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The Competitive Intelligence Analysis Guide for 2024

Learn the ins and outs of competitive intelligence analysis, from how to gather information to what to do with that data once it's in your hands.

What do you know about your competitor's GTM (go-to-market) strategies?

Sure, you know how they position themselves competitively and what they charge (assuming they don’t hide that behind a sales demo).

But beyond that?

Do you know, for example, what plans they have for expansion? What features are in the product development pipeline? How about what they say about your product in the sales arena?

Probably not.

That’s what competitive intelligence analysis is all about. In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of competitive intelligence, from how to gather information to what to do with it once you’ve got it.

Understanding your competitors: What is competitive intelligence analysis? 

Competitive intelligence is pretty simple to understand. It's information about what your competitors are up to.

This includes customer-facing information (like their pricing model), stuff that goes on behind the scenes (like how they negotiate with clients), and strategic business developments (funding announcements, for example).

Competitive intelligence analysis is about reviewing and analyzing this data and pulling out key insights.

There’s a final step here: deciding what action to take.

For example, as you analyze the pricing landscape, you will see that your offer is no longer competitive. Maybe the target market has become more saturated, and prices are dropping.

What you do in response to this is essential.

Competitive intel tools like Ignition help automate the data capture process and information analysis using AI.

Ignition Competitive Intelligence Analysis

They allow you to:

  • Cut costs on competitive research
  • Surface key insights quickly
  • Be more agile and act rapidly to market changes 

But there’s more than one kind of competitive intel.

Strategic vs tactical competitive intelligence 

Competitive intelligence is often divided into two categories:

  • Strategic competitive intelligence 
  • Tactical competitive intelligence

Strategic intelligence is focused on long-term goals and actions. It helps inform your company’s broad direction.

For instance, understanding how competitors are developing products and their long-term roadmaps can help you remain competitive in the future.

Tactical intelligence is more short-term. It's more agile, looks at real-time information, and is designed to help your company respond to more immediate and pressing opportunities or threats.

For example, knowing that a competitor has recently sunsetted a given feature or stopped investing in it due to a recent acquisition can be an opportunity for altering your product positioning to focus on a feature you offer but they don’t.

Here, you might double down on your marketing messaging related to how this feature helps your target audience in a practical scenario.

Why competitive intelligence analysis is worth investing in 

Between the cost of competitive intelligence software and the need for internal resources to analyze that intel, you’re clearly looking at some form of monetary investment here.

It's only fair, then, to ask:

Why bother investing in competitive intelligence analysis in the first place?

Here’s why.

Adjust your GTM or product strategy accordingly 

The principal benefit of competitive monitoring and analysis is ensuring your GTM strategy remains competitive.

Markets can change quickly. 

Competitors react to new technological developments, mergers and acquisitions, and broader economic circumstances. Their reactions might, in turn, require an adjustment to your own GTM strategy.

Many businesses have to do just that right now as competitors race to adopt artificial intelligence. To gain a competitive edge, those brands must find new and unique ways to integrate this new technology.

Similarly, the sales tech space is seeing a lot of consolidation lately (Salesloft just bought Drift, for example, and Leadfeeder just merged with Echobot), which alters that competitive landscape entirely. 

Competitors of either tool may need to adjust their sales and marketing strategy to compete with the newly merged (and, therefore, more robust) solutions.

Get pricing right 

Pricing strategy is never a “one-and-done” activity.

Instead, it requires ongoing experimentation and careful attention to your competitors' actions.

Pricing intelligence — a form of competitive intelligence that specifically speaks to what your competitors are charging — can give you real-time updates to help you stay agile and ensure your pricing model is still relevant even as market changes occur.

For example, you’re currently positioning your brand as a high-quality tool with a mid-range price tag.

Ignition pricing quadrant

If all of your competitors increase their pricing — perhaps market demand is particularly high — you might fall into the “high quality and low price” category.

In this case, you might consider adjusting your pricing upwards to stay in the same place on the map.

Nail your positioning and messaging

An alternative solution to the above change in the market would be to adjust your product positioning and marketing messaging to suit your new spot on the map.

You’re now considered a low-cost solution, but your quality is still high. This could be something to capitalize on.

However, you must adjust messaging across sales and marketing channels and align teams on the new strategy.

Competitive intelligence and analysis can also be used to set up your initial positioning, test messaging options, and monitor the market's reaction. 

Your messaging should demonstrate why potential customers should buy from you but also why they should not choose a competitor. To achieve this two-pronged goal, you have to see how your competitors are communicating with that pool of prospective buyers.

Enable your GTM team 

Finally, a good analysis of competitive intel can help you create sales success with agile, up-to-date enablement materials.

