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Competitor Analysis Trends: How to Spot Them and What They Mean

Keeping tabs on your competitors involves more than monitoring their announcements or online reviews. Competitive intelligence requires analysis in order to turn information into actionable insights. But that process isn’t easy - how do you get the right intelligence, how do you draw conclusions from that data, and what do you do with that analysis? Here are a few steps to get you started with spotting and leveraging competitor trends.

STEP 1: Go Deep to Spot Meaningful Activities

Sometimes the most meaningful moves are the most subtle ones. Oftentimes, a competitor may make minor-seeming changes in preparation for a bigger announcement to come, or as part of a change they prefer not to publicize. Those can be the best weapons for a strategic competitor.

For example, this copy change on Intercom’s pricing page is so small that the removal of the promotional pricing could easily be missed. But this update represents a significant change because it is the monthly subscription price itself that has been updated. Be sure to capture even subtle changes in your competitor’s website and content.




STEP 2: Step Back to View Larger Trends

It is just as important to step back from the details of a website change to see the bigger picture trends of a competitor’s activity. An individual review or tweet or blog post may not say much about a competitor’s strategy, but when viewing all of their reviews, tweets, and blog posts, you may be able to identify key strategies.

For example, by viewing the social media activity of companies in the same industry (hidden for privacy), we can see that one company recently increased their frequency of social media posting and, in particular, to Twitter and LinkedIn. This can signal a broader strategy focused on social media promotions and engagement.




STEP 3: Benchmark Your Market’s Key Players

Taking the big picture approach allows you to benchmark your activities and focus areas against those of your peers. When you see a competitor having more success or focus in an area where others are not invested, this can be a signal that they have seen results from that particular channel or strategy.

In this example, we see one company has had more success in securing news mentions as compared to their competitors. By digging into the topics of those news articles, you can identify which pitches have yielded results and ultimately craft your own pitches to see your own success.



STEP 4: Identify Anomalies in Activity

If you had access to a competitor’s annual marketing strategy deck, would you want to see its contents? Of course! If we had insight into where our competitors were focusing and how that was going to change, that could inform our own strategy to out-market them in those areas or differentiate our approach. Looking at changes in activity as a whole provides a public view into how our competitors are shifting their focus.

In this example, we can see that one competitor has recently seen an increase in activity on customer review sites. Are their customers suddenly more talkative about their experience with that solution? While possible, it’s unlikely to see such a stark change without an initiative from the company to increase customer reviews. This is likely to keep up pace, so it’s time to think about getting ahead of a loss in review site ranking and getting your customers to chime in on those sites.



STEP 5: Make a Decision

All of the data points and trends above represent a choice or series of choices made by a competitor. Now the question is: what choice will you make with that in mind? There’s no one answer to this, but here are a few examples of how decisions could play out for different competitive scenarios:

Trend Identified

What It Could Mean

Potential Response

Competitor recently increased activity on Twitter

Increased focus on social media (esp. Twitter) for lead generation

Launch a Twitter campaign to outpace their activity and be the top industry thought leader on Twitter

Only one competitor publishing videos to YouTube

Other companies do not have the resources or interest in incorporating video into their strategy

Publish a few videos to YouTube to test results, because this could be a way to differentiate 

Competitor often launches landing page tests and new campaigns but is not very active in other areas

Competitor is focusing on campaign tests rather than campaign promotions

Learn from their A/B tests and launch your own tests based on their optimized winning campaigns 

Emerging competitor has recently increased job postings for enterprise sales and marketing roles

This competitor that was on the periphery may enter center stage soon in both sales conversations and marketing channels

Get ahead of competitive sales situations and prepare sales training and battlecard materials, evaluate potential impact and other changes necessary

Competitor recently removed a number of partners, after many months of no partner program activity

Competitor could be winding down their partner program

If partners are a key part of your strategy, reach out to those partners to build a relationship and lean into that as a differentiator across your marketing


New from Crayon: Dashboard & Analytics

We’ve been hard at work at Crayon to help our customers identify trends and pull out insights from the incredible amount of competitive intelligence data we collect. Today, we’re excited to share we’re launching a new Dashboard and Analytics for our market intelligence platform.

This new functionality allows you to:

  • Cut through the noise and surface the most important discoveries on your dashboard
  • Keep a pulse on the market, staying in the know about your competitors’ latest moves
  • Benchmark and spot trends in competitor activity, just as noted in this article!

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Ellie Mirman
Ellie Mirman, a Crayon alum, is currently CMO at Mulberry, the consumer-first product protection platform. Previously, she was VP of Marketing at Toast, where she built and led the marketing function across demand gen, content marketing, product marketing, branding, and customer advocacy. Ellie also held multiple marketing leadership positions at HubSpot during its growth from 100 customers to IPO. She loves working at the intersection between marketing, sales, and product, and building marketing from startup to scale-up.