How To Use Competitor Analysis Data To Grow Your Brand
For most brands, standing out in an increasingly competitive business environment can be hard. The average business will typically have 29 competitors, making it vital for your brand to make smart strategic decisions to drive your business forward.
One way your business can stay ahead is through competitive intelligence (CI), a process that’s trusted by 56% of executives to grow their brands and succeed in their respective markets.
Competitive intelligence, also known as corporate intelligence, is the capacity to collect, examine, and utilize competitor analysis data from competitors within your market with a view of hedging a business’s competitiveness.
Let’s take a deeper look into the finer elements of CI and how you can incorporate it as a strategy for success. To jump ahead to a specific section, use the table of contents.
What Is CI, and How Is Competitor Analysis Data Used?
The premise of competitive intelligence and examination of competitor analysis data is to establish competitive differentiation. It enables businesses to set themselves apart from their industry peers in a way that gives them an edge in their respective markets. To set yourself apart, you need to have an insight into your competitors’ activities, products, offerings, and approaches.
So, where do we start?
This is the age of surplus information, and parsing through numerous sources to inform strategic design may seem daunting. However, a systematic approach to the process helps.
Begin with an identification of your most important sources of data for competitor analysis, both internally and externally. With those in mind, determine what data points you’d like to focus on and use the data to inform your business’s growth strategy.
What Data Points Should You Look At?
This is the first and perhaps most important element of a good CI program.
A successful CI program will enhance your ability to create more income, identify avenues for growth at the earliest chance, foresee shifts in the market, and adapt against your competitors’ respective strategies.
Across the board, the unique data points to look out for would be your competitors’ share of the market, differentiators, weaknesses and strengths, marketing, geographical placing, pricing strategies, and customer feedback.
Depending on the context, a focus on a combination of most of these attributes can lead to positive results for your CI program.
This focus also helps members of your intelligence team to answer one of the most common questions within the organization: Why do people want web competitor analysis?
Where To Mine Data
Once you’ve understood the data points needed for your CI program, you and your team will want to identify where specifically to get the data.
Big data analytics tools will come in handy in the aggregation of information that’s available. However, keep in mind that not all information that’s accessible is fit for the purpose. There are ethical concerns about the invisible collection of data that bypasses the awareness of its subjects and their ability to give or withhold consent.
A great CI program employs ethically sourced data — and that sets it apart from corporate espionage and malfeasance.
Specifically, ethical data collection goes beyond simply following the law. Legal instruments are static and often have loopholes that may be exploited. The need to define personal data and the security it’s given is a major area of concern. You also want to consider ethical issues like transparency in the collection and use of data as well as the governance of collected data.
So, where do you mine competitor analysis data for your CI program?
The best place to start is your competitors’ websites, where you’ll gain insight into their messaging and positioning in the market, pricing strategies, product information, updates, and offerings and solutions.
Competitor web analysis on relevant content offers a lot of data on the type of customers your competitors are targeting. The type of content and frequency of posting, keywords employed, search engine optimization strategy, and general calls to action are great sources of intelligence.
The makeup of a competitor’s HR also provides insights into their capacity for growth. On the website, check out the careers page or “about us” page and look for information on the number of C-level hires, salaries, interviews, and workplace culture as well as the positions available in each department. Other HR data points to watch for include company reviews, partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, and bulletins — all crucial sources of data for your CI program.
Social and digital media
The social media footprints of your competitors will also provide information regarding marketing patterns. Observe the number and types of channels used, the frequency of posting, the organizations and causes your competitors follow and champion, and the kind of ads they run.
Traditional press remains an excellent source of competitive intelligence. Press releases, financial reports, and publicity on events are critical indicators of a business’s health and strategy.
For data on customer feedback, you’ll need to look at analyst reporting from firms like Gartner or Forrester, Question platforms like Reddit and Quora, and B2B review platforms such as G2, TrustRadius, and Capterra.
If a competitor uses resellers, you ought to investigate their conditions for upsales, free add-ons (if any), and pricing strategies as well.
Finally, your customers will likely have interacted with your competitors, so they can be a good source of information on the problems competitors face and potential solutions. Dedicated tools for competitive intelligence are vital in centralizing feedback data on competitors, which is often spread out over numerous CRM, support channels, and notes.
Bringing It All Together
Now that you know where to look, it’s time to go out and execute your program. Start by identifying your direct and indirect competitors, then establish key metrics and goals for the stakeholders whose buy-in you intend to get.
Afterward, carry out data collection, remembering the ethical concerns you need to be aware of. Most of the sources of data we’ve covered are categorized as external data. Internal data is the information that already exists within your organization, which may include notes from sales representatives or information received from your customers.
How To Put Mined Data To Use
With a solid data collection strategy, the next crucial step is the conversion of all your raw data into deliverables in the form of sales and marketing assets.
One of the most common deliverables is an asset known as a battlecard. It will usually contain a condensed list of insights into particular competitors with the intention of “depositioning” them.
The framework of a battlecard should contain the target company’s profile, quick dismisses for early disqualification, arguments for and against your brand, answers to potential objections, and an assortment of land mine topics that cast the opposition negatively.
Product sheets are another asset you can frame as a deliverable, featuring one-on-one comparisons between your products and those of a particular competitor.
Alternatively — or in addition — you could create executive slide decks that guide management on long-term strategy.
Methods of Gathering Data
Depending on your goals, the number of data points you want to look at, and the resources available to you and your team, gathering data can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months.
