Competitive Intelligence Analysis: All You Need To Know [+ 6 Steps To Get It Right]

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TL;DR

💡📊💪 From defining goals to making strategic decisions, learn how to outsmart your competition and drive your business forward with Unkover’s 6-step framework to get your competitive intelligence analysis right.

  1. Identifying your objectives: Know what you’re after.
  2. Gathering data: Collect information from various sources.
  3. Analyzing information: Turn raw data into valuable insights.
  4. Sorting relevant signals: Filter out the noise and focus on what’s important.
  5. Sharing insights: Make sure your team is on the same page.
  6. Making strategic decisions: Use your intelligence to drive smart, impactful actions.

It’s no secret that competitive intelligence analysis is key for any company’s business strategy.

But if you don’t have competitive intelligence professionals setting up a complete program, you may wonder if competitive intelligence is worth your time (spoiler: it is).

The truth is, while conducting competitive intelligence research about your competitors may seem like a daunting task, it can actually make or break your business.

So, whether you’re just starting out with competitor intelligence or looking to improve your current strategy, competitor analysis will reveal several insights about your ideal customer, market and competition, product offering and pricing, and channels necessary to reach your customers.

Ready to dive deeper? Let’s break down the steps to get competitive intelligence analysis right.

What is a competitive intelligence analysis?

At its core, competitive intelligence analysis gives you the insights you need to make smarter business decisions. When done right, it gives you a clear picture of what your competitors are up to, helps you understand future trends, and enables you to spot opportunities before anyone else.

You can use various methods to collect this data—think public financial reports, social media activity, customer feedback, and even industry events. Once you have this information, you analyze it to identify patterns, predict competitor moves, and find gaps in the market that you can exploit, whether you’re planning a new product launch, adjusting your marketing strategy, or exploring new markets.

You may have other questions, such as what data you need to collect, how to collect it, or what to do with the information you get—that’s what we’re here for!

How do you get the competitive analysis right?

Nailing your competitive intelligence analysis can give you the upper hand in any industry. Follow these six steps to ensure you’re on point and ready to outsmart your competitors.

1. Define your goal(s)

When you first start doing competitive intelligence analysis, you should be super clear about your objectives. Whether you want to identify trends or market opportunities, benchmark performance, enhance product development, refine your go-to-market strategy, or improve sales tactics, you should be very intentional about your goals.

Being intentional about your goals also means that they should be specific and measurable. Instead of a vague aim like “improve sales,” define a target such as “increase market share by 10% in the next quarter.” This clarity will guide your data collection and analysis process.

Your goals should also be guided by the reality of your business strategy. If your company aims to enter a new market, your competitive intelligence efforts should focus on understanding the market’s dynamics and key players.

This also means you should prioritize your goals based on their potential impact on your business. Focus on the areas that could drive the most significant improvements or provide critical strategic advantages. Don’t forget to revisit and adjust your goals based on new information or market shifts.

2. Identify your competitors

Knowing who you’re up against is critical in competitive intelligence analysis. Identifying your competitors allows you to focus your efforts and gather relevant insights.

The first step is to differentiate between types of competitors. List your direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer the same products or services as you, while indirect ones operate in the same space but might target different customer needs.

You can do this through conventional and unconventional market research. For example, ask your customers who else they consider when looking for solutions like yours, read industry reports, or search for specific keywords on Google.

If you don’t have a dedicated CI team, though, your best option is to use a competitive intelligence tool that can help you automate the process of identifying and tracking competitors.

How to get your competitive intelligence analysis right: Screenshot from Unkover: choose the competitors to monitor
When using Unkover, just type in the name of one of your competitors, and we’ll suggest other competitors.

3. Collect data from multiple sources

Gather data from various sources to get a well-rounded view of your competitive landscape. Different angles give you the complete picture you need to make informed decisions.

a. Industry landscape

Start by understanding the overall industry. This could include industry and market research studies to grasp trends and future projections, news articles, and press releases to catch significant developments and emerging players.

Ideally, it should also include any business moves your competitors are making (are they raising money? Acquiring other companies, or being acquired?).

How to get this info

Tools like Unkover automate data collection for this type of information. You just pick your competitors, and the system will automatically notify you when your competitors’ insights change.

How to get your competitive intelligence analysis right: screenshot of Unkover Alterts account on X

Follow Unkover Alerts on X to get a glimpse of the information we provide to our customers.

b. Product comparison

You can compare products in many ways, including analyzing features one by one and comparing how your product compares against that of your competitors. You can also trial your competitors’ products, see firsthand how they perform, and identify areas where you can improve.

