How To Create A Competitive Intelligence Report In 5 Steps

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TL;DR

📊 A competitive intelligence report is a document that provides insights and analysis on your competitors’ strategies, strengths, weaknesses, and industry trends. It helps businesses understand their competitive landscape and make informed decisions to improve their own performance.

🔍 What are the key components of a competitive intelligence report:

🔹 Company profile: Basic info like history, leadership, and more.
🔹 Market positioning: Target audience, USPs, pricing.
🔹 SWOT analysis: Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.
🔹 Financial analysis: Insights into financial health and growth.
🔹 Product and service analysis: Features, benefits, limitations.
🔹 Marketing and advertising strategy: Understand their tactics.

Excited to learn more? Read on for our guide on creating impactful competitive intelligence reports!

You don’t need to be part of a team of competitive intelligence professionals to have the need to compile competitive intelligence research–yet, for go-to-market teams, it can be a daunting task.

That’s exactly what we’ll discuss in this article.

Instead of giving you a generic framework, we will walk you through assembling different competitive intelligence reports based on who will read them.

Is it the leadership, your CMO, or a sales leader? Or maybe your product team. Each case should have a different focus so that you can give your internal readers valuable data and enable strategic decision-making.

Let’s get started!

What is a competitive intelligence report?

A competitive intelligence report is a document that provides insights and analysis on your competitors’ strategies, strengths, weaknesses, and industry trends. It helps businesses understand their competitive landscape and make informed decisions to improve their own performance.

Now, you are probably wondering if you should write competitive reports for every competitor–well, ideally, yes, but there are different types of competitors you have, and you may want to focus on direct and indirect competitors for starters.

Table showing the 4 types of competitors to include in your competitive intelligence report
There are different types of competitors, including indirect and direct competitors and more

However, if you see changes in their activities and behaviors, consider mentioning replacement or potential competitors (see how you can monitor competitors using Unkover 😉).

What are the key components of a competitive intelligence report

Each section provides insight into different aspects of the competitive landscape.

Regardless of who is going to read your report, you should always include each of them, but they will be different depending on the focus you want to give to your competitive intelligence analysis.

Let’s see each in more detail.

a. Company profile

This section introduces your competitors. It includes basic information such as the company’s history, mission, leadership team, location, and number of employees.

Understanding who you’re competing against is the first step in crafting an effective competitive strategy.

For example, sites like CrunchBase show you basic information for free, including financials, people, acquisitions, and more.

Screenshot with Ramp profile on CrunchBase with info to add on your competitive intelligence report
Image Source

Tip: This section should always be as complete as possible, as it’s the foundation of any competitive analysis report. Having meaningful insights into your competitor’s profile will give you a competitive advantage for your own company.

b. Market positioning

Understanding how your competitors position themselves in the market is crucial. This part of the report examines their target audience, market share, unique selling propositions (USPs), and pricing strategy.

By analyzing this, you can identify gaps in the market and areas for potential growth.

Tip: There is a lot of information here. Gathering data manually or in a siloed way can be nearly impossible. Luckily, most competitive intelligence tools offer this kind of analysis, particularly regarding market research and website monitoring.

c. SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis—identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—is a core component of any competitive intelligence report.

Infographic about the SWOT analysis you need to do when compiling a competitive intelligence report

This analysis helps you understand the internal and external factors influencing your competitors’ company’s operations and business performance. It clearly shows where they stand and how they might react to market dynamics.

Tip: Competitive intelligence works only when done as a process: it’s not a one-time activity but should be performed at least quarterly to impact your business strategy.

d. Financial analysis

Reviewing competitors’ financial health gives you insights into their business stability and growth patterns. Financial performance is a good indicator of a company’s capability to sustain and invest in future growth.

This segment covers revenue, financial statements, profit margins, investment in research and development, and other financial metrics. Other analyst reports provide expert perspectives on market trends.

Tip: This is the typical competitive intel your C-suite wants to have handy. This type of company data will inform them about your competitors’ business model and offer a strategic comparison that will be helpful when making strategic decisions.

e. Product and service analysis

This section should examine competitors’ offerings, assessing their features, benefits, and limitations. Comparing them with your own can reveal areas for improvement or differentiation.

Tip: If your product marketing team created comparison pages, you can start there–these pages usually have a handy comparison table with product features and pricing.

Product comparison table example to include in your competitive intelligence report
Image Source.

f. Marketing and advertising strategy

Needless to say, understanding how your competitors market themselves is crucial. This part of the report looks at their advertising channels, promotional tactics, content strategy, and digital marketing efforts.

Analyzing these strategies can unkover (pun intended!) what resonates with your shared target audience and highlight opportunities to sharpen your competitive edge.

