What is Competitive Intelligence? How Can it be Conducted?

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What is Competitive Intelligence? How can it be conducted?

In the previous decade, businesses have dramatically shifted to online mediums to market and sell their products/services. Traditional marketing strategies have become less potent. This has also enabled Competitive Intelligence to rely more on the internet as digital marketing has become more important. This is a Octopus Intelligence guest article offers their own thoughts on what is Competitive Intelligence? How can it be conducted?

Usually, Competitive Intelligence is not reliant on the internet. But due to the massive scale at which online businesses have proliferated, it has no choice but to use internet sources for acquiring such data.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence refers to the act of collecting and analysing information to forecast what actions or strategies competitors may use. This forecast is then used to create future strategies and tactics to compete effectively.

In digital marketing, Competitive Intelligence helps online business owners to evaluate the market and find out which areas they lack in.

It is important to note that Competitive Intelligence is not corporate espionage. It only relies on legal and ethical methods to gather intelligence, whereas in espionage illegal methods such as hacking a competitor’s device or bribing someone to get data are used.

In other words, Competitive Intelligence is a wholly ethical and straightforward method. It is not something that is considered wrong or frowned upon.

How to Conduct Competitive Intelligence?

There are many research avenues that can be used to conduct Competitive Intelligence. The research avenues can be divided into two main categories:

  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources

Primary sources are those sources that are in some way directly related to the subject of your research. These sources provide unfiltered and unprocessed data that have to be later analysed by experts in order to gain useful information from it. Primary sources include things like interviews, speeches, newspapers, etc.

On the other hand, secondary sources provide published open information about primary sources. This information is “second-hand” because it has already been analyzed by other researchers and it now contains their thoughts on the matter as well. Secondary sources can include things like books and articles.

Mega corporations that have dedicated Competitive Intelligence teams can easily collect primary data and interpret it. Smaller businesses can d this too. Some have a single person working on Competitive Intelligence, while other outsource to people like Octopus Intelligence. As a rule of thumb, primary sources are almost always better than secondary sources since they provide better and more timely information.

However, in the current landscape where online businesses have become more or less the norm, digital marketers can do research from both sources as they are widely available on the internet. 

Steps in Conducting CI

There are some steps that any business owner can take when conducting CI. They are discussed below.

Identify Your Competitors 

The first thing to do is to learn who your competitors are. As we mentioned before, CI is all about learning about your competitors’ strategies and tactics. But you can’t really gather intelligence on your competitors if you don’t know who they are.

You can find your competitors by using keyword research tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush. And you can find which sites are directly competing with you for the keywords you rank for.

Similarly, you can use a DA checker to see which competitor has a higher threat level. 

Competitors with a high DA will be more of a threat to your website as compared to those with a low DA.

These are your direct competitors in your market as well.

You can also find out who are your competitors by checking which brands are selling products similar to yours and targeting the same buyer personas.

1. Find out Which Avenues You Can Explore to Gather Data 

There are plenty of ways to gather data online. For example, you can monitor a competitor’s website and their content channels such as their blogs or forums.

You can also check:

  • The kind of offers and sales they have. 
  • The products they are selling.
  • Their offerings being sold at full price.
  • Products that have a reduced in price.
  • Products which have already sold out.
  • The kind of job openings they have.

These are just some things that can be checked for gathering data.

2. Collect the Data from Selected Avenues

Once you have checked where to collect the data from, then it’s time to actually gather it. 

This process can take a long time. In order to ensure the efficacy and accuracy of the collected data, you should collect it over a long period of time so that you can find out any irregularities in the trend.

You should also take care to collect detailed information so that the analysis is accurate.

3. Conduct the Analysis

This is the stage where the collected data is actually analysed. At this point, big companies will just leave it to their CI team and while smaller companies have to rely on online tools.

There are plenty of CI tools that can provide an analysis and digital marketers use them for doing market research.

Some examples of these tools include:

  • G2 crowd
  • Feedly
  • Market Explorer

For an online business, using SEO tools such as the ones listed below is very effective:

  • Ahrefs
  • SEMrush
  • Surferseo

These tools track information such as traffic on a site and its various pages. Similarly, they can also track the keywords that the sites rank for and the kind of content that is ranking high for each keyword. This kind of information can provide a lot of insight into your competitors and their strategies.

The analysis provided by these tools can be used to find out the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors.

4. Share the results with the relevant People

The results of the analysis should be shared with stakeholders. The teams that will benefit from those results should also be given access to the results. 

When the right people know the right information, they can use it to formulate the appropriate strategies and take the right course of action. This is an important part of CI as, without this step, all that collection of data and analysis is useless.

It is the stakeholders who decide how the analysis results must be used. They have a better understanding of what counts as beneficial to the company and to them. At this point, the team or person in charge of the CI can consider their job done. Obviously, since the market is always changing, subsequent Competitive Intelligence will be required.

What is Competitive Intelligence? How can it be conducted?

Competitive intelligence is a very vital part of doing market research. Obtaining information about your direct competition can provide you with an edge. You can find out their strengths and weaknesses. This can also result in you learning about a technique or strategy that you were not using before. And that’s what competitive intelligence is, how it is used and why it is important to conduct.

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What is competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding & critical analysis of information to make sense of what’s happening & why. Predict what’s going to happen & give the options to control the outcome. The insight to create more certainty & competitive advantage.

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