Better still, read the reviews your competitors are getting on platforms like G2 or industry-specific forums. Find out what users love or hate about each product.

How to get this info

Reading reviews one by one can be time-consuming, and you risk losing sight of the big picture. Tools like Unkover use AI to analyze your competitors’ G2 reviews and give you a high-level overview of the most impactful positive and negative feedback. This allows you to quickly identify common trends and pain points for your competitors’ products.

How to get your competitive intelligence analysis right: screenshot from Unkover

Coming Soon in Unkover: AI-driven analysis of your competitors’ G2 reviews

c. Marketing campaigns and messaging

Competitive intelligence analysis is all about gathering publicly available information on the web. If you think about marketing campaigns and messaging, everything is out there to be analyzed. What keywords are your competitors using in their ad copy? How are they positioning their product or service? Are there any gaps in their messaging that you can capitalize on?

Whether it’s social media monitoring, advertising strategies, or SEO and content, staying updated on your competitors’ marketing campaigns and messaging can give you valuable insights to inform your strategies.

How to get this info

Social media monitoring tools will help you track your competitors’ posts and engagements. You can also use tools like SEMrush or SpyFu to see what keywords your competitors are targeting.

When it comes to monitoring your competitors’ overall content marketing strategy, use Unkover to see what your competitors are publishing, at what speed, and how their content performs. This will give you a better understanding of what topics and types of content are resonating with your target audience.

How to get your competitive intelligence analysis right: screenshot from Unkover

Coming Soon in Unkover: A detailed overview of competitors’ content marketing strategy.

d. Pricing structure and price points

Knowing your competitors’ pricing structure and price points is crucial when pricing your own products or services.

Additionally, you can use this information to analyze the value proposition of your competitors and determine if there are any gaps in the market that you can fill with a unique price point or offer.

How to get this info

The pricing page is arguably one of a company’s most important web pages. Monitoring and being alerted of any changes in pricing strategy is crucial for any competitive intelligence analysis.

That is why a tool like Unkover allows you to track and monitor any changes in your competitors’ pricing structures and price points. With Unkover, you can easily see how your competitors are pricing their products or services, whether they have any discounts or promotions, and how often they change their prices.

How to get your competitive intelligence analysis right: screenshot from Unkover

This is true for all web pages, which is why you can add as many pages as you need to track for any competitor websites you add in Unkover.

Unkover makes it easy to keep track of all this information with its user-friendly interface and customizable alerts. So don’t miss out on important market changes—start your free trial today—it’s free (no credit card required).

4. Sort out relevant signals

Once you’ve collected a mountain of data, it’s time to sift through it and find the gold. Sorting out relevant signals helps you focus on what truly matters for your strategy.

First, filter out the noise. You can start by discarding outdated or unrelated data to your industry and removing duplicate information.

Then, focus on the metrics that align with your objectives (e.g., What portion of market share does your competitor have? How fast are they growing? What’s the customer sentiment towards them?).

Finally, look for patterns over time, such as how your competitors’ strategies evolve and how your (and their) customers behave, i.e., what triggers positive or negative responses.

Your best option, though, is to use a tool that does that for you automatically (yes, it’s Unkover) and only shows you the information you need when you need it.

5. Use battle cards and competitive intelligence reports

We have already discussed how to create competitive battle cards and competitive intelligence reports in previous articles, so this section is going to be a bit brief.

It’s just a reminder to use these assets once you (or your teammates) have spent so much time and effort creating them.

6. Make strategic decisions

Now that you’ve gathered and sorted valuable insights, it’s time to put them to work. This is where your competitive intelligence really pays off—making strategic decisions that drive your business forward.

First, ensure that your strategic decisions align with your overall business objectives in terms of growth (e.g., increasing market share, expanding product line, entering new markets) and efficient business practices (e.g., testing what your competitors are doing that works).

Then, spot those opportunities, particularly those related to market gaps (i.e., underserved segments or unmet needs), innovation, and customer experience.

Remember to mitigate threads by adopting proactive measures (e.g., if a competitor is launching a new product, prepare a counter-strategy, like a promotional campaign or a product upgrade) and defense tactics (e.g., improve your unique selling propositions and reinforce customer loyalty).