This is probably one of the fields where you’ll find more information, so what you really need here is a tool that can separate signals from noise and only give you the indications you need to impact your revenue.

Tip: This is the type of competitive intelligence research your marketing teams seek. Make sure your marketing intelligence answers questions like: what is your competitor’s best source of traffic? What keywords are they ranking for? What channel do they use, and where do they find success?

Your 5-step checklist to create a competitive intelligence report

Creating a competitive intelligence report requires meticulous planning and execution. Follow these steps to ensure your report is both insightful and actionable.

1. Set your goal

Before collecting data about your competitors, it’s essential to define the goal of your competitive intelligence report. Whether it’s improving product development, refining marketing strategies, or identifying market opportunities, having a clear goal will guide the scope and depth of your research.

Another way to look at it is to keep in mind who in your own business will read your report. Is it your sales team or your marketing team?

And what kind of competitive data are they looking for? Is it tactical competitive intelligence or strategic competitive intelligence? This makes a difference as you’ll know what is the focus of your report and what data to include.

2. Identify and prioritize competitors

If you aim to create competitive intelligence reports that your teams will actually read, you’ll have to consider that not all competitors deserve the same level of attention.

Start by listing out your known competitors, both indirect competitors and direct competitors, and then categorize them based on their market share, growth trajectory, and relevance to your specific goals.

Prioritize this list to focus your efforts on analyzing those who pose the most significant threat or opportunity in your target market.

3. Gather information

This step involves gathering competitive intelligence data on your prioritized competitors. Look into their company profiles, market share and positioning, sales strategy, product offerings, business model, marketing strategies, and customer feedback.

For this information, utilize various sources (more on this later), including competitor websites, industry reports, historical data, financial data, customer reviews, industry trends, and social media channels.

Mock up of Unkover G2 reviews reporting that you will be able to add to your competitive intelligence report
With Unkover, you can read your competitors’ customer reviews and learn about customer expectations (see when we release this feature).

4. Analyze the data

With the information at hand, start dissecting what it means for your business. Conduct a SWOT analysis for each competitor to understand their standing. Look for patterns, trends, and insights that can inform your strategy. This analysis should highlight what your competitors are doing well and where they’re vulnerable.

Of course, analyzing information is just one step of your competitive intelligence research. To stay ahead, you also need to provide your team actionable intelligence so they can make proactive decisions and gain a competitive edge.

5. Fill in the competitors’ report

Now, compile your findings into a cohesive report. Make sure it’s tangible and actionable; consider who will be reading it—executives, sales, marketing, or product teams—and tailor the content accordingly, as we have seen above.

Include summaries of your competitive intelligence analysis, highlight key insights, and suggest actionable strategies. The report should provide a snapshot of the competitive landscape and guide decision-making and strategy development within your organization.

Provide any competitive intelligence resources your team may need to perform secondary research should they need to, but strive to be as complete as possible in your analysis.

Top sources of competitive intelligence data

In step 3 of our competitive intelligence report framework, I mentioned how you need to gather competitive intelligence data for your report.

Still, there are so many data sources from which to gather data that the topic deserves a deep dive. Here are the main competitive intelligence sources for collecting valuable insights on your competitors.

Online presence (website, social media, communities)

A competitor’s online footprint is a goldmine of information. Their website can reveal details about product offerings, company news, strategic focus, and marketing strategy. On the other hand, social media platforms and online communities provide insights into their brand voice, customer engagement strategies, and audience reception.

Monitoring these platforms can also give you an idea of upcoming products or campaigns and allow you to compare prices.

Use a competitive intelligence tool like Unkover to monitor key pages on all your competitor websites and get notified each time they publish an update.

Screenshot of Unkover, a competitive intelligence tool that lets you monitor your competitors high-value pages
Use Unkover to automatically monitor page changes and be notified as soon as a change occurs.

Customer reviews

Customer feedback offers an unfiltered view of a competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Review sites, forums, and social media are excellent places to understand customer satisfaction levels, common complaints, and areas where your competitors excel or fall short.

This information can help you identify opportunities to differentiate your offerings or improve upon areas where competitors are lacking.

Annual and industry reports

Annual reports, earnings calls, and industry research papers are valuable sources of financial data, market dynamics, industry trends, and strategic directions. They can thoroughly overview a competitor’s financial health, investment priorities, and performance within the broader market context.

Industry reports can also offer a comparative analysis, helping you gauge your standing relative to competitors.

Press releases and media coverage

Press releases and news articles are great for tracking a competitor’s major announcements, such as product launches, partnerships, or expansions. Media coverage can also shine a light on how competitors position themselves in the market and public perception.

