors’ advantages and errors and update their own strategies to mirror customer feedback. Have product managers currently focused on a new initiative such as customer onboarding? Try filtering the data down to these areas to identify highly relevant intel for each product priority.

Executive Team

Pricing and Packaging Changes + Key Roadmap Updates + Executive Team Changes

C-level executive team members focus on CI data relating to the real-time strategic moves that their competitors are making to avoid being blindsided after the fact. A collection of data for the executive team may focus only on the three competitors who are the biggest threats, and insight types of interest include pricing changes, finance-related news, and key product roadmap updates. Competitors’ executive team member changes also reveal information regarding the state of leadership at the company and the emphasis placed on each section of the business.

Competitive/Market Intelligence Professionals

All Intelligence Categories + Level of Relevance

Market and Competitive Intelligence professionals often look through most, if not all, of the market intelligence data to most effectively communicate, analyze, and act on valuable intel. They spend time connecting the dots between insights about each competitor and their market, meaning they focus on the critical information across each insight category. There are so many pieces of data being released every day, it’s important for CI professionals to spend time analyzing the highly relevant data that is most likely to have an impact on the organization. They should be on top of all the recent CI data, continually keeping track of the significant happenings in the short term, while also keeping in mind the larger picture of their competitive market.

These are only a few of the numerous ways to filter and organize critical market intelligence data. If you can get a handle on the moves your competitors are making, you will be able to learn from their mistakes and always remain multiple steps ahead. Though each person has different priorities, everyone in an organization can benefit from receiving information regarding the activities of competitors.

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