Perhaps the most important part of it all, however, is staying agile as the competitive landscape changes very quickly. Continuous monitoring is essential, as is keeping an eye on your competitors and the market and regularly updating your competitive intelligence to stay informed.

But also, be ready to pivot your strategies as new data and trends emerge. Flexibility is key to maintaining a competitive edge.

Mastering competitive intelligence involves using the right techniques to gather and analyze data. Here are three popular methods that can help you get valuable insights:

1. SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis is a simple yet powerful tool to evaluate your business’s position relative to competitors.

How to get your competitive intelligence analysis right: SWOT analysis

It stands for:

  • Strengths: Identify what you do well compared to others. This could be anything from your unique products to exceptional customer service.
  • Weaknesses: Be honest about where you fall short. Knowing your weaknesses helps you improve and leverage your strengths effectively.
  • Opportunities: Look for external factors you can exploit. These might include market trends, technological advancements, or gaps in the market.
  • Threats: Recognize external challenges that could harm your business, like new competitors, regulatory changes, or economic downturns.

2. PESTEL analysis

PESTEL analysis helps you understand the macro-environmental factors that impact your industry.

It breaks down into:

  • Political: Examine how government policies, regulations, and political stability affect your business.
  • Economic: Consider economic factors like inflation rates, exchange rates, and economic growth. These can influence your costs and pricing strategies.
  • Social: Look at societal trends and demographics. This includes changing consumer behaviors, lifestyle changes, and population demographics.
  • Technological: Stay updated on tech advancements and how they affect your industry. Being an early adopter can give you a competitive edge.
  • Environmental: Understand how ecological issues, such as climate change and sustainability practices, impact your operations and market perception.
  • Legal: Monitor legal factors, including industry regulations, employment laws, and health and safety standards.

3. Porter’s Five Forces analysis

Porter’s Five Forces analysis examines the competitive forces within your industry to understand its attractiveness and profitability:

  • Competitive Rivalry: Analyze the intensity of competition among existing players. High rivalry can decrease profits and market share.
  • Threat of New Entrants: Assess how easily new companies can enter your market. Barriers to entry can protect your position.
  • Bargaining Power of Suppliers: Consider your suppliers’ power over pricing and quality. High supplier power can squeeze your margins.
  • Bargaining Power of Buyers: Evaluate customers’ influence on pricing and terms. When buyers have more power, they can demand lower prices and higher quality.
  • Threat of Substitutes: Identify alternative products or services that customers might choose over yours. High threat of substitutes can limit your pricing power and growth.

The role of competitive intelligence tools in competitive analysis

Competitive intelligence tools are essential for startups and SMBs with limited time and budget but need real-time, impactful information. Here are the top five reasons why product teams, marketing teams, and sales teams should use these tools:

  1. Save time and resources. A competitive intelligence platform helps you automate the grunt work by collecting the data you need to monitor significant changes and updates in real-time, so you don’t have to constantly check in manually.
  2. Focus on what matters. Prioritize the most relevant data points and focus on actionable information that helps you spot patterns and trends that inform strategic decision-making and cut through the noise of irrelevant data.
  3. Improve team collaboration. Without a centralized competitive intelligence program, disseminating the corporate intelligence you gather is difficult. With competitive intelligence tools, your team can access and share data effectively from one place.
  4. Make informed decisions faster. Gathering competitive intelligence speeds up your decision-making process. You have critical and actionable info at your fingertips, and you can easily compare your performance with competitors’ to identify strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Be proactive, not reactive. With a solid competitive intelligence program, you can anticipate competitors’ moves, adjust your strategies accordingly, identify gaps and opportunities in the market, and gain a competitive advantage.

I may be biased, but I believe Unkover is a great tool for getting the most relevant information in real time—zero noise, just signals.

How to get your competitive intelligence analysis right: screenshot from Unkover

Yes, we’re a new player in the field, but you can already get a lot of value from Unkover if you sign up for free.

All good, but what does Unkover do right now?

  1. Integrates with Slack so all the information gathered is available to you (and your team) directly where you can see them.
  2. Identifies the websites of all your competitors and the specific pages you want to track (not sure? We’ll give you some suggestions)
  3. Shows your competitors’ email marketing flows
  4. Starts sending you competitive insights instantly

Grab your free trial today, no credit card required!

Wrap up: Understanding competitive advantage through intelligence analysis

Mastering competitive intelligence analysis gives you the edge you need to stay ahead. Following this article’s six steps, you can gather actionable insights, make smarter decisions, and outsmart the competition.