Keeping tabs on these sources can alert you to shifts in a competitor’s strategy or areas where they’re seeking to innovate.

Tools and software for competitive intelligence reporting

We’ve covered a lot so far, so much so that you’re probably thinking it’s too much work, more so since it may not really be your job if you’re not part of a competitive intelligence team.

Still, competitive intelligence analysis is something you need to do your job better even if you don’t have time for it.

Here’s where competitive intelligence tools can help: They can help sales teams, marketing teams, and all other GTM teams gather competitive intelligence in a fraction of the time and give them the right information to make strategic decisions.

There are a plethora of tools out there (we compiled a list of the best competitor intelligence tools in a previous blog), and your choice usually comes down to a cost-benefit analysis.

If you’re signal-oriented and don’t have much time to devote to researching multiple competitors and are disappointed by the current competitive intelligence offering, we have a suggestion for you 😉

How Unkover can help

I’ll do my best not to make this section just a sales pitch.

Spoiler: of course, it will be, to some extent.

Truth is, I’m not going to say Unkover is the most complete competitive intelligence tool out there. We’re a new player in the space, so it would be a little deceiving.

But there are a few key features we have developed that will give you actionable competitive data right away. So, 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
Screenshot of Unkover, a competitive intelligence tool that lets you read your competitors email flows
Read the emails your competitors send to their lists

As a new company, we’re moving fast, and we’ll be releasing many new features in the next few months (don’t just take my word for it; we have a public roadmap you can check with a feature request form).

Here’s a lorem ipsum sneak peek of what’s coming:

Sign up today to start your 14-day FREE trial
No credit card required

Challenges in competitive intelligence reporting

A key challenge is that competitive intelligence relies on public data. Companies may omit sensitive information or present partial data to appear favorable. Without caution, this can skew analyses. Always cross-verify info from various sources and use judgment to address gaps or discrepancies.

In addition, keeping the competitive intelligence report up-to-date can be daunting in industries where innovation and change occur fast. By the time a report is compiled, that information is already old. It’s crucial you adopt a continuous monitoring approach, where you regularly update key data points, and all stakeholders in your org see the report as a living document that evolves with the market.

Finally, you must also navigate legal and ethical considerations. Always acquire information legally, avoid infringing on competitor rights or engaging in corporate espionage, and be transparent about the purpose and methods of data collection. Adhering to ethical guidelines and best practices ensures the integrity of the process and protects the organization from legal issues.

Integrate competitive intelligence into your business strategy today

Gathering competitive intelligence is not easy, yet every company needs a competitive analysis to survive current market dynamics.

Reporting on the competition helps every department: your sales team can have more meaningful conversations with prospects and offer a compelling value proposition, your marketing teams will have that marketing intelligence they need to craft effective campaigns, and your leadership team can make a competitive intelligence strategy based on the data gathered.

Tools like Unkover help go-to-market teams succeed at competitor intelligence and gain all the insights they need to succeed.

Get started for free today!

Competitive intelligence FAQs

What is competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence refers to collecting, analyzing, and using information about competitors, market trends, and the broader industry environment to make informed decisions. A solid competitive intelligence program helps you anticipate moves, understand the competitive landscape, and strategize accordingly. By using competitive intelligence, businesses can gain a strategic edge, identify new opportunities, and mitigate potential risks.

What are the different types of competitive intelligence?

There are several types of competitive intelligence, each focusing on different aspects of the business environment:

  1. Strategic Intelligence: Involves long-term planning based on the analysis of industry trends, market shifts, and competitor strategies.
  2. Tactical Intelligence: Focuses on immediate actions, such as sales tactics and marketing strategies, by closely monitoring competitors’ activities.
  3. Product Intelligence: Gathers insights on competitors’ products, features, development efforts, and launches.
  4. Market Intelligence: Looks at the market dynamics, including demand, supply, consumer preferences, and emerging trends.
  5. Customer Intelligence: Involves understanding the customer experience, satisfaction levels, and feedback related to both your and your competitors’ offerings.

What are competitive intelligence examples?

Here are a few practical examples of competitive intelligence in action:

  • Website Monitoring: Keeping tabs on competitors’ websites for new product releases, updates, content changes, and pricing adjustments.
  • Social Media Analysis: Analyzing competitors’ social media profiles to understand their engagement strategies, campaign effectiveness, and customer feedback.
  • Customer Reviews and Feedback: Reading through customer reviews on various platforms to identify what customers love or dislike about competitors’ products or services.
  • Trade Shows and Conferences: Attending industry events to gather insights on new technologies, trends, and products that competitors might be showcasing.
  • Financial Reports and Public Records: Reviewing financial documents, earnings reports, and other public records to gauge competitors’ financial health and strategic priorities.

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