Competitive intelligence: everything you need to know to do it effectively

March 14, 2023 - Anaïs Sautarel
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11 minutes

Keeping abreast of all the latest news about your competitors and trends in your sector is a vital part of running a business.

This practice is called competitive intelligence, and we'll look at some good practice in this area. 

Now that you have set up your business and created your website, let's look at competitive intelligence. 

Are you ready? This article will teach you why and how to do effective competitive intelligence!

Competitive intelligence: what is it, and what is it for?

The first question you might ask yourself is: what is competitive intelligence? Why should you do competitive intelligence?

What is competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence consists of very regular monitoring of a given sector or theme, according to your company's needs. This will enable you to keep abreast of the latest news on a subject, business, competitors, or even your company.

Competitive intelligence makes it possible to monitor information such as: 

👉 competitors' advertising actions,

👉 tariff conditions,

👉 competitors' commercial practices,

👉 your company's mentions on the web,

👉 public data of your competitors,

Etc.

With the help of monitoring tools, you will save time and be even more efficient. Digital technology has greatly helped and developed this practice, which is becoming essential for any company.

competitive intelligence

In simple terms, competitive intelligence consists of studying the behaviour of the competition. The objective is to follow the evolution of your competitors: their marketing actions, advertising, offers, their presence on social networks, etc. This article will focus exclusively on this type of monitoring.

Still hooked? Excellent, let's continue!

Monitoring: why should you do it? 

Now that you know a little more about what competitive intelligence is, let's see what it is for. 

There are many purposes to monitoring. Here are the different reasons why you might want to do competitive intelligence:

👉 The sector: monitoring allows you to follow the trends of your sector, to know it and analyse it in order to anticipate its evolutions and possibly to prevent threats or risks.

👉 Enrichment: it will also allow you to enrich your personal knowledge and skills, give you opportunities for exchange and communication and help you in decision-making.

👉 Monitoring: monitoring can inspire you and also allow you to take a step back from your business, for example by monitoring what is being said about you and comparing with what is being said about your competitors.

👉 Adapting your strategy: it will also allow you to effectively adapt your business strategy. By doing monitoring, you will be able to update your site by applying what is best in your sector of activity. If you run an online shop, you can, for example, take inspiration from the latest trends for the presentation of your products. You can also add an article to your blog about the latest topics in your sector and thus take part in current events and benefit from the buzz of the moment by taking inspiration from what is being done next door.

Starting a competitive intelligence: how to do it effectively?

Let's start your monitoring now. But where to start?

The steps to carry out your monitoring

Obviously, you don't do your competitive intelligence in just any way. However, there are a few rules to follow for effective monitoring.

First, there are two methods for gathering information:

👉 Pull: when you go looking for information

👉 Push: when you bring the information to you

monitoring tools

  1. What do you need? What subject interests you?

Do you need to know about your competitors, about yourself, about technology, etc.? Determine what topics you are interested in so that you can start filtering your results to find your way through the wealth of information that the Internet provides. 

  1. Choose the right tools

Once the baseline is defined and your objectives are clear, take the time to choose which tools will best help you with your monitoring. 

  1. Set up a calendar and alerts

It is easy to get lost and take up too much of your time doing your monitoring. Set aside time in your schedule for monitoring, and use the alerts and notifications that the tools offer to quickly spot interesting information. 

  1. Target your information and the sources that interest you

For effective monitoring, it is important to choose your sources. Sources that interest you, that are useful for your business. Make a list of websites, blogs, social accounts that interest you and consult them regularly.

  1. Filter your results

To avoid being overloaded with information, take the time to filter your results to keep only the most relevant ones. Over time, your searches will become more and more precise.

  1. Put your data in a table

Put your data in a table so that you can see all your information and compare it with each other or find it again easily.

  1. Analyse and share your results

Analyse your results by month, for example, to summarize them and identify trends and areas for improvement for your company. You can then share your results with your colleagues and even other departments. 

You now have all the steps you need to do monitoring! Let's see how to organize it…

The essential tools for effective monitoring

To organize your monitoring effectively, there are a number of tools to help you. It is important to choose your tool according to your needs. It is also advisable to select a tool that covers as many channels as possible. 

👉 Google Alerts 

Google Alerts is a Google tool that is completely free and easy to set up. It simply allows you to monitor keywords. You will receive a daily email with all content posted with the targeted information.

👉 Mention

Mention is a paid tool (with a free Starter package) that allows you to do a complete monitoring. It brings up web sources, social networks, video platforms, etc. This tool also allows you to respond directly from the platform to social network messages, comments, etc.

👉 SEMrush

This tool allows you to monitor and evaluate your competitors' web traffic, mainly from search engines. It is essential for digital marketing intelligence. SEMrush offers a free basic package as well as paid versions.

👉 Feedly

Feedly is an RSS feed aggregator that allows you to integrate your Google alerts or create new ones. You can also integrate RSS feeds from your favourite blogs to keep up with all the latest news and articles published.

👉 Alerti 

This comprehensive tool allows you to feed back information from social networks, blogs, forums. Alerti also allows you to detect and warn you about influencers present in your sector. You will therefore not miss any information on your targeted keywords.

You can also use monitoring tools to be on top of the latest trends.

Tips for an effective competitive intelligence

Our tips for an effective competitive intelligence

In order to carry out a complete and efficient competitive intelligence, we give you our latest tips!

First, it is important to know how to automate your monitoring using the tools presented above. Of course, you should continue to do your research manually or keep interesting sources when you come across them, but automating your monitoring will save you precious time.

You will not lose any information, and you will save a lot of time. 

To achieve (almost) perfect monitoring, it is always a good idea to look at best practices, at what is being done elsewhere. Observing best practices, the best tools, is the best way for you to work.

This way, doing an effective monitoring will be child's play for you! 

Take the time to do your monitoring. This step is essential for the proper development of the company, so do not neglect it. It is necessary to monitor regularly so as not to feel overwhelmed by events. Keep a slot for yourself to monitor what is happening in your sector of activity. 

Social networks are a real goldmine for information. These real-time content platforms allow you to keep up to date with what's going on in your industry very quickly. You just have to subscribe to influential players and monitor your competitors through their publications to get a lot of information easily and quickly. 

Beware of "infobesity". The Internet is a huge source of content that spreads a lot of information. It is important not to get lost in it and to keep only the interesting information about you.

To do this, filter, sort, group and analyse your information. Put it all in one place so that you don't get lost in a flood of information.

Using competitive intelligence for your digital strategy

Monitoring is the pillar of your digital strategy. However, it is often neglected by companies. 

Let's see why it is essential!

Monitor the internet to improve your website

You said monitoring and a website? But what does that have to do with anything?

Well yes, monitoring can also be useful for the development of your website and even during its creation. 

Monitoring your website allows you to:

  • Keep you informed of what is or is not being done on websites, the best practices to adopt.

  • Keep you informed of the evolution of competing websites. You will be able to analyse their progress and the way they design their site.

  • Understand the online behaviour of your users in order to improve their experience on the site.

  • Adapt and improve your site to suit your target audience and understand their frustrations and needs. 

As you can see, monitoring your website is the key to making it evolve in line with what your visitors are looking for.

Competitive intelligence on social networks: why is it important?

As we have seen, social networks are an essential resource for competitive intelligence. They give you access to information quickly, in real time and very easily.

However, there are a few dangers associated with this large source of information.

For example, intoxication: that is, false information from dubious sources.

Monitoring social networks is essential to keep an eye on your e-reputation, but also those of your competitors. 

As social networks are an integral part of the lives of many of us, being present on these platforms is a real plus. It gives you direct access to specific information. Moreover, brands and companies can do more on social networks than on their blog or website, for example.

Finally, social networks allow you to monitor your customers, who are most likely present on at least one social platform. You can then develop strategic decisions based on the analysis of their behaviour.

The best resources for effective monitoring

💙 For an efficient monitoring, here is one of our favourites to follow the news:

  • Hubspot: this marketing blog will give you all the news in terms of marketing, social networks, SEO...

Competitive intelligence: analysis and effective use

Now that you have all the keys in hand to conduct effective competitive intelligence, let's move on to its implementation.

competitors' monitoring

Analysing the information collected

Once you have collected all the information and put it into a table, you need to analyse it so that you can do something with it.

You have your data, you can now compare it with your objectives for your company.

You can do further research, dig into a subject to find more information. 

You can analyse on competing companies: 

👉 the way they address their customers,

👉 current offers and promotions,

👉 the tone they use, 

👉 what new products or services are coming from your competitors,

Etc.

Once you have done the analysis of your data, present it to your colleagues, and your department. This allows you to know which strategic actions can be implemented or not.

Monitoring allows you to have a solid base of information to be able to put in place a well conducted strategy!

monitoring

Use of information for your company

As you will have understood, monitoring allows you to gather information that is valuable to the development of your company.

The advantages are numerous for the company: 

👉 better knowledge of the target,

👉 potential acquisition of new customers,

👉 follow and stay abreast of market trends,

👉 better knowledge of your competitors, and the possibility to follow them in real time,

👉 monitoring your brand image.

In short, monitoring allows your company to have solid support and to always be able to stay on the lookout for trends, its e-reputation, as well as competitors. 

To go further
Info stepup
Do not hesitate to complete your monitoring with a competitive mapping. 👀

Competitive intelligence, in short

It is important for any company to keep abreast of developments in its sector and the actions of its competitors. 

Thanks to this, you will be able to be reactive and proactive and most certainly, put in place THE strategy that will make the difference!

So, don't wait any longer and start your strategic watch now! 🚀

Anaïs Sautarel
Translator
As confident in the mountains as with foreign languages, our contents and tool travel around English-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries with me. 🌍

Last update: March 14, 2023

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