Gathering data manually
It can be as simple as web searches to uncover data points such as customer feedback, pricing, product announcements, and related, surface-level information.
If resources permit, you can go deeper than surface-level web searches to uncover personnel changes, leadership tendencies, contract information, and other information that projects not only your competitors’ strengths, but also their weaknesses and opportunities for your business.
With a large intelligence team, you can gather this data manually by having your team members scour through your competitors’ websites, employee and customer review websites, and social media pages.
You can even go further and act as a customer for a competitor. By subscribing to its products and services, you get a firsthand view of what it feels like to be your competitor’s customer.
Automated competitor analysis using big data analytics
A manual approach works perfectly for small businesses that target a handful of data points and a few competitors.
However, it can become a time-consuming and expensive affair for businesses with complex data points and multiple competitors that commit large chunks of their financial and human resources to these manual methods.
A better approach would be to automate the process. Your business can use different CI tools to gather and compile the data and organize it for processing and analysis later. For instance, with social listening tools such as those from Hootsuite, Symanto, and Google Alerts, your business can keep track of your competitors’ social conversations even with a small budget for CI.
CI Tools such as Crayon and Custodee also help automate the process of monitoring your competitors’ websites, products, and services for a fuller picture of their digital footprints.
Web scraping for competitor web traffic analysis
Web scraping bots are also powerful tools that help simplify the CI field for business owners. A scraping bot is a program that scours your competitors’ websites, social media profiles, and other digital platforms for relevant data to be used in a CI campaign.
Scraping bots can be offered as part of a larger service offering by providers that offer pre-packaged CI solutions. You can also have custom scraping bots developed to scrape specific sets of data online.
Scraping Robot, for instance, is among the most popular web scraping providers. It offers a balance between pre-designed bot modules and customized scraping solutions to help businesses gather, organize, and analyze data from different digital sources.
Key Data Competitor Analysis: Why Proxies Are Pivotal
Web scraping can be a very resourceful tool on its own. However, without a good proxy management system, achieving the desired outcomes for your CI program can be difficult.
Web scraping bots often scour HTML pages from competitor websites for data. Over time, these bots and their associated IP addresses can get blocked by the host website, rendering the scraping exercise null.
This is why pairing proxies with a web scraping bot is crucial for a successful CI program. Proxies ensure your scraping bots don’t overuse one IP address, thus reducing the chances that the bots and IP addresses in use will be banned by the host or site administrators.
Proxy servers also come in handy when targeting customers and competitors in different locations. For instance, if you have a competitor with customers in a different geolocation — France, for example — you can use a French IP address to scrape and track customer data, even when you’re outside France.
Types of proxies for web scraping
Several types of proxies can be used for web scraping. These solutions, readily available from Rayobyte, can be used to manage your CI program for efficiency.
Data center IPs
Data center IPs are the most popular group of proxy IPs. Here, IP addresses are held in large data centers.
And because one data center can hold many unique IP addresses, they’re the most affordable proxy IP addresses on the market. Despite their price and ready availability, they can be used to create a robust scraping strategy for any business.
ISP proxies give you the best of both proxy worlds: the authority of residential proxies with the speed of data center proxies. Rayobyte’s premium ISP proxies are hosted on data center servers, but they use IP addresses issued by real consumer internet providers. ISP proxies provide fast, stable connections that are as hard for websites to detect as residential IP addresses. Rayobyte has no limit on bandwidth or threads, which means significant cost savings! Currently, Rayobyte offers ISP proxies from the U.S., the U.K., and Germany.
As the name suggests, residential proxies are assigned to private individuals by an internet service provider (ISP), usually for retail or home internet users. Residential IP addresses allow you to send and receive unlimited web scraping requests via a residential network on most websites, which offers more advantages for businesses. However, since these are usually attached to individual households, there are fewer of them in circulation — and therefore, they’re more expensive.
Residential proxies give you access to a vast network of millions of devices worldwide. Residential proxies are the actual IP addresses of individuals. They are issued by real consumer internet service providers (ISPs), giving your web scraper a humanlike appearance to the websites it scrapes. Because most individuals access the internet through residential IP addresses, residential proxies have the most authority, which means websites do not generally block them for no reason.
Rayobyte sets the industry standard for ethical residential proxy sourcing. Because residential proxies are obtained directly from end-users, Rayobyte takes extra steps to ensure these users are not negatively affected by the use of their IP addresses. This includes ensuring the end users are informed and compensated for the use of their IP addresses, and they can revoke their approval at any time.
Because we do not provide an option to buy residential proxies directly on our website, we ensure that potential buyers must demonstrate their use case is legitimate before we sell them residential proxies. We also continue monitoring the use of the residential proxies we sell to make sure the buyer uses them ethically.
The right choice
In the end, the best proxy solutions for your business will be determined by different business-side factors from your end, including your budget and availability of technical resources.
If you’re on a limited budget, you should consider a solution that combines the most affordable proxy solution with the necessary technical support to keep your first data competitor analysis program effective.
Harness the Power of Competitor Analysis Data
The knowledge produced through CI analysis is a pivotal tool in strategic decision-making for managers and executives in many forward-looking businesses. In today’s global marketplace, competitor analysis data is indispensable if you’re an executive who’s responsible for guiding an organization’s strategy. It helps you to measure your performance against the competition and construct appropriate strategic positions.
Using web competitor analysis tools should always be part of this process if your business hopes to reap any benefits from a CI program. This way, your savvy business can stay ahead of the curve, even in these cutthroat times. Get in contact with us today!
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