For your competitive intelligence strategy, it’s all about:

  1. Identifying your objectives: Know what you’re after.
  2. Gathering data: Collect information from various sources.
  3. Analyzing information: Turn raw data into valuable insights.
  4. Sorting relevant signals: Filter out the noise and focus on what’s important.
  5. Sharing insights: Make sure your team is on the same page.
  6. Making strategic decisions: Use your intelligence to drive smart, impactful actions.

Tools like Unkover can streamline the process, saving you time and effort while ensuring you get the most relevant data. Whether you’re part of a product, marketing, or sales team, leveraging these tools can give you the clarity and confidence to move forward with purpose.

Get started with Unkover for free today!

FAQs

What are the six steps of competitive analysis?

  1. Define your goals: Before starting, understand what you aim to achieve with the analysis. This could involve identifying areas for improvement, new market opportunities, or strategies to outperform competitors.
  2. Identify your competitors: Determine your direct and indirect competitors through competitor research, industry reports, and customer feedback.
  3. Gather data: Collect information on your competitors’ strategies, market positioning, strengths, weaknesses, and customer base. This can include their online presence, product offerings, marketing tactics, and customer reviews.
  4. Analyze the data: Examine the gathered data to understand competitors’ performance, market standing, and strategies. Look for patterns, trends, and areas where your competitors are excelling or falling short.
  5. Identify opportunities and threats: Based on your analysis, pinpoint opportunities where you can capitalize on competitors’ weaknesses or gaps in the market. Also, identify threats or areas where competitors have a strong advantage.
  6. Develop strategies: Utilize the insights gained to formulate strategies that leverage your strengths, mitigate threats, and exploit market opportunities to gain a competitive edge.

Is SWOT analysis a competitive analysis?

SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a strategic planning technique that can be part of competitive analysis but is not exclusively so. It identifies internal strengths, weaknesses, external opportunities, and threats. While it includes examining competitors (as part of the “opportunities” and “threats”), it also focuses on the organization’s own capabilities and environment.

What is competitive factor analysis?

Competitive factor analysis involves evaluating the key factors that determine success within an industry—such as price, quality, and features—and then comparing these across different competitors. The goal is to identify where your company stands relative to competitors regarding critical success factors and uncover areas for improvement or differentiation.

What does a competitive intelligence analyst do?

A competitive intelligence analyst gathers, analyzes, and interprets data about competitors, market conditions, and industry trends. Their work supports strategic decision-making by providing insights into competitors’ strategies, strengths, weaknesses, and likely moves. They use a variety of sources, including public records, financial reports, and the external business environment, to build a comprehensive picture of the competitive landscape.

What is a competitive intelligence example?

An example of competitive intelligence could be a report detailing a competitor’s launch of a new product, including an analysis of its features, target market, pricing strategy, and potential impact on the market. This type of intelligence helps businesses anticipate market shifts and plan their counter-strategies effectively.

What is the competitive intelligence technique?

Competitive intelligence techniques include various methods for collecting and analyzing information about competitors and the market. These can range from legal and ethical methods like analyzing publicly available data, social media monitoring, attending industry conferences, and customer interviews to more analytical approaches like benchmarking, marketing intelligence, and scenario planning. The key is gathering actionable insights to inform strategic planning and decision-making.

What is the difference between strategic competitive intelligence and tactical competitive intelligence?

In general, competitive intelligence refers to the process of gathering and analyzing information about competitors to inform business decisions. However, strategic and tactical competitive intelligence serve different purposes and focus on different timeframes.

  • Strategic competitive intelligence looks at the bigger picture, focusing on long-term trends and threats that could impact your company over a longer period. It informs high-level decisions involving overall business strategy, market positioning, and future growth opportunities. For example, it analyzes market trends, understands emerging technologies, and assesses potential new markets for expansion.
  • Tactical competitive intelligence is more immediate, dealing with short-term actions and operational decisions that need quick responses. It helps in day-to-day operations and addresses specific issues like competitor moves, pricing strategies, and marketing campaigns, for example, monitoring competitor product launches, tracking promotional activities, and responding to changes in competitor pricing.

In essence, strategic competitive intelligence shapes your long-term vision and overarching strategies, while tactical competitive intelligence helps you navigate the daily competitive landscape and respond swiftly to immediate challenges. Both are crucial for maintaining a competitive advantage.

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