For example, you might use a solution like Ignition to capture competitive intelligence and convert this into actionable sales battle cards that give sales teams tangible insights into:

  • How your tool stacks up against competitors 
  • New releases or feature updates that competitors have dropped
  • What your own product roadmap looks like, including soon-to-be-released features 
  • Up-to-date details on competitors’ real pricing structures
  • Strategies for positioning your solution against direct competitors and handling competitor-based objections 

Competitive intelligence is critical for positioning your brand effectively, getting pricing right, and ensuring your GTM team is prepared to tackle competitor-related objections.

Common sources of competitive intelligence 

So, where do you actually source the data to run a competitor analysis?

Does someone have to check competitor websites daily or pretend to be a customer to get insight into their sales process?

Maybe. But there are far more sources of competitive intelligence than getting it directly from the horse’s mouth.

News and press releases

press release competitive intel

Press releases are a nice, easy place to start conducting competitive analysis.

What your direct competitors are telling customers and potential investors about their product offerings and future business plans can provide great insight in forming your own GTM and product strategy.

Plus, since this information is publicly available, capturing it has no cost.

Sales conversations 

Sales intelligence is one of the best forms of competitive intel.

You’ve got the data in your CRM (customer relationship management) tool as well as from call recording and intelligence tools like Gong. 

Then you’ve got your actual sales team, who’ll have intimate insights into why they’re winning or losing deals, what talk tracks or positioning statements work well, and what customers of competitors who are considering switching are saying about those brands.

Social media 

Social media is another great source of information.

You can check out how your competitors interact with your target audience in terms of:

  • The content they post and how audiences engage with that
  • The common complaints that existing customers have about the product
  • How their own prospects interact with the brand when considering a purchase 

This is all easily accessible public information.

Third-party data 

Third-party sources of company data (think Dun & Bradstreet) can be immensely helpful in understanding how a competitor is crafting their business strategy.

You might, for example, want to know about what market segments a given competitor is targeting.

With that info, you can decide whether to go head-to-head against them or pick a different market segment.

Customer reviews 

Review sites like G2 and Capterra are another great source for competitive intelligence data.

Ignition G2 review

You can look at negative reviews to get an idea of why customers leave competitors.

You can use this information to build a competitive advantage by doing the exact opposite and targeting those churning customers.

Additionally, look at 5-star reviews to ensure you stay competitive. For instance, if they offer a high-touch customer success team and customers see this favorably, you might want to replicate it.

SEO tools 

Finally, you can tap into your marketing team’s tech stack and look at SEO tools like Semrush or Ahrefs.

Analyzing competitors’ traffic sources can give you a good idea of where they’re finding buyers.

For instance, you might check out which of their website pages is ranking the best. Then, you could produce your own content to compete and capture some of that search traffic.

Analyzing competitive intelligence with AI 

Here’s the thing about competitive intelligence analysis:

Most people have it wrong.

Read a few blog posts about analyzing competitive intel, and you’ll come away with the sense that it’s something you do once when you’re building a GTM strategy.

While you do engage in competitive intelligence analysis, then, that's not the only time. 

It's not a one-and-done or linear process. 

Nor is it a manual process that involves scouring tons of web pages for useful info. 

Rather, competitive intelligence analysis today should be done in real time.

You should constantly watch competitors and use competitive intel as it becomes available, not “when you get around to it.”

AI-powered competitive intelligence solutions (such as Ignition) help you capture this data from multiple sources, analyze it using AI, and pull out key insights in a matter of minutes.

Let’s take one of Ingition’s competitive intel features as an example.

By importing data directly from your CRM, Ignition can produce a win/loss analysis instantly and dig into reasons why you’re winning deals and why you’re losing them to competitors (ouch).

You can then use this information to create an appropriate plan for action, for example;

  • Adjusting your sales messaging
  • Review the product roadmap to build a new competitive feature
  • Changing up your targeting parameters in your advertising tool to bring in more relevant buyers that fit your target persona.

All of the above sources are great ways to get intel on competitors. Ideally, though, you’ll use them all for a holistic data set.

Capturing competitive intelligence with Ignition 

Monitoring competitors’ social media accounts, press releases, and review pages alone is a daily job. And even then, you’re probably not agile enough.

However, with a competitive intelligence tool like Ignition, you can receive competitive intel in real time without all the hard manual work.

Ignition collects data from key sources, such as your Salesforce CRM and proprietary competitive signals. It also helps you leverage AI to enable your GTM teams with sales battle cards, win/loss analyses, and more.

Check out our 10-minute demo video here to see how we make competitive intelligence analysis